Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
18 Jul

Is Wheat Addictive?

wheat2Within the Primal/paleo community and elsewhere, it’s often stated offhandedly that wheat is addictive. And absolutely, wheat for many people feels like something they could never give up. I hear it all the time: “I couldn’t live without bread.” “What would I do without cereal, dinner rolls, toast, {insert your favorite grain-based food item here}.” And wheat is often the main culprit in the sugar/insulin rollercoaster that drives sugar-burners’ need to eat (more wheat) every few waking hours. But is wheat addictive in a different sense – as an opiate like heroin and other drugs? Today I take a look at the research and attempt to separate fact from fiction. What do we really know about wheat as an opiate? Let’s find out…

Humans and other animals have something called an opioidergic system – an evolutionarily-preserved way for an organism to modulate behavior, addiction, and reward. When you exercise, for example, a lot of the euphoria you feel comes from endogenous (produced in-house) opioids interacting with your opiate receptors. This is the body’s way of dealing with a stressful experience (physical exertion), reducing pain, and it also has the effect of reinforcing a behavior that is positive, healthy, and in the organism’s best interest. The opioidergic system also interacts with the immune, endocrine, and central nervous systems (in other words, this is physiology, so it’s all interrelated), but we won’t get too much into that today. Now, it’s not just endogenous opioids interacting with our receptors; certain substances, like heroin and other opiate drugs, act as exogenous (produced out-of-house) opioids, thereby hijacking and “supercharging” our physiology. Cocaine, alcohol, and tobacco also interact with opioid receptors. The addictiveness of these substances is infamous, so these interactions exist shouldn’t surprise you.

However, there are other exogenous opioid peptides, also known as exorphins (exogenous morphine), found in substances that we don’t normally consider to be repositories of potentially addictive morphine-analogs. Like wheat.

Some of the most extensively studied food-based exorphins – gluten exorphins, from gluten, and gliadorphins, from gliadin – are derived from wheat. In a previous post, I raised the possibility of a wheat addiction. But are these exorphins actually problematic? Do they really interact with your opioid receptors to make you crave another “hit”? Well, an early 1979 paper (PDF) on the topic suggests that in order for them to actually function as in vivo opioid exorphins in our bodies, wheat exorphins must appear in our gastrointestinal tract after ingestion and during digestion, they have to survive degradation by intestinal enzymes into constituent amino acids, they have to be absorbed – intact – into the bloodstream, and they must pass the blood-brain barrier.

Do they satisfy those requirements? Let’s take a look.

When wheat is applied to conditions designed to simulate the human gut (complete with physiological amounts and proportions of stomach acid and digestive enzymes), exorphins are produced. This suggests that applying wheat to actual human stomachs (by eating it) should also produce wheat exorphins. Satisfied.

There’s also evidence that gluten exorphins do show up in the bloodstream after ingestion of wheat, at least in subjects with celiac disease (PDF). But let’s temper our conclusions; remember that celiac disease is usually characterized by a severely-compromised intestinal lining, and that the subjects who had exorphins in their blood tended to have the most intestinal damage. It remains to be seen if wheat has the same effect on people with healthy, intact intestinal linings. Satisfied and satisfied.

I was unable to find hard evidence of wheat opioids crossing the blood-brain barrier. There is this rat study, which found that gluten exorphins stimulate the secretion of prolactin (an excess of which can lead to loss of libido in both sexes) by interacting with opioid receptors located outside of the blood-brain barrier, but not inside it. On the other hand, Dr. Emily Deans says that exorphins “definitely end up in the body and brain of rats fed gluten orally.” She also uses low-dose naltrexone (an opiate blocker) to treat celiac patients who can’t seem to give up wheat, which would suggest that something’s getting through to interact with those receptors. Still, not completely satisfied.

We’ve all had people tell us “but I could never give up bread!” In my experience, and from talking to hundreds upon hundreds of newcomers and sharing emails with many more, this is common in folks going Primal. Your pastas, your breads, your pizzas, your pastries, your muffins, your cookies are the foods that people have trouble giving up and the foods that, once expunged from the diet, have the greatest tendency to cause “relapses” if eaten again. Part of it is cultural conditioning, I’m sure – the whole “staff of life” thing, the inundation from birth with the message that whole grains represent the pinnacle of healthy eating, the bread basket at dinner, the pancakes on Saturday morning, the birthday cake that you’re practically excommunicated for refusing – and part of it is the fact that wheat flour goes well with vegetable fat, refined sugar, and low prices, but I wouldn’t be surprised if wheat has addictive properties mediated through its unique exorphins.

We just can’t say that yet, not definitively. It may be addictive, but not to everyone. If your gut is permeable enough to allow passage of opioid peptides into your blood, I could see it causing problems. If your gut is healthy and intact, maybe it’s not such an issue. More research is clearly required. Still, until this all gets sorted out, I’d suggest people continue to avoid wheat and other gluten-containing grains (and heck, all grains for that matter). And if you’re going to mention the opioid stuff to any skeptics or interested parties, don’t sound too authoritative. Admit that while evidence for wheat’s addictiveness exists, it’s far from conclusive.

Besides, wheat’s not the only food whose proteins are degraded into opioid peptides (PDF):

Casein, a dairy protein, can also be cleaved to form exorphins. Human milk even contains a number of dairy exorphins, most notably beta-casomorphin (casein morphine). In fact, beta-casomorphin levels are highest in colostrum, the highly nutritious “first milk” that infants get from their mothers. Perhaps that’s a way to get babies hooked on the sweet, nutritious, essential breastmilk right off the bat? The old “bait and switch,” where you slip the customer the pure stuff, get them hooked on it, and subsequently sell them the stuff that’s been cut with filler? We don’t know for sure, but I would assume that the most nutritious, perfectly “designed” food for human infants contains opioid peptides for a very important reason.

Hemorphins, a class of opioid peptides, come from hemoglobin, a protein found in the red blood cells of vertebrates. If you like your steak bloody rare, you’re likely consuming hemoglobin, and your stomach is probably cleaving the hemoglobin up into hemorphins. Of course, since hemorphins already appear naturally in your cerebrospinal fluid, brain, and plasma, I wouldn’t necessarily worry about becoming addicted to blood sausage.

Other food compounds can act as exorphins, too. Flavonoids, those bioactive plant compounds with antioxidant properties, may interact with opioid receptors. Epicatechin, a flavonoid found in green tea and chocolate, can act like an exorphin, at least in mice. Its cardioprotective effects are even thought to be mediated through its opioid activity.

Interestingly, even spinach contains an exorphin which, along with a gluten exorphin variant, has actually been shown to improve the learning ability of rodents.

That doesn’t mean you should pound spinach and wheat gluten before finals week and hope for a miracle. It also doesn’t mean that you should avoid chocolate and give your baby formula instead of breastmilk because you’re worried about addiction. It simply means that the effects of food exorphins aren’t clear-cut. They aren’t necessarily “bad.”

I’m definitely anti-wheat. I think people eat way too much of it, and it appears to perpetuate its own consumption. I wish I could say definitively whether wheat is addictive as an opiate or not – but I can’t. Not yet.

What say you, folks? Were you addicted to wheat? Are you? What about any of the other foods that break down into opioid exorphins – any spinach addicts out there?

Thanks for reading.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. All too familiar with the excommunicating birthday cake.

    In general I’ve found when I am a guest that turning down home made food from the host is considered very offensive (despite using manners). Triple when it comes to grandmothers.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • You think that’s bad… try giving in to baking a birthday cake for family with your girlfriend, and then refusing to eat any. Very unhappy girlfriend.

      Marc wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • A good partner should support your health decisions.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • That’s a bit harsh! You can sympathise with said partners feelings, nothing is so black and white. I may have taken a minuscule amount to save relationship arguments, after all it’s only food

          Abigail wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • And that’s why when you need to make a cake, you make my Super Coconut Coconut Cake! Almost everything is made out of coconut. Coconut butter, extract, oil, milk, cream, sugar, flour. Can you believe all of that is coconut?

          Michael wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Totally agree. A partner should be supportive of your dietary needs and choices. I used to worry about offending people with my food choices. After years of yoyo dieting and trying to please others, I no longer feel guilty or bad about refusing food.

          In a real bad ‘pinch’, I have accepted the birthday cake, broken it part with my fork so it looked a little eaten, and then left it sitting on a table or ledge. Or feeding it to the dog, or accidentally dropping it when I can see there is no more left, or…. well… my dietary trechery is well honed…

          Barb wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • re: Abigail – I don’t think it is harsh at all. If eating a certain something makes you feel like crap, it isn’t really “only food.” It’s your well-being for the rest of the day (or the next 2-3 days). Bloating, gas, uncomfortable or irregular BMs – why would somebody penalize their partner for avoiding those things?

