So I’m Allergic To Wheat! Ctd

Andrew Sullivan —  May 25 2011 @ 2:45pm


Dish readers to the rescue:

One of probably scads of emails you'll get on this: I stumbled onto the wheat issue about 10 years ago, and cutting it out of my diet has made a world of difference.  But you won't have to give up pasta (there are many non-wheat varieties available, the worst, probably, being spelt … ) or pizza or cookies (a brand called With Out Wheat or WOW makes a fabulous ginger/molasses cookie!)

No wheat also ends up meaning none of the collateral fat / calories from the things you dress the wheat with – butter on your bread, etc.  So you may find yourself slimming down (I dropped 25 pounds the first year, tho I've taken some back on as I discover the wheat substitutes.)  And, yeah, kiss those itchy patches goodbye. Congrats on the discovery!

Two words: Quinoa pasta. Another writes:

Dude, I sympathize.

I was diagnosed with Celiac's disease five months ago, which means I cannot eat the same things you now can't eat, and I also can never have real beer again. The lack of sandwiches, pizza, scones, ice cream sandwiches, fried anything, pasta, etc., in my life has been maddening, as has my new requirement to read EVERY food label to check for contamination.

But I think the worst thing about a wheat or gluten allergy is having to become the asshole customer at every restaurant you go to. This isn't so much a problem at high end establishments, where people are used to (and get paid well for) taking odd dietary requests. The problem is almost everywhere else. I ask: "does this sauce have gluten in it?" They reply: "no, it's just soy sauce." "Soy sauce has wheat in it." "ORLY?" "YARLY!" Variations on this happens constantly.  

The one positive thing I can say about the diagnosis is that it's a relief to know what's wrong with you and to feel the difference when your system is free from its allergen. And there really isn't a better time to have a wheat allergy. Grocery stores almost all have gluten/wheat-free sections now, which means you can still get rice and quinoa pastas if you want (these tend to range from disgusting to barely passable, unfortunately). I hope your allergy isn't so severe that you have to worry about trace amounts of wheat in your food. Otherwise, good luck, and have fun!


My son is allergic to wheat as well, and it’s actually not all that hard to accommodate him.  For one thing, Gluten free products are common now.  Second, although he’s allergic to wheat, he can have spelt (which has gluten).   There are a number of spelt products on the market, including breads, pasta etc., and you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference between them and wheat products.  Also, you can sub in spelt flour for wheat flour pretty easily in just about any recipe.  So if you want scones, and don’t mind baking, you can easily make them yourself.

Make … them … myself?? Another:

Try the blog “Gluten Free Goddess” for really nice wheat-free recipes.


Rice flour? But perhaps neither of you bakes.

Too right. But I may now try. Another:

My wife suffers from the same affliction! An allergist discovered she was allergic to wheat when she was a teenager and has had to avoid wheat ever since.  As a sign of solidarity, I am mostly wheat free, but I can't resist the occasional beer or sandwich.

For pasta – we recommend the Tenkiyata brand.  For cookies – Glutino makes a good wheat-free Oreo.  For pretzels – Glutino also makes a great wheat-free pretzel that costs nearly five times what you would pay for the wheat-ed variety (but tastes even better!). For bread – Udi's makes great wheat-free rolls and pizza crusts as well as loafs of bread.  For baking purposes – Bob's Red Mill, Arrowhead Mills, Pamela's and King Arthur make delicious non-wheat flour mixes that approximate pancakes, brownies, cookies and cakes. I have even seen wheat-free Ginger Snaps in a NYC Gourmet Garage store.


My girlfriend has celiac disease, and has shown me that you can lead a perfectly happy gustatory life without wheat. The most revelatory thing she introduced me to is flourless chocolate torte. It's like cake but richer, and ridiculously easy to make. Aside from that, there are tons of yummy boxed cereals based on rice and/or corn flour, and many pastas are made with rice noodles (most but not all pad thai, for instance!) or, bizarrely, green been flour, you can also buy corn or quinoa noodles in most grocery stores. East and South Asian cuisines rely much more on rice generally, while Central and South American food does wonders with corn flour (have you had the pupusas at the South American food market at that little triangle between Columbia, Euclid, and Champlain every weekend morning? One tent, usually the 2nd one north along Champlain, makes the best). There are some okay wheatless beers, but hard cider is generally a safer bet, we recommend Original Sin or the drier Strongbow.

Then it turns out that many brands now make gluten-free versions of typical pre-packaged things, like ginger snaps (try the Midel brand for those). And many restaurants use mysterious alchemy to make gluten-free versions of prepared dishes: gluten-free pizza works especially well. Check out Pete's A-Pizza in Columbia Heights or Open City in Woodley Park for their GF pizza! I wouldn't recommend trying to make wheat-free bread (almost impossible to do right), but Whole Foods carries many good wheat-free bread brands, so you can still have waffles, toast, bagels, English muffins and cookies.


So sorry to hear of your recently diagnosed wheat allergy. As I have a number of friends and relatives who also have wheat and other foods allergies, I started this website that shows the food allergy content for the menus of many popular restaurants and the same for the grocery store products from many food manufacturers. Apologies for shameless plug, but I thought it might help.


A wheat allergy will make your life significantly better.  You should read Gary Taubes' Why We Get Fat, which lays out the evidence that wheat and other grains, not dietary fat, are the primary drivers of obesity, diabetes, and other modern-day ills.  You should also look into some dietary variations on the book, such as the Paleo or Primal Blueprint diets.  After reading the book, I eliminated grains, sugar, and processed foods from my diet almost entirely (diet soda is a tenacious bastard.) 

As a result, I wake up more naturally, I have more energy at work, I suffer less of what I might coyly call "gaseous intestinal distress" (read: farting), I have noticeably less plaque on my teeth in the morning, and I've lost about 15 pounds of fat over the last month without consciously eating a reduced calorie diet.  People weren't meant to eat grass seeds, and a wheat allergy is the perfect opportunity to translate to a healthier eating style.


On the bright side, you can still eat cheese. Lovely, lovely cheese. Unless you develop a lactose intolerance.

I hate cheese. But I am really grateful for all the input. Sometimes, having a blog is a real privilege.

(Photo: Picture of wheat from the Czech Republic, 7 August 2007. By Wiki contributor, Photographer2008.)