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Wheat: to eat or not to eat?

Why avoid wheat?

Some people are highly allergic to it, others are intolerant to it i.e. their body only produces symptoms if they eat it regularly. A typical diet easily includes wheat several times daily e.g. toast, sandwich, pasta or pizza plus a few biscuits or muffins in between. The proteins in wheat such as gluten (also found in oats, rye and barley) are ‘sticky’ (remember flour and water glue for papier maché?) and present the digestive system with quite a challenge. The fibre in wheat can irritate the lining of the gut, while phytates bind to minerals, making them less available for absorption.

Excluding wheat may seem nearly impossible to start with, but with some ideas for alternatives and a shift in habit, you’ll soon find that it‘s not so difficult. In fact, most of us don’t need to avoid wheat entirely but could do with reducing the amount we eat anyway. See ‘Recommended reading’ for books to help.

Recommended alternatives

Bread: rye bread (make sure it is pure rye flour); many health food shops sell breads made from other flours such as rice/soya; rice cakes; oat cakes; Ryvita

Pasta: corn/rice/vegetable pasta can be found in health food shops and now even in some supermarkets. Rice noodles are available in supermarkets and Asian grocers.

Try other starches such as brown rice, quinoa, corn, polenta, millet and amaranth instead of pasta, or as an accompaniment to a main meal such as a curry, stew, grilled fish, stir fry etc. Baked or boiled potato or sweet potato is a filling starch base to any meal.

For breakfast: instead of wheat-based toast or cereals, have:

  • wheat- and sugar-free muesli
  • oat, rice, or millet porridge
  • chopped fresh fruit topped with live, natural yoghurt and seeds
  • boiled or poached eggs on rye toast

For lunch: instead of wheat bread sandwiches, have

  • rye bread sandwiches
  • a baked potato & topping
  • soup with a salad
  • houmous/cottage cheese/tuna with salad and rice/oat cakes or Ryvita
  • rice or potato salad
  • sushi

Avoiding wheat means not eating:

  • Bread, Pasta, Cakes, Muffins, Pizza
  • Anything containing flour
  • Most thickened sauces
  • Burgers & sausages
  • Biscuits, Crumpets, Scones
  • Liquorice
  • Soy sauce
  • ‘Modified starch’


Note: fitscape's sister company - in:spa retreats - specialises in luxury detox holidays where diet plays a central role. Guests enjoy gourmet cleansing cuisine that excludes wheat, dairy products, salt, sugar, red meat, caffeine and alcohol. In addition to this special diet which, all our guests tell us, is absolutely delicious (thanks to the amazing team of in:spa chefs and nutritionists), guests enjoy an extensive programme of fitness activities and have plenty of time to unwind, de-stress and relax too. Please visit in:spa retreats for more info.


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