You may have seen a number of posts and recipes lately about bread making. You may also, considering the current culture be asking yourself why is a nutrition coach is so obsessed with bread. Well, my friends, I’m no ordinary nutrition coach, am I?
To me, bread symbolises so many things! It’s more than just ‘a carb’. Bread is a part of our history, it’s cultural, it’s connection and best of all, it’s the ultimate slap in the face to diet culture and it just tastes so friggin’ good!
Poor bread. It’s been so feared and demonised lately, mainly in westernised cultures. I myself, feared bread for many years. I thought it would ‘make me fat’, that it would make me bloated and a host of other ‘terrible’ things. When I finally ate that first bit of gluten-y bread a few years ago without any of the above consequences. I was delighted at first, and then angry.
Despite what Keto Joe and Weight Watchers Wendy will tell you, bread can absolutely be a part of a healthy nourishing diet. For many, it’s essential to it. Even for those who can’t have gluten for medical reasons, there are plenty of alternatives out there but for those of us who gave it up simply because of unsubstantiated fears… this article is for YOU, my friends.
Bread has been around for a very very very long time. When I asked Google how long bread has been a part of human diets it told me that recent studies into this show humans started baking bread at least 30 000 years ago! That makes it Paleo right?
What culture do you know of that doesn’t include bread in their diet? Pitta bread in Lebanese and Greek dishes, Italian focaccia, Injera in Ethiopia, bannock and cornbread in Native American cultures, Naan in India, Cornbread and tortillas in South America, Asian bao buns, French baguettes… the list goes on. It’s mainly in Western cultures that bread has become something to be feared. Can we really blame that beautiful loaf of homemade love for the plights of the world? Or is there more to the story?
Bread is a nourisher. Simply put, if you can make bread, you can feed yourself and others and it’s something that can fit almost every budget. All you need is flour, salt and water. It is incredibly filling when teamed with protein and healthy fats. And just try to tell me that soup is better without the bread and butter.
Bread is spiritual – it brings people together. “Breaking bread together” is a phrase as old as the bible. Breaking bread’, sharing food, is one of the oldest ways to bring people and communities together. It warms the house in the winter and you can’t tell me that cracking open that first piece of freshly baked bread isn’t a spiritual experience in itself!
If you want to get technical bread can be downright holy to Catholics and many other Christians worldwide. It’s viewed as the body and blood of Christ and shared between entire congregations, and no, it’s not gluten-free.
Bread is good for our mental health for so many reasons. The meditative rhythm of kneading the bread, the satisfaction of seeing your creation and the act of creating itself. Sharing with family, connecting, bringing everyone together. Mediation, connection, creation, and giving – what more could you ask for from a mixture of flour, salt and water?
Despite popular claims, bread can be good for our physical health as well. It’s always about context if all you ate was bread, all day, every day or even most of the time, sure, you’re going to miss out on some key nutrients.
Bread itself is not inherently ‘bad’ and I use that term loosely. I’ve written about it heaps:
Rather than categorizing it as ‘just a carb’ consider the goodness it does contain, fibre, protein, micronutrients. It’s all there. Dig in.
Bread can be used as a utensil to hold all kinds of nourishing goodness: It can smash salad, avocado, tomato and protein together for a sandwich. It can scoop up lentil curries and stews. It can hold the hummus and take on the Tzatziki It can soak up the egg yolk and pass the peanut butter.
Quality is important too of course. You just don’t get the same meditative, warming experiences from a pack of Tip top sandwich bread. I’m talking about baking our own or buying some that others have baked with love.
Bread is love. I honestly believe that. Some of my very best memories from childhood are from baking bread with my mom. I can remember the smells waffling from the oven, learning how to knead and spending time with mom and of course, that first slice of freshly baked bread with butter. Now that’s LOVE!
Bread is a connector. When we break bread together, and bake together and share together we’re connecting. We’re creating memories, we’re filling our spirits.
One thing I’ve noticed since the covid-19 lockdown that has lifted my spirits is the number of people who are beