A few weeks ago before I left to go overseas I caught up with a friend for a drink after work. She was munching on a croissant and offered me some, (perhaps knowing I have a weakness for croissants).
I declined and said I was on a no wheat diet at the moment (I’ve elaborated in a previous post about why and how I’ve gone wheat free). Confused, my friend asked me, “what on earth do you eat if you’re not eating wheat?!”
What can I eat on a no wheat diet?
That’s a very good question! I think the idea of it freaks people out – my Mum, for example despite the fact that wheat realllly doesn’t agree with her digestive system, can’t quite bring herself to cut it out, as it seems so restrictive.
And it is restrictive, when you consider that no wheat means no bread, no pasta, no pizza, no cakes, biscuits, no wheat-based crackers, or noodles, unless they’re rice noodles. No pancakes or crepes or wraps or tortillas or dumplings or anything made with pastry.
Strictly, it means no crumbed food either, nothing with any stuffing in it, unless you’re sure that a non-wheat crumb or stuffing has been used. It means having the discipline to pick the croutons out of your salad, and ignore the bread that comes with your bowl of soup.
Personally, I don’t think I’m any particularly shining example of a disciplined eater. In fact it’s precisely because I can be so undisciplined in my relationship with food that I’ve adopted this way of eating. I need rules, I need structure.
I operate best with a goal and a deadline and when life doesn’t offer them I create them myself. I’m not great with portion control or moderation, without a habit-forming rule as a guide. I say habit-forming because when you implement the rule often enough it does becomes second nature.
This is not just something you read in a self-help book but a reality I can now attest to. I say ‘no toast please’ with my breakfast order now without even thinking about it.
Wheat free meals
So, back to the question, what does a no-wheat diet include? The answer is plenty! Every form of meat, protein, fat and vegetables. There are a host of other grains you can substitute for wheat, if you choose to. Personally I find grains disagree with me a bit so I tend to avoid those too, except for a little bit of quinoa or couscous in a salad, or rice a couple of times a week.
My eating patterns look a little like this:
No wheat diet breakfasts
Breakfast is usually some variation of omelette with spinach, other veggies if they’re left over, a bit of cheese, avocado, bacon, or anything at all to pad it out and make it so damn yummy that I don’t notice it’s not sitting on a slab of toast.
If I go out for breakfast I’ll follow these same general rules – I might have scrambled eggs with all the trimmings, or some kind of spanish-style beans with egg and chorizo or a hashbrown if I’m really feeling indulgent.
No wheat diet lunches
Lunch is almost always a salad but that’s not as boring as it sounds. Chicken Caesar salad is a popular choice because it’s chock full of protein and fat and harmless enough if I don’t eat it every day.
Right now I’m in Eastern Europe and they have a popular variety of salad here with mixed greens, a bit of goats cheese, bits of mandarin or orange, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and a pesto dressing. Sometimes there’s smoked salmon or chicken in there too.
When I’m making my own salads at home I just follow the magic formula for creating a salad: a generous serve of veggies with at least one serve of protein and one of a good fat. The varieties actually are endless!
Provided there’s enough protein and fat in there, I can go for hours and my blood sugar stays nice and stable during that time. My belly stays (relatively) flat even after I’ve eaten too. Where ‘dieters’ go wrong is that they decide to eat salads for lunch that are really nothing more than 100 calories worth of garden salad with a basic vinaigrette.
I’ve burnt through those calories by the time I’ve walked back to my desk after lunch! They’re reaching for that 3pm donut before they even realise, and then berating themselves for a lack of self-control, and that’s no surprise.
No wheat diet dinners
Dinner is also easy. Any curry or stirfy with or without the rice complies, providing there’s plenty of protein in it and loads of vegetables. Any type of roast, grilled or pan-fried meat with side dishes of vegetables are wheat-free (remembering what I said about crumbed or stuffed things).
If I really want something that would usually include wheat, I can substitute it, for example by using thinly sliced zucchini ‘noodles’, or making a pizza base with a non-wheat flour or with cauliflower.
No wheat diet snacks
Snacks are easy provided you’re well organised enough. Fruit, if you’re a sweet tooth. Nuts, rice crackers or rice cakes with cheese or avocado or a nut butter – boiled eggs, cold chicken drumsticks, a tin of tuna with some carrot sticks.
And these days we are spoilt for choice for ‘gluten-free’ alternatives to nearly every old favourite variety of cake, biscuit or muesli bar. While I’m not currently gluten-free (gluten is found in a lot of foods that have absolutely no detrimental impact on me – soy sauce for example – so I know I don’t have a gluten intolerance), going for the gluten-free option automatically rules out wheat.
When I ‘have’ to eat something with wheat, either because someone else has prepared a meal and I don’t want to be rude, because there is nothing else available (ie when traveling), or when my willpower simply isn’t strong enough, I’ll ‘hack’ my blood sugar response to wheat by teaming it with something high fat and high protein (more on what that means here), and going for the least amount of wheat as possible, for example:
- A ham and cheese croissant (the ratio of flour to other ingredients in croissant dough is favourable)
- Crepes with ham and cheese, as I recently had for breakfast at a hotel in Lithuania (again, crepe batter is ‘relatively’ low in flour and teaming it with the ham and cheese makes the carbohydrate intake almost negligible.
So there you have it – this is what a no wheat diet looks like for me. Not as difficult as it sounds? I would encourage you to give it a try, and I’d love to hear your ideas for how you have eliminated or cut down on wheat in your diet.
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