          I really don’t understand why people get so offended at other people not eating certain foods. It is borderline insane and extremely inconsiderate and rude.

          josh wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • I agree, especially when your health is involved. I didn’t give up gluten, sugar, etc because it was the “in” thing to do. I have a real intolerance to gluten that exacerbates my MS symptoms and I’m insulin resistant/PCOS.

          Carla wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Not harsh at all. If I am intolerant of wheat or gluten, or have blood sugar issues, or just simply want to stay healthy for as long as possible, I expect my partner to back me 100% in my choices. And, that includes defending me where needed.

          I would do the same for him, and have had to do it. Saying, “It’s only food” shows a clear missing of the point here. I have a sister who is in palliative care (meaning that she is dying… no more can be done for her), due to complications of Type 2 diabetes. Her life will be cut short by 40 or so years. She also had the attitude that “it’s only food”. Now, she knows better, but it is far too late for her.

          Interestingly enough, her immediate family (husband, kids) were also unsupportive of her any time that she tried to beat the carb habit.

          Barb wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Finding a compromise works even better. In my family we switched on cheesecakes decorated with whipped cream and berries.I normally don’t do a LC deserts, but I do it during Christmas time or for birthdays. I also think eating something out of normal everyday diet once a while especially for social reasons can’t be a problem for most people.

          Galina L. wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • If somebody doesn’t wanna eat something, let ‘em not eat it. As long as I don’t whine, “Why isn’t there a special meat-cake specially for ME…” then people need to look at their own plates and gobble up the cake with pleasure. (Sometimes I eat the cake, btw.)

          Thing is, I know diabetics who get grief for not eating Teh Cake, “not just a LEETLE piece? Surely a LITTLE bit won’t hurt you.”

          And a gentle and respectful Celiac friend who could actually die from eating a crumb of bread (she’s a serious case, having been hospitalized) who got given a hard time when she hosted our book club meeting. We all KNEW she is a celiac sufferer, but one woman stormed angrily out of the celiac sufferer’s house with her whole wheat muffins, when the sufferer politely said, “We are putting the wheat things on the dining room table, rather than in the kitchen.”

          As long as we don’t make a big showy show of rejecting the food, others need to not make a big show of being offended.

          What’s funny is that if somebody brought a plate of carrots to a meeting and said, “whoever wants, please take,” anyone not grabbing one would be left in peace. People get weird because of ceremony, I guess.

          Or because they want to eat crap and feel validated by the group.

          In any case, it’s rude to insist that somebody put something into their body they don’t want to. Even my own kid I ask politely once, and then let it go.

          Joy Beer wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • If someone gives me unpackaged/perishable non-primal food that is at least somewhat nourishing I’ll eat it in front of them. If it’s sealed cookies, cupcakes etc. I’ll sometimes take them out of courtesy, “save them for later”, and then give them to someone else or dispose of them.

          Animanarchy wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • My partner supports me! He always cooks steak for me (even though he eats his with a side of gluten) he knows how important my diet is to me

          the happy girlfriend wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Yes, people pushing their food at me can make for an uncomfortable time. I consider wheat and sugar addictive so won’t touch them at all. Mainly for health reasons but also because I’m scared that if I get even the tiniest taste I’ll lose the plot and eat every carb in sight!! Most of the time I’m super polite in my refusal but I’ve been in a couple of situations where I’ve resorted to being terribly rude just to get the carb-pusher to leave me the heck alone.

          Kitty wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • why is it harsh?

          it is the same as me (a carnivore) not offering “offensive” food to veg*n or semi-vegetarians (white meat + fish only). some of them probably would throw up just hearing the word “red meat” or “liver”. so i’m sensitive to that. i dont’ even mention what i ate last night.

          when i go out to eat with my friends, esp. ve*gan, i go with their choice of (since i’m a minority). so going out w/ friends often means fasting. i just have a cup of coffee/tea + cream & chat w/ them. i keep my mouth shut from commenting of their food. food police is no fun!

          so, is it so much to expect that others respect my food choice in return?

          i also disagree that Mark makes light of the issue of wheat that “all grains are bad for you, not just wheat”.

          i believe that modern wheat is the worst of all grains. & a lot worse (followed by corn)

          regards,

          phk wrote on July 23rd, 2012
      • When faced with occasions that demand a festive cake, try this completely primal one:

        http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hungarian-flourless-hazelnut-cake/

        I make it with very little sugar or substitute honey. Try the primal sweetener of your choice. Use a heavy layer of crushed berries on the first layer of cake, then a layer of whipped cream, then add the second cake layer, more cream, and lots of perfect fresh berries arranged artfully on top. Very festive indeed and a true crowd-pleaser.

        Chica wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Birthday cakes can be gluten free and delicious. Help the girlfriend by finding recipes that avoid wheat.

        Vicki wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • I made a chocolate birthday cake for my celiac bestie by adding cocoa powder to the primal pumpkin brownie recipe. Totally like cake, sinfully chocolaty, zero grains. I made “icing” out of HWC, butter, mascarpone & cocoa.

          peggy wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • I totally agree with you all. I have major food intolerances, including my hereditary gout being triggered by eating the grains, dairy, sugars in any form…I have decided that my health is more important than anyone’s feelings. If they are true friends of me, they will be understanding and supportive. If I’m invited to someone’s house who doesn’t already know about my food intolerances, I will politely tell them beforehand, even offering to bring a dish that I (and others) can eat, just so the host doesn’t feel the need to cater to just me. Politely explaining things, I have found, does work with most people. For those it doesn’t work with, I consider their behavior an indication of how they really feel about me.

          Sue wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • See… and I would respond to the guilt trip by insinuating that I’d done something to the cake (“Are you itching yet?” “Why?” “No reason.”) But I am habitually hostile to attempted (or even hinted at) emotional blackmail.

        Thankfully my wife is on the same wavelength as I regarding our diet. We are by no means puritanical paleo though. We stick to it 95% of the time but when we have beer or cake or whatever… we want good beer and good cake. Make the pleasure worth the pain.

        The ability to do this is predicated on having the proper mental attitude. Considering oneself on a ‘diet’ that one cheats on or a bandwagon that one falls off from, is not going to facilitate a post facto transition back to paleo.

        -Tim

        Tim wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I would have eaten a small piece. Being wheat-free doesn’t need to be so self-righteous. Unless you have a serious allergy, of course. If you do, my apologies.

        I think sometimes us Primal/Paleo types take this WOE too far. You don’t need to be a complete dick about it. It’s easy to, I know!

        primal pat wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • But no one expects a vegetarian to have “just a small piece” of meatloaf, to be polite.

          lynne wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • But some people (points to self) risk a major setback each time we “cheat”.

          (And I don’t know why, but it always seems so much harder to get *back* on track than it was to get started in the first place… psychological, maybe?)

          J wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • I did not know, I was sensitive to wheat, until I stopped eating it.

          Yesterday, I was polite and ate a small piece of cake (it was homemade and delicious). However, within a couple of hours I started feeling sick to my stomach and now, more that 24hours later, I am still hurting. Never been diagnosed with anything and all my friends know, I used to love cake and bread and pasta. I think, we do need to respect peoples choices and wishes and not always think, they are going over board.

          Kristine wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • You don’t have to have a serious allergy to decline to eat or drink something that you don’t want!!! What the h?$-!!
          If you are at a gathering and someone offers you drugs, would you take a couple, just so as not to “be a dick”?? Unless you are a drug user, I’m guessing you would say no.
          I don’t have a serious allergy to wheat, but it does make me feel sick, results in nearly instant water retention and it DOES inspire cravings that can take days to overcome.

          We have very little control over a lot of things in our lives. But, the thing we do have control over is what we eat, drink, pop or inject. I choose to be a dick, if that’s what it takes.

          Barb wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • It’s not about being self-righteous.. it’s about having the right to not eat something that will make you feel ill. When I stay away from carbs for a while, anything carby that I eat will be immediately followed by feeling “weird” by weird I mean discomfort, brain fog, disconnected, bloated, etc.. is all that worth being “nice” and not causing any waves? I venture to say it’s not, in fact I’d say it’s an injustice towards your own self. I believe we are entitled to having people respect what we chose to put in our bodies.

          When I have decided to go with the flow and just fit in with the people around me, I’ve ended up feeling so uncofortable and so out of it that I was not able to socially participate much anyway, so it seems to kind of defeat the purpose anyway.

          Paul wrote on July 19th, 2012
        • Freedom is the choice to say NO.
          As a free person with feality to no one, I demand that choice.

          -Flek

          Flek wrote on July 20th, 2012
        • hmmm I always find the people who say you “should” take a little bit when it comes to food. No one offers an alcoholic “just” a sip. Or a drug addict “just” a hit.

