Sunday, June 12, 2016

Why Wheat Haters Have It Wrong

Delicious Spelt Pizza!

I talk to many people who are convinced that wheat is unhealthy, and many claim to be allergic to gluten, or have an intolerance to it.

I believe most of them are mistaken. 

First off, let me clarify:  Gluten allergies/sensitivities are a real thing.  Some people have a broader sensitivity to wheat.  Combined these conditions affect 1-3% of the human population.   Those people who have a true issue with gluten should avoid it, just as anyone allergic to any other particular food needs to avoid it. 

(If you believe you have an issue with gluten you NEED to be tested for celiac disease.  It isn't something to be taken for granted, and you need to know.  Celiac is a serious condition which demands a rigorous change in lifestyle.  On the other hand, there is no reason to go through all that if you don't actually have it.  Get the test.)

Why then does it seem that a much larger percentage of the population has an issue with wheat/gluten?  Certainly, in my talking to people, a much higher percentage CLAIM to have an issue with it.

Here's why, in a nutshell.

While only 1-3% of people have an actual issue with wheat or gluten, nearly 100% of humans have an issue with highly processed and refined foods. Let's face it: nearly 100% of the wheat that most people eat in modern times is highly processed, over refined, nutritionally dead, and can hardly be called food.   The closest thing most people get to "whole grains" is the occasional slice of wheat bread.

We should be pointing the finger and blaming ourselves for what we've turned an otherwise healthy food into.  Instead we blame the wheat itself.

One of the most common arguments I hear is that modern wheat isn't natural.  That it has been hybridized into frankenfood that is not only unnatural and unhealthy, but downright poison to us.  These arguments are espoused in some books and many blogs, and I admit, they even sound like legitimate and rationale arguments.  But I've never seen them followed by the next logical step, which is that if modern grains aren't healthy, we need to go back to eating the ancient grains.  This >IS< where that argument should end up, right?  But I've never seen it go there.  

Instead, without exception, the "modern wheat is evil" arguments are always followed with "all wheat, all grains, all carbohydrates are evil and unhealthy."  Imagine that.   They make an argument against modern wheat and conclude that all grains, even the ancient ones, and non grains like potatoes are unhealthy.  How do they make THAT jump? 

Dr. McDougall is well known for pointing out that throughout all of verifiable human history, all large, healthy populations of humans have gotten the bulk of their calories from whole-food starches.  These are the foods of health, the foods that brought us civilization in the first place.

Yes, the form most people eat wheat in is unhealthy and poisonous.  The logical response is to eat those grains in their whole, natural form, with as little processing as possible.  

Need some evidence?   Here is a picture of me the day I got my grain mill:

Raymond Cool showing off his new Grain Mill.  (2011)

This was early in 2011.  I weighed about 500 pounds.  I made the decision to add whole grains into my diet with the hope of becoming a bit healthier.  I had no real expectation of losing significant weight.  I didn't believe I could lose significant weight.  But I believed I could be a bit healthier, so I started eating whole grains.  I bought this grain mill and started baking my own wholesome nutritious breads.  I made my own breakfast cereals.

And I lost weight.  A LOT of weight.  About 300 pounds of excess weight!

Here is what I look like these days:

Raymond Cool 

I still eat plenty of whole grains, including delicious, wholesome breads.  This is a picture of my dinner tonight:

Spelt Pizza - June 12th, 2016 (It was DELICIOUS!)

It is a pizza made from wholesome, delicious spelt flour, which I milled by hand with love.   It was absolutely delicious!  Spelt is an ancient grain, and is one of many ancient grains that one could use instead of modern wheat, if you were convinced modern wheat isn't suitable for food.  I eat a variety of wheat grains, including spelt, durum, kamut, and also modern wheat.   I look forward to eating and cooking with more as time goes on.  

The idea that you can eat food like this, lose weight, and become healthier in the process are ideas that many find too good to be true.  So they cling to their "grains are bad" mantra, suffer with their low-carb diets, and find marginal success, if any at all.

