Bread – Do you really need it with every meal?

Following on from Fran’s post about Subway being healthy (read it here), I thought I would let you know the other reasons why we avoid bread when following the real food plan.

Along with dairy, removing wheat / gluten products from an eating plan causes the most psychological problems for our members.  Bread and cereals have become so ingrained in our culture that people have panic attacks when it is even suggested that they are avoided for even a short time.

What will I have for breakfast / lunch / dinner / with my soup etc.?  The main objections I hear is ‘It’s really difficult to come up with meal options?’  We have become so reliant on grains and cereals that it has robbed us of our creativity at meal times.

Can you really not think of anything to have for lunch other than a sandwich?  There is no reason to have a sliver of meat with some limp salad leaves, soggy cucumber and squishy tomatoes crushed beyond recognition between two slices of dry bread.  You could focus on the contents and get rid of the bread; change up your lunch to a big salad with crisp leaves, avocado, spring onions and a sliced chicken breast that was cooked in some herbs or spices.  There’s a lunch that will cost about the same as a sandwich to make at home but you would pay closer to £10 in a pub or restaurant.

So why do we avoid bread?  At a base level, the nutrient content of bread is virtually zero, you are basically eating 2 slices of sugar and whole grain bread doesn’t offer much more.  As Fran pointed out last week fancy breads from chain deli’s are far from nutritious.  Here are the ingredients in a subway wheatgrain roll:

Enriched Wheat Flour (Wheat Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Iron, Thiamine Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Water, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Whole Wheat Flour, Contains 2% Or Less Of The Following: Wheat Gluten, Oat Fiber, Yeast, Soybean Oil, Wheat Bran, Calcium Blend (Calcium Carbonate, Vitamin D3), Salt, Rolled Wheat, Rye Nuggets, Dough Conditioners (Datem, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate), Yeast Nutrients (Calcium Sulfate, Ammonium Sulfate), Degermed Yellow Corn Meal, Rolled Oats, Rye Flakes, Caramel Color, Triticale Flakes, Parboiled Brown Rice, Refinery Syrup, Honey, Barley Flakes, Flaxseed, Millet, Sorghum Flour, Flavor (Yeast Extract, Salt, Natural Flavor). Contains wheat.

Unfortunately we can’t even assume that gluten free will be any better for our health; check out this list of ingredients in a gluten free loaf:

Water, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Vegetable Oil, Wholegrain Maize Flour, Egg White Powder, Yeast, Stabilisers: E464, Xanthan Gum, Cellulose Gum; Maize Starch, Rice Bran, Dextrose, Calcium Carbonate, Salt, Cornflour, Concentrated Fruit Juice, Rice Starch, Psyllium, Maize Grits, Sugar Beet Fibre, Natural Flavouring, Preservative: Calcium Propionate (added to inhibit mould growth); Iron.

You may have noticed that if you’ve ever been on holiday to France that bread is generally brought fresh every day and past its best by that evening.  This is how bread used to be produced in the UK until profits came first.  Most of the ingredients in the lists above are to preserve the bread so it can be transported and stay on the shelf longer.  In it’s purest form bread should basically just be flour, yeast, salt and water.  You can still buy bread like this from specialist artisan bakers, we have one locally, or make your own if you really can’t live without it.

I admit that giving up bread is hard work; however along with dairy products, bread and gluten are the most common foods that our members choose to avoid on a long term basis.  You may have already noticed that when you eat products that contain gluten you feel bloated, lethargic and heavy and once you’ve eliminated them for the first four weeks of the real food plan this effect is even more noticeable.

Not all gluten is created the same; spelt and rye products both contain a form of gluten but seem to have a less inflammatory response on digestion for some of our members.  However we used to allow spelt and rye bread in the real food plan but while monitoring results, we noticed that the members who included these products in the plan did not achieve to the same level as those that avoided them.

As an experiment to yourself, take your waist measurement (around your belly button) and go for a week without any wheat or gluten products and then take it again.  If you notice a big drop, take the measurement again and have a slice of bread; take the measurements again at 15 minute intervals over the following 90 minutes and see what happens.

Lets us know how you get on, we are genuinely interested.

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