Are You Addicted to Wheat?


If you’re still carrying around some extra pounds and you’ve been doing everything you can think of to get rid of them, wheat could be the culprit. Worse? You might actually have a wheat addiction (keep reading for what I mean by that). It can make losing weight more challenging, and (and!) you may be further damaging your body with the wheat products you’re consuming. There’s good news, though: Once you stop consuming wheat, it can help you feel so much better.

Symptoms of Wheat Addiction

Do you feel hooked on bread, pasta, and junk food in general? It could be that sneaky wheat, calling out to you! Wheat’s in more than you might imagine- it’s cheap and it’s snuck in various forms into all kinds of products (whole wheat vs whole grain) from soy sauce to chips, crackers and more. And by the way whole wheat is not much better than refined (it’s such a shame that it’s so often referred to as a healthy food!). Oftentimes whole wheat products contain lots of white, refined flour and are colored to look brown and look more wholesome. Either way, they whole and refined wheat contain unfavorable properties , and you can be addicted regardless of the type you consume on a regular basis. So what are some of the symptoms of wheat addiction?

  • shutterstock_40080160You crave junk food—carbs—that contain wheat flour
  • You carry your extra weight around your midsection and it doesn’t seem to budge no matter what you do
  • If you’re male, you may have started growing breast tissue (possibly from the increase in estrogen in your body), wheat consumption creates insulin spikes, which in turn contribute to an increase in visceral fat (fat around your internal organs). The visceral fat does more than just sit there; it actually produces estrogen. This not only can contribute to the growth of “man boobs,” but the extra estrogen could increase the risk of cancer, stroke, and heart disease.
  • You think you should cut back on how much food you eat, but your appetite says otherwise

How Does It Happen?

Wheat essentially acts like an opiate in the body, creating the desire to consume it again and again. The way it behaves in the body is unique to this particular grain, so it’s not the same when you consume Beauty Grains like millet and quinoa.  It’s difficult to feel satisfied for long when you consume wheat—that includes refined and whole wheat products—and you begin to seek it out more and more often. Your blood sugar spikes, it crashes, and then you’re looking for your next wheat fix.

exorphinsOne theory is, when your body digests wheat, polypeptides (short proteins) called exorphins, make you feel high as they attach to opioid receptors in the brain. Those polypeptides can cross over the blood brain barrier, strengthening your addiction to wheat.

However, some studies show that the exorphins don’t actually cross the blood brain barrier but do still affect the brain’s release of neurotransmitters via opioid receptors. Either way, wheat consumption is affecting your brain and making you want more and more!

Beyond the addiction aspect that makes you continue to eat and gain more weight, there are other health risks associated with wheat consumption.

Harmful Effects of Wheat Products

Because wheat causes inflammation throughout the body, it has been linked to other diseases. We all know about the gluten link to celiac disease, but wheat can affect the average person, too.

Some of the side effects and conditions associated with wheat include:

  • Insulin-dependent diabetesshutterstock_86236177
  • Celiac disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Peptic ulcers
  • Allergies
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Low energy
  • Inflammation all over the body
  • Obesity

It’s Not Just Gluten

Gluten’s a big deal, but the problem with wheat doesn’t just lie with the gluten it contains (though that’s what makes wheat so allergenic). This wheat addiction and the problems attached to it don’t just affect those with celiac disease, either. This is a problem that affects most Americans.

Gliadin, another protein found in wheat, makes you want to eat more and more. That’s a problem in itself because you’re then consuming more and more gluten (many people have an intolerance to gluten even if they don’t have celiac disease), which leads to bloating and inflammation. In addition to more gluten, you get more toxic pesticides, molds, fungi, herbicides, and other chemicals. None of that is good. Let’s face it: No matter which way you look at it, whether you think wheat addiction is possible or not, this grain is a Beauty Energy thief.

Lectins found in wheat cause inflammation and disease in the body. Not only are they a problem in the gut (you’ve probably heard of leaky gut, where the lectins prevent intestinal walls from repairing themselves), but they make it through the intestinal walls and go out to wreak havoc on other organs, too.