          Ms Shell wrote on July 21st, 2012
      • I ordered the dry cake mix and made my son cupcakes for his birthday and they are great. My non paleo guest enjoyed them and suspected nothing :)

        Kristi wrote on July 19th, 2012
      • Hey Marc,
        I have a yummy wheat-free chocolate cake that everyone loves. It is in “Easy Gluten-Free Baking” by Elizabeth Barbone. Lots of wheat-free baked good recipes there.

        Linda wrote on July 21st, 2012
    • Why is that? Their face looks like I’m saying “I hate you” when I say “No, thank you” – that’s how they look at me anyway. By this point my family is use to the fact I don’t eat sweets. I fairly new to Primal eating (no grains & more fats) but other then that my diet was pretty whole foods based. Still, my in-laws associate thinness with the ability to “eat whatever” so that fact that I am (thin) and don’t eat it boggles their minds!

      I’d rather disappoint them then disappoint myself by eating something that brings me nothing but gross-ness!!

      Helen wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Yeah, the logic of some people just doesn’t make any sense.

        Why are you studying so much? You don’t have to try so hard, you have straight A’s!

        Ummm… perhaps I am doing well because of my actions, not in spite of them?

        Aaron wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Agreed!!

          Laura wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I find this to be true of the reactions I encounter, especially from family. I think some people tend to attach emotional meaning to food, and they really do on some level think you are refusing their efforts, or their love, or their joy in celebraing their birthday, and they make it mean that if you don’t eat the cake (or whatever it is) you don’t value them or their celebration/ceremony. So they get defensive, because subconsciously they think you are rejecting THEM, instead of the food.

        Psych 101 over. :)

        Joanne wrote on July 19th, 2012
      • That makes me so made when people think that, just because I’m thin, I can eat whatever I want! It’s a problem I am constantly encountering and it boggles my mind. Do they think I’m going to stay thin if I eat lots of junk food? Nevertheless, I am always handed the largest piece of birthday cake at the office parties because “I’m so skinny”. It doesn’t make any sense to me.

        Susie wrote on July 23rd, 2012
    • I find that explaining to them about the diet and how it works can be helpful. Although, sometimes you will get that one host who is a grains freak and just gets mad when you reject his or her apple pie.

      Max Ungar wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • its worse sometimes with the CW health freaks…WHAT? No “health whole wheat and honey cake with canola oil??”
        Good Grief…

        Hopeless Dreamer wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Although pissing off those militant vegans can be fun.

        BillP wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • A coworker made me a beautiful cake for my birthday. I was only 2 weeks Primal,already down 3 lbs, and HAPPY, but knew that it was impossible to say no without being abhorrently rude.

      I ate 2 slices and PAID. I felt awful and had serious sugar crash, but I survived and am still glad I ate the delicious, home-made-just-for-me poison. Just like when we go for the 20% by choice (OK, 5% because I know how weak I can be), we learn, recover, and go back to our Primal ways.

      Nicole wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • My church home now respects my decline of grain/sugar/legumes …. since I told them I’m pre-diabetic….. my food choices are helping me save my toes, nerves, kidneys and eyes.

      They no longer make funny comments when we have a spaghetti meal and I only eat the meat sauce. Or I have nuts with coffee when they are having ice cream and cake with coffee.

      It feels good to have my food choices accepted.

      jgt wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Live long and prosper!

        DeyC3 wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Yep, I use the celiac “get-out-of-bad-food-for-free” card regularly. No details necessary, being a disease in CW is enough, and it can be said politely.

        Ma Flintstone wrote on July 19th, 2012
      • Our church actually runs gluten free tables when they put on a social or there is a get-together.
        also do GF communion Sundays.
        Lot of runners and health enthusiasts at KBC!

        Laurel wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • I ‘minisculed’ things to death until I found myself at a ridiculous weight! I, for one, cannot eat ANY wheat/flour/sugar based foods unless I want to live obese. And, I do not.

      Ginger J. wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I am a Grandmother, and have been primal for approx 6 weeks now. Sadly my lot don’t seem to get it! I wish my children would just try grain free, sugar free for a couple of weeks, but no…..their loss, so I do say no to all things non-primal, and I get the rolled eyed look alot.I just have to get over it !!!!!

      Gwamma wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I can seriously relate to you. I’m also a grandma with a son who’s a doctor and his son (my grandson) is autistic. Oh how I wish that a change in diet would even be considered for him and his siblings who have had issues with ADHD and asthma, etc. Med school drums in the use of pharmaceutical drugs and nothing much about nutrition, absolutely no preventative care or patient personal responsibility for their own health.

        peace2u wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • oh yeah, that has to be quite rough. I am a chiropractor and have long since given up on trying to convince my vegetarian husband to give up legumes (though he did give up grains and his poly arthralgia disappeared as did his high triglycerides and horrifically high LDL!). All of my siblings and their kids eat any old crap. They just hate listening to their big sister. Sad.

          ChiroLisa wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I am also a grandmother, and I think the best thing to do is to just eat, and serve what you know is best, and don’t try to convince anyone to do the same.

        Ellen Chrystal wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I am a grandmother, and you don’t have to eat anything in my house. So maybe the grandmothers you know push food on you. You just have to tell them that you are allergic to this particular food.

      Ellen Chrystal wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Give me a birthday steak over a birthday cake any day!

      Oldmate wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Best line ever.

        Keith wrote on July 27th, 2012
    • Just think, when you’ve given up that addiction, your even a Better grandma,girlfriend,boyfriend ..
      Never thought I could do it! And the difference is amaaazing,!!!!!!

      Florida nana wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • I’ve read this post and all your comments with much interest.

      First point I pick up in the posts you make is you are all focused heavily on what the social implications of not eating grain are. That I itself says boundless amounts of what we all have to suffer in being Primal (yes, with a capital “P”). There is such a poor general understanding and level of support. That’s why this forum is o important!

      Secondly, having been Primal a year, my experience is that the smell of fresh baked warm bread (even sounds good, doesn’t it) leaves me like a shark in blood infested water……after a year….what the heck is that all about? I don’t have issues or cravings with other foods, just this. Pleased to report that I control that very well and a small handful of almonds straight from the pocket does the trick.

      All the best everyone

      Adrian

      Adrian Keane wrote on July 22nd, 2012
    • This is somewhat deceptive but easy to pull off – take a small piece, cut it up with your fork and push it around a little to make it look like you ate some, then announce, “oh, I’m full as a tick, I couldn’t fit in one more bite!” Just like when you were little and your mom made something you didn’t like for dinner. Yes, people SHOULD just leave you alone and let you eat what you want, but they’re not, and sometimes you just have to pick your battles and pretend to eat some cake.

      J wrote on July 27th, 2012
  2. I was definitely more addicted to dairy than wheat. It was way harder to give up, being that it is also a good source of protein/probiotics (I miss yogurt!), but stomach issues most certainly improved after I did.

    Jessica wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Me too! I had a really hard time giving up the dairy but feel so much better now that it is barely in my diet. Only wheat-based products I had a hard time giving up? Pizza and toast for dipping in my eggs. While I now use bacon to dip in my eggs, I have to admit I still hanker for butter-soaked toast.

      Happycyclegirl wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I miss butter soaked toast too. Pizza is one of our cheat meals. In fact there is a hot pizza 10 feet away from me at this very moment and I’m using ALL my will power to not dive in!!

        Mike wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • We make our “paleo pizza” recipe instead of real pizza. No wheat in the crust.

          http://howtoeatandlive.com/2012/06/better-paleo-pizza-crust-recipe/

          Jeremy Zawodny wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Hi, have you tried the cauliflower pizza crust. It is delish. I’m not sure if it fits into primal or not, thought.

          Omlette wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • I crave pizza sometimes as well. I tried Mark’s suggestion of pizza on sliced and baked eggplant. A bit floppy, and you have to use the whole eggplant to get a decent fix, but it tasted amazing, and left me feeling totally pizza-satisfied.

          D Wise wrote on July 19th, 2012
      • Make a veggie hash to soak up the egg yolks, or corned beef or ground beef, or even top a salad with fried eggs and let the yolk run through the nice lettuce…

        Pure Hapa wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Yes, Veggie hash is the way to go, also I like to use Cauliflower rice as a base for my runny eggs. Yum!

          Scott wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Julian’s Bakery has just introduced 2 types of bread: 1 made from coconut and 1 made from almonds. You should or will find it at your organic market or can buy it online at their web site.

        Karen Modell wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • TRY JULIAN BAKERY’S PALEO BREAD (coconut flour or almond flour).

        Jenny Van wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • OMG I miss toast dipped in egg yolks!

        Kathie wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • Dairy is still a staple of my diet. I have cheese in my butter-fried omlet, Greek yogurt for lunch, eat string cheese as my snack, and have it on my chicken nearly every night. I can’t imagine being Primal without my organic cheese because it gives me more protein and is just delicious. What do you (anyone!) use as an alternative?

