The delightful wickedness of eating wheat on a wheat-free diet

Most people think wheat or gluten has to be completely excluded where it is thought to be a problem. This is not so, except for those who are coeliacs or those who have anaphylaxis or symptoms that would land them in hospital. They should read no further.

For everyone else, you can get away with small amounts of foods containing wheat.

Such foods are a pleasure.

The crunch and taste of even one crisp wheat cracker, or the enjoyment of the smell and feel of very fresh crusty bread is such a delight. What about one bite of someone’s flakey pastry at the corner of their apple turnover, or the aroma floating from the toaster when you cook toast to just the level of golden brown you love?

Then you add your tolerated savoury or sweet spread and bite into your favourite food. What about the wonderful taste of home made scones cooked in a very hot oven, or a wheat flour pizza base topped only with foods you tolerate and cooked up to just the right crunch level?

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There are those who thought wheat a problem when they ate pizzas, or doughnuts, or the cake they had with their coffee on an outing, but it is important to avoid any food that is wheat plus lots of other ingredients, especially those high in flavour.

These are often the problem.

When testing any food use the rule that the more scared of a reaction you are the smaller the amount you use at first. Then you test your favourite food over seven days while not changing anything else in your diet.

You might just begin with a lick of the plain water cracker, then have a crumb, and over days work up to one whole cracker. If all goes well you can keep expanding your amount.

Many people do manage one slice of toast or similar amount per day. Tolerance is improved if the bread is well cooked and crusty, or toasted, and if the food is eaten between about 10am and 4pm, the times people report best tolerance.

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Avoid testing wheat when you are overtired, stressed or have an infection of any kind. Your tolerance is best when you feel your most robust.

This is helpful to know so you learn about yourself and when you might dare to test your favourite food.

It is interesting that the form of the wheat matters too.

You might react to bread but not pasta, which in fact contains more gluten.

You might wonder if it is the yeast in the bread but also get their symptoms with plain scones so it is the ‘crumby’ form of wheat they have trouble with. Pastry is yummy and perhaps the increased fat makes it better tolerated in the gut.

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If you get bloating from bread do get advice from a dietitian about the fermentable, oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAPS) angle and learn about using the sour-dough spelt bread.

Do test white bread and crackers first as many have symptoms, particularly gut looseness, with wholegrain breakfast foods or wholemeal bread.

You can learn even more by reading Tolerating Troublesome Foods so your life contains more of the food pleasures you enjoy most.

Have you ever followed a wheat- and gluten-free diet? Are there foods you can no longer eat because you have a negative reaction to them? Share your thoughts with us.