How to Cut Wheat Consumption

Though it’s in your best interest to give up wheat regardless of whether you think you’re addicted to it because it’s one of the most highly contaminated crops you could ever consume, you don’t have to give up all the foods you enjoy that typically contain wheat, there are good replacements. First off,  be sure to always check the ingredients, because wheat sneaks into much more than you’d think). Instead of wheat flour in your baked goods, try using coconut or brown rice flour. If you eat bread sometimes, get yourself some gluten-free bread. You can store it in the freezer, like I do, and heat up a piece or two when it’s needed. I actually love gluten-free wraps on occasion, like the teff ones the Sonoma brand makes. They aren’t perfect- they contain small amounts of canola oil for instance- but they sure are better than many other alternatives and I do like and treat them as a treat, not a daily food.

wheat ingredientsIf you cut the wheat consumption cold turkey, it’s like ripping off a band-aid. If you try to prolong the process and wean yourself off of it, those small portions of wheat will make you crave more and more, making it harder and harder to quit. This is one of the first guidelines in The Beauty Detox Solution—cut out gluten.

If going cold turkey is enough to scare you off of any attempt to cut wheat out of your diet, you can try only having wheat products three to four times per week at first, but you’ll need to be diligent about reading the ingredients and doing your research so you know to stop when you’ve reached your weekly limit. You can also plan ahead with alternatives to your favorite breads, chips, and other wheat-containing snacks.

Withdrawal Symptoms to Expect (Maybe! But remember they are temporary)

  • Irritability
  • Brain fog
  • Depression
  • Fatigue

Sounds like cutting out wheat is a lot like cutting out coffee or sugar, which leads me to believe you can get addicted to wheat. Who would’ve thought?

If you suspect you do have an addiction to wheat or a sensitivity to gluten, I urge you to try avoiding wheat products for a few weeks to see how you feel without them in your diet. It may be difficult, but if your symptoms subside and you find that you have more Beauty Energy and less pain and bloating at the end of it, it WILL be worth it.



Last updated: Friday, June 19, 2015
  • Lauren

    What are your thoughts on wild or brown rice?

    • Renata

      Kim suports eating brown rice, but there are better choices for grains 😉

      • Angie

        You should limit brown rice to 2 servings a week due to high arsenic levels. And white rice only 3-4 servings a week. And avoid brown rice syrup all together. It’ the same concept as limiting tuna fish to 3 times a week. A variety in your diet is best. Avoiding wheat is good if you have health problems and find a link to wheat after eliminating it from your diet. I am gluten intolerant and avoiding wheat has made a big improvement in my quality of life.

  • Renee

    I have a problem with loose stool. Can this be from a wheat intolerance?

    • Lynn Leonti

      Loose stool can be a lot of things but my husband was diagnosed with celiac disease 2-3 years ago and so was his sister, nephew, and we think his mom. Whenever he or my SIL ate gluten, horrible diarrhea that you can not control. There is gluten allergies, gluten intolerance and celiac. Celiac being the worse. He and my SIL suffered for 20+ years and now have been GF for 3 years and feeling great. My whole house has been GF due to cross contamination and I feel great too. Since reading Kimberly’s book and following her plan I was able to lose 25 pounds that I was not able to do with just cutting out gluten.

  • Lauren Cross

    Such a great article and I feel great after reading the Beauty Detox and cutting out wheat. One question: I struggle with finding a replacement to fuel a long day of hiking or skiing – 8 hours or so. I used to have oatmeal before setting off and then a sandwich at lunch. Will oat groats and gluten-free sandwiches provide the same long-lasting energy?

  • Lisa M

    Thank you! This is a great explanation of why you should avoid gluten even if you don’t have celiac. I will be passing this on!

  • Catherine

    Hi Kim-
    Can you talk about the behaviorial effects of wheat on children?

