Joel had struggled with weight for as long as he could remember. Even in fourth grade he weighed 181 pounds, bigger than all the other kids.

Now 67 years old, Joel still struggled with being overweight, tipping the scales at 235 pounds, all carried around his middle–yes, a wheat belly.

His assessment uncovered all the typical markers of wheat consumption: high blood sugar of 118 mg/dl, HbA1c of 6.0% (pre-diabetic range), oodles of small LDL particles, low HDL, and high triglycerides. He had hypertension, as well. So, in late December, 2010, just before the holidays, I counseled Joel on why and how wheat had been booby trapping his diet all these years, increasing appetite, increasing his desire for more wheat, increasing his desire for all things non-wheat, wreaking all manner of metabolic distortions, and growing his wheat belly.

Joel returned to my office just a few days ago–181 pounds, down 54 pounds, matching the weight he last saw in fourth grade.

Conventional “wisdom” is that wheat elimination, as practiced by people diagnosed with celiac disease, results in weight loss because of deprivation, a reduction in variety of foods. Joel can tell you that there was no feeling of deprivation, hunger, or lack of choice. Purposeful reduction of calories is not part of the Wheat Belly approach, although calorie intake falls, on average, 400 calories per day due to the avoidance of the appetite-stimulating properties of the gliadin protein unique to wheat.