Is Wheat Addictive?

Within 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.

TAGS:  gluten, hormones

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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398 thoughts on “Is Wheat Addictive?”

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  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.

    1. 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.

        1. 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

        2. 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?

          1. Where does one find this recipe?? I love coconut, am gluten sensitive and been trying to kick wheat for years but I need alternatives!!!

        3. 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…

        4. 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.

        5. 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.

        6. 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.

        7. 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.

        8. 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.

        9. 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.

        10. 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

        11. 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.

        12. 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)


      1. When faced with occasions that demand a festive cake, try this completely primal one:

        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.

      2. Birthday cakes can be gluten free and delicious. Help the girlfriend by finding recipes that avoid wheat.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

      3. 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.


      4. 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!

        1. But no one expects a vegetarian to have “just a small piece” of meatloaf, to be polite.

        2. 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?)

        3. 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.

        4. 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.

        5. 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.

        6. Freedom is the choice to say NO.
          As a free person with feality to no one, I demand that choice.


        7. 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.

      5. 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 🙂

      6. 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.

    2. 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!!

      1. 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?

      2. 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. 🙂

      3. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. its worse sometimes with the CW health freaks…WHAT? No “health whole wheat and honey cake with canola oil??”
        Good Grief…

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. 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!

    6. 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.

    7. 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 !!!!!

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

      2. 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.

    8. 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.

    9. 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,!!!!!!

    10. 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


    11. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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!!

        1. Hi, have you tried the cauliflower pizza crust. It is delish. I’m not sure if it fits into primal or not, thought.

        2. 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.

      2. 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…

        1. Yes, Veggie hash is the way to go, also I like to use Cauliflower rice as a base for my runny eggs. Yum!

      3. 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.

      4. TRY JULIAN BAKERY’S PALEO BREAD (coconut flour or almond flour).

    2. 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?

      1. 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!

      2. 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.

  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.

    1. 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

      1. 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.

        1. 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?

      2. 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.

        1. Mmmm, lightly toasted croissants with butter and homemade sugarless strawberry j a a a m.

          Far out.

    2. 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).

  4. That’s why my steak makes me feel so good! Give me hemorphins! Yum!

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. This has become true for me too. I crave the high nutrient foods now instead!

        2. +1 to this. That stuff is just filler now, wasted calories that are frequently tastless and gelatinous when chewed.

        3. 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!

  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?

      1. 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 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?

        1. 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!

        2. 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.

        3. 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.

  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)

    1. Cracking up at the visual of lying in a gutter somewhere with a loaf of Wonderbread!

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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!

    3. 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.

    4. 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!

      1. 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.

    5. 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 . . .

      1. 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!

    6. 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.

  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)

    1. 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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

    1. ‘Food can be complicated’

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

      Need I say more!

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.”

        1. 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!

      2. Well said! Its always hard to swim upstream and that’s what living a primal life sometimes feels like.

      3. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

    4. 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.

      1. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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)! 🙂

    2. Put the pizza toppings and sauce in large mushrooms and bake – nom-nom-nom!

      1. Or try on grilled bell peppers or aubergines….for the “shelf” vehicle that is crust.

      2. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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?

      1. 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.

    3. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

      2. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

      2. LOVE “Grok shall be fruitful and multiply”. Gonna make that a poster and put it on my office wall.

    1. You’re so wise. You’re like a miniature Buddha, covered in hair.

      -Ron Burgundy 2004

      1. 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.

  17. 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!

  18. 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.

  19. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

  20. 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.

    1. It’s the carbs – whether grain, potato or sugar – if I go for one then I’ll want the others.

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. I do like scrambled eggs, but they taste even better when accompanied by sourdough toast!

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. @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.

        3. 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.

        4. 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. 🙂

        5. 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.

        6. 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.

    2. Wheat is one of the least nutrient-dense foods out there. Practically anything is better, and probably won’t have the negative effects.

  23. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  24. 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.

  25. 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)?

    1. 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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

    1. +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.

      1. 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”.

      2. 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.

        1. 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 🙂 and good luck

  28. 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.

    1. +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.

  29. 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.

    1. Study me , if you wish for I have yet to fully understand this ,but this happens to me the next day about roughly the same time I get wheat in my system ! I know I’m highly “allergic” to wheat so much so that its comparable to someone who is so badly allergic to peanuts that even the smell of peanut butter will make them sick! I have proof of this myself as I had to be in the Bakery section of my local grocery store for about 20 minutes , Breathing in the wheat particular…… For me the next day , no matter if it was just in the air or it was just in my food and I didn’t know it , the next day is horrible . what it does is affects my mind in a way that is very very scary and uncontrollable . it makes me incredibly angry with rage at everything and everyone , and it also puts me in a suicidal mode where I go from wanting to kill kill kill to wanting to kill myself….. It didn’t use to be this way …. Use to be I wouldn’t notice I had been getting wheat in my diet (accidently) for about a week and I would get the physical symptoms of diarrhea and major pain in my guts . now I’m scared for my own life . has anyone experienced this or some similarities of this? I have been looking for some kind of antidote but so far the antidotes I’ve been trying are way to powerful even at a fraction of the recommended dosage and I only try health store concoctions. I always refuse any pills from doctors as I know my stomach would only suffer worse for it. I would love to try and figure this all out for myself whit anyone who is willing and I’m sure more educated than me. Yes I have more detail that would make this comment a lot longer , thank you all who read this

  30. 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.

  31. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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!!!

  34. 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?

  35. 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.

  36. I don’t know if you could classify ingredients of breastmilk as exorphins… is something that’s part of a human body really “ex-“?

  37. 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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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

    3. Your son is probably not drinking water because its tap water city water he doesn’t like try getting a good pure water service at your home like a water delivery service see if he will drink that! Of course try different brands of bottle water first to see if he likes it , but for me tap water makes me sick no matter what city its from

  38. 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.

    1. 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?

  39. I agree about it being a habit but also constantly in your face. I only ever cheat at work where there is a constant free supply of leftovers or birthday treats in some wheat based form just sitting next to the coffee machine. There are no wheat products at home and I rarely crave them unless I can see or smell them!

  40. Conclusive evidence may not exist for wheat addictions, yet I still think we should have an intervention for wheat eaters. But I almost bet that there is an addiction to corn. My son would dig pop corn out of the trash after we kicked corn out of our diet.

  41. My answer to birthday cake is “breathing is not optional for me, so I’ll pass on the cake, thanks!” My asthma cleared up, never to return, a few weeks after I gave wheat the heave-ho.

    These days, any grains make me feel lousy, so I do’t do them. “It doesn’t look good enough to get sick over…. really!!”

    Dairy was the hardest for me to give up from an “addictive” perspective, but worthwhile it seems…. the brain-fog on dairy is legendary for me… makes me incapable of stringing 2 thoughts together for about 5 hours… that’s way too long when you live a busy life.

    Currently ditching sugar and all starch in an effort to starve out the fungal and bacterial beasties that live on the starch and sugar in my diet…. 3 weeks down, 10 to go… I’ll be glad to enjoy carrots, potatoes, and fruit again when this is done…

    1. Might want to read Paul Jaminet’s info on his website to get his take on why eliminating starch isn’t necessary – or even beneficial – when fighting fungal infection. Personally, my fungal symptoms improved after 3 days of adding starch back to my previously VLC Paleo diet.

    2. research a possible connection between yeast overgrowth and heavy metals in the body. Coconut is a natural anti-fungal that you can include if you’re not allergic 🙂 and probiotics help control yeast

  42. My entire family thinks I’m nuts for refusing to eat bread, grains and cake. What they don’t get is that I have a gluten sensitivity, along with one of my children, and that we both feel SO MUCH better eating grain-free.

    The proof, for me, that eating grain-free is the way to go (especially wheat) is the absence of horrible seasonal allergies. For years I struggled with constant allergies. Now? it’s a thing of the past. If that’s not proof that gluten was literally ruining the quality of my life then I don’t know what is.

    1. I used to always have swollen sinuses and would develop sinus infections fairly often before I cut out grains. It has been 1.5 years now since I’ve had swollen sinuses or an infection, so I would have to agree!

  43. Wheat is not such a problem for me. I’m in the second week of no wheat or other grains (have had a little corn on the cob because it is so deliciously in season right now). So I’m new to the primal thing, but so far so good. I’m not 100% primal but I am definitely well on my way there. Dairy is going to be my downfall. I doubt I will ever give it up all the way. I enjoy artisan cheese way too much. I don’t have digestive issues with dairy, so it works for me.

    1. I love dairy too, but what I’ve done is go for raw, grass-fed milk and cheeses. You can find raw cheese even at Costco now. Some European cheeses have always been grass-fed and raw but they were never labeled as such. That’s changing now that people are interested.

      I have cut way back though, as dairy is so carb-laden.

  44. The definition of addiction is: 1) the habitual psychological and physiological dependence on a substance or practice beyond one’s voluntary control, 2) the condition of being abnormally dependent on some habit 3) the habit is unmanageable and 4) once you put the substance in your system you cannot predict the outcome and continued use of the substance presents negative consequences and creates harm.

    In my opinion, wheat is addictive. Comparing it to heroin is irrelevant. Sixty five percent of Americans are overweight and 33% of those are morbidly obese. I would comfortably say that that did not occur because we Americans are slamming down spinach.

    To look at only the physiological aspects of what wheat does to the body without the emotional/psychological affects is short sighted, in my opinion.

  45. I’m more addicted to dairy, I think. Wheat wasn’t so hard for me – besides, every time I eat wheat I sneeze – strange, huh? But, being a true daughter of Wisconsin, cheese was very hard for me. I still slip once in a while, but man, when I do my joints swell up like there’s no tomorrow and my whole body aches!

    I actually tried to feed one of my cats the gravy-based canned food because he was losing weight at such a drastic rate. Unfortunately it didn’t help and I lost him last week – turned out he had intestinal cancer. Now I don’t feed the other little guy anything with wheat or soy because he’s a little tub and needs to lose weight. I just wish I could find a cat food that didn’t have potato starch in it.

    1. Could you teach your other cat to eat butcher trimmings? Fast-breeding rodents and fish? They have dietary needs that aren’t met by canned tuna, I’m not sure what organs they need.

