Is Wheat the new Sugar?

“Wheat belly” is a New York Times number one bestseller with over 2 million copies sold worldwide. The author with impressive credentials I might add, takes aim at wheat and claims that it is indeed wheat and wheat based products that are the real evil in our diets. In fact he even goes as far as saying that foods like butter that have been demonized by the health industry for so long are actually not the problem, wheat is the problem and the root cause of obesity. The author lays claim to the impressive results and improvements he has witnessed first hand in over 2000 of his patients having removed all traces of wheat from their diets.

Doesn’t this sound familiar?

Very familiar. In fact we read books with the same story line all the time, just with different foods playing the main characters. First it was fat, next it was sugar, now it’s wheat. You see books like ‘wheat belly’ don’t become best sellers by making sensible claims. Books become bestsellers by offering up something new and juicy. The general public love this sort of stuff because its new and fresh and just a little controversial.

The other enticing attribute of these books is that solutions to big health problems are painted in a very simple way. Avoid wheat. That ‘s it. Simple. Previously it was fat, and then it was sugar. The fantastic thing is that we don’t have to worry about all the other pitfalls in our diet, as long as we completely avoid wheat we will be transformed into the picture of health. And the hundreds of testimonials included convince us of this fact.

A case for balance and moderation

But unfortunately health is not that simple. Being healthy is more than the avoidance of individual foods. A healthy diet is about balance and moderation. This message is as old as it is boring. And that’s why it doesn’t appear in the pages of the New York Times bestsellers.

On the subject of wheat the author is correct to some degree. Yes wheat based foods do populate our diets and with money saving techniques used by food companies to prepare these products it super quick time, the nutritional quality does suffer. And who knows what all those additives and preservatives are doing to our health. Bread is no longer water, flour and yeast. It has an ingredients list the size of movie credits. But to say that wheat is the sole cause of all our health problems, please! Yes there are benefits of reducing wheat products, but they need to be replaced by healthy food in the right balance.

When obesity was first labeled an epidemic, health professionals recommended that everyone avoid fat. The problem was that people replaced fat with sugar. Oops. And that caused problems of its own. Then books like “Sweet Poison” and “The Bitter Truth” hit our shelves and before we knew it, sugar was the new fat. A great replacement for sugar is wheat. You see bread and pasta doesn’t have sugar in it. But now wheat is the problem? Oh boy what a mess. I think you can see the craziness of all this. And the reason this craziness continues is because no one wants to accept the boring, age old wisdom of balance and moderation.