  • Theresa Fairbanks

    This amazes me..the amount of does and don’t for keeping and maintaining a healthy life style change.
    I have changed my whole pantry..nothing white white white milk..and so on..!!!!! Switched to whole wheat breads with as minimum ingredients as they are saying Wheat is bad for you!! Go figure..I guess the smart way of doing things is NOT to eat bread, pasta or by any wheat flour..
    so what a person to do..what is the alternative..Almond flour..?> well just read an article that that isn’t good for you..coconut flour..where does this all end..before white flour our ancestors would eat just whole grain flour..
    this is just getting more confusing to me..

    • Karen

      I have been on my journey for about two years, and there have been peaks and valleys. I find that eating lots of fresh vegetables and a little lean protein, avoiding all grains, dairy, beans, soy, quinoa, broccoli, cherries, eggs, and alcohol work well for me. I did the Kharrazian protocol, clearing out my system for 3 days, then I slowly introduced foods and logged my diet, weight,, and exercise daily to figure out likely cause and effect. Yes, it was incredibly boring, and yes, it means that eating out can be very tricky (salad with grilled chicken breast, and a vinaigrette dressing is pretty safe,), so it may be time for you to start throwing dinner parties so that you can have tasty “safe” food without stressing out your friends who don’t understand your diet yet.

      Think of it as eating the types of food that Mediterranean grandmothers served their children — once you get into the rhythm, it becomes second nature — and thinking fast and having a flat tummy again make it worthwhile for me. Zucchini noodles cooked in coconut or olive oil with a little salt and pepper is my pasta replacement, and all of my guests want to take my julienne peeler home so that they can make zucchini noodles too.

      Remember that each of us has different body chemistry — while broccoli is considered to be very healthy, it is NOT healthy for me. Log your food intake,, weight, exercise, and sleep — then look for patterns and experiment.

      I originally changed my diet to clear brain fog and try to reverse an authoimmune disorder — I succeeded on both fronts, AND I have lost all but the last five pounds of my menopause weight. I only dropped eggs from my diet three weeks ago, so I am expecting my weight to drop further.

      I was unhappy to learn that your body burns calories from alcohol before it burns calories from food — but regaining my flat tummy was worth it to me.

      Remember, it isn’t that you “can’t” have a particular food, you are choosing to avoid it because your goal is more important to you. You can have the food, you just need to understand the price you will pay and decide if the price is worth it.

      • Martini

        I too decided to try to eliminate wheat and sugar because of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, joint pain, and creepingweight gain, hot flashes, night sweats associated with menopause, age 53. I was willing to try anything, and I’m on Day Four of no wheat. Almost immediately my constant congestion cleared up, and my brain fog has disappeared. Yeast die off is no fun, but losing 5 lbs in 4 days has been awesome. Taking it one day at a time.

    • Lisa Adams

      I agree..I have just recently started following Kimberly and I am almost too overwhelmed to do it. I started the smoothie and keep hoping I can take baby steps. But when I read things like this-I just think it will be easier to not eat if I want to be healthy.

    • Lauren

      Theresa…I used to believe that gluten free was simply another one of those diet fads that gets hot for a while until another more popular diet comes down the pipe. I’ve come to believe now that the problem with wheat today is the fact that it is genetically modified today. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the widespread gluten intolerance that seems to exist today. On the other hand, who really knows. We’re told to stay away from something (like coffee) and then we’re told years later that it not only isn’t bad but that moderate consumption is good. Go figure!

    • Michele Wondrack

      I agree! So much confusing and contradicting information out there.

    • Crystal

      Check out the book Wheat Belly. The wheat we eat today is not the same as our ancestors. It’s been modified to resist insecticides and to grow faster. All the genetic modifications to it change the way it effects your body when you consume it.

    • Linda

      Reading your comments just confirmed exactly what I did and how I feel! What’s a girl to do!!!

    • http://2102S.LeadvilleAve.Boise,ID Cy Gilbert

      Theresa, have no fear. Just read Kimberly’s “Beauty Detox Solution” and it will make total sense to you AND your body.