  46. In the new book Wheat Belly, by W.Davis, MD, he cites a study done at the NIH where they put gluten through a simulated digestive process, and then isolated the resultant dominant polypeptides, which were then administered to rats. The polypeptides were found to cross the blood brain barrier in the rats. (p. 48) On p. 49 the author state that administration of naloxone blocks the binding of wheat exorphins to brain opioid receptors, but doesn’t reference it.

  47. I had no problem giving up wheat or dairy. The problem I had was eating them in any kind of moderation. If that’s not an addiction, I don’t know what is!

  48. Wheat addiction is not an issue for me. I was recently diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I have to cut all sources of gluten from my diet. So wheat, rye and barley and any derivatives of these are out. I do miss some things, like chili in a sourdough bread bowl. But I sure don’t miss the after effects.

  49. I might be in the minority here, but I really didn’t have any physical problems giving up wheat. I never find myself craving a piece of bread, although I do occationally think a piece of cheesecake would be nice. For me, the hardest part was the cheapness and omnipresence of wheat, like if pizza is ordered for a business meeting or something, or if it’s part of a food I like, like a gyro or a burger. I found wheat more incedental than anything.

    I find that beer would be the food I crave more than anything. But most beers I like don’t even have wheat in them. Maybe I’m more of a barley addict?

  50. My sister is a hair stylist and said they just got a gluten free line of hair products!? Why in the hell would they need to use wheat in shampoo or hair gel????

    1. Great question. I really do not know but that will not stop me from taking a few educated guesses.

      Gluten can be found in grasses and plant endosperm. So maybe “natural botanicals” could possibly contain them? Or maybe the manufacturing plant has known gluten sources from other product lines and cross contamination could happen. Or maybe it used as an emulsifier to chemically thicken the product.

  51. I didn’t find giving up the wheat/gluten as difficult as cutting back on sugar and sweets. I don’t miss pasta or bread, but my late-afternoon frozen 3 Musketeers was a much bigger temptation to resist in the early weeks. However, my daughter (5) I would say IS addicted to gluten, whether mentally or physiologically i dont know, but in spite of how ill she feels afterwards, she is virtually unable to say not to an offering of mac & cheese (thanks, Nana)…sometimes driving her to tears in having to choose.

    Whatever way the science comes out, I would vote it is dangerous stuff in one regard or another!

  52. Speaking from my very recent experience of cutting all of the wheat from my diet, I can def. say I was addicted. About 4 days into the first week of removal, I spent 2 days experiencing withdrawal-like symptoms (body/headaches, tired, feverish, nausea, mental exhaustion etc). Am now one month in and continue to have weekly dreams about eating an entire bakery, making pizza etc. My subconscious mind may still be processing the wheat elimination, but my body is finally free of the cycles of craving. Feels great!

  53. Feed your felines their version of Primal which is simply raw meat including the bone. My cats eat nothing but wild rabbit pieces, chicken thighs, beef heart and the occasional chomp on grass. Took a while to get them off the “cat food” not sure if it was the sugar or grains in there that they were addicted to but three years on, all in tiptop health (and no massive dumps in litter tray any more!) Sorry for going off topic a bit.

    1. Important safety tip: Don’t try to construct your own feline diet without doing some major research. Felines have some pretty specific dietary requirements and you’re apt to end up causing serious problems if an inadequate diet is fed long-term. It can (should?) be done, but not off-the-cuff. Research it.

  54. I found out recently that my 15 years of autimune conditions like chornic fatigue and Fibromyalgia were caused by gluten sensitivity. I suffered terrble withdraw symptoms after removing gluten. I don’t just mean cravings; I experianced horrible anxiety and the kind of withdraw you get stopping an anit depresent. I would get full body tremors during the night too. It was a horrbile experiance that lasted a month. My wonderful doctor who told me about the Primal Blueprint Fitness eBook, told me that this can happen in some people that respon to the addictive side of gluten. How long it can last varies. It is a serious and real side affect of wheat!

    1. Michele, I went through a very similar experience – but in my case it was 15 years of slowly increasing brain fog, fatigue, and depression. Eventually I was diagnosed with Interstitial Cystitis, which is also an auto-immune disease. After about a year of suffering further I read that some people with I.C. experience relief by going gluten free – so I eliminated all gluten from my diet. The withdrawals were hell and the severe depression/suicidal tendencies triggered from going gluten free lasted about two months. Suddenly, it was like the clouds parted and I could think and function again! However, I didn’t start feeling super awesome until my Mom introduced me to Primal living ~6 months ago and I cut out all the other junk from my diet. 🙂 As far as wheat being addictive, I would eat a whole loaf of bread in one sitting before going gluten free, or a whole pan of cinnamon rolls – I just couldn’t stop.

      1. Laura,
        I’m sorry you had to go through so much as well. It is nice to meet someone else who had a hard time with gluten withdraw. People I know who are celiac’s looked at me like I was crazy. I’m glad that you have also found relief with the paleo diet! It is a miracle to be sure!

      2. I am so fascinated to hear that some of your side effects were depression and suicidal tendencies! During the first month I was off wheat and fully Primal I went through similar troubles and chalked it up to personal stress since I felt so much better otherwise. The idea that coming off wheat products could conceivably make a person suicidal terrifies me—all the more because I experienced it too. Anyone else get suddenly and randomly depressed/suicidal like that?

        1. I’ve played with primal. Since my hunger mechanisms are still not quite working right, it was very easy to say “I’d rather not eat” even with a plate right in front of me. I finally had to give up for a while. I am wondering if it’s because primal doesn’t work for me, or if I’m failing because I hate fruit.

          The hunger malfunction is a carryover from when I was 18 and trying to survive on nothing but candy. I finally got sick and unwilling to eat from that, dropped all of my babyfat, too. The tradeoff is that I’m just starting to regain the ability to eat tastes of fine desserts… 15 years later.

  55. Let me clarify: You are not saying it is physiologically addictive, more evidence is needed.

    However, I’ll say that it is absolutely psychologically addictive – without a doubt. Just like some people are addicted to alcohol, drugs, sugar, sex, etc. Products made with wheat are absolutely psychologically addictive.

  56. I also hear, all the time, “I could never give up bread/pasta/pizza.”

    I don’t believe that wheat is actually addictive. I was able to give it up when I went LCHF/primal, and while I did miss it, I did not go through the DTs with my diet change. I’ve been wheat free for 1.5 years.

    I just think that there is no real substitute for wheat. Wheat is omnipresent. Wheat products are the vehicles for our most delicious foods. In my humble opinion, goat cheese is not as tasty eaten alone as it is when consumed on a piece of fresh baguette. And crackers! Crackers! God, how I miss them. Butter also tastes best on crusty bread. Pizza is not possible (or, at least, it is not that good, and not really “pizza”) without a wheat crust. What is bolognese or alfredo sauce without the rigatoni or fettucini? (And please don’t tell me that squash ribbons are an apt substitute, they may be tasty, but they are no substitute.)

    This is not an endorsement of wheat. I don’t eat it. I don’t crave it. I don’t dream about it. I try to find other vehicles for my favorite foods, or I enjoy them alone.

    I miss wheat.

    1. @Kate M..

      Refreshingly honest response. I know myself to be addicted to wheat..but I don’t go near it…EXCEPT through the wonder of Internet, where I sadly still gaze at various baking get a vicarious “fix”. Fortunately, this seems to alleviate the need to seek out the “real” thing.

  57. I don’t believe wheat itself to be addictive. Take a spoon to a bag of flour and see how far you make it.

    I don’t believe sugar itself to be addictive. Take a spoon to a bag of sugar and see how far you make it.

    I don’t believe salt itself to be addictive. Take a spoon to a bag of salt and see how far you make it.

    I don’t believe oil itself to be addictive. Take a spoon to a bottle of oil and see how far you make it.

    But combine all four – mix flour, sugar and salt into a dough and deep fry it – and now you have a recipe for addiction. It’s all in how you dress things up. I find primal foods to taste a lot better than most SAD foods and I’d overeat grilled steak topped with guacamole and fresh pico de gallo far more than I will disgusting, greasy potato chips, but that doesn’t mean I’m addicted to steak. Oatmeal is a great example. Oatmeal’s pretty gross – it resembles vomit with the consistency of mucous – but there’s something oddly comforting about a bowl. I’m guessing it brings back childhood memories and past associations. It’s all a mental game.

    1. You make a great point. With drugs, like meth for example, the effort is always to get it more and more pure and strong. Food scientists work hard at industrial food companies to develop the “cravability”–which means crunch, color, salt… all the stuff together. Great point, well made.

    2. Interesting, when I crave salt, I usually find a vehicle. Even drinking soy sauce, a dissolved ramen packet without the ramen, or a soup made from an instant cheese packet sounds better than just trying to down one of those salt rinses my mother kept trying to foist on me for mouth sores and sore throat… Though I eventually didn’t mind pressing a moist fingerful of salt directly into a sore.

  58. “East Asians cannot live without rice.”

    I was thinking last night about the Asians and their rice… and thought: Maybe it’s EPIgenetics! I had decided to plan my food-life around steak and… you know… “safe” starch … a cup of rice a night with steak. (Alas, I don’t eat veg. I hatehatehate veg, and have all my life! {sigh} Makes going primal really really hard!!) But you know, all these folks who shout about: “Asians and their rice,” and “it’s been too short a time for a people to change their genes…”

    So, I was wondering: what if you factor in epigenetics? Since Asians have been eating rice and more rice for many generations, why wouldn’t their … what? … last 6-8,000 years of a high-rice diet have had an effect not to genetically diverge their “human” genome from the non-rice-eating folks, but to make those (rice-eaters, whose genomes are) most affected by the *epigenetics* of rice-eating more successful in their ecological niche and thus allow them to out-breed those whose epigenetics do not respond as well to those years of rice-eating?

    Just a random curiosity. And, having looked up the carb count of that one cup of rice… I’m going to fall on my metaphorical sword and give up rice. (Woe is me.)

    1. From my days of gestational diabetes, I recall that 1/3 cup of rice equated to 1 carb serving, or about 15 g of digestible carbs.

