Some people are scared of me because they think I’m going to make them give up bread. That would be ideal in most cases because, sadly, there is very little nutrition (and lots of problems) in bread products these days. But, listen, I have to work within the realistic boundaries of each of my clients. Some are cool with giving up bread cold turkey and some can’t fathom life without it (I used to be one of those people!). So this post is for the latter. If bread is going to be a part of your life, then let’s talk about better options…or at least the less offensive options.
STEP 1: Step away from the bread aisle.
Bye bye Mrs. Bairds, Sayanora Sara Lee, No thanks Nature’s Own, Peace Out Pepperidge Farms. These breads have ingredient lists that often require an interpreter. There are so many food additives, preservatives, and genetically modified byproducts… how do we possibly think our bodies handle this without consequences? There is no need for high fructose corn syrup in bread! Not to mention that the flour in these breads has been processed to death, literally, there are no nutrients left. And most likely it is bromated (which blocks iodine absorption-hello, thyroid issues) and/or comes from chemically-laden grains. No, whole wheat/grain does not mean it’s better. It’s still been overly processed and it can make your blood sugar go bezerk. That is not a green light to eat white bread either.
Bottom Line: If you don’t understand what an ingredient is, your body doesn’t either.
Step 2: Buy Bread From the Bakery/Grocery Store Bakery.
This was the first step I made with my family. Is it much better? No. The quality of ingredients is usually still poor, BUT, it has less ingredients. For instance, there are fewer preservatives, so the bread will go bad sooner (which is a good sign). Again, not healthy, but a teeny bit less bad. The exception to this would be a high-end bakery that bakes with just a few, quality ingredients. Ask the baker! Or, better yet, BE a baker and bake your own. Homemade is always a better, healthier option. You wouldn’t dream of putting some of those awful ingredients in bread you were baking for your family.
Step 3: Buy Organic Bread
By doing so, you won’t be exposed to pesticides and GMOs. However, keep in mind that your typical whole wheat/whole grain bread is still problematic because it turns to blood sugar so quickly. A piece of whole wheat bread spikes blood sugar faster than a Snickers bar! Blood sugar spiking creates all sorts of problems like inflammation, weight gain, diabetes, and high triglycerides.
Step 4: Go Sprouted or Go Gluten-Free
If you are certain that you have no gluten sensitivities, then go sprouted. Understand, though, that just because you don’t have celiac disease does not mean you tolerate gluten. If you experience any type of regular digestive issues (from constipation to diarrhea and all the smelly, gassy problems in between) then I suggest you stay away from gluten. It is a digestive irritant and makes it hard for your body to absorb nutrients. But if you know it’s not a problem for you, then go with sprouted grain bread. It offers nutritional value and doesn’t spike blood sugar like refined grain flours do. Example: Ezekial 4:9 sprouted bread is a great option. It’s often found in the freezer section of the grocery store.
OR go gluten-free. It’s a great step because it cuts down on inflammation and digestive distress in the body and, therefore, allows better absorption of nutrients. But understand that a “gluten-free” labeled product does not mean it has nutritional value. Some good brands to choose from are Food For Life, Canyon Bakehouse, and Manna. Udi’s is not the best option but it works if that’s what’s available to you. I really like Canyon Bakehouse but Udi’s is what is available at my grocery store.
Step 5: Make Homemade Grain-Free or Sourdough Bread
Grain-free is gaining popularity for those seeking more nutrient-dense, less inflammatory bread options. There are many tasty variations out there using base ingredients like nuts, nut flours, nut butters, and coconut flours. One of my favorites (from this cookbook) uses a base of cashews. See here for another good option from Elana’s Pantry. My kids like this one from MariaMindBodyHealth.
Homemade sourdough is a nice option for those who do not suffer from celiac disease or a severe gluten intolerance. When it’s properly prepared with a fermented sourdough starter, it’s a great source of probiotics and other wonderful nutrients. See the Top 10 Reasons to Eat Real Sourdough Bread in this article. And here’s more information and a video on how to make it.
Step 6: Just Eat Less Bread
No matter where you are on your better bread journey, make greater efforts to consume it less. Instead of making a sandwich, make lettuce wraps. Or just use the meat and roll it up with some cheese and avocado in the middle. Ditch the hamburger bun and have the patty with all of the toppings. Forget the taco shell and throw it all in a bowl. A lot of this is just a matter of thinking outside the box (or sandwich bag!), breaking habits, and giving yourself time to adjust to change.
If you have any other helpful tips/encouragement for people trying to break a bad bread habit, please share below!