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What, No Wheat?
Wheat is in everything. If I give it up, what will I eat? Do I really have to take it out of my diet?
This is a common response I get from some when I tell them that they really should eliminate wheat while trying to conceive, and I understand how they feel. But here’s why it’s important—and also why it’s not as hard as you think in this modern day to go wheat-free.
- First, wheat is hard to digest. “It’s like Velcro on your gut,” Jennifer Walker, D.C., a chiropractic doctor at a naturopathic clinic told me. When trying to conceive, we want to ease the work of our digestion — which is the most labor-intensive function in the body — so as to have more energy available to nourish and heal other parts of the body, particularly our reproductive system.
- Second, a large percentage of people have a sensitivity to wheat and don’t even know it because the symptoms are so subtle. I‘m not talking about a full=blown allergy, just a sensitivity, which can lead to a host of problems such as bloating, inflammation and fatigue. It can also affect thyroid function, which is important for fertility. It also means your body is working even harder to process this food and now having to do additional “repair” work, which means even less energy is available for nourishing and healing your reproduction.
- Finally, wheat can have a more acidic effect on the body when we need to maintain a more alkaline pH balance for health and fertility.
Giving up wheat, however, can mean giving up your favorite wheat-based breads, baked goods, crackers, tortillas, pastas and more. It’s even a hidden ingredient in many processed foods, such as soy sauce.
So what can you eat? A lot! These days you can find numerous non-wheat alternatives in your local health food store, on the Internet and even in your local grocery store. You can have your choice of non-wheat breads, such as 100 percent rye, spelt or brown rice breads; rice pasta; spelt tortillas; crackers made from brown rice or quinoa and other whole grains; and non-wheat soy sauce (one brand is made by San-J), just to name a few. Other grains such as quinoa, Kamut®, rice and spelt can be substituted. (Spelt is similar to wheat but contains more protein and is easier to digest.) These alternatives taste great too.
Check product labels carefully, though. Wheat goes by many names, including flour, white flour, whole wheat flour, semolina, durum, triticale, bran, bulgur, wheat germ and wheat starch.
So, start by replacing wheat-based foods with alternatives. You may be surprised to find it’s not so hard, and your body will thank you for it.