      Funny, but when I went LCHF/primal, the thing that I wanted to eat was plain white rice with melted butter and salt. It is not an epigenetic issue for me 😉

    2. I grow up eating rice. It doesn’t seem to bother me at all.. I moved to the States and started eating bread and pasta.. I can say I naturally dislike bread and pasta. The first year I was here, I can barely finish one bread roll.. They were just so rough on my throat.. no offense.. lol

      But after a few years, bread, begal and pasta started growing on me. Then I started having worse and worse allergy.

      anyway, long story short, I was eating rice back home…. rice didn’t bother me.. in fact i think Thai food is one of the most paleo friendly hands down.

  59. I made a pizza with wholewheat flour for my daughter the other day (I are slowly working towards a more Paleo lifestyle with my kids at the moment moving away from processed and sugar filled foods) and the smell of it baking in the oven was overwhelmingly good. I was getting major cravings and almost caved in!

  60. Wheat-based products apparently override a “satisfaction” shut off valve in my system. I’ve gone cold turkey on sugar, alcohol, cigarettes (in my youth), without too much trouble, but set a loaf of warm, fresh SF sourdough in front of me and it is history if I have one bite. If I have a wheat based product, I want more high glycemic foods after that for several days. It is like a chemical addiction. Crackers, donuts, cereals, breakfast breads etc. Oddly, I don’t actually like cake so that’s easy to pass up. I have to avert my eyes when going past a donut shop however.

    So yes, wheat for me is addictive, especially when paired with butter and/or sugar. Not just at the time, but continuing for a few days. Dairy is manageable for me, and doesn’t cause problems, so I have some once in awhile.

  61. I believe the zonulin response to gluten happens in every gut, not just in us celiac types… and that it messes not only with the tight-cell junctions in the small intestine, but also those keeping the blood-brain barrier intact. I was assuming that would be why so many celiac and GS folks present with ataxia, migraines, and other neuro problems, whether or not they have ‘classic’ symptoms. (I didn’t, till I did, but other issues resolved…)

    I’m voting addictive. I even had withdrawal symptoms like runny nose. But no cravings, ever … maybe I would if I ate other grains. I have had dreams about corn after visiting Mexico! But wheat literally tried to kill me. Nothing would tempt me ever again. It might be nice to do occasional butter or cheese, but gluten seems to have knocked casein out of my diet, too.

    Does help with refusing cake 🙂

    Our cats eat Honest Kitchen plus a very inexpensive supermarket cat food with amazingly few ingredients… just mackerel or sardines, fish gelatin, and vitamin E.

    Also, let’s not say ‘cheat’! That thinking is a symptom of the SAD diet, imo… As Yoda might say, there is no cheat. There is only eat.

    1. I agree with you! I tested negative to gluten tests, but cutting out just gluten made me feel better. Going pure Paleo made me feel even better.

  62. When I gave up wheat in October, 2010, I went through withdrawals. I was cranky, irritable, teary, fuzzy-headed and depressed for at least two weeks. I have not had any wheat products (knowingly) since. This would certainly seem to indicate an addiction of sorts. I miss bread (a lot). I miss the taste and texture of products made with wheat. I wonder if I will go my entire life without wheat or if I will eventually cave (no pun intended). I take it day by day.

  63. I can’t say that I was ever addicted to wheat, but then again I don’t get addicted to anything. (I stupidly tested this when young, trust me.)

    How are people still having trouble with the “no grain” discussion? After one explanation to people about how wheat gives me heartburn they never comment again. And this is in several countries with many different cultures, people don’t really care if you have a legitimate reason and aren’t a jerk about their bread eating.

  64. 3 bits:
    1) Thanks for your on-going work. Always interesting.

    2) You never mention croissants when listing the baked goods that pull so hard at us. You need to mention croissants! 🙂

    3) I was surprised when I found I didn’t have any difficulty walking away from grains since I hear how it’s so hard for many people. Cheese, however, that’s another matter. Loooove cheese. Must fight cheese!

    1. I too, have a problem with croissants. I love them so! They are the only wheat product I crave anymore, but only the really really good ones, super flaky and toasty with tons of real butter, which are only made at two bakeries in town. Oh, I miss you, my little darlings!

      Cheese also has its claws in my back. I try to limit myself to raw milk cheeses, or well-aged cheeses, but then I found a recipe for ricotta pancakes, and that led to cottage cheese snacking, which led to pouring sour cream over everything… I love living in Wisconsin!

      Which brings me to locally brewed, small-batch beer….oh, I must stop. Just writing this is bringing up cravings – coconut oil on a spoon, you’re my only hope!

    2. If you have serveral days of free time you could try to make croissants using a gluten free flour. All those turns and letting the dough rest. Which makes me wonder, gluten adds to the structure and therefore the texture of whatever baked good. So if a gluten free flour is used will the dough be dough-like? Ya know, get rubbery and inelastic when worked? Any gluten free bakers out there that can answer this?

  65. Used to feel bad about turning down all the birthday cakes, breads, grains, etc. but observing my own family has shown that it is positively the best thing to do! Many are fooled by Big Pharma’s psuedo-health system and and take multiple meds, some are pre-diabetic, some have heart related problems,some are obese and grossly inflammed! My younger daughter and husband are getting it and have gone “Paleo”. She has lost weight and feels much better! It’s for your own benefit!

  66. Mark, I really want to tell you how much I appreciate what you have done for and continue to do as a leader in the Paleo community. I started reading The Primal Blueprint mid January of this year. The pretense of the diet (?) made perfect sense to me and I stopped eating all starches and sugars/processed foods right then. I’ve lost 65 lbs and have been working out every week.

    This is all remarkable because I was an artisan baker when I read the book. I have been baking French breads, rye sourdough and all kinds of delicious naturally fermented breads for family and friends/neighbors. Today they are all wondering where the fresh bread is, lol.

    I stopped cold turkey and it took a few days to get used to the idea of no breads/toxins. You bet I was addicted.

    In my opinion Mark, you have taken the lead in terms of authority in all things Paleo. I like your writing style. I like the way you have continued to produce books of high quality and take the high ground on some of the dicey paleo issues. You are a regular guy with something to say, and you say it in a way that will attract new comers to the low carb lifestyle, what ever you call it.

    Thanks for all you do Mark.

    1. Eric, your story mirrors mine. People still want my breads even after over a year. And I still miss them too. But I know better and my body certainly knows better. And…thanks Mark !

  67. I’d say for me, wheat is addicting. I was the guy (still would be) that couldn’t STOP dipping the French Bread in the olive oil. As I ate, I’d tell myself, “just one more, or THIS is the last piece” of course I kept eating. I would suspect it’s the same for others. I even followed the WAPF advice and ate the “real” bread for a couple of years thinking it was even MORE healthy. I’m actually glad I’m a gluten sensitive. It keeps me on track. I HATE the side affects. Now I can make myself almost feel queezy thinking about breads and pastas. Plants and animals for me thank you very much! BTW, Marc, I felt this post was very well balance and thoughtful.

  68. I find grease to be more addictive than wheat. If I eat some wheat with my breakfast I will be fine and not think about eating until my next meal comes up but when I eat a greasy breakfast I become preoccupied with food for the rest of the day. Different strokes for different folks.

  69. There are a lot of misinformed comments being rattled off on here today about the “nutritional” value of wheat products and how a little wheat isn’t a bad thing. I am actually really surprised about a lot of these comments – usually the comments section is pretty good. I think a lot of people need to read this blog post on Tim Ferriss’ site from Robb Wolf…

  70. I’m addicted to sweet potatoes! Gotta have one about once or twice a week. But that’s usually after a workout. My body craves those carbs….SOoo, not the same thing, really. But the way I enjoy a good baked sweet potato soaked in butter is 100x’s more satisfying then any bread I used to eat. EVER. Yeah, I used to love pizza, but it was the sauce, cheese, and oils that made it so good. Not the bland crust.

  71. My oldest (5 years old) was completely addicted to wheat products. It started as he moved to solid foods and would refuse anything except crackers. When I asked his pediatrition about it, worried that he was not eating enough nutrient-dense foods, she just said to make sure they were whole grain crackers.

    Fast forward three years and he was having tantrums for another slice of bread, every two hours like clockwork. He would get downright violent if I refused him and tried to get him to eat a carrot or some berries instead. Still, I tried to follow CW and give him more whole grains and completely cut out white flours.

    When we finally went gluten-free, and then grain free, for weeks I’d find him hiding and eating stale shredded wheat cereal that he’d stashed in his room and in his toy boxes.

    It was probably a good month before he stopped crying for wheat, red faced and rolling on the floor, sometime assailing me with tiny fists of fury. If that’s not addiction, I don’t know what is.

    1. This story really struck a chord with me. How DARE the medical/CW community out there cause such suffering to a child with their ignorance. AAARRRGGHH!!

  72. I mill my whole wheat grain. Commercial flour and bread is the worst thing in the world. You can go to and read all about it! It really is wholesome.

  73. Back in the day I would say it would have been hard to give up wheat. But it’s pretty simple once I discovered good alternatives.

    I usually try to focus on giving substitutions for what one can eat instead like organic potatoes, quinoa, buckwheat, and gluten-free grains like brown rice when talking about giving up gluten.

    Or of course, just focusing on fat, protein, and/or fiber rich foods in a more paleo style.

  74. This question isn’t related to the post – but more to the choosing a fasting method post.Has anybody thought of the correlation between Mark’s idea of eating when hunger ensues naturally (WHEN) and total protein intake. It seems that if one actually starts to listen to their body and their hunger cues, they won’t eat as often or as much (especially if you are in tune with your full signal – and eat when satisfied). For someone who is very active and who tries to eat WHEN, is it not possible for them to run the risk of not getting enough protein in the diet? Even Mark says he eats 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight in order to keep his lean body mass. I see this being fairly difficult if you are trying to eat WHEN with a decent amount of lean body mass. Any thoughts or is it something to not really worry about?