    • Pat Merkel

      To: Theresa:

      You can pick up a copy of a book called Wheat Belly – in that book ALL will be explained as to why Wheat is very bad for you – BUT IT IS ONLY BAD FOR YOU BECAUSE OF THE GENETIC CHANGES BY MANUFACTURERS THAT HAS HAPPENED TO WHEAT. The book explains all about these genetic changes and the book also gives alternatives to wheat in your baking. And the author has put out a cookbook which is mentioned in the What Belly Book. Get the book, it is great.

      Pat Merkel

    • Pat Merkel

      To Theresa:

      By the Way, Theresa – I have lost 23 lbs. in the last 2 months simply cutting out wheat in my diet – and I am no longer hungry all the time, AND I DO NOT HAVE REFLUX DISEASE – BEFORE cutting out Wheat in my diet, I suffered so much from that horrible disease – and I lived on Anti-acids – no more. I am completely free of the disease. Get the book Wheat Belly and eat happily ever after.

      Pat Merkel

    • Fred

      Hi Theresa,
      I can understand you. The article is logical but it is too restrictive to just cut wheat. Maybe its feasablz for somebody who lives alone and cab dedicate time and money for such diet, but for a family with small kids this is not possible.

    • Shelby


      For baking, use: Brown rice flour, coconut flour, oat flour, “bobs red mill all purpose gluten free flour”, almond flour, chickpea flour. All these are better than wheat flour, but wheat flour is better than regular white flour.

      For grains, try: quinoa, millet, amaranth, brown rice, ezekiel brand breads. brown rice tortillas

      The goal is to mostly consume many fresh fruits, vegetables, small amounts of organic animal protein, a serving/day of the above grains, and some healthy fats (avocados, raw almonds/walnuts/pecans/seeds) :)

    • clara

      What and where did you read about Almond flour, I can’t imagine why it would be bad for you?

    • Jannette

      Theresa, I agree with you. I’m more confused than ever. I wish I had better ideas of what to give my kids too!

    • Carolyn

      I know what U mean – all these changing rules of what ios & isn’t safe. Yet there is also consistency: white products are stil not healthy. As for our ancrstors, accoding to the author of WHEAT BELLY, the wheat they ate is NoTHing like the wheat products of today. It’s an interesting read.

    • Nnatasha

      Hi there,

      Totally understand your frustration. What I’ve found is to focus on the main factors that everyone is in agreement is best avoided and just stick to that. Wheat is definitely one of those ! If you can successfully cut out wheat, sugar and diary you’re doing well. Easier said than done I know, but there are so many alternatives now. As for your comment on what they ate before white flour….wheat farming has modified it. I believe millet is the original wheat form which you can still get.

      Hope this is helpful!

    • http://gulcheen dilshad

      that is true ,i am sceard .but for my weight i will try for some time .

  • Stacy T

    Just cut wheat out completely a week ago…my face is thinner and my joints aren’t hurting nearly as bad!

  • Laura

    Ironically, just a few hours ago, my nutritionist diagnosed me with leaky gut. The results of my food allergens test showed a reaction to almost EVERY food and she believes have leaky gut. But before anything, she is recommending that we rule out a yeast problem. I have plans to have that tested and then begin some probiotics. Overall, I feel like I am on a good path. Getting rid of gluten has not been much of an issue for me. Instead, it has been ridding myself of dairy that has caused me some challenges. I find that tasty dairy alternatives are limited, whereas in the gluten-free, taste has been remedied and there are far more alternatives.

  • Elizabeth Michelle

    I have certainly noticed that anytime I consume wheat products, my stomach will ‘puff out’. It generally takes several days for it to go flat again.

    I was unaware of the opioid effect, but now that you mention it, I do feel rather blissful after eating wheat -most of my ‘comfort foods’ contain wheat- and I do have cravings after. This explains a lot.

    Thank You for the article =^.^=

  • jennifer

    Does Wheat Grass cause the same problems?