      Nicole wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • yeah… there really isn’t an alternative to cheese! But a lot of milk in recipes I’ve learned to replace with coconut milk. Though I admit, we do still eat a little dairy here. But being lactose intolerant keeps me from overdoing it!

        mntnmom wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • you wrote “what do you use as an alternative”? That’s the great thing about the Primal Blueprint… dairy is ok if you tolerate it well. I still try to limit when I can. I used to always put cheese in my omlet but now I saute some fresh herbs from my garden before adding the egg. Whole sage leaves are my all time favourite. Tastes amazing and full of antioxidants. I stick with one herb at a time to really enjoy each herb’s unique flavour. Fresh oregano or thyme are also very good. Now I find cheese in my eggs boring in comparison.

        steffturner wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Great idea! Thank you!

          Nicole wrote on July 18th, 2012
  3. I was definitely addicted to wheat. No doubt about it.

    I had all the signs, blaming, guilt, defensiveness (maybe why people get so bent out of shape arguing against Primal?).

    Then all the withdrawal symptoms, sweating, trouble sleeping, irrational behavior, irritability, diarrhea, etc.

    Graham wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I still am addicted to wheat. Even after years off wheat I still look longingly at beautifully baked, fresh, aromatic, buttery croissants! Oh yes the butter within these masters of baking includes my dairy addiction also! What a combo

      Cassie Bond wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Isn’t this interesting? I’ve been off wheat for about 5 months and in the past week or so, have been dreaming about bread. No idea why. Very frustrating though… So I can totally relate to being addicted to it. Technically my doc said I can try it again in about a month, (but I’ve been off wheat and then back on so I know this from experience) when I introduce it back into my system, I become crazed with eating it,(emotions, gut reactions etc etc) I just don’t think I dare eat it again.

        Susan Plocher wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Would a doctor tell a smoker to re-introduce smokes into their day after a couple months of kicking the habit? Why would you even consider re-introducing wheat?

          JimmyB wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I’ve been Primal for over a year and I still crave wheat….expressly breads. I used to bake bread a lot and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t miss them.

        Sitara wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Mmmm, lightly toasted croissants with butter and homemade sugarless strawberry j a a a m.

          Far out.

          Ma Flintstone wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • I couldn’t agree more with this statement. I like you had all of those signs and withdrawl symptoms. Before it felt like I HAD to have wheat and would frequently binge eat if my intake was low.

      I love being more in control of what I put in my mouth now that I have turned Primal and most of my stomach issues have resolved. Hoping the rest will as well once I am Primal for a longer period of time (only been two weeks for me).

      Crystal wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • sounds like you’ve become fat adapted! good work!

        Max Ungar wrote on July 18th, 2012
  4. That’s why my steak makes me feel so good! Give me hemorphins! Yum!

    Warrior Lynn wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Carpaccio rules!

      Joanne wrote on July 18th, 2012
  5. The biggest reason I am anti-wheat is that even if it is not bad for you (and there is plenty of research to suggest it is), there are better alternatives to get every benefit claimed by wheat.

    Graham wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Exactly Graham. The motto here is “get the most bang for your buck” if you are going to have a 50 calorie piece of bread with few nutrients and some fiber, why would you not instead have 50 calories of kale where you get loads more nutrients? Makes no sense.

      Max Ungar wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • After awhile it seems that you really crave the high value food and all the fillers (rice, pasta, bread) lose their appeal. I still make rice for my kids and some nights go by with not one person eating it due to all the other more tastier options.

        Scott wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • This has become true for me too. I crave the high nutrient foods now instead!

          Keith wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • +1 to this. That stuff is just filler now, wasted calories that are frequently tastless and gelatinous when chewed.

          Rhonda the Red wrote on July 19th, 2012
        • My mom turned me on to the Primal lifestyle and, when I first heard about the lack of grains, my instinctive reaction was “No way. I could never live without my pasta.” After just a few weeks of living without that pasta I couldn’t live without, it did’t even tempt me anymore. She’ll still make a pot of noodles with dinner for my carb-loving brothers, but it’s not even a struggle for me to turn it down for more chicken!

          Susie wrote on July 23rd, 2012
  6. This just leaves me with one question — does the wheat over time break down the intestinal lining so the opioid exorphins eventually make their way there?

    Kris wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • That’s what I’m thinking…

      Chica wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Exactly, there is a lot of evidence that wheat can and will weaken the gut lining causing leaky gut so that it can slip through the cracks and enter the blood stream, also likely allowing other gut bacteria in at the same time. Just because you gut is able to keep the damage to a minimum and recover does not mean wheat and other bacteria are not squeazing through, causing addiction, autoimmune response, etc. See http://www.kickas.org/londondiet.shtml diet section for research on how klebsiella bacteria molecular mimicry likely causes autoimmune response and collagen damage of Ankylosing Spondylitis, and how a more paleo style diet seems to help fix it. It is suspected that many people with lesser extremes of AS collagen damage go undiagnosed.

        Ever wonder why your aches and pains go away on paleo? This could why. How does Klebsiella get into the blood stream? My money is on wheat causing leaky gut being a big part. If healthy starch by itself could do it, then all those Kitava would be sick. Ever notice that wheat is served at every western meal? I have yet to sit down to a western meal made by nonpaleos and not be given wheat. Even at the Chinese restaurants in the west, much of the meat is breaded and they give you those fortune cookies at the end. Even salads now come with croutons and slices of bread. Ever try to find a meal that did not come automatically with wheat?

        Eva wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Thanks for that explanation — I suffer from Hashimoto’s, so the autoimmune connection to wheat makes total sense.

          And don’t get me started on wheat in everything. It’s a sheer pain to order out lunch at work without making it a big custom order. Or to have my colleagues constantly ask me “can you have this?” At least they don’t push wheat on me. It just makes me sad to watch them eat it all the time then make the off-hand comment “oh, I’ll just take a pill for that later”. Hopefully, I can lead by example and spare some of them some future distress!

          Kris wrote on July 19th, 2012
        • Dishes that are served with potato usually only have hidden wheat as a thickener. Even liver and onions has wheat in it. I guess one would have to ask pointed questions about the omelets.

          Kelekona wrote on July 15th, 2013
        • I also don’t like eating out so I don’t have to sit down to ask 10 minutes about all the ingredient lists of every dish I may be interested in. I could often cook my own meal in the time it takes to order, chicken baked in coconut oil and salad dressed with olive oil&vinegar is my quick go-to meal; and I don’t mind packing my own lunch. On the other hand, if we do go out to celebrate a birthday or anniversary, we tend to go for African restaurants. Central African seems better, since my motherland-N African is mostly Mediterranean+a ton of fresh seafood, but the fresh seafood part is often missing in their American versions due to practical reasons. It seems to be a general rule that Americanized any ethnic cuisine loses much of its authenticity, unfortunately. In any case, I find it much easier in African restaurants to find Primal-friendly dishes that I don’t have to tweak in a million ways :) And I like the taste too. Strongly recommend to anyone if you go out one day! And if I really have to find something outdoors and cheap and quick, I have gone a few times for the Jimmy John’s Unwhich (lettuce wrap) (I ask them to add more olive oil), at least it’s not too far off from the Primal diet.

          sarah wrote on July 15th, 2013
  7. Wheat probably is addictive to some degree for most people but the real problem is not the opioids. It’s the carbs people. That blood sugar spike is a hell of a drug! Ah, I can see myself in the gutter some day with a loaf of Wonder. (I’m only have kidding)

    Groktimus Primal wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Cracking up at the visual of lying in a gutter somewhere with a loaf of Wonderbread!

      Defrog wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • +1

        Carla wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • +1

        Ma Flintstone wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • +1

      Chica wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I also think it’s generally the carbs. That’s supposed to be where the glycemic index comes in and why grains are better than sugar, but it doesn’t work that way for me. I had weight loss surgery in May because I have not been able to hold my committment to low carb eating (been trying up and down now for about 15 years). Now I eat my protein and don’t have room for anything else. :) It’s a tool I needed for myself, I knew what I needed to eat, I just fell too hard off the wagon when just one little thing would set me off. Now if I have a cheat, I’ll only have a little one, and set myself right back on track with my next meal.

      Kat wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Nope, it can’t be just the carbs. People would eat more wheat-noodle than rice-noodle.
        My theory is that wheat somehow acts like a flavour enhancer. It’s just the yummiest type of starch.