  75. Timely subject. There is something about grain products in general. I find I don’t particually like them or products made with them, but yet when I start eating them I can’t stop and that is knowing how sick they make me feel. I went 4 month completely grain free and had one meal with wheat and now I am struggling to get it and other grains back out of my daily consumption. I used IF the first time to help wean myself off grain, so maybe time to give it another go…

  76. In order to get to my current primal existence, giving up wheat was certainly difficult. It is compelling that people have side effects to coming down off of wheat similar to any other addictive substance such as drugs. However, I feel like once my body became a fat burning beast (fat adapted) I no longer crave wheat at all, which is the mark of a true primalist in my opinion. Along with that, I can “relapse” (which is not a good term) on something like carb back loading (for quick muscle gains) and not miss grains/sugar once I go off of the loading phase. Since I am not an expert in addiction, I do not know how this compares to alcohol or drug addiction. Also these are purely just how I feel, rather than physiological function. Once again, thanks Mark, you seem to always shed light on topics we all have an inkling are true but don’t know for sure.

  77. Can I get a copy of that Coconut Coconut cake recipe?

    I’m a newbie to primal eating although not to the concept. Working my way there…

  78. I really don’t understand all the grain bashing. I grew up on hot and cold cereal for breakfast, along with ham, eggs, hot buttered bisquits and cocoa. That was when everything was organic–at least on the farm where I lived. My boot camp weight in 1944 was 180 lbs. I’m two inches shorter now and my weight is 170. I’ve never deviated from this weight. I’m 85, can bench press my weight and leg press 450 lbs. I don’t remember ever having a headache, and I feel good all the time. Common sense tells me to avoid all products with refined sugar–no matter who offers it. I don’t touch products like pizza. I’ve had the real thing in Italy. U.S. pizza is a poor knock-off. Rice has been the staple diet for Asiaians for thousands of years, and they are some of the healthiest people on earth. How do you figure that?

    1. You don’t understand the grain bashing? Are you familiar with or have you read any of the works that are the core of the primal/paleo/ancestral movement? Pick up the works of Cordain, Wolfe and Sisson and then get back to us.

      1. In 1994, I learned how to cure my prostate cancer without any conventional treatment. I accomplished this by change of diet and targeted food supplements. Since then, health has been my avocation. I’ve read dozens of books, magazines and countless articles. I know there are some people who cannot tolerate certain foods such as wheat. Most grain products on the market are not fit to eat because they have been stripped of their nutrition and include junk. How grains are prepared makes a huge difference. Wheat, barley,rice, flax–I eat all of them in moderation and am the picture of health. To make a blanket condemnation of food that has nurished countries worldwide for thousands of years makes no sense to me.

    2. He’s got a pretty clean eating history, and a tendency towards shunning pre-1940’s food. Combined with a hard-working life, that sounds fairly survivable.

  79. This question isn’t related to the post – but more to the choosing a fasting method post.Has anybody thought of the correlation between Mark’s idea of eating when hunger ensues naturally (WHEN) and total protein intake. It seems that if one actually starts to listen to their body and their hunger cues, they won’t eat as often or as much (especially if you are in tune with your full signal – and eat when satisfied). For someone who is very active and who tries to eat WHEN, is it not possible for them to run the risk of not getting enough protein in the diet? Even Mark says he eats 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight in order to keep his lean body mass. I see this being fairly difficult if you are trying to eat WHEN with a decent amount of lean body mass. Any thoughts or is it something to not really worry about?

    Read more:

  80. This question isn’t related to the post – but more to the choosing a fasting method post.Has anybody thought of the correlation between Mark’s idea of eating when hunger ensues naturally (WHEN) and total protein intake. It seems that if one actually starts to listen to their body and their hunger cues, they won’t eat as often or as much (especially if you are in tune with your full signal – and eat when satisfied). For someone who is very active and who tries to eat WHEN, is it not possible for them to run the risk of not getting enough protein in the diet? Even Mark says he eats 1 gram of protein per pound of body weight in order to keep his lean body mass. I see this being fairly difficult if you are trying to eat WHEN with a decent amount of lean body mass. Any thoughts or is it something to not really worry about?

  81. I am totally addicted to spinach!!! I get real cravings for it and love the stuff!! And wheat is definitely my nemesis for health and weight loss…!!

  82. Having been diagnosed with Celiac Disease in Oct 2006, I went 100% GF at that time. I was SO sick that cutting gluten (including wheat) was never a problem for me. When I first did give up gluten, I still ate a lot of GF pizza, cakes, brownies, pasta, etc. I gained a TON or weight. I am only about 85 – 90% primal now (still have some dairy)and have lost most of the weight. For me, it is refined carbs and junk foods that are addictive. When I “cheat” on my diet – it is with GF pizza or cake. My family and friends all know how sick I was and watch out carefully for me to not have gluten. To other people, I explain that to my system, gluten is like rat poison. You wouldn’t ever suggest to someone to just have a”little taste” of rat poison, so I can’t have a even little gluten.

  83. I also absolutely fell into the “addicted to wheat” catagory. I ate home-baked bread at least twice a day and had terrible withdrawals (incl. physical) when I gave it up. The only reason I was able to do it in the end was that it made such a difference in my life -> no more knee pain (after 20 years of it) and almost no more PMS (used to be debilitating). If the “positives” hadn’t been so strong I would have never made it LOL…

  84. I love bread and pasta but have pretty much given it up . Most dairy too. I found that I don’t have the gas like I use to and when I ate cheese it came back. I do occasionally have pizza or pancake but try to limit it. I got soy milk which is not bad if you can get past the thick feel of it . I am just not sure what to really eat other than meat,veggies and fruit ….. The weight is not melting off but then I have not been exercising either. Still tired most of the time which could be lack of sleep too. To crap fat is where I’m at…

  85. The cultural element can’t be overlooked. My wife and I decided to try the primal blueprint – she has Celiac disease and I am trying to break the insulin cycle, so it seems like a great plan. We went out to dinner last night and my wife requested the Celiac menu which included a few apps served with sliced veggies instead of bread. Perfect! Except the restaurant offered free bread and roasted garlic at the beginning of the meal. I declined the bread (we kept the garlic) and the waitress thought it was very sweet and supportive of me, but then she brought me pita bread to go with one of the apps. AND THEN she came back with a plate of gluten-free bread and explained that it was a new item so we could use that with out apps! AND THEN she brought back the original bread that I had declined! So we’re sitting there with two small apps, a plate of roasted garlic, and three enormous plates of different kinds of bread before we’ve even ordered our main courses. On top of that, we had to ask for the sliced veggies and had to point to the menu where it said “comes with sliced veggies” when the waitress said that it wasn’t part of the service.

  86. Dairy is my kryptonite, specifically ice cream.

    I was a die-hard pizza fan all my life. I don’t even miss it one bit. I’m Polish, and we have rye bread in our blood…and I don’t even miss RYE BREAD. I loved that stuff!

    But ice cream. Man, oh man.

  87. My wedding is this Friday, and I sure as hell am going to enjoy made-from-scratch cupcakes that we ordered. DAMN RIGHT!

  88. Both opiates and wheat have one thing in common: sugar. Opiates are just manipulated sugar molecules, and wheat breaks down into sugar, so I’d say yes, wheat can be addicting when it’s viewed as a source of sugar–but that’s just a housewife’s view.

  89. Hey guys! First off, I just wanna say that reading your posts was not only entertaining 🙂 but it motivates me to stick w/ paleo even more. (& I definitely need it). I’ve been doing paleo for a couple weeks now. I’ve had a couple “mishaps” but now I just think how horrible (physically & mentally) it makes me feel afterwards. Im not bloated anymore, hardly no cravings for sweets, & I don’t get hungry as often. It’s great, but what’s your take on “cheating” or having that “one lil piece of cake” & not binging afterwards! 🙂

  90. I don’t buy that exorphin has to cross the blood-brain barrier at all to be addictive. Sperm is high in endorphin and the vas deferens has more endorphin receptors than anywhere else; it needn’t cross the blood-brain barrier to create a sex addict.
    If exorphin crossed the BBB you would get central opioid effects; drowsiness, depressed breathing, etc. (and be at risk of autoimmune brain damage). But even if it’s just your gut, taste receptors, appetite, getting addicted, it’s still an addiction.

    1. Sperm has nothing to do with sex addiction. Sex addiction is based on a chemical reaction in the brain similar to a high from cocaine. The sex is just the coping mechanism used by the addict to self-soothe.

  91. I actually did have a strong craving for spinach last night, which made no sense to me until I read your post today. Thanks–I guess it’s not so strange after all. But I do crave pasta, and French bread, even more sometimes.

    1. Imagine the difficulty of living in a small French village with three amazing boulangeries within mere meters..I seriously make a concerted effort to cross the street to avoid the enticing aromas emitted from the croissants,baguette and brioche being baked in the morning. Sigh.

      1. Doesn’t knowing that you “can’t” have bread make the cravings worse?

        I make an effort to limit grains, but do not ban them entirely. I’ve just changed my eating habits, and find I rarely crave bread. I can go several days without even thinking of it. If I banned bread completely though, I would think about it constantly.

  92. Bread – I did have a craving for toast after about six months of grain-free eating. After three days I thought this is crazy and made myself two pieces (I have non-primal eaters in the house), thoroughly enjoyed them and suffered no more cravings since.
    However after eight months of no pasta, I gave in at a spaghetti feed fundraiser. My cravings for all things sugar lasted for about three days after! It will be a frosty day somewhere hot when I eat pasta again!

  93. dont miss bread at all….cookies i do miss:) sugar was my drug. but i am celiac so maybe thats why i dont miss bread. makes me miserable! i do miss the convienence of a sandwich though. esp. at left-over thanksgiving turkey time! funny i weigh more now than i ever did when i ate breads and sugar…thyroid also died though….if i didnt eat this way now i would probably be obese. wheat has to be addictive, most people would rather die than give it up.

  94. I am very grateful to my daughter. Her response when I said I might try wheat again to see if the bad reaction I had was actually caused by the wheat–“Why would you want to do that to yourself?” For our grand-daughter’s birthday–where pizza and cake were the standard fare– she changed the routine to go to a restaurant where I had reasonable choices and warned the other grandparents that I wouldn’t be eating their cake. Ah, support from family–it’s a treasure.

    I am Type 2 diabetic and feel the effects of even the wheat in a little teriyaki sauce on stirfry. So I’m really careful about wheat (avoid it like the plague) and limit all starches. I’m not tempted by wheat at all–simple negative reinforcement. But I do miss the convenience of a sandwich.