  • Vavo Krieck

    Dear Kim!
    About 1 month ago I completely stopped consuming wheat or any kind of carbs.
    The funny thing is that it is totally doable!
    Of course, you feel the symptoms : brain fog, headaches and occasional dizziness.
    The good thing is that I ‘ve lost 22 pounds since then, and also that I cook!
    So I started testing some zero carb recipes! Crackers, Crepes, Roasted Tomatoes Sauce, Muffins and even Bread zero carbs!
    I really support and do not have the intention of going back to wheat.
    Alvaro (Brasil)

  • Tybz

    Thank you, Kimberly. 9 months ago I lowered my wheat intake. I found I was more energetic in the late afternoons, and the round tummy began disappearing. I only have bread occasionally now, but it is no longer a main staple of my diet.

  • Chris

    I have to agree with the commenter that said it just seems that there are so many do’s and don’t’s when it comes to this lifestyle and having to avoid so many different foods is actually stressful. It’s also expensive. Having to source these specialty items like gluten-free breads and crackers isn’t always easy. I don’t live that close to a well-stocked health food store or a Trader Joe’s. Also, I’m confused as to how certain gluten-free items such as certain gluten-free breads (including the so-called “natural” brands like Food for Life and Ener-G) can be better alternatives when they contain even more ingredients than regular bread and sometimes contain unrecognizable and/or unpronounceable ingredients.

    • Angie

      The key is experimenting until you find what makes you feel good and healthy.

  • Alison C

    Hello. I’m in love with the organic sourdough oat flour rolls at my local healthfood shop. They seem healthy (oat flour/ oat bran, olive oil rather than canola) BUT one of the ingredients is “denatured gluten”. Be grateful to know what that is exactly (google hasn’t helped much) and whether it makes these oat rolls as problematic as wheat-based bread (please, no!!). Thank you and keep up the great work! :-)

    • Angie

      Any oats that aren’t certified gluten free are subject to contamination. I am gluten intolerant and oats make me symptomatic. Unless processed in a dedicated gluten free factory.

  • Joy

    I totally agree with this article. I took my whole family gluten free last year, including my two kids aged 12 and 10. It was the hardest for them because think about all of the childhood wheat laden foods that kids consume on a daily basis. I made this decision because i was tired of taking my kids to the doctor with stomach problems and skin rashes (excema) and only being provided with drugs that only mask the problem. I finally started researching why my daughter had excema and why my son had horrible stomach pain, bloating, gas and reflux. I just realized that my husband suffered from a Wheat allergy ever since he was a baby. When i started reading about gluten intolerance, i realized that my whole family had all the symptoms of Gluten intolerance. The decision was easy for me. It took a couple of months but my daughters excema finally went away on it’s own after suffering for 10 years and my son and husbands stomach problems were gone. My husband has also lost over 20 pounds. I noticed a difference in my energy level and my joints are no longer in pain all the time. I highly recommend it. Now I am trying to convince my brother, who was just diagnosed with arthritis in both big toes, that his pain will go away once he stops eating Wheat.

  • Wren

    This is an amazing article; my Mother has been telling me for months that the wheat we eat now is not the same wheat our grandpartents had in the 1950’s and before. She and my father have cut wheat out of their diets for about a month now and they’re almost irritating with how often they mention side effects like better sleep, more energy and loss of weight.
    So you’ve convinced me, time to take the no-wheat leap. By the way, my mother is also the reason I get your emails and have one of your books. Her degree is in health.

  • Stephanie

    Thanks for the info, but I don’t think it’s a good idea to demonize a certain food… just like demonizing soy isn’t very truthful. As long as it’s in whole, minimally processed form, wheat isn’t a problem. I think you already know that it’s the food people eat WITH the wheat, such as animal protein and fat that leads to obesity and diabetes. I love your work and I have learned so much from you Kimberly over the years.

  • Fanfan

    Hi Kim, thank you for this precious info. One thing remains unclear: I understand we should avoid gluten and your above post makes it very clear as for why Wheat is evil, however, where do non-wheat yet non-gluten free grains such as spelt, rye, oats and kamut stand? Do they also contain Gliadin and Lectins ?
    Thank you in advance for your reply.