        Nic wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • I agree. It’s serendipitous that Mark sent this email out just after my daughter’s second birthday and my wife’s soy free birthday cake. I am allergic to soy… so I rarely ate wheat anyways, but I LOVE beer. Recently I have realized I am probably full on caeliac and have given up beer. I drink Red Bridge now. But I have noticed something very strange. I can drink all the alcohol in the world, eat all the carbs my belly can handle, and it will never touch the warm glow in my heart that a pizza and beer give me. I’m serious. I splurged on pizza and decided to save a few bucks and treat myself to some yuenglings and I started reminiscing about things I hadn’t thought of in ages. I first suspected the context dependence of memory (what Mark was referring to by “culture”)was the simplest solution but I specifically mentioned to my wife that I felt better splurging on pizza and beer than ever. Of course, when the buzz wore off I hated life. :-) This helps me to make sense of the life behind me. Maybe it’s just for people like me who suffer from the gluten in just a single beer. But there is something MORE to barley and wheat than the carbs or alcohol!

          DeyC3 wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I would be tempted to agree but for what I see in the people around me. I have tried to get people to give up wheat just for a trail run but they all say the substitutes like gluten free are just not as good and satisfying. The thing is, some of the cheap crap wheat stuff they eat is terrible tasting, yet they say is is WAY more satisfying than high grade delicious gluten free cakes. Something is going on with wheat that goes well beyond the carb rush from say a potato.

      Eva wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I have a Wonderbread bakery factory literally around the corner from me. Sometimes the whole neighbourhood smells of baking. Even back in my bread-eating days, I thought Wonderbread was pretty gross, but that smell — that amazing smell!

      Emseven wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Yeah, whats with that smell? It permeates everything and smells oh so good! I have a bread factory near me as well and I know what your mean.

        Scott wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I agree. The main addictive substance is the carbs for me. Avoiding them creates less desire, especially in the case of a fast. Then prolonged avoidance creates less and less long term struggle. After being pleasently surprised by the skin and gut benefits of carb-avoidance (starches not fruit and veggies) I was amazed at how I can claim FREEDOM! from bread, rice, potato, cookie and cracker cravings! I also give lots of credence to the claim that I’m actually craving high quality protein and fats, ergo the satiation after a high fat/protein meal. Now about the chocoholism . . .

      Janie wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I may be able to help with that! I make my chocolate from coconut oil, good vanilla, raw cacao not cocoa and stevia. It really helps with the cravings for a little of the 20% cheat add a little agave. I know its high fructose but seriously I used it in the beginning but don’t need to now. 1/2 teaspoon of this chocolate satisfies me. I do have to say when I used the agave to start I would eat more of it. Hope this helps. As for the article I quit smoking after 12 years of 2 packs a day and stopping bread and pasta was worse!!! Yes it is addictive hands down no science needed!

        Leslie wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • I agree with this. I think that it is simply that wheat makes us burn sugar and use insulin to regulate our blood sugar. It makes us feel like eating a carb-rich meal again after 3 hours. If we can wait it out and get off the sugar/wheat (only takes about 18 to 36 hours), then we aren’t “addicted”. I think when no longer under the influence of insulin, we no longer crave wheat, or other carbs. It may have nothing to do with opiate-like compounds.

      Nancy wrote on July 18th, 2012
  8. Wheat probably is addictive to some degree for most people but the real problem is not the opioids. It’s the carbs people. That blood sugar spike is a hell of a drug! Ah, I can see myself in the gutter some day with a loaf of Wonder. (I’m only half kidding)

    Groktimus Primal wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Its crazy how now when I eat something with a lot of carbs or sugar in it, I can literally feel my heart rate spike up and just pump faster. I start to get sweaty and twitchy, and then I realize, so thats why I dont eat sugary, high carb foods.

      Max Ungar wrote on July 18th, 2012
  9. Great point about them being the most prone to causing relapses. This was the primary reason I eat like I do now, I have known for some time that a peanut butter sandwich may send me to dark dietary places.

    Phil wrote on July 18th, 2012
  10. Interesting that this should be the topic today. I was having a discussion last night with my brother and his wife and they were describing to me how her father was totally unable to fathom having a meal without bread. If a meal is served without bread he’ll ask if there’s any bread, make a sad and surprised face when told there isn’t, then ask if there’s at least any sliced bread somewhere, and repeat the same sad face, this time with a bit more panic clearly visible.

    Sounds like an addiction to me in his case.

    Marc wrote on July 18th, 2012
  11. I first learned about this once I started reading “Wheat Belly” by Dr. William Davis around the same time i picked up my copy of the Primal Blueprint. People look at you like you’re crazy when you say wheat is harmful.

    James Only wrote on July 18th, 2012
  12. I found wheat easier to give up than dairy. I fool around with the idea of giving up the dairy again (I once went a month without it as part of a cleanse) to see if I feel better, but I feel – “panicky” is a good word – after 2 days without it. Maybe this explains part of it.

    For me, the hard part about giving up wheat and grain was the cultural/family aspect. My family always would have waffles on Sundays growing up, my mom baked fresh bread so when we came home from school it was waiting (cinnamon bread with butter, mmmm!) – these things were emotionally hard to give up. And I think my mom thought I was turning on her in a way, by not eating the bread/grains that she did anymore. That was hard. Especially because I think she could hugely benefit from a primal-style diet, but we don’t talk about food together anymore.

    Food can be complicated.

    Joanne wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • ‘Food can be complicated’

      Oh, ain’t that the truth! And the mother relationship combined with food …

      Need I say more!

      Kelda wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • My mom is near 70, and hearing these comments makes me feel so lucky. She is totally on board with my low-carb WOE, ever since I got diabetes. She knows I test my blood sugar, she knows carbs makes it go up, so… for her it’s a no-brainer. No amount of food nostalgia or cultural habits can beat her concern for my health. (We grew up as Asian rice-eaters.) I think to myself this is what real love is.

        Anna wrote on July 20th, 2012
    • I agree, it’s so hard to talk about food sometimes, it’s such an emotionally charged topic. I am related to a few “sugarholics/carbaholics”, I feel like the health risks are just as bad as if they were alcoholics and here are plenty of studies to suggest this, but like any addiction, social norms override reason.
      While I was trying to figure out why I had stomach issues, I went pescatarian (no meat besides fish, no dairy) for a few years and was in the military at the time; talk about heckling! The norm was meat, meat, meat and not conforming meant I was placing my needs above fitting in; not really appreciated in the military and not really appreciated in delicate social situations. There are plenty of times when we are expected to be uncomfortable for the sake of social customs. Children learn this early. Food is no different and by being a primal eater, you are essentially rejecting your society, an anarchist! Many think, “It’s just food, shut up and color” but it’s so much more than that if you have experienced the feeling of true health.

      jaime wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I’m a big fan of little white lies to get myself out of eating crap for social customs. A poster above said “I just tell them I’m pre-diabetic” which shuts down the discussion/heckling/guilt trip. I have definitely done that. (Plus, technically, we all might be pre-diabetic.) I’ve also suggested to people who have a family member with Celiac disease that they can use that as an excuse as there is a possible genetic link. When I’m among friends I just say “I don’t eat grains and I feel fantastic” then there’s very little for them to argue with. I don’t bring up the overwhelming research. If they respond “What? How can not eating grains make you feel fantastic?” I just respond with a smile and say “I dunno, but it does.”

        Robyn wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Yeah, I don’t try to explain. I say I’m insulin-resistant, or my kid has wheat and dairy issues (and he actually does have dairy issues). I live in a hippie college town, so on the plus side everyone understands issues with gluten, dairy, corn, soy, peanuts, tree nuts… On the minus, everyone is happy to hand you a slice of GF DF agave sweetened spelt cake instead. Truly, the bulk aisles of our local grocery stores are epic — we have all the grains!

          em wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Em, spelt is NOT GF, it is a form of wheat.

          Ursula wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Well said! Its always hard to swim upstream and that’s what living a primal life sometimes feels like.

        Scott wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • +1

          Karen wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • My husband- while his father scarfed down grain meal after grain meal while quickly dying of liver cancer- said food was more personal than religion or sex.

        Ma Flintstone wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • My husband and I have a close relationship, but we have had our fair share of disagreements. First it was financial, until we both agreed with Dave Ramsey and got on board and now are totally debt free. But now what we argue most about is food. He used to call me a sugar hound and said I was addicted. I denied it! I was in denial.

      I started LC 2 years ago and would go for a couple months (with some sugar free products every once in a while) and felt GREAT. When I have been pregnant, it was too hard. Now, 3 months post- baby I am eating Primal and hubby gets upset when I don’t eat healthy grains.

      So hard to keep my mouth shut! But I’m working on it.

      Amy wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • So you are on board with primal eating and Ramsey. Tell me, do you have any primal money? aka precious metals. I’ve listened to Ramsey several times and respect his message (despite his aimed targeting of Christians and churches) and while he is successful, his understanding of economics is sad.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • I too found wheat surprisingly easy to give up. I have not given up dairy yet. I love butter, cream, cheese and Greek yoghurt. My downfall was putting wheat and dairy together, fresh baked bread or toast with butter, scones with cream and jam, macaroni cheese etc. I could eat these even when not feeling hungry, I just wanted more. Without the wheat I find that I just do not have cravings.

