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Risks of Avoiding Wheat

By Andrea Johnson ; Updated August 14, 2017

Many people choose to cut wheat and wheat products from their diet for many reasons, but the primary objective is to improve health. The Wheat Foods Council reports wheat is used more than any other grain in the American food supply. If you want to cut wheat from your diet, a variety of possible side effects can occur. Everyone is different, so side effects vary from person to person.

Potential Physical Symptoms

Initially when removing wheat from your diet, you may temporarily feel worse than before removing wheat. Each person is different, but potentially energy may be less; fatigue, aches and pains may be more prominent; and more headaches and an increase in irritability is possible. This is only temporary and usually subsides after a week.


After consuming a certain food for so long, removing it from your diet can be similar to quitting an addiction to drugs or alcohol. A withdrawal period is common and thought to be the body's way of cleaning out all the wheat from the body and recalibrating the chemicals in the body to appropriate levels, according to the book "LEAP ImmunoCalm Dietary Managment Program" by Jack Pasula. Increasing water and an over-the-counter pain reliever may assist with alleviating painful symptoms.


Since wheat makes up a tremendous part of the American diet, finding foods to replace wheat products may be challenging and frustrating initially. Fortunately, many wheat-free foods are available as replacements. This is a good time to increase intake of fruits, vegetables and healthy protein food sources. For grain sources, there are plenty of options that don't involve wheat, including quinoa, corn, rye, barley and oats, to name a few. A critical component to easing the frustration of taking wheat out of your diet is planning ahead for meal preparation and having wheat-free snacks handy.

Positive Effects

Cutting out wheat has positive side effects following the initial negative, though temporary, side effects. Many people frequently report generally improved energy levels physically and mentally as long as wheat is replaced with healthy whole grains. A decrease in aches and pain and skin improvements are also experienced by some people. Weight loss frequently occurs in people who remove wheat from their diets, which can be a positive or a negative side effect depending on each individual person. A healthy weight loss amount is 1 to 2 lbs. per week, according to Harvard School of Public Health.

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