  • http://none Pushpa

    Great article. Very inspiring! Can you please provide us some alternatives available from local stores?
    Also is spelt flour (which is wheat minus the bad stuff) a good thing to eat? At least spelt flour bread is available in some health food stores…

  • Tammie

    I have followed the Beauty the detox for almost a year now and I am halving very bad gas issues. Very embarrassing but is this normal, nd wht can I do to remedy this ? Am I doing something wrong in this life style change to have this issue?

  • alice

    Can you do an article on chocolate. Is it good, bad, healthy or hazardous?
    Dark chocolate is supposedly healthy for its antioxidants but I find it addicting which makes me thing that it is unhealthy….

    Would like some answers from a credible source.

  • Diane Talecki

    Does eating organic wheat products help in any way?
    Or do we need to avoid wheat altogether?

    • Kirstin

      She is saying very clearly to avoid wheat and gluten, altogether.

  • Kima G

    Can you give us some healthy alternatives to wheat bread and other wheat products please!?!

  • Jennifer

    Hi Kim,
    Pls what about sourdough whole wheat bread,is it healthy

    • Kirstin

      No. That’s still wheat.

  • Wendy

    We might all think about just how much wheat we eat. Rotational diets can help wean the wheat addiction. Wheat and corn are primarily what the s.a.d. Consists of. What about all the other grains ? Millet amaranth quinoa rye bulgar rice barley buckwheat spelt? Yes many contain allergen gluten. How about moderation, and as a part of a balanced meal? Vegetables and fruits need to be the base of our healthy diets. While. Adding a variety of other whole foods in there natural state. We all need to do more research as to what we are eating and why!

  • Paige

    You mentioned using brown rice flour . I’ve been hearing that brown rice contains high levels of arsenic, especially when it is processed. What do you think of that?

  • Ingrid

    Hi Kim,

    I have been on the Blossoming Beauty phase for about 5 months or so and it has generally been going quite well, and I have lost a lot of weight, but I do have a weakness for wheat still :(
    I occasionally cheat and have wheat (fresh crusty bread and pizza being my kryptonite). It is hard to find nice gluten-free bread in Australia that doesn’t have a whole lot of crap in it (such as egg, milk powder etc). I often find myself having to make my own bread. (the best brand I have found so far is the “Orgran” bake-at-home brand and it tastes “ok” but I still miss normal bread. )

    Oh well, just gotta keep at it, I suppose.

  • Carmen

    Hi Kim,
    I fallow your advises regarding food because I like to eat healthy. I have always been thin and fit, in fact now at 54 I carry the same weight I had in my 20’s. Like I said I fallow your receipts and suggestion, but about cutting out completely wheat product seem to me a little extreme!!!
    I’m Italian and like many Italian I love pasta, bread and pizza. This does not mean eating big portions of them every day. Maybe once a week…and in small portion. The problem I have in this country is the amount of food people put in a plate!! I eat pasta with my home made tomato source the way my mother and my grandmother did. We do not add sugar fat or large amount of sodium. And yes I enjoy a slice of fresh bread that I make at home with organic flour, not added sugar or fat of any kind. But I do not eat bread and pasta every day. What I eat every day are vegetables and fruit.
    In conclusion, I keep fallowing your posts and suggestions but I cannot be so extreme. My philosophy is “eat in moderation and do not be afraid to enjoy the food that you love”
    I love your book “The beauty detox food”.

  • Phil Deans

    I have finally managed to begin to conquer my wheat addiction.I have been working with Dr Tiffany Wright and her skinny coach solution,I have totally abstained from flours (of all kinds not just wheat) and sugar (artificial sugars too).I have lost over 60 lbs in 5 months.

  • Maurella

    I started a gluten free diet one week ago on the advise of my specialist as I have IBS but not coeliac disease. I have started to get headaches now and I’m feeling extremely down in the dumps. How long can I expect this phase to last?

  • Dani

    so true.