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Real Life Nutrition Questions Answered

Real Life Fitness Questions Answered

Emma Brown

Janet Aylott

Kelly Marshall
Fitness Consultant


Could I be wheat intolerant?

I don't normally eat a huge amount of bread & when I do it's generally wholemeal, but while my kitchen was being fitted, I ended up having a lot more than normal. I noticed that I was feeling a bit sluggish and retaining a lot of water, but didn't really think too much about it as I knew my diet was less than ideal due to having nowhere to cook for over a week. It sort of came to a head though when I had a bit of pannetone in the office & suddenly started swelling up and feeling slightly short of breath. I took some antihistamine and felt fine within 20mins. Cut a long story short, I decided that it might be prudent to cut out wheat for a few days and see what happens. What happened if that within 3 days I've dropped several pounds of water weight, my skin looks better and I look much less 'flabby' to the extent that people in the office have noticed. I've not particularly cut carbs, but mostly replaced wheat with rye & other grains. My question is whether / when I should start to reintroduce wheat? I suspect I can tolerate it at low quantities (I've eliminated it before for the same reason, but the reaction was a lot less severe), but to be honest I don't really know. I'm somewhat wary of so-called 'intolerance tests', because I know a lot are based on pseudoscience, but I'm not sure whether to avoid it altogether (a pain) or just keep it to low quantities as I've done in the past. What are your thoughts?


Our expert says...

From what you have told me it would seem possible that you do have some sort of intolerance, but what concerns me (and I think is possibly a separate issue)  is the reaction you got when you ate the Pannetone. This reaction  seems more like a true allergy and if possible I think you should go carefully through what ingredients might have been in the pannetone that could have caused this. Talk to your GP about this as another time around a reaction can be  more  severe.

As for the wheat tntolerance (and it’s possible the two things are coexisting),  you could try investigating which foods might be upsetting you by keeping a diary of foods eaten and symptoms experienced,. However this may not be all that informative as sometimes the symptoms of an intolerance (tiredness, headaches, bloating as well as digestive upset) happen several hours or maybe even a day or two after eating the food.

If keeping a diary doesn't work, another option is to try the following bland diet  for a couple of weeks before slowly reintroducing foods:


Meat, fish, soya products, all fruit except citrus, all vegetables except potatoes and sweet corn

Not Allowed

Dairy products, eggs, yeast, caffeine, nuts and alcohol. All cereal grains except rice.

After a fortnight, start reintroducing foods every few days (the one you will be most interested in is wheat, obviously), making a note of any symptoms that occur). You'll need to leave it a few days and should discuss your results with your GP.

If you are wheat intolerant, it’s likely that you will have a level of intake that you can tolerate without any problems, but this threshold is very individual and may even change over time. But the bottom line is that yes, you will need to find alternatives to wheat wherever possible. Fortunately supermarkets now do a large range of “free from” type foods which will help you no end!

You are advised to seek medical advice before making any changes to your diet or lifestyle with an aim of weight loss. This website and the content provided should not be used by persons under 18, by pregnant or nursing women, or individuals with any type of health condition, except under the direct supervision of a qualified medical professional. The information contained in these articles, and elsewhere on this website, is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only, and is not intended to replace, and does not constitute legal, professional, medical or healthcare advice or diagnosis and may not be used for such purposes. Continue...

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