      Annakay wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I have no intention of giving up dairy. I love butter and cream. I feel great. Giving up grains and grain-derived oils has changed my life. It’s been 2 1/2 years now. I just don’t see any reason to give up dairy. It would be different if I were lactose intolerant, but I tolerate dairy very well.

        Nancy wrote on July 18th, 2012
  13. I think bread can be addicting but this does not necessarily mean that it’s the wheat. Maybe it’s the added sugar or the warmness and fluffiness of it?

    Or the added flavors and the fact that you can dip it into olive oil at Italian restaurants?

    Pasta was easy to give up. Pizza not so much but it was not because of the crust. It was because of the toppings which are of course healthy. Salt too.

    Bread though? I’ve definitely enjoyed bread dipped in butter or olive oil at restaurants. I’ll never buy it myself though.

    Primal Toad wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Let me recommend to you pizza dip. It fills my pizza needs so wonderfully. Put tomato sauce, pizza seasoning and all your favorite chopped precooked meat and veggie pizza toppings in a crock pot and let them heat until nice and thick. Then eat with fresh veggies or cheese cubes if you are good with dairy. Now that I’m off the crust, I enjoy pizza this way so much more.

      Rhonda the Red wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I do similar but I just put it in a bowl and stick it in the microwave, just long enough to heat it and melt the cheese, which isn’t long. If everything is precooked, then you just need to heat it.

        Eva wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Cup O’ Pizza! Steve Martin’s old 70s era movie “The Jerk” featured a great scene with Steve having “cup o’ pizza” on a date. My husband and I have joked for years about lines from that scene (“Oh, this is the best pizza in a cup ever–this put the old cup o’ pizza guy out of business”). Now I’ll be making us cup o’ pizza for real (primal style)! :)

          Dolphin wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Put the pizza toppings and sauce in large mushrooms and bake – nom-nom-nom!

      Pure Hapa wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Or try on grilled bell peppers or aubergines….for the “shelf” vehicle that is crust.

        Donna wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • We prefer to add all the pizza “fixings” to a split and hollowed out zucchini “boat”. Sauteed zucchini is pretty much the pasta substitute around our house.

        BookMdano wrote on July 18th, 2012
  14. I most certainly was addicted to wheat, but I was finally diagnosed with celiac at 35 years of age, which eventually led me here. Celiac is so severely underdiagnosed that I would bet most people who are addicted to wheat have it. I can remember eating piece after piece of toast with butter as a child, so foggy that I couldn’t remember how many I had had.

    I have a daughter with autism who is now gluten-free and mostly primal, and the difference is dramatic. She was already very high functioning, and now might qualify to be called “recovered” in a couple of years. Wheat is most definitely addictive to the autist. Stories abound of non-verbal children climbing to the top of the pantry to get to the bread for a fix. These stories often make me think the autism epidemic is at least made worse by if not comprised of food issues.

    Catherine wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I have no doubt that food contributes to autism spectrum disorders and so many other behaviors. My sister used to get down right mean when she ate red dye. Its sad more people dont recognize that.

      Jessica wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • My son has a wheat allergy, and celiac is likely, but not diagnosed. He has had the hardest time f any of us giving up bread and pasta. Left to his own devices, he would eat nothing else. I wonder if the body’s reaction causes an d endorphin rush for some of us?

      mntnmom wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • It could be your son just needs a lot more available energy at his age. Try giving him sweet potatoes with dinner instead of wheat. If it satisfies him, he may be able to more easily get off of the wheat. There isn’t anything magical about wheat. It is quite likely just very quick energy, something growing kids need.

        Nancy wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Have you ever looked at the GAPS diet for autistic kids? Very much like paleo/Primal. Gut and Psycology sydrome book. You can only order it online. It’s by a doctor that had an autistic child and cured them with an elimination diet. I think she’s from England.

      Leslie wrote on July 19th, 2012
  15. I don’t know if I could say if I was really addicted to it. It was easy for me to give up because I realized I don’t really enjoy the texture of most grains, or the way it sits in my gut. I have definitely had a hard time giving up ALL wheat since my primal awakening.

    But I will say with some satisfaction that I have cut it out of maybe 75% of my meals. I no longer eat sandwiches, bread, or rolls. I still eat the occasional pizza slice or birthday cake as my cheat. Then again I don’t eat fast food or pizza NEARLY as often as I used to.

    For a long time I ate cereal for breakfast every day, and I have found that pretty easy to give that up. It’s just as easy to grab some leftover meat and veggies out of the fridge on my way to work and just heat it up.

    I do still eat one doughnut for breakfast about once a week. But even that has been way cut back from how often I used to eat them.

    Over all, I will say I am only part of the way there but I still feel better about how far my diet has improved.

    daryl wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • When I first cut out the bread and pasta, I used to use it only as an occasional “cheat”. But eventually I couldn’t even do that. I am now at the point where my metabolism has adjusted to no grains. I actually feel kind of ill when I eat bread. It’s too bad really. Sometimes it’s nice to have with a really awesome cheese or pate, but I feel bloated and get a little constipated now from bread. In addition it no longer is appealing to me. It smells wonderful if freshly baked, but then when I eat it,I feel like I’m eating styrofoam.

      Nancy wrote on July 18th, 2012
  16. I’m lucky, I don’t feel I’m addicted to wheat, nor do I have any side effects from eating it.

    So I have no problem eating a smidge of home cooked wheat products, such as cake or pizza or bread. I feel that part of life is enjoying the love others bring and many show their love through their cooking. People think they are mad that you are eating their cake, they are mad that you aren’t taking their love and affection.

    Bob Loblaw wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • You are so right, Bob. As one who loves to cook for others, it’s my way of showing friends and family that I love them. Of course, the food is always healthy and 100% home-made, and whole. But you’re right, unless you have a major food allergy or are a celiac or lactose intolerant, I don’t see the harm in having a small bit of whatever it is that’s being served. Being so militant about your food can sometimes turn against you.

      Christina wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Would the same hold true for someone that’s really into homebrewing and expresses their ‘love’ by enjoying with others and the person happens to be an alcoholic?

        I’ve always found these types of behaviors to be really controlling, and the opposite one should do to express love.

        Andrew wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Homebrewing is a little bit different. Many people don’t appreciate such fine fair, and we wouldn’t want to waste it on them.

          Or they’re somewhere on the spectrum from recovered alcoholics to moral teetotalers.

          Give it time, grain-free will get there.

          Kelekona wrote on July 15th, 2013
      • It wouldn’t be such a big deal if it were just one person a week offering food – but it’s usually a person a day (or multiple times a day) in an office setting – and all of those little bites add up.

        Plus I just don’t really like sweets and I already ate, and I’m not hungry and ugh – just GO AWAY and leave me alone. Get off my lawn.

        People have all kinds of reasons for declining food – and it is really none of the food offerer’s business what one’s allergies are, or diseases or diet.

        Brooke wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • I understand your point and have experienced it. I have had problems with my parents on these types of situations. The only problem is where do we stop?

      For example, the giver may be convinced giving truly addictive substances, such as cocaine, out of genuine affection is a true act of love. We can probably agree that this is example is extreme, but I believe it holds some weight.

      What scares me is someday we, myself included, may “blame God” for sickness of our loved ones and our ourselves, all the while we could have been damaging our health. This awkwardness produced from wanting to please everyone can be dangerous, and for humor in this reply, can be referred to as “peer pressure.”

      The flip side of this question is who is denying the love? Maybe the person, which I have been to my parents, is trying to love the person offering them cake because their body and health situation can’t afford to decline. So, do we go through the awkward denial with the hope that cake people might change their life, or just carry on. I’m not good at it, but I try sometimes.

      Grok shall be fruitful and multiply, so we must live by example.

      Derek wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • And to answer the post question: My mind goes nuts when I get the idea to go out to eat or get a pizza. So, I def have some addictive symptoms.

        Derek wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • LOVE “Grok shall be fruitful and multiply”. Gonna make that a poster and put it on my office wall.

        Robyn wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Your awesome! Im going to make a poster of your comment lol.

          Derek wrote on July 20th, 2012
  17. Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent

    Epictetus
    55-135 A.D.

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • You’re so wise. You’re like a miniature Buddha, covered in hair.

      -Ron Burgundy 2004

      MikeD wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I wish I could “like” posts on here. I think that’s an excellent quote. There’s too much of people trying to tell you what to do and not enough people recognizing that figuring out what foods are best for your body is a personal journey.

        Melanie wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • +1 for any Anchorman references

        BrodieMN wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Nice!

      Michael wrote on July 18th, 2012
  18. Mark, thanks for addressing this and please let us know if you find out more information. I feel that I was definitely addicted to wheat. I would start eating bread and be unable to stop, feeling horrible the whole time. Never again! I can’t stand to think about living like that. Thanks for getting me on the right (Primal) track!

