Gluten is headline news. Wheat is in many foods, and it seems more people are becoming intolerant to this innocuous grain. What’s that all about?

Gluten is a mixture of two proteins present in some cereal grains, especially wheat. Gluten is Latin for ‘glue’ and is what makes bread elastic and spongey. A very small percentage of the population (around 1%) are severely allergic to gluten, with an autoimmune disorder called coeliac disease. Many more individuals avoid wheat as they have an adverse reaction to it. Coeliac disease is a serious (potentially life-threatening) allergy, however an intolerance to gluten is much more common.

You might not be aware of how much wheat you eat on a daily basis, but imagine this: Weetabix for breakfast, a biscuit mid morning, lunchtime sandwich, bit of cake to “keep me going” in the afternoon and pasta for dinner – that’s five different sources of wheat in a day. And that’s just the obvious stuff. Did you know that wheat can also be found in flavoured crisps, stir fries, soups and sauces? In fact it lurks in many processed foods. Overloading on wheat is one thing that might cause tummy upset and problems.

The wheat grain itself isn’t the problem, especially when the whole kernel is ingested. The problem arises when wheat is highly processed into starchy white flour, losing the fibrous outer husk. Highly processed wheat can cause a spike and subsequent drop in blood sugar. In my experience, minimising processed wheat can help you lose weight around your middle. Your midriff is where the body tends to deposit fat when blood sugar levels are going haywire.

So if you’re looking to lose a few pounds this year, and perhaps even feel a bit healthier, try and cut down on how much wheat you eat. Bread is not out-of-bounds, but visit a local baker and spend a few quid on a really good loaf of sour dough or rye. Delicious, with more nutrition…