One reason people cling to such thinking is this:  They've heard the arguments, they've tried giving up wheat, and they felt better for it!  How do I explain this?  Easy!  Since nearly 100% of wheat people eat in modern times is highly processed poison, it is logical to conclude that ANYONE would feel better not eating it.  Again, the finger should be pointed at the highly processed poison...  not the wholesome whole grains from whence it came.  Their argument isn't against wheat, it's against highly refined wheat, and they miss out on some really good things by believing as they do.   What's worse, since wheat is a natural human food, most people eventually "cheat" and sneak some.  But when they do, it's not the whole-grains I eat, it's processed junk they used to eat, and of course, it makes them feel bad, and their convictions become even firmer.  

Eat your grains.  Eat them in their whole, natural state whenever possible.   When making breads/pizzas, make them out of wholemeal flour.  Better yet, buy a grain mill and grind your own!  It is fun, it is healthy, it is the most delicious bread/pizza you'll ever eat! 

Don't hate me!   Join me instead! Better health comes with many delicious foods.  Whole grains are our friends!

Happy Eating!

Monday, February 22, 2016

Looking Back: May 5th, 2013

I first shared this photo almost 3 years ago:

It was a day of excitement and wonderment!  For the first time since Junior High School I weighed less than 200 pounds!

I think most can appreciate that this must have been quite an accomplishment for me.  Some know just how big of one!   

At the time I was looking only at the future and what lay ahead.  I had it all mapped out and it would be smooth sailing!  I would finish my journey to lose 300 pounds, I would write a book about it, I would become a weight-loss guru and help countless others do the same.   Life would be the proverbial "happily ever after"!

That was three years ago and life sure did take some unexpected turns!  There was no smooth sailing.  In fact, these past three years have been the most difficult of my entire journey.  How was I to know that the path forward meant going backwards?  Way backwards!

The short story:  Food is powerful medicine.  Food can heal, food can help us lose weight.  Look what food has done for me!  But food is physical and it can only heal our physical bodies.  The truth is that I have a lifetime of emotional baggage.  I thought that the end of my physical weight-loss journey put an end to any emotional baggage associated with having been so morbidly obese all those years.

Not so.  Turns out that all the life issues that got me up to 500 pounds were still there, and that pushing forward meant dealing with those life issues.  Denying them and refusing to deal with them took me where I was...  and could do so again.

This came as quite the blow to me, and took me a good bit of time to sort out.  During that time I lost a grip on my eating.  Is this any real surprise?  Life was supposed to be perfect, I was supposed to be cured, and then one emotional train wreck popped up after another.  I started putting weight back on.   I think we have all seen or heard of people, who, like me, have lost large amounts of weight, and know that in most cases they end up putting it all back on.   I now understand why that is.  Once we fix the physical, and everyone expects us to be "cured", the real Pandora's Box of our past starts demanding to be dealt with, and that is very hard to bear.

Fortunately for me, I was so steeped in the food...   I knew WHAT to eat. I loved the foods that I ate, and although the amount of food I ate was out of control, it was, for the most part, healthy food. Although it resulted in weight gain, it didn't result in putting back on large amounts of weight.  The food bought me time.  Sufficient time to start dealing with my emotional baggage, my life issues.  It has taken me over 2 years since then to work through the process far enough to actually talk about it publicly.   Had I not been so firmly grounded in the food I would have easily put on enough weight to have caused me to given up completely.  That is how the story usually goes.

In addition to being so firmly grounded in the food, I am, and have always been firmly grounded in my life journey.  This life journey is one much bigger than my weight loss journey, and I'll share more of it in time.

So where am I?   Physically I am where I was about 3 years ago.  I am just under 200 pounds, inching towards my goal of losing 300, and just as determined to get there as ever.  Mentally, though, I'm in a much better place than 3 years ago.  I have been through the dark valley, I have dealt with enough of my demons to allow me to start moving forward again, and am continuing to work on the rest.

Don't count me out, and don't bet against me!   

-Raymond Cool