    Siobhan wrote on July 18th, 2012
  19. What I’ve discovered personally that grains and all sugars are like cocaine to me…highly addictive. It’s taken me almost 8 months to get to a point where I can cut off sugar and grains for good, I was that addicted. I now know that I can never ever eat them again, as I finally figured out how addicted I was to them. Am now Primal close to 100%, and have never felt better.

    Trish wrote on July 18th, 2012
  20. I think it’s more habit than the biochemistry of wheat. East Asians cannot live without rice. It’s not like they haven’t had exposure to wheat – noodles made of wheat flour or a mixture of flours including wheat, such as soba noodles, are commonly eaten, yet cannot replace rice in the hearts and stomachs of East Asians. Younger people eat bread and pastries, but perhaps because the quality of bread in particular is mediocre compared to the West, East Asians haven’t developed a craving for it.

    Sonagi wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Totally with you on this one. I grew up on a Filipino diet where every meal can have as much as 4 servings of rice, if not more. I could care less about a piece of cake. I don’t even like cake! But if you set a plate of rice in front of me with some fish sauce, it will be very hard to resist that temptation. Even my mother, who’s on a calorie-restricted SAD diet, will avoid rice because of this addiction. My brother can’t get lean because he’s so addicted to rice.

      Hey Mark, do you mind looking into rice addictions? You did a job with wheat here, which applies to westerners generally. How about a little something for the Asians?

      Mad Allen wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • So far I’m still weak around cream cheese frosting, those new by the ounce froyo joints and rice noodle soup (pho). I have six months of sobriety from alcohol, and no joke, quitting alcohol was a cakewalk compared to quitting grains and sugar. I’m a better person for trying to shift funky stuff out of my life and my gut, but I’ve been blessedly alcohol-free with relative ease, and the sugar and wheat is a daily tooth and nail fight. It’s the good fight, though, so I’m all in.

        pearl wrote on July 18th, 2012
  21. I was definitely addicted to wheat. I spent 10 years trying to give up sugar with very limited success. When I gave up wheat finally two years go it was like a light switch went off and I no longer craved sugar either. Go figure.

    Tammy wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • It’s the carbs – whether grain, potato or sugar – if I go for one then I’ll want the others.

      Maggie wrote on July 18th, 2012
  22. On the subject of refusing birthday cake… I have no problem refusing it as work because I don’t really care what those people think. BUT…when it comes to family I take a small piece to keep the peace. Relationships/reducing stress are also an important of being primal. Yes they should support me and for the most part they do but (for many people) birthday cake is sacred and loaded with meaning. Plus it usually fits nicely under the 80/20 rule for me.

    steffturner wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Exactly. Hence the 80/20 principle. Happiness is always the most important thing!

      Max Ungar wrote on July 18th, 2012
  23. I don’t think wheat is even a little bit addictive. Anything that a person likes to eat will elicit a reward response in their brain. That’s not addiction, it’s preference.

    Wheat tastes good to lots of people. That’s why they eat it. It has a high glycemic index, which is bad, but also a fair amount of nutrition in a small package, which is good.

    RPLong wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • There is little to no nutrition in bread. I quit and I have never felt bloated since I stopped eating grains. What I try to tell people about the primal diet is that it is not about what you can’t eat, it’s about what you can eat. I had scrambled eggs cooked in butter with smoked salmon and avocado for breakfast. What’s better than that?

      Steve wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I do like scrambled eggs, but they taste even better when accompanied by sourdough toast!

        John Richards wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Don’t be ludicrous. Bread (and more broadly, wheat) contains both sugar and fiber, two things that are vital to human existence. Bread also contains many important micronutrients.

        RPLong wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Are you just trolling, now?

          Sugar is not essential. Fiber is not essential. Bread has no micronutrients not found in much higher density (per calorie) in animal foods, vegetables, or most fruit.

          Nutritionally, its only value is cheaply keeping the working class going.

          ChainFlow wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • @ChainFlow – Sorry, I thought it was obvious that I meant that the carbohydrates in bread are broken down into glucose, which is necessary for human survival. Fiber also plays a vital role in human health, and it, too, is a carbohydrate contained in bread.

          These are pretty good things. When people say there is “no nutrition in bread,” they are making too strong a claim.

          It may well be that your paleo diet is superior to an all-bread diet, but it would be very wrong to suggest that – outside the context of any particular diet – there is no nutritional value in wheat. Come on, admit it: that’s silly.

          RPLong wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • I was aware of what you meant by “sugar”, which was, in fact, accurate. You are simply incorrect; humans do not require dietary glucose nor fiber (especially not from such an poor source).

          Notice that I did not claim it has no nutrition. It’s simply worse nutrition than almost every other food in existence.

          ChainFlow wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • On the other hand, Steve *did* claim that there was “little to no nutrition in bread,” which was the context of my original reply. So, no, I wasn’t trolling, I was responding to him. I assumed, since your reply was a reply to my reply, that yours was a continuation of the same discussion. Was it not?

          Your claim that humans do not require dietary glucose is technically correct – Any old form of sugar will do, be it a complex carbohydrate, fructose, lactose, dextrose, or whatever. Regardless, since bread is a source of something that humans cannot do without (although not the only source), it is not correct to say it lacks nutritional value.

          We didn’t need to say all that, however. A few short comments would have sufficed. We’re just getting pedantic now. :)

          RPLong wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • Actually, no form of carbohydrate is required for life or function. I enjoy the carbs I get from my vegetables and fruits I eat, and the occasional white rice or sweet potatoes, but they are not essential. There are essential fatty acids and amino acids, but not CHOs. They can be de novo generated from fatty acids or protein.

          My reply was only a reply to your comments and the problems I perceived, nothing else.

          ChainFlow wrote on July 18th, 2012
        • RPLong and Chainflow battling it out! Careful, it can escalate quickly. I know a mild manner guy who once stabbed a man in the heart with a trident. Who knew he had it in him.

          Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on July 19th, 2012
      • Here here. The toast is just a chore to chew.

        Nancy wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Wheat is one of the least nutrient-dense foods out there. Practically anything is better, and probably won’t have the negative effects.

      ChainFlow wrote on July 18th, 2012
  24. I don’t know if it is “addictive” as in I have “bread” cravings like I once had cigarette cravings when I smoked. Maybe for some people, but not for me.

    It is DEFINITELY addictive in the sense that when I eat a little bread (like pizza or cake), I find myself gorging on the stuff until I feel terrible.

    Your article is interesting, because I generally do not have the same reaction to Rice or other grains.

    Pauly C wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I agree, there is something special about bread that is not found in wheat-based foods in general. I have no trouble giving up (or limiting) wheat-based noodles, but that special mouth feel provided by a crusty bread is something else again.

      John Richards wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • I notice a difference between commercial breads and home-made bread. My sensitivity is to something in the “enhanced” commercial foods.

        I wonder if the bread reaction isn’t wheat, but rather dough enhancers.

        Kelekona wrote on July 15th, 2013
  25. I have been saying for ever i am addicted to wheat. I can pinpoint times in my life that a bread product has started a upward spiral in weight gain.

    michael wrote on July 18th, 2012
  26. If wheat is ‘trying not to be eaten’ (by producing phytates etc), then why would it also produce something that is addictive? Or is this something that we have bred into it (exaggerating an existing feature)?

    Scott UK wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Wheat has been cultivated for so long now that I don’t think there’s really a “wild” strain evolving naturally any more. Certainly the strains we grow for food have, I’m sure, been manipulated to “taste better” to us, therefore be eaten (purchased) more.

      Johnny wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • try to read Wheat Belly, by Dr. William Davis

        MILISSA wrote on July 18th, 2012
  27. I stopped cold turkey on May 7th. I’ve had a few pieces of bread since then. One burger, a couple of crackers that were handmade organic types with cheese, and a couple of cookies. Other than that, I found that I don’t miss it all that much even though I use to make my own bread, and had it in every which way almost every day. The trick, for me, was to up my game in the primal food. If I’m not going to eat bread, then I’m going to make everything else really good.

    I think that since I eat so well now, and the weight is just falling off effortlessly, I don’t want to end a good thing.

    As a former smoker who stopped twice – once for three years, and then again 6 years ago, I have some experience with addiction. I still miss cigarettes in a way that I don’t miss wheat based food. I find it difficult to be around smokers, but I have no trouble being around bread eaters.

    I think sugar is far more addictive, at least for me, than wheat.

    Cory wrote on July 18th, 2012
  28. It’s definitely addictive to cats. The canned cat food that has gravy in it has wheat gluten as the first or second ingredient. My cats couldn’t get enough of it. I gave it to them for only about 5 or 6 weeks. They begged for it and turned up their noses at the canned food that did NOT have wheat gluten. I stopped giving it to them last week. Their canned food consumption has gone waaaay down. No more constantly sitting in the kitchen and begging to be fed. Try it yourself and see if you have the same experience. It was the first time I’d ever tried the gravy type of canned food which has become very prevalent on the pet food shelves. I’ve gone back to the classic type of moist cat food which is gravy-less.