  95. I am definitely addicted to gluten – even years after I’ve given it up. There’s nothing better than a piece of fresh bread right out of the oven at a local bakery.

    Cravings for it are unbelievable, in some ways worse that sugar. I can avoid it for the most part without having a break down, but its still on my mind when I go out.

  96. What an interesting topic.2 years ago I was told about paleo and eating grain free diet over my breakfast cerial by a good friend.I almost freaked and said there is no way I could even consider eating without my cerial,cakes and oh the smell of fresh bread.18 months ago my wife sort the advice of my friends practitioner who put her on a grain free diet for a,6 week trial,so I said 1 in all in.I have not had a slice of bread since that day and do not even desire any grain products.By adding more fat to our diet including coconut oil and good old lard feeling hungry or getting the sugar shakes ( gave up most fruit and sugar too) it has been amazing.Oh and losing 28 lbs back to my leaving school weight has been a by product.So I just wonder how much our body eats carbohydrate and says that is not food give me food,so the chain goes on.When we eat some fats it says argh finally Famine is over I now have food so I will not be hungry anymore.On birthday cakes my wife has learnt to cook amazing deserts with coconut and almond meal,even the grain lovers freak.

  97. I’ve found that the easiest way to say “no thank you” without hurting feelings is to say “not right now…maybe later, thank you.” Even the most difficult relatives are able to accept “maybe later” verses a definitive “no thanks” with minimal angst. 🙂

  98. Oh, hey – has anyone here tried DGL (deglycyrrhizinated licorice)? My wife has found herself very gluten-sensitive, and chewing on a DGL tablet about a half-hour before partaking in any glutenous products seems to abate the worst of the gastrointestinal symptoms. I’m not nearly as sensitive as she is, but I do notice a relief from the gas and bloating levels when I take it. Just wanted to pass that on.

  99. I am probably adddicted to spinach. I MUST have it in my breakfast fry up. It is so good!

  100. The word “addictive” implies that the food itself is causing the addiction, when in reality, ASAM has defined addiction as a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. This means that something cannot cause addition, but is instead a symptom of addiction. While I agree that wheat and grain can be a symptom of addiction, it does not cause addiction and is thus not “addictive.”

  101. I like the book Wheat Belly. It offers interesting information on this topic. I’m no scientist so I can’t know if it’s all true. But the book speaks of research that showed that schizophrenics do better when they’re not eating wheat.
    My experiences seem to confirm it. I would say that wheat is addictive to me and changing my emotions. I notice some sort of strange ‘fake hunger’ after eating wheat. My stomach is full but my body/ brain (?) is urging me to eat, maybe hoping to get those exorphines.

  102. Awesome read–comments included! I do whole grains about 3-4 times a week.. and I don’t know-I like that. any suggestions on ensuring that what I AM eating isn’t overly inside to my in and/or out sides?

    thanks a bunch!


  103. I would say that wheat is most definitely addicting to me. It took a full 2 weeks of no wheat to finally start feeling good. It caused me to be exhausted (if I didn’t eat it every 2 hours), get headaches (which I didn’t know until I removed it), and eat more of it. I had a very hard time with self-control while I was eating wheat, even for things I didn’t like eating that much. After having been without it for 6+ months, there have been a few times where I eat a little, and I find myself insatiably hungry for the next couple of days. Like I will eat an entire meal, and then feel like I haven’t eaten in hours only a few minutes later. This only happens when I eat wheat.

  104. I personally didnt have much problem giving up wheat. I would have to agree with what has been echoed hear though is that the hardest part about it is the social pressure. It can be very frustrating at times.

  105. ugh just reading this makes me want a loaf of bread..NY STRIP is on sale at my grocery store I’m going to buy that for diner tonight in retaliation of the addiction!;)

  106. I was addicted to bread. I read Wheat Belly and made conscious decision to stop. Its been 7 months and I have yet to buy bread. I still have bread but its so rare. Wheat Belly opened my eyes and changed my life.

  107. I gave up grains, sugar and processed foods in March and changed nothing else, and continued workouts. With cheat days I am about 70% consistent. I have gained muscle, lost weight and inches! Gained almost 2″ in chest, lost 2″ in waist and lost 24 lbs. I am 62 years old and going to 90% consistency.

  108. I am convinced that I was a wheat addict. When I gave up wheat over a year ago, I had bad cravings for black licorice. Prior to this, I hated black licorice, but I really wanted it, so I bought some from the health food store, ate half of it, and then realized it was made out of wheat. It also turns out that wheat was the cause of my allergies, acne, and asthma. Before I went primal, I couldn’t get enough of the stuff, and rice could not take care of the craving, so it wasn’t about carbs.

  109. Re the birthday cake thing (and off the Paleo thing a bit) my husband doesn’t eat sweets. When offered dessert, he simply says “Nah — thanks, though. I’m not much of a sweet-eater.” Simple as that. No one suspects he’s up to anything “healthy at their expense” — and ridiculous reasoning that is, indeed!

  110. What I do not understand are the seemingly lack of problems with
    (1) wheat in the Northern Chinese (in which wheat and millet replace rice as well as wheat used in wrappers and noodles in dim sun in Shanghai and Hong Kong) and
    (2) the use of seitan, wheat gluten, in particularly the Asian Buddhist cultures and
    (3) the various and ubiquitous breads in the Indo-Iranian cultures.

    Have you any insight?

  111. I don’t know if my experience would hold up in a study… but I was certainly carb/sugar addicted. I also have a son on the autism spectrum (very mild) who was carb/sugar addicted.

    We went gluten free a few years ago. For awhile I felt better. I always knew sugar/carbs were a problem for me, but wasn’t ready to give them up.

    This past April I gave up all refined sugar (use honey only for sweetener) and all grains… we just started adding small amounts of rice back in. It took several weeks (probably between 4-6 weeks), but now in July I can honestly say I do not crave sugar any more. I do sometimes crave a bit of sweetness, but a piece of fruit or even a baked good made with almond flour and honey satisfy me plenty. I feel SO much better!

    My son had a rough go of giving up sweets/carbs. He struggled for many weeks, but as of now he rarely has melt downs and he never asks for sweets anymore. He used to literally act like sugar/carbs were crack… he HAD to have them many times a day. He has smiled and is happier more since May than he has been his entire 8.5 years of life. It’s an amazing transformation. (Too bad our psychiatrist and psychologist don’t want to admit diet is a HUGE part of the solution!)

    I’m pretty sure we have unhealthy guts and we’re trying to remedy that. So, I don’t think we’re a good “normal” case study, but that’s our experience. This has been an entire family endeavor, but my 8 y/o and I are the ones who have benefited the most.

  112. I am 2 months primal and loving it. I read MDA wistfully for two years and my major hold out before starting was my love of bread. I’d given up sugar a couple of times without much trouble, but couldn’t fathom life without bread. Something I read one day pushed me to commit and try this (thank you, Mark!). I have been about 95% primal compliant and had not eaten a piece of bread at all or really wanted any until last week. We were on vacation with limited food choices and I was very hungry and having a weak moment. I inhaled a sandwich. An amazing thing happened about 10 minutes later. No stomach pains or issues with the bread… But out of nowhere, all I could think about was a big, warm, chewy chocolate chip cookie. Actually, two or three toddler’s-head size cookies would have sufficed. I haven’t had sugar cravings since I went primal!! This taught me something. Fortunately, there were no cookies nearby.

  113. I am one who tried 100% whole wheat because the white stuff really impacted my blood sugar. WW had much they same effect on me. I don’t eat grains of any kind and I don’t miss them.

  114. Haven’t you read Wheat Belly, by William Davis MD???? The Wheat we use today is not the wheat of our grandmothers. The new wheat is Highly addictive, thats why it is put into processed food ect.. Get with the Program Caveman!

  115. I wonder if food addiction only applies to processed food only? I used to LOVE white rice, noodles, bread, ice cream and chocolate and CRAVED for them constantly. Ever since I switched to whole food, I don’t crave for brown rice or cocoa or real whole wheat hot cereal. But if I eat white rice again, I instantly want to eat more and the same go as for noodles, bread, ice cream, etc. All these food are processed, so I wonder if the processing changes something in the food that trigger our craving instead of the food itself.

    1. Same boat. I’m an ex-smoker but I’ve quit enough times to know 100% that even one puff will instantly hook me back to a pack a day. Reading these boards I’m starting to realize with some anguish that my future anticipation of eating normal American fare again, hot dogs with bread, chips, etc after I’ve lost 20 (out of 40) more lbs. is just restarting the addiction and weight gain cycle even if I just have 1.

  116. I’m curious if the studies found any differences between the properties of just ground wheat products, sprouted wheat products, or fermented wheat products.

  117. What an interesting theory presented here, Mark! I was having a hard time really commiting to the switch to primal even though I had done it in the past and felt awesome. I felt literally addicted to wheat and the less I ate, the more I wanted it.

    So what did I do? I did the Master Cleanse. I know it gets mixed reviews in all communities but for me it was like hitting the reset button on my food cravings. After the cleanse all I wanted was fresh veggies and clean proteins. Every now and then when I am PMSing I really want junk food and I turn to olives, macadamia nuts, and yams. If that doesn’t help, I’ll have a bite or two of macaroni or Ben and Jerrys but it usually doesn’t get that far.

    Now eating grains, especially wheat, makes me sneeze and get congested as well as feel stomach sick! Another benefit of the cleanse for me has been that i can identify types of cravings and am generally more in tune with my body and dietary needs. It’s also made the primal life easier! It’s been about 12 weeks now and I’m down 21lbs!

  118. Interesting post. I’ve always been able to take or leave bread, which always gets a glare or two from other paleo folks! I like rye or sprouted grain toast every now and then.

    Funny that people are commenting about their cats. I wonder if that’s what turned my poor baby into a big tubby muffin. I was a kid when we owned him, so looking at his cat food wouldn’t have crossed my mind, but when I do it now I realize he was better off eating the meat I slipped him when no one was looking!

  119. I have been gluten free, and pretty much starch, lectin and salicylate free. I am intolerant to all of those, including nightshades. Which leaves meat, a few veggies, and the occasional pear.

