A few weeks ago, Steven’s sister’s dog ate a microfiber towel. Even among dogs, Max is known for his iron-clad digestive track. He has successfully passed pillows, candles, and most of a large ottoman. But microfiber proved to be too much for him and had to be surgically removed.
Why are we sharing this story? The lesson here is some things are truly dangerous to eat. Microfiber towels are a perfect example. There are experts who argue that wheat and dairy pose a similar danger. We think this may be a tad overstated.
Dr. James Braley’s book Dangerous Grains argues that all glutinous grains should be categorized as a poison and stickered with Mr. Yuk. Paleo diet guru Rob Wolf blames glutinous grains for everything from cancer to schizophrenia and autism. Dairy has been equally maligned. The not particularly well-credentialed authors of the Skinny Bitch diet blame dairy products for everything from arthritis and acne to attention deficit disorder. We have enormous respect for two out of four of these authors, but we think that they are all being unnecessarily alarmist.
Allow us to offer the following analogy: it’s possible to be attacked and killed by a Chihuahua, but this possibility requires a number of very rare circumstances. Wheat and other glutinous grains pose a similarly specialized threat. If you have Celiac disease or a similar autoimmune disorder, grains are truly dangerous. For those of us who prefer to drink our carbs, they are simply too calorically dense. Swapping these simple carbs for the more complex carbs in fresh fruits and vegetable allows us to eat more food while taking in fewer calories. Since all successful dieting requires calorie reduction, these are the types of exchanges that make it possible to lose weight while continuing to drink alcohol.
Andrea eats no wheat. Even trace amounts make her sick. Occasionally a restaurant will assure her that a dish is gluten free and then use flour to thicken a sauce. It takes about 20 minutes before Andrea knows with absolute certainty that she has been poisoned. Her symptoms are unmistakable. A rash appears on her chest and cheeks that both itches and gives her the ruddy complexion of an aging alcoholic. Her digestion is wrecked. It takes her the better part of a week to eat once again without stomach cramps and to fully lose that W.C. Fields glow.
Just because wheat is bad for Andrea does not make it equivalent to a microfiber towel. Steven eats very little wheat, but when he does he experiences no negative impacts whatsoever. Dairy, on the other hand, hits Steven like a low budget cleanse. We talk at length in How Diets Work about the subcategory of diets we refer to as Shit Yourself Thin. These diets stop your body from fully digesting food. On paper, not digesting food has a similar effect to not eating it: your caloric intake is reduced. In practice, even the manufacturers of these regimens admit that the process can be awkward. The warning labels on the associated diet supplements read like the plot of a horror film. Coincidentally, these labels also detail every one of the symptoms Steven experiences when restaurants sneak butter or milk into his food. Andrea, on the other hand, can eat dairy all day with no negative consequences to anything but her calorie intake.
The question we must still answer is: if wheat and dairy aren’t poisonous, why does the DYC Food List place most dairy in the “Limited” category and wheat, along with all other glutinous grains, under “Avoid?”
At its core, DYC is a diet based on calorie restriction. We believe that every successful diet relies on this same strategy. This is reason that people are able to lose weight on diets with dramatically opposing philosophies. The Atkins Diet and Dr. Joel Furman’s Eat To Live could not be more different in their approaches. Eat to Live promotes a mostly raw, vegan diet while Atkins bans tomatoes and peas in favor of bacon and sour cream. What cannot be denied is that both diets are very successful in helping people lose weight. The reason is that both diets reduce a dieter’s caloric intake. This is easy to believe with the vegan diet, but it’s equally true in the case of Atkins. It is virtually impossible eat enough fat to make up for the starches and sugars that Atkins prohibits. (If you are having trouble accepting this, check out our best argument in How Diets Work.)
DYC is no different, except that we have a slightly harder task to accomplish. Other diets either highly restrict or eliminate alcohol, while we embrace it. We like the taste of alcohol. We like the social aspects of going out with friends. We find great pleasure in trying to pair the perfect wine with a home cooked meal. This is the reason we created DYC. However, if we want to keep drinking, we must come to terms with the fact that alcohol adds calories to our diets. These calories have to be burned off and/or offset if we also want to lose weight and keep it off.
Even if you can digest wheat without a problem, it adds a huge number of calories to your diet while adding virtually no useful nutrients. Dairy is a little better because it’s high in protein and calcium. Nonetheless, there are better, lower calorie options for taking in those same nutrients. Dark, leafy greens contain more than enough calcium. Similarly, grass-fed meats offer more protein with a smaller caloric hit. More importantly, these meats and leafy greens don’t have the addictive quality of dairy and grains. If Andrea allows herself a small wedge of Brie, she will usually end up eating the entire round. Similarly, if Steven allows the breadbasket to come to the table, especially in San Francisco where it’s so good, he’ll eat the equivalent of an entire loaf.
High-fat diary is highly limited on DYC. If you, like Andrea, cannot control your portions, you should eliminate it entirely. Low fat dairy, such as plain non-fat yogurt and low-fat cottage cheese can be eaten in unlimited quantities. This distinction has nothing to do with an irrational fear of fat. Most oils are unlimited on DYC, as are fatty meats. The reason high-fat dairy is limited is due entirely to its calorie count. A small wedge of Brie has as many calories as an entire cup of low-fat cottage cheese. The goal of DYC is not to live in a constant state of hunger. By sticking to low-fat varieties, you get more food while consuming fewer calories.
In the end, we agree with Dr. James Braley and Rob Wolf that wheat should be avoided. This is not because we accept their claim that wheat is inherently evil or that it causes autism. Wheat and other glutinous grains simply pack a huge caloric punch while offering little else. They don’t even do a good job satiating hunger. Go to any restaurant and check out your fellow diners; most people are capable of eating an entire breadbasket without spoiling their dinner. For reasons that we do not entirely understand, people seem able to eat limitless quantities of bread without getting full. This would not be possible with carrot sticks and broccoli.
There is more to DYC than eliminating wheat and limiting dairy. Simple starches, added sugar and starchy vegetables such as potatoes and yams must also go. We also require exercise. Sadly, there is no magic formula. The bright side is that there is no need to count calories. Just follow the food list. We believe these are tradeoffs worth making. We are happy to order our burger with no bun, no fries and a side salad as long as we can pair it with a pint of beer. The beauty of DYC is that you can easily drink two pints and still consume far fewer calories than if you’d eaten the bun and fries. This is how DYC works. This is why we love our diet.
For anyone wondering about the health of Max the dog, earlier this week he ate and passed a rubber spatula. He is clearly doing fine.
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Thank you all so much for your feedback, it’s so nice to know ohrets have the same issues and you are not alone. I tried a lovely spelt bread recipe in my breadmaker, it was lovely, little one ate it too. Unfortunately spelt is still wheat, but contains significantly less gluten than standard wheat products. She therefore had allergic reaction to it and subsequently managed to get hold of nutrisionist at hospital who confirmed spelt is wheat so she wouldn’t tolerate it, found that out after the fact! nevermind poor poppet is ok now.Didn’t know about the allergyshow, will give that a go, thank you for that!Sainsburys do a great free from range she loves the chicken nuggets and sausages, now refining my own free from nuggets and fish fingers. Covering with cornflakes wasn’t a big hit, going to try whizzing wheat free bread into crumbs to coat, see if that impresses .
You are hilarious, really!
Many people who are gluten intolerant can fix this problem (perhaps your wife may want to give it a try)...the culprit is typically the processed white flour as they use aluminium to prevent weevils from contaminating the flour. You may want to try obtain whole wheat grains and create your own flours. Give it a try and see how it works. It has done wonders for many. Best of luck!