    Deb wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • +1

      My cat was rail-thin when I adopted her…years of ad lib eating of dry kibble made her more than 3 lbs overweight, constantly hungry, thirsty, and somnolent, with chronic painful cystitis. Vet told me she needed ‘portion control’ which just sounded bizarre to me. Recommended a different formula of “weight control” kibble.

      I looked at the ingredients, which I’d never paid attention to before: wheat and corn! Asked the vet why a cat should be eating that stuff; she had no good answer. I figured she’s an obligate carnivore, not a ‘cornivore’, so I put her on 100% protein/fat ad lib, and she’s now dropped those 3lbs, is playful and energetic, and doesn’t even look at the water dish.

      cantare wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Did you coin that? I love it! “Cornivore.” Anybody who’s read “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (Michael Pollan) will recognize that we are a nation of “cornivores”.

        Joy Beer wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • ‘Cornivore’ LOL niceee

        Gift Clumsywarrior wrote on July 18th, 2012
      • Interesting…I now give my cat all grain-free cat food (combo of canned and dry), and she’s not dropping much weight…maybe a little bit of weight. How long did it take for your cat to drop the 3 lbs? Mine also really likes the water dish and begs for food about 8 hours after being fed.

        DarcieG wrote on July 23rd, 2012
        • if you can feed all wet/canned food, you should, and there is NO reason to feed dry food even as a combination. It is just too high in carbs and a couple of other reasons I can’t think of at the moment. Not even the excuse of cleaning teeth is relevant for feeding dry food. Cats basically swallow their food whole, they don’t chew. Biting off from the solid piece to get a piece small enough to swallow is their method. Here’s a website with free info from a veterinarian, please read it :) http://www.catinfo.org/ and good luck

          Wen wrote on July 26th, 2012
  29. I had the hardest time giving up wheat until I began IF and the occasional 2-3 day fast. After that, even the stuff that is primal looked decadent. Now, I easily push away the free restaurant bread.

    Joshua wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • +1 for the most part. I didn’t have the hardest time giving up wheat before i started IF, but now I don’t care for it at all. And the primal stuff seems more decadent now to me, too.

      Keith wrote on July 18th, 2012
  30. Wheat for me was the most addictive substance ever.I actually got the shakes when I removed it from my diet. It can totally mess with a persons head.

    Tina wrote on July 18th, 2012
  31. I am not a nice person when I eat wheat. The head-aches are not very fun either. I am better off with out it.

    Debi wrote on July 18th, 2012
  32. When people speak of pasta etc being addictive I believe, based on my personal experience, that they are speaking about white, stripped of its value, pasta – is it even wheat?

    Wheat is brown. When a food is white it has been stripped of any value. It is a donut at that point and from what I understand your body treats it as such.

    I have yet to meet a person who can eat plate after plate of whole wheat pasta because they are full, satiated. On the other hand, most of us can easily eat two plates of white pasta, unable to turn off the valve – there is nothing left of value in white pasta.

    Andrea wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Whole wheat still has all the problematic compounds, and still has way too many calories for the pitiful nutrition it offers.

      While whole wheat may be “better” in a few respects (disregarding its higher levels of certain chemicals, even) that is like comparing getting punched in the jaw to being punched in the gut.

      Better not to get punched at all.

      ChainFlow wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Here, have a virtual handshake. Now you HAVE met someone who could eat plate after plate of whole wheat pasta because my brain had no idea what ‘full, satiated’ felt like. Whole wheat vs refined made not a scrap of difference to me in my futile efforts to ‘turn off the valve’. What did work was ditching wheat along with other bulk carbs and fixing my insulin resistance.

      cantare wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Wheat is wheat, whether it’s brown or white, and most of it is genetically modified these days. That translates into a better profit margin for the growers but a whole raft of health problems for many of the consumers. There’s no way a plate of any kind of pasta is going to have the nutritional value of meat and vegetables.

      Shary wrote on July 18th, 2012
  33. I can ditch wheat, no problem, even cut my alcohol intake to just a couple drinks a month… but no cheese? No cream in my coffee? No Chocolate? Hmm… I think I might have to hurt someone.

    Kristina wrote on July 18th, 2012
  34. The McDonalds snack wrap was the pathway to perdition for me. I had gone nearly wheat free and lost so much weight, but when I added that convenient little tortilla back into my life, it was enough to set me on a track that ended with mac and cheese and cereal for breakfast again. Plus 50 pounds back on.

    I am most definitely a wheat junkie. I have no tolerance for it at all. The insane cravings I used to have for Cheezits or loaves of French bread left me completely unsatisfied all the time. We’re talking eat everything in the pantry until packed full but still desperately wanting more.

    No wheat, no cravings. I’m off the junk forever. Thank you, Mark and Primal Blueprint!!!

    Rhonda the Red wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • I agree. The minute you cheat it can be dangerous.

      BrodieMN wrote on July 18th, 2012
  35. Is it an addiction, or is wheat just really handy, as in easy to obtain?

    We tend to want to eat or do what is easy- like grab a sandwich, or snack on crackers. Is that an addiction, or a habit?

    Sanders wrote on July 18th, 2012
  36. I’ve found some ways around the birthday cake debacle. After experimenting with sugary foods out of politeness and finding that I ended up with nasty hot flashes and nausea, I just tell folks that cake is too sweet for me to handle and let them scoff and laugh at me for implying I have a “weakness” like that. Yes, that’s right, I’m too much of a wuss to eat birthday cake (while inside I’m thinking I am strong enough not to be a dietary lemming).

    For my own birthday, I have given friends recipes for a flour less chocolate tart and a crust less cheesecake or fresh macaroons. I still don’t eat much of it, but I can avoid the flour and the bad fats and still have my cake and eat it too (though I send plenty home with everyone else so there’s s no multiple indiscretions). *smile*

    People don’t like it when you make food choices that contradict tradition or call others’ dietary choices into question, but that’s their insecurities — not mine — to deal with.

    Aneiya wrote on July 18th, 2012
  37. I don’t know if you could classify ingredients of breastmilk as exorphins… is something that’s part of a human body really “ex-”?

    Sarah wrote on July 18th, 2012
  38. I’ve experienced addiction to dairy with my son and my own addiction to Diet Coke. My son was drinking so much milk he was giving himself stomach aches but he couldn’t stop. We eventually determined it was a type of allergy (although addiction is a closer term for it) and took him to a NAET specialist. Although he still drinks a lot of milk, it’s more now because we do not keep soda and juice in the house and he says he “hates” water.

    I am addicted to Diet Coke. I thought at first it was the aspertain but other diet sodas do not have the same draw to me. I have experienced days were I was drinking Diet Dr. Pepper or Diet Pepsi and I would still get shakes/chills and headaches that were magically “cured” by having some Diet Coke. For me, going cold turkey on cutting out sodas has helped but there are still days when I want one so bad I can feel it in my bones. It’s kind of scary how I let something like that control me for so long.

    Melanie wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Melanie re water hating: Try keeping a jug of herbal fruit-flavored tea handy. Try filtered water if the tea tastes off, then try a small amount of sweetener, I use 1/2 cup sugar for a three-gallon container.

      Kelekona wrote on July 19th, 2012
    • for your son and drinking water, you can also try flavored stevia, there are many different flavors and it’s a natural sweetener. for yourself, you might check out Dr. Mercola’s EFT, emotional freedom technique. Non-invasive and simple to do, I’m pretty sure he told of a client who had a very strong addiction to coca cola and she was cured with the technique. good luck

      Wen wrote on July 26th, 2012
  39. I was definitely addicted to wheat. I would eat wheat pasta at least once a week, and same with bread. I’ve been Primal for three months now and attended a party last week. I thought a little splurge of pizza and cake wouldn’t hurt… Big mistake. Funny how our bodies react. After eating the pizza and cake I was so tired, I took a nap at 6pm while everyone was enjoying the party. My body completely shut down. When I woke up I still felt foggy and couldn’t shake the feeling for hours. Two days later my stomach was still all tied up in knots and the pain was not worth the cheat.

    Puffin wrote on July 18th, 2012
  40. OKAY, I MAKE BEER, DRINK BEER AND LOVE BEER…WHAT ABOUT THE BEER????

    Marie wrote on July 18th, 2012
    • Thank you for your comment!

      I’ve been reading these comments, sipping a Belgian Ale (St Bernardus) and thinking, ok, it is only malt, hops, yeast, barley and water….but it is way more addictive than bread. Maybe people can not give up bread, because it is the gateway drug to beer?

      Eating in Orlando wrote on July 18th, 2012

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