B.R.E.A.D. Five letters evoking a mix of feelings, nostalgia, and childhood memories to many.
But in recent years bread has been increasingly demonized and linked to digestive issues, sensitivities, and chronic diseases, making people completely ban bread from their diet.
But is bread really the devil? Should you avoid it even if you don’t have any digestive issues? And does bread really make you fat?
Let’s dive a bit deeper into the bread mania…
1. It’s ok to eat bread, unless…
Yes, it’s ok to eat high-quality bread. Unless you don’t tolerate it.
Logic right? But not that straightforward as few people are aware they (or their children) have an issue with bread, and more precisely the gluten in bread.
A full-blown gluten allergy called celiac disease is less common (1 in 133) and easy to identify as the symptoms like diarrhea are intrinsically related to the consumption of gluten.
But what if your migraine, acne, or fatigue are related to your daily slice of bread?
Research suggests that 1 in 10 of the Western population is sensitive to gluten. Dr. Ford, a renowned paediatrician in New Zealand and author of The Gluten Syndrome, believes the percentage actually lays somewhere between 30% and 50% (1).
Whatever the research, I believe that anyone suffering from digestive issues, migraines, brain fog, mood swings, skin problems, thyroid issues, auto-immune diseases, or depression, should try to eliminate gluten for 1 to 2 months to see if they feel any better (and chances are they will!).
“Gluten is a hard-to-digest protein and was never meant to be eaten three times a day, 365 days a year for 30 years” (John Douillard, DC).
2. It’s not ok to eat white bread
It’s probably not necessary for me to dwell too long on this one because I’m pretty sure you already know that highly refined, nutritionally void, sugar-loaded white bread has no place in a healthy diet.
Remember that white bread is made by removing the nutrient-dense outer layers of the grain leaving only the endosperm which offers very limited amounts of vitamins, minerals and fiber.
In other words it’s a high-sugar calorie bomb without any nutrients or fiber. A waste of your money in other words.
3. Bread can make you fat
When I’m helping a client lose weight, our main focus lies on limiting sugar. And not just the obvious sugar cubes, soda, and cookies. But also the hidden sugars found in refined carbohydrate sources like bread, pasta, white rice, white flour, etc. and excess fruit, dried fruit, canned soups, and commercial sauces.
Because your body will store any carbohydrates it doesn’t immediately use for energy in the form of glycogen. Once the glycogen storage sites (in your liver and muscles) are full, excess carbohydrates are converted into body fat.
So, remember that not fat but large amounts of (even fat-free) carbohydrates will make you gain weight.
In conclusion, it’s all about your total carbs intake. If you eat more carbs than your body can use and store, you’ll end up gaining weight. A slice of bread once in a while is ok, but not if you’re having pizza for lunch and white pasta for dinner.
4. Don’t eat bread every day
Building on my previous point, quantity is important (as well as quality of course).
When you realize that the wheat we find in bread today (which contains much more gluten than ancient wheat) was invented just a few decades ago, it’s not hard to understand we were not biologically designed to process gluten in big amounts.
If you find it hard to cut down on bread, try making my gluten-free nut & seed bread, full of protein, good fats, and fiber. I find it more satisfying and tasty than conventional bread and it’s so much healthier.
If you’re struggling to find lunchbox ideas for your kids that don’t involve bread, find inspiration in my free ebook: 5 simple steps to healthy & exciting school lunchboxes (coming out very soon).
Wheat was originally a fall-harvested grain, intended to be eaten through winter, not all year long. Our body makes more gluten-digesting enzymes in the winter in order to help the body break down this seasonal food (3).
5. Learn how to pick the right bread
Always choose wholegrain
Wholegrain is unrefined and high in fiber and essential nutrients.
But don’t be misled by the color of the loaf. Wholegrain is lighter in color than many multigrain and so-called healthy types of bread. Some bakers even add a brown pigment to white bread to make it look healthier (yuk!).
Prefer sourdough over yeast
Sourdough is better than yeast because it contains less phytic acid, a substance present in grains, more bioavailable minerals, and is easier to digest. It also contains less gluten which makes it a better option for many gluten sensitives.
Try ancient grains
Ancient grains such as rye, spelt, and kamut have been cultivated since 6000 B.C.E. They usually contain less gluten than wheat and are packed with vitamins and minerals. In addition, most of them have an interesting nutty, somewhat sweet taste. Definitely worth the try.
Go for the healthiest of all: sprouted bread
The crème de la crème in bread-land is undoubtedly sprouted bread.
Sprouted grains contain more protein, vitamins and minerals, and less carbohydrates and gluten. They’re also much easier to digest and contain far less phytic acid which prevents proper absorption of nutrients.
6. Making your own bread can be easy
Homemade is always my preferred choice and homemade bread is not that difficult. There are plenty of recipes online and a great choice of flours in health food stores.
If you’re up for the ultimate kitchen challenge, I highly recommend to experiment with homemade sourdough bread. But be aware that it takes real commitment as it involves active sourdough culture of wild yeast.
Of course, you can also keep it super simple and make my easy nut & seed bread.