Chances are, if you clicked on this post you love to eat bread. Maybe you’ve given it up for whatever reason or maybe you’re just looking for some healthier options.
Bread has been enjoyed for over 30 000 years! According to Dr. Wikipedia, bread constituted one of many food sources exploited by hunting and gathering for the Upper Palaeolithic Europeans. Does that make bread paleo? I won't go there. But, it means that it has been a delicious part of our diets for a very, very long time.
Currently, we are hearing of an increase in gluten sensitivity and celiac and so why is it that a once loved food has suddenly become a poison for many? There are a variety of theories about this. Personally, I believe it is due to the highly processed product that constitutes today’s bread in comparison to the bread of our ancestors. Bread in the past was mainly sourdough, meaning that they were leavened using a fermentation process rather than the rapid rise systems used today. It would literally take days for bread to be ready to bake as opposed to a couple hours in modern bakeries. In a nutshell, this fermentation process made the bread much easier to be digested and enjoyed. The quality of the ingredients played a role as well, I’m sure, as it continues to be a staple of many diets around the world without major issues.
When it comes to choosing the right bread for you there are a few things to consider as far as I’m concerned: Awareness, curiosity, experimentation, satisfaction and nutrient density.
Eating bread should be about ‘feeling good’ rather than ‘being good’.
There are so many different kinds of bread out there with varying levels of processing it‘s worth doing a bit of investigating to see which one serves you best if any.
If you’ve got Celiac disease, only certified gluten free bread will suit of course but for the rest of us there are some options out there that we can enjoy.
Paleo bread is made with buckwheat flour, tapioca, arrowroot or almond flour. There are some very nice ones out there though sometimes they can be a bit dense if you’re not into that. These can sometimes suit those with celiac disease and those with gluten sensitivities, as there is no wheat or other grains in these type of bread. There are also heaps of great paleo bread recipes online if you enjoy doing your own baking.
Gluten free bread can be ok (and paleo bread would also be gluten free) though more often than not, they are highly refined with a few added ingredients that can make us feel yuck. Listen to your body and if you are not celiac or gluten sensitive and think they taste like cardboard – why torture yourself? I would argue that they are less healthy than most options anyways.
Wheat-based sprouted grain bread has started to return to the market. Vogels and Lewis Road Creamery are two of several companies that have sprouted grain bread. These can be quite nutrient dense and easier for some to digest. If you are into a thick hearty slice and don’t have any gluten sensitivities you might want to give them a try.
Sourdough. Oh sourdough, how I love you. My personal favourite following experimentation, curiosity, awareness and satisfaction is definitely sourdough.
Sourdough that has been made in the traditional way (with a starter rather than yeast), is delicious. Because of the fermentation process, it contains very little gluten even though it’s been made with wheat flour and makes my heart sing. This, in my opinion, would be the least processed of the lot (and in my opinion, tastes the best).
What about the rest of it? My husband’s favourite bread is budget toast. Ha! Seriously. So do I refuse to buy it for him? No. It does nothing for me – but he loves it and considering the small amount that he eats and how good he feels I don’t worry about him having the occasional slice. So, if you LOVE budget toast, and it satiates you for hours and makes you feel good – go for it. But if you’re only eating it because you’re on the go and it’s cheap – there are plenty of more nutrient dense options that are just as easy. Just check out my recipes!
It’s not about bread being good or bad. It’s about variety and balance. If you are having bread every day twice a day or more, that’s not enjoying variety. A simple step would be to swap out your toast for porridge or a smoothie or enjoy a lettuce wrap for lunch or a hearty salad with grilled chicken. These foods will make you feel good and that’s why we love them. Bread is convenient – and that’s usually the main reason people tell me they love it, especially the ones we buy at the supermarket.
Like all foods, I also believe in quality vs. quantity. When enjoying bread, make sure it’s good quality, tastes amazing and makes you feel great. Do some experimenting to see which breads do this for you. If you eat a low carbohydrate diet due to blood sugars or other health problems, obviously bread will need to be a sometimes food or a lower carb version such as this one.
So what’s the truth about bread? If you love it enjoy it but if it dominates your diet you might want to crowd in some other nutrient-packed foods instead. Having a couple days a week where you enjoy your favourite bread amongst plenty of veggies, fruit, healthy fats and protein are perfectly fine. If you don’t enjoy bread, why bother? It is not going to offer you anything nutritionally that you can’t get from plenty of fruits and vegetables and is more often than not highly processed and laden with unkown ingredients. You might want to try kumara toast or coconut wraps and see how those go.
Really, this blog title could have been “the truth about ________(insert any food)” . All of the above applies to all those foods that we label as “bad” such as sugar, fats, cereals etc. What’s right for us comes after curiosity, awareness and experimentation and not because someone told us to. If you feel amazing and are in top health – don’t let anyone tell you you’re doing everything wrong. If you feel tired and sluggish or have other health issues it might be time to have a look at your diet or lifestyle.