ONE recommendation that frequently has dramatic effects for clients is to stop eating wheat. This can seem daunting at first – no bread, pasta, biscuits, cakes, pastries or pizza – but is surprisingly easy to manage after a couple of weeks' practice, and the results are worth it. Better energy, improved sleep, fewer migraines; no more bloating, indigestion, or erratic bowel habits: these are just some of the improvements clients feel after replacing wheat.

The strong public health message to ‘eat more wholegrains’ combined with clever food marketing has allowed wheat consumption to rocket over the past 40 years. Yet ‘wholegrains’ doesn’t exclusively mean wheat, and it certainly doesn’t mean the modern hybridised, genetically altered grain we now call wheat.

Let’s travel back in time 10,000 years or so and meet the Natufian people living in what is now the Middle East. They supplemented their diet of meats and fruits with einkorn wheat, eaten as a porridge (adding yeast to wheat to make bread wouldn’t happen for a few more thousand years). Einkorn wheat later bred with a wild grass to produce emmer wheat, and both remained popular for thousands of years.

Fast forward to the late 20th century and wheat begins to change, dramatically. Thanks to human intervention, wheat now contains a complex mixture of genetic material and high amounts of gluten. Wheat production has focused on creating a grain that is pest and drought resistant, high yield, easy to harvest (modern wheat is less than half the height of einkorn or emmer), and easy to turn into commercially baked products.

Unfortunately, we humans struggle to digest these levels of gluten and the unfamiliar protein molecules in modern wheat, which is why so many people feel better when they stop eating it.

We are led to believe wheat is good for us: bran flakes for breakfast, wholemeal bread at lunch, pasta for tea – surely that’s healthy? Of course not. We need to eat a wide variety of natural foods to stay healthy and a wheat-focused diet cannot support that.

We need to expand our wholegrain horizons and embrace oats, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, brown rice, millet and all the other non-wheat grains and seeds out there, to break away from the unhealthy grip of modern wheat.

Sally Duffin is a Registered Nutritionist (MBANT). Find her online at or join the Facebook group ‘Nutrition in York’.