    German rye bread (I am German) and potatoes used to be my favourite foods. I was definitely addicted to them! After SEVEN years I STILL crave rye bread and potatoes.

    No, I don’t give in and ever purposely eat anything with gluten. Because the next day I will have such horrendous stomach and bowel cramps that I literally pray to die (I don’t go to the hospital, they are so ignorant here, they treat me like a joke). It is a relief when finally the explosive diarrhea hits (sorry to be so graphic), because then the cramps will start to get better.

    I don’t have any cravings when I eat enough fat (lard, butter, coconut oil)…. but everybody around me keeps telling me that it is no wonder I am overweight when I eat so much fat! If ignorance would kill they’d all drop dead.

    I am fortunate that we’ve had an excellent butchershop for the past two years, which only carries organic meat.

  120. I feel like I have a serious wheat addiction. I’ve been able to cut out sugar and dairy for the most part (I still cheat a little) but wheat is AWFUL. I have to count by the day. The longest I’ve made it is 3 weeks and then the pendulum swings back and I end up annihalating an entire order of breadsticks. And the next day my throat feels swollen, I feel off, I feel guilty and weak… It’s terrible. I’ve been told to go so far as to try hypnosis. I feel like I must have some deadly combination of a psychological and physical additiction to wheat. I hate it. I wish I could just stop but in the last two years of attempts it just hasn’t stuck. I don’t even enjoy it particularly, I’m just compelled. ugh.

  121. Wheat being addictive is believable to me. Lately I’ve been broke and getting my food given to me, ultimately resulting in me eating something closer to 20/80 than 80/20.
    I try to ration so I don’t power through the primal / primal-substitute food first and be left with nothing but second-rate factory fare to depend on but I’ve found myself crunching through Triscuits and cereal with fervor and having cravings for them and other wheat products like bread or biscuits the more that I eat them, then all of a sudden I get sick of them for a little while. However the cravings aren’t more intense than those I get for healthy primal foods like meat and fresh vegetables, especially if I’ve been on the SAD for an extended time. It definitely was a chore this morning to have a breakfast of grains and chickpeas when I had cans of salmon sitting right in front of me. If I don’t get my salmon / other meat and fresh veggies for a few days I can barely make myself chew before swallowing when they finally become available.
    In conclusion I think wheat’s addictive potential is minor and the body’s intuitive cravings will overpower wheat cravings except in those who are seriously metabolically deranged or conditioned to wheat.
    Apparently the price of grains is supposed to increase over the summer from drought. Hopefully the price of primal food doesn’t go up too much along with it and people will start eating more primal as a result of bargain shopping.

  122. I like this post. It makes a more measured statement which I respect for people trying to accurately describe the data and not contort facts to support a bias. Thanks mark, keep it up!

  123. Letting go of wheat and other grains was a cak walk compared to alcohol, perscription drugs and, the worst by far, nicotine!

  124. If you’re a younger person, you may not notice anything for quite some time when you consume wheat year after year.
    I noticed that every bodily condition I had that was helped by getting rid of wheat showed up after I turned 50. Yes, it will eventually catch up with nearly all of us — but some very sensitive people will start having problems much sooner, because their stomachs and intestines just cannot handle wheat consumption.

  125. Really I would love to have a PB&J sandwich on fluffy white moist bread! I could eat this every day! So I am really hoping for a maintenance type program with maybe once per week a splurge that won’t blow my health. I could live with this the rest of my life if I knew that I could occasionally have that which makes my mouth salivate!

  126. Although bread is a staple food in France where I’m from, I’m not addicted to wheat but I do like bread. I make my own whole wheat bread, never buy the industrial garbage anymore. I never eat a lot of it but I’ll have a thin slice with my lunch sandwich every weekday lunch at work. Once in a while a slice with a piece of good cheese and butter at dinner, that’s heaven to me and it’s really not a whole lot. I very rarely eat any cake, even before following this life style but once or twice a year I’ll enjoy a old family recipe of chocolate cake. Every 2 or 3 weeks I’ll also indulge on a delicious home 100% home made pizza. You can’t exclude all little food pleasures of life all the time. This being said, if I eat too much of it, my heartburns let me know of it quickly.

  127. I have a rather addictive personality, but fortunately, neither carbs nor wheat trigger me. Now nuts…. that’s a different story. once started, very very hard to stop. Same with tortilla chips and guacamole of all things. But I can stop with meat, fruit, veggies, etc, so good thing that is mostly what I eat. Let’s not talk about wine though…..

  128. I know I’m addicted to wheat – I’m in the middle of weaning myself off of it, again. This lapse has been bad in that most of my normal symptoms have taken a while to kick in, so I’ve kept eating it, mindlessly unaware I’m eating it until it’s too late. Ugh.

    Home is wheat free, it’s work with all the cake floating around that does me in. Need to bring in more of my good chocolate so I have a square of that instead of the wheat.

  129. Mark,
    Your article was so helpful! My son with autism has been GFCF for about 2 yrs now. He’s been on low dose naltrexone and antibiotics for his PANDAS, and we noticed he has not been reacting recently to wheat or dairy when he got ahold of them by accident. We plan to keep him on this diet for health reasons, but the part where you mentioned a doctor treating celiac patients with low dose naltrexone to offset their wheat consumption and antibodies made this all click.
    Perhaps the low dose naltrexone and the enzymes we give him afterwards are blocking the opiods from the wheat and dairy, for the most part.

  130. I have coeliac’s disease and when I use to eat grains (gluten free grains) and dairy I found they definitely had an opioid like/addictive effect particularly yoghurt.

  131. I guess when I gave up wheat, I never really thought about it afterwards. I mainly gave it up because my husband has had some serious intestinal problems that we were trying to sort out. ( of course, no wheat has helped immensely, particularly because he is missing 12 inches of intestine)
    I still eat some grains maybe once a week, like quinoa,millet, or very rarely rice. I don’t guess I really thought about bread much afterwards. meh.

  132. Good info. I might have to try primal again. There must be a hump I don’t get over. It is like living on sides instead of a main course to me, if I am not entirely happy with the result of my current choices, I never seem to be satisfied on what I understand of primal. Wheat and sugar go hand in hand for me. If I stay off both, I have a shot. If I go back to one, the other is almost certainly soon to follow. Carb of choice for now is a rinsed/soaked/cooked/fermented (yes, after cooking with a probiotice starter)brown rice that seems to have a shot at sustainability without a crash, but really also no lift I might look for from eating. Boring carbs have no crash, but no lift, just medium blah for this person. This goes for my whole experience with primal up to this point.

    1. The no lift, no crash description is apt, and reminds me of how I’ve heard being on anti-depressants described. The lows aren’t as low, but the highs aren’t as high either.

      I’m with you that living without wheat is like living on side dishes and no main course. It’s a struggle every day. I’ll successfully stay off wheat for months. Then I’ll have one indulgence and next thing you know I’m back on sugar and wheat every day for weeks. Currently there now, struggling to make it back.

      Thanks for this post, Mark. I don’t think wheat addiction, or whatever, is paid enough attention.

  133. I haven’t had withdrawal symptoms from wheat at all and I find it pretty strange. Does my body just not crave as strongly, or is it because of my age (17)? Thoughts?

  134. but yes in terms of carb intake.. i say no to rice as well… people back in the day,way back.. walked a lot, need to carry water.. etc… so they can handle rice. with the current lifestyle in this urban world, regular rice intake definitely contribute to high diabetes rate.

    1. That’s a good point about carbs and movement. We drive everywhere and expend less energy than 50 years ago on basic chores. We also have more devices to keep us entertained sitting on our asses. We reinforce this desire with highly rewarding dopamine foods. To this day I can’t go to the movies without desiring a huge tub of popcorn with extra butter. Furthermore, we all have refrigerators/freezers to store extra crack and there are more convenience stores, restaurants now, that sell nothing but crack, which is just catering to the addict and creating them! We don’t even walk to get the crack!

      I’m Asian but missed the memo on how to eat like one and after googling discovered in asia, rice is at every meal but the desire is not to eat the cheap stuff but the more expensive stuff, vegetables, meat. When they can, they eat vegetables because the culture is that rice is cheap and meat/vegetables are expensive and thus more desired.

  135. I was absolutely addicted to wheat. But when I developed severe leaky gut (with its attendant severe gluten intolerance), I didn’t have any trouble giving it up. I know it’s something that actively damages my body, and tastes WAY too good to be true.

    Interesting note, though: a friend has an inside line on local, organic, heirloom wheat. Grown by the farmer and his father and grandfather, it has been untouched by modern GMO crops or chemical cocktails . . . and when she brought me bread she had made from it, I ate some (without any gluten-guard enzymes!), and I felt amazingly good. No driving cravings for more, no carb or sugar cravings, nothing. Just satisfied, and happy.

    I personally believe that what we call “wheat” isn’t anything like. It’s frankenwheat (six sets of chromosomes, anyone?), and it’s killing us.

  136. I was totally addicted to dairy – which is what triggered me to give it up. I would have 5-7 serves a day and crave more. Maybe I should say I now limit the dairy – after 4 years I still have not eliminated it entirely. However since being diagnosed as wheat intolerant with a predisposition to celiac I have not purposefully touched wheat in 2 1/5 years. The times I have accidentally had wheat (think coating on chips – before going primal) were ‘nasty’ to say the least. Moving from no wheat to no grains is getting easier – but I still find it hard to pass by GF chocolate cake (probably the sugar as well).

  137. The thing that convinced me that wheat was a drug was when I gave it up. I switched wheat for rice, for one week. I kept the carbs the same, and the diet the same, for comparison.

    But after about 30 hours, I felt like I got kicked by a horse. Seriously. I could barely function. Thereafter followed a few weeks of misery, then I finally gave in and had some bread. Which made me feel better. But I really didn’t expect that result.

    Since then I DID stop eating wheat. When I did eat it, I started getting intense depression and anxiety the next day, to the point that it affected my family badly.

    Is this opioids? Zonulin-mediated brain barrier leakage? Fungal toxins? I have no idea. Someone with some good laboratory will have to answer those questions. But does it act like a drug? YES. At least for some of us. And a very bad drug at that.

