Could eating wheat be giving me a belly?
Well, in theory, yes. Many women tend to accumulate fat in their abdominal area, so anything you eat in excess—including wheat—could make you grow a bigger belly. But foods that are high in fat and calories are much more likely suspects.
You may be confusing belly fat with bloat, and bloating after eating wheat is a symptom of gluten sensitivity. When you're bloated, you feel uncomfortably full on account of the excess gas trapped in your abdomen, and your stomach may be taut like a drum. Belly fat, on the other hand, feels soft and squishy—and it doesn't change. Bloating fluctuates throughout the course of the day; it's typically worse after eating, and better at night and first thing in the morning.
If you think you might have an intolerance, get tested for a wheat allergy and celiac disease. (Do so before you swear off bread because it's hard to get an accurate diagnosis after you've cut out gluten.) If you test negative, your doctor may still suggest you go gluten-free on a trial basis to see if your symptoms improve.
Health's medical editor, Roshini Rajapaksa, MD, is associate professor of medicine at the NYU School of Medicine and co-founder of Tula Skincare.