My fiancee and the last wheat pizza I have eaten

I Thought Gluten-Free Was a Scam Until…

Once upon a time, I was a pizza-eating, beer-drinking kind of guy. I stopped drinking beer a while back but that’s a different story. I grew up with a bunch of Italians so eating pasta was mandatory, yum! Italian food is still my favorite category today. But one day, something happened that changed how I eat.

On September 30, 2022, my girlfriend and I ventured to eastern Connecticut and Rhode Island where I proposed to her (and she accepted!). I used to read about Mystic Seaport as a kid and we were finally going. I was super excited! I have always had a thing for the sea and New England. I never visited Mystic Seaport when I was stationed proverbially “down the street” in Groton while I was in the US Navy. Finally, I could see the Charles Morgan and several ships I read about as a child.

We had lunch at an iconic pizza place for lunch and the pizza was everything I had imagined. It was so good! I stopped from double over-stuffing myself by saving a slice of pizza for the road.

I Worked in Restaurants for Almost Three Decades

My work in the food industry and worked in restaurants starting in 1992. This gave me a very unique perspective on how we eat as a society and the foods I eat. There was never any concern about the food we eat in my mind.

In 1995, Mark Whitacre blew the whistle on Archer Daniels Midland, a huge food production conglomerate for fixing prices of grains and the foods we ate. That was the first time I discovered that there were actual food conglomerates that decided what foods we ate as a country.

In 2002, I was working in a French-owned, French-speaking restaurant. The restaurant was there to provide French cuisine for some French millionaires who were wintering in the area. Real French people imported from France! The way I was hired was that I spoke just enough French to get by and the restaurant was a huge hit with the Americans. There was a huge communication gap between my fellow Americans and the French staff and I was the solution.

One day, Kahle (spelled correctly, by the way), the French restaurant manager said that the food we have in the United States tasted different from the food they have in France. Some of them had gone as far as growing their own food in pots. They couldn’t stomach American food for some reason. I maintained that our food was just like their food and that all was right in the world. I found out later that I was wrong.

Over the years, I ate what I wanted to. For a brief period in 2014-15, I went on a near paleo diet cutting out alcohol, wheat, processed sugar (sodas) and avoiding dairy as much as I could. I dropped around 30 pounds and started long-distance running again. About the same time, the restaurant I was working in started a gluten-free menu. We were required to be extra vigilant about taking care of our gluten-free guests. Celiac disease seemed real because a doctor diagnosed it. Those with a gluten intolerance or a preference for gluten-free food seemed suspicious to me though. I was still under the impression that food was food.

Later in 2015, I started drinking alcohol again and I noticed that the beer I used to drink caused me a lot of stomach pain. I cut out beer and finally cut out alcohol again in 2017.

I stopped serving in restaurants in 2018 and in 2019, I closed the door on my restaurant career.

A Brief Look at My Diet

I ate whatever I wanted, pizzas and pasta being my favorite. Antacids had become a regular part of my diet as my stomach pain increased. I never thought about looking at the foods we eat as a possible cause for the stomach pain I was experiencing.

Back to visiting Mystic Seaport. Here I am in a place I have always wanted to go see. I found myself slightly out of breath, unable to focus, in a bit of a daze, and generally not having a good time. My fiancée asked me if I was ok, that I didn’t seem myself. The truth was that I was in a lot of pain. I was used to having abdominal pain but this was huge. She Googled the symptoms that I was experiencing. One of the first things that came up was gluten intolerance.

That made sense to some degree. I remembered that when I cut gluten out of my diet my weight dropped and my abdominal pain was much less than when I was eating wheat without regard for what I was eating.

Genetic Modification of Foods in the United States

Conquering world hunger has always been a major concern in the 20th and 21st centuries. Although I can’t find any significant data on this from a cursory search, I have been told that food crops such as wheat, corn, soybeans and others had been experimented with to increase farming payloads and to keep food from rotting after harvest. This was to increase the food supply and conquer food shortages worldwide once and for all. GMO foods were not officially introduced until 1994, a few years later, the French were telling me that an American tomato didn’t taste like the tomatoes they have in France. This makes sense also since Europe has banned GMO foods.

Although the reason for growing GMO foods was noble, could the byproduct be foods that humans couldn’t digest?

The War of Information Regarding GMO Wheat

In 1994, the Food and Drug Administration approved GMO foods in the United States and there has been a great deal of controversy about whether genetically modified foods are responsible for a large number of ailments that could be treated or cured with a change in that person’s diet. In fact, there is a suspicious amount of information out there saying that GMO wheat does not increase the occurrence of celiac disease or gluten intolerance. And this is where the waters get murky.

It is no secret that the Federal government subsidizes farmers to grow certain crops and certain quantities of crops. I have also heard stories of large companies that own the patents on GMO seed that has gotten mixed with regular seed. The unsuspecting farmer unknowingly plants the GMO seed and the big company sues the farmer out of existence for patent infringement. However, this scope of this post is neither a “hit piece” nor investigative journalism. But there are many questions to consider.


Here is what works for me. I used to not be concerned with my wheat intake. That day in September 30, 2022 changed everything. Since then, I have gone gluten free. My weight dropped 25 pounds although my caloric intake has actually increased. I had weird rashes on my back and hands that have since healed and gone away. My stomach pain has gone away.

I did eat a Twizzler (which contains wheat, who knew?) about a year ago and magically, my stomach pain returned within minutes. I ate two pieces and in two minutes had excruciating stomach pain. So, I don’t know what the government and the food industry tell me, but I now what my body is telling me.

Apparently, I have an allergy to gluten. When I eat wheat or products made with wheat, the result is dizziness, stomach pain, weird rashes, and weight gain. I’m miserable. A gluten-free diet has made me a much happier and healthier person.

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Michael Neely

My name is Michael Neely and I am an entrepreneur, blogger, FOREX trader, coin collector and businessman. I have also been known as a waiter, bartender, Series Three (Commodities and Currencies Options and Futures). I currently live in New England with my beautiful fiancée, Patsy and Pip, our Jack Russell terrier.