  138. Honestly I don’t miss bread at all. Now I eat my meat and cheese on a plate, or occasionally wrapped in Romaine lettuce. Get ALL the meat flavor instead of just a little meat with my bread. However there is another grain that I do miss, especially since it’s summer in Indiana now….corn on the cob! Who am I kidding? I still eat it every once in a while.

  139. I was surely addicted to wheat… in the form of pasta. I ate pasta everyday and I would crave it constantly. I could eat insane amounts of it and still want more. I went Primal from one day to another and knew that pasta would be the thing I would miss the most. I also, for this reason, experienced baaad low-carb flu for 3 days, but after that, I felt fantastic, and have ever since. I haven’t touched pasta since I went primal (6 months now), and I won’t. It’s very addicting for me and I’m scared I’m going to miss it too much if I have it again. No pasta in the world beats the feeling I have in my body now that I don’t eat it (or any wheat for that matter) anymore. Great post, thank you Mark!

  140. It’s totally addictive. There is no way I would have eliminated wheat from my diet if I hadn’t been diagnosed with a major wheat intolerance. Im also dairy intolerant, and have discovered that legumes and all grains (except white rice) give me major gut issues. So I’m paleo (almost) by default! It is wonderful not to feel constantly nauseated however, so I do not miss wheat one little bit.

  141. Naltrexone cured my addiction to sweets which in turn corrected my life long eating disorder. Combined with meditation and a primal centric eating plan I have never been healthier. So, I have to think there is a possibiliy wheat is addicting.

  142. Mark, thank you for a well-researched, honest, and level-headed article.

  143. Wow, is that why I love Spinach so much and it’s one of the only things that satisfy me as much as bread used to? I’ve even got my 8 year old and 3 year old loving spinach. They steal it off my plate!! I usually put some fat free cottage cheese and salsa on top of it, but my kids want the spinach leaf plain. So weird but so awesome at the same time! I do however, disagree that “all” grains should be completely eliminated from the diet. If you’re trying to lose weight then yes, it’s a good strategy to stay off “all” grains for a while. But completely and forever? white flour yes, “all” grains, no.

  144. Mark, the low dose naltrexone connection is interesting, but I don’t think you are characterizing it correctly. My partner has an autoimmune condition which is helped by LDN therapy. Some patients with neuro-degenerative disorders see benefit as well.

    As I understand it, the drug at low doses stimulates the production of new opioid receptors, in response to the drug’s action of blocking the existing opioid receptors for just a few hours, while the patient is sleeping. (You take it before bed.) The theory is that some people with chronic autoimmune or neuro-degenerative disorders have a below-normal level of opioid receptors, and so increasing that level can reduce/reverse their symptoms (but not permanently; most patients who benefit must continue the drug indefinitely).

    The original “high dose” naltrexone therapy works more like how you (incorrectly) described LDN: Naltrexone stays active in the body and blocks the opioid receptors until the next dose. Thus helping the patient break the addiction cycle. This therapy is extremely unpleasant, since all pain is left unmitigated by endorphins. There is no physical pleasure.

    Anyway, thanks for the link to Emily Deans.

  145. I was definitely addicted to wheat. I used to have to have bread with EVERY meal, sometimes half a loaf by myself, even as a child!

    I have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, and am in the process of being tested for celiac disease. I had to go off wheat suddenly because I couldn’t keep anything down and was breastfeeding – the first 3 months postpartum is the prime time for a woman to have an autoimmune condition show up. I went off gluten and all my symptoms cleared right up. These days I have to be really careful about cross contamination or else my belly swells up like crazy, hence the testing for celiac disease.

    Those first two weeks were a crazy ride. Migraines, shakes, mood swings, depression, bouts of rage, body aches, fevers, if it was a symptom that could be associated with withdrawals from an opiate, I had it.

    Something I have heard is that certain people, I believe it is a subset of people with celiac disease, their body chemistry is different and gluten interacts with it in a different way to make them addicted. I can’t find where I heard that though!

    1. Hi Rachel,

      You sound just like me. I have a wheat intolerance but have tested negative for celiac, however testing was done (both blood test & biopsy) after I had been gluten free for months.

      Today I ate about one tablespoon of fried rice that probably had soy sauce including wheat in it, and my belly blew up like a balloon about 45 minutes later. I am a skinny woman so it looks really obvious, I look 6 months pregnant! I also became really tired, like I have been run over by a truck. Serves me right, I knew I shouldn’t have eaten it…

      Anyway, don’t be surprised if you test negative if you’ve already eliminated gluten but I certainly suspect from my extreme reaction to even a trace of it that I might be celiac too. Before I eliminated gluten from my diet I was extremely nauseous 24/7. It feels so good to feel normal!

      1. Have you heard of the stool test? It along with genetic testing is supposed to be much more reliable than blood or biopsy. Still researching what the results will be having been on a gluten free diet though, so I am not sure if it will make a difference there.

        It does indeed feel so good to start feeling normal again! The slip ups that happen all the time at the beginning are certainly a great reminder of – wow, I used to feel like this ALL THE TIME?!

  146. Mark,
    I stick to the primal diet and exercise program 80 % of the time.I am considering running another marathon. I am 63 and have run two marathons in my life. I am only interested in finishing I could care less about the time. I do not want to endure the run training I went through in the past. Could you suggest a training program that I could use that would prepare me to finish the race but not take away my life in daily training. Thanks Terry Jenkins

  147. I was certainly NOT addicted to grains. Dropping them was rather easy, despite the fact that I neither did the shopping nor cooked dinner. I just quietly declined to take bread, had eggs for breakfast instead of cereal/oatmeal, and made salads for lunch instead of sandwiches.

  148. I guess what we can take from this is that the true problem lies between the ears. I know that’s been my issue and I still struggle with cutting down on the grains. If you can eliminate that then I think the battle’s all but won. But it is a struggle.

  149. I’m a great-grandmother and have been on paleo for about two months now. I can relate to the people who are being pushed to eat. My own mother pushes food at me. When I asked her if she would push a drink on an alcoholic, her answer was that she would if she thought she needed it. I think many people have this mindset but aren’t as honest as my mother. I just tell people that I do not eat such and such and thank them for the offer. I don’t and never have pushed food of any kind on my children or their children.
    I feel much better and apparently have become fat adapted as I seldom eat more than two meals a day now. If I get hungry mid-day I have a few asparagus, a handful of nuts, and a few olives.

  150. One easy way to deal with food at the office: Treats are almost always brought in first thing in the morning. I always take a helping and explain that it “looks delicious!” and the “I can’t wait to eat this after my lunch!”. Then I place it on my desk until lunchtime when it discreetly goes into the trash can when no one is looking.

  151. I gave up flour and sugar when I joined a weight-loss organization. The thing I miss most is pasta. An Italian child, I was raised on pasta, and I love it. But since I cannot eat a normal portion, I completely gave it up. It’s hell for me, but in order to maintain my lifestyle (and my 130 lb. weight loss), I have to do it. It’s been seven years, and I miss my pasta every day. Giving up sugar was not nearly as bad, even though it’s my belief that sugar is also addictive. (That includes artificial sugar.)

  152. If someone offers me a cigarette, I say, “No thanks, I don’t smoke.” If someone wants me to eat wheat, I treat it the same way. It’s not such a big deal. MY attitude always determines the reaction I get from others.

  153. The first night after I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes, I dreamed I was cooking a huge pot of spaghetti. It’s still the high-carb food I miss the most.

    Now living with lifelong type 2 diabetes, I am shocked at how others feel entitled to decide what is good for me. At a dinner with friends who knew I am diabetic, salad dressing with “a little bit” of sugar was served by a well-meaning participant. What does that phrase mean, “A little bit won’t hurt you”? How dare they presume to know this? I am managing a life-threatening disease every day. No one else has the right to decide what amount of any substance will or will not harm me.

  154. Wow, 6 pages of comments in two days? Not a sensitive issue at all!

    Personally, when I’m eating primally, I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything by not having wheat.. Sugary things though (Damn you, ice cream!) are my downfall – and if I give in to the craving for sugar, it’s 3 days of constant sugar/wheat/carbs in general cravings until I get back on the bandwagon. Furthermore, the act of eating those kinds of foods is rarely satisfying – it’s just not as good as I remember! Overall, I’ve found it’s just so much easier to abstain. The dairy stays though. Mama needs her some cheese!

  155. I gave up sugar a year ago and grains six months ago. My workmates are very supportive they are always on a “diet”‘ they have commented on my weightloss, but have not cared to embrace the Paleo way of eating. I can say that I still think about bread, but I know if I eat any at all, it’s immediate brain fog. I can’ t believe the mental clarity I have and not prepared to forsake that for a doughnut. It has only taken 50 years to finally feel the best I have in my life.

  156. A total dumbhead article backed-up with many dumbheat comments.
    Author, — can you back this up with a short history of wheat consumption and cultivation by man?
    This wheat intolerance business, so much reminds me of many fashionable manias. The ‘Pet Rock’ Hula Hoop, Medieval Flagellation and shall I go on?

  157. Wheat is addictive, no doubt about. The withdrawal I felt the first few weeks was intense, painful but the withdrawal is what keeps me primal because I don’t want to go through it again. Also found out I was gluten intolerant. I avoid all grains @99% of the time. The few times I eat a little bite of something with wheat in it is not worth the tummy ache later.

  158. i like it. wheat is one of nutrient food .i agre there is some thing special about bread href=””>fitnessonline

  159. I gave up wheat twelve years ago and still find it hard to turn down baked offerings proferred proudly by dear friends who have clearly put a lot of time and effort into their creations.

    Strangely, on the rare occasions when I succumb, I find that along with stomach cramps and a headache I have memory loss and a strange inability to talk coherently. Wheat affects me really strangely.

  160. I don’t know if I’m addicted to wheat, in particular, but I am addicted to carbs, especially empty carbs. I can go on a healthy diet for a long time, but once I slip up and eat those bad foods, I totally gorge.

  161. As far as i’m concerned wheat (grains) is 100% addictive, at least for me. I see it as my enemy now, quite literally because when i’m around it it’s truely a battle of the wills not to stuff my face with it. I need to remember how sick it makes me and how amazing I feel without it.

  162. Many of the comments here, with descriptions of the aftereffects of wheat consumption reflect the case studies cited in “Wheatbelly” by Dr. William Davis. I am in the middle of the book, and many of the symptoms here are shared with Davis’ patients. In addition, the morphine-like actions of gliadin are described in exactly the term titling this blog: addictive.
    I agree with many of you who have fallen off the wheat-free wagon. It is all too easy to fall off, not so much getting back on. Like an alcoholic, one bite is too much, the whole cake (or box of doughnuts, etc.) is not enough.

  163. I believe it’s addictive. I had experienced major withdrawals when I stopped consuming it (headaches, extreem fatigue, what felt like depression, and mood swings). The withdrawal seemed to last for a couple of weeks for me. I don’t know, but anything that can cause a withdrawal like that, I don’t want in my body ever again (same goes for caffeine which I also stopped consuming recently).

  164. I went gluten and cow’s milk free over 13 years ago when I first began eating according to my blood type – O – which means no wheat or dairy and few grains. One positive thing was I stopped falling asleep whenever I sat for more than 20 minutes or so. For years, I smuggled cold caffienated drinks into class, church, etc with me – as well as while driving to try to (unsuccessfully) keep me from falling asleep. Tests for hypoglycemia and others never resulted in anything that helped. I found out later that I do have celiac disease, so therefore have a very compromised digestive system.I have begun wondering if the gluten and lactose being improperly digested produced an opiate-type affect such that it caused me to fall asleep. Has not happened in years, I am happy to say. Am wondering if anyone else has had the same thing happen to them.

  165. I’m a vegan, but never thought of wheat as addictive or bad for you. This has been eye opening.

  166. Ha Ha! (hand raised). I eat a (5oz.) 2Cups bowl of steamed spinach every morning. I love it.
    And eat a healthy portion of steamed Kale or Swiss Chard with my other meals in the day.
    I’ve been gluten/wheat free for a solid year now and feel better with every day.
    It took a good six to nine months of retraining myself to change my eating style; it certainly doesn’t happen over night.
    And the biggest adjustment for me was to finally figure out that it’s not about finding replacement foods for the ones I eliminated but rather to eat in a way that supports my health, period.

    Great article by the way. Thank you!

  167. Why would it need to cross the blood brain barrier to be considered addictive? What about all of the receptors that are in the gut? What about the fact that we have more neuro-receptors in our gut? What about the gut-brain axis?

  168. Hey, Mark, regarding your subject, is wheat addictive,I would have said yes before going off it. Wheat was my mainstay and my comfort food. I didn’t want to give up bread, pasta (I’m Italian for gosh sakes) or pastries. I really didn’t believe I could stop eating them. Then I got a nasal polyp that requires that I reduce all mucus all the time, or live with headaches and congestion, all the time. I moved the grains out with no problem at all. Even my sweetie went off them tho he loves grains and has no medical issues with them, that we know of. So I would have to say that for me, and for my husband, no, it’s not addictive. Now sugar….

  169. Well, I don’t know enough about the scientific study of nutrition. But, I am seeing Dr. Kramer, a psychologist and behaviorist, at Ohio State University Research Medical for weight loss surgery requirements. He says “carbs” are like “crack” to food addicts because of the way the neurotransmitters receive and interpret the sugars produced by the “white stuff” …pasta, bread, rice, potatoes. It is the very same reason alcoholics have an addiction. it’s not the alcohol that creates the addict; it’s the sugar the body breaks down.

    That is why when a “carb” “sugar” “alcoholic” eats or drinks these items; they crave more. The less they consume; the less they desire. What is the solution? Eating a high protein focused diet.

    Does this prove that, scientifically, wheat per say is addictive. Maybe not, directly. Sugar spikes created from the surge of wheat being processed, indirectly have effect to the brain, though. The level of “spike” depends on the amount being consumed. What we know is “food addicts” seem to consume an overwhelming amount of these types of foods; only to continuously feed a never satisfied monster.

  170. I can say for sure that I’ve been in the “addicted to wheat” camp. I used to devour at least one full loaf per day and still have a weakness for the breads and toasts when they’re offered to me in hotels or at friends/families homes. I don’t stock bread at home at all.

    My first indication that wheat wasn’t good was years ago when I was trying to find the cause of my constant indigestion and migraine headaches. Long story short – I discovered I have a wheat intolerance. I stay off bread – I don’t suffer indigestion. Simple. Over the past year I have been eliminating bread altogether and eating a more Primal diet. One thing that has dogged me all my life has been the constant need to wake in the middle of the night and snack on sweets/biscuits/juice. I’ve never been able to control it. That’s long gone since I started eating a more Primal Wheat -Free diet. And guess what – if I ever have a cheat day where I have a few beers (wheat laden beers) and some pizza etc you can be certain that I’m up in the middle of the night for the following few nights eating sweets/biscuits/juice.

    Wheat disrupts my whole digestive system and my sleeping pattern but I still crave it in the same fashion that I crave a cigarette. If that’s not a sign that it’s addictive I don’t know what is! 🙂

  171. Addiction is about more than the physiological dependence. Alcoholics and drug addicts have a hard time staying away from their drugs even after all traces of the physiological effects are gone from their bodies. Getting the body clean is the easy part. Overcoming the emotional and intellectual dependency on eating that dozen chocolate chip cookies is the hard part!

  172. I have quit wheat products for a month now, actually i have adopted a plant based lifestyle and feel better than i have felt in years. but, today i got a pizza and ate most of it, and i feel like i took 5 vicodin. trust me on this, i am very familiar with the effects of opiates, i have quite a bit of experience with them. so if you are looking for an answer to whether wheat and dairy have an opiate like effect i would say that yes they do! but, that is just my opinion and everybody knows what “they say” about opinions. So if you are skeptical give it a try, eat a couple vicodin, then record how you feel. Quit eating wheat products for one month, then eat some pizza and tell me its not very close to the same feeling.

  173. i am absolutely ready to wipe out modern wheat. just not ready to wipe out all grains or ancient wheat.

    i just gotta know if ancient grains, prepared correctly, would have allowed so many of the health problems surrounding wheat in the twentieth century.

    we can’t just wipe out a whole class of food just because loren is devoutly passionate about the evolutionary theory 🙂 to me its wreckless, esp as most of the bad rap has come from monster wheat.

  174. I gave up wheat, (well, gluten as a whole) a couple of years back after having severe gastric issues and ending up in hospital a couple of times. I found I became really sensitive to certain things – eating wheat caused me more pain so, I switched to gluten free versions (bread/pasta etc) and found I had less pain. However, at first I had almost a constant hunger, it was like there was a whole in my stomach that couldn’t be satisfied — I knew it was down to the wheat and if I just ate something with wheat this constant craving would go. I stuck it out and eventually it went away. However, on ocassion I have eaten wheat by mistake – in very small quanities it’s ok but (e.g) I took a bite of my sons bread thinking it was my slice and then again, the severe craving/hunger comes back for a couple of weeks!! It’s bizarre. Finally, a week or two, it subsides again when I stay wheatfree. So, for me, it feels like something is going on in my body where it does have some kind of addiction issue and there is a withdrawal effect. I’ve searched this online and seems some people have similar stories. Having had stomach issues/allergy issues and so on, maybe this has something to do with it. I relate to all the issues with leaky gut – even though many doctors don’t think it exists.

  175. Hi. I recently learnt about psyllium husk and how it can help constipation. I have had trouble with this since going Paleo – almost 4 months now. I dont care how much salad and veg you eat, it isnt the same as high fibre foods like red kidney beans and green peas, which are not Paleo.
    So, I tried psyllium and it seems to work and then started looking for recipes. I came across a FANTASTIC

  176. Hi, until I turned 46 (2005), I did what Doctors and Nutritionists recommended, I ate Grains… LOTS OF GRAINS, but then I read a book called No More Chronic Fatigue, written by Bill Giles, Bill suggested that the reader (me) stop eating grains for 2 weeks and then reintroduce grains to your diet again and see how you feel… well.. WOW…!
    What a difference that made to my life.
    I immediately went back off grains (Wheat is the worst) and suddenly began living… because while I was eating grains, I suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Irritable Bowel Syndromes which had pretty much stopped me from having a life… which both disappeared very soon after I went off grains… I am one happy chappy now that I know the cause of my suffering 🙂
    Grains suck…!!!

    1. Oh, I forgot to mention that it is the protein called Lectin in the grains which caused my reactions.
      Lectin sucks hehehe 🙂

  177. I can feel just as ravenous and overeat on rice or rice pasta, rice crackers, etc and potatoes, especially if they have some sort of fat with them, so I don’t buy that wheat is addictive. There is something else to it and were it not for the fact that we humans have grinding teeth in the back of our mouths I might say not eating grains would be good, but since we do have that kind of teeth, I believe grains are alright for us, and since we do not have fangs and teeth like dogs and cats I believe we are not meant to eat meat much at all. Only in emergencies or rarely.

    1. I have definitely also overeaten meat when I used to eat it. Can’t get enough of that roast chicken….mmmm…..could it be the fat and salt that makes us go back for more? That is my guess. Fat and salt. I don’t overeat unsalted rice cakes or unsalted air popped popcorn, but add fat and salt and you bet I can binge. In ice cream there is fat and sugar…another addictive combination. That plus the dairy with the traits you mention make it a triple threat. Sugar, salt and fat are the culprits of addiction in my humble opinion.

  178. You know it’s addicting when you can’t stop thinking about it and then can’t stop eating it. Wheat for me is incredibly addictive when combined with something, sugar, fat, salt. I know its addictive to me because it will dominate my thoughts until I consume it all, usually within hours or by the end of the day. Secondly, after finishing a whole cake etc, I still want more and more and more. Not just wheat, my thoughts are also dominated by other “cracky” carbs such as ice cream. Rice is another problem for me too.

  179. I had thought this for awhile. I’m Indian(Native) and we have a name for the weight gain and body shape from commodity foods(given by government) it’s called “Commod Bod”

  180. I am celiac and went gluten free 10 years or so ago. I was definitely wheat addicted and had about 4 days of withdrawl symptoms when I quit. Very similar to when I quit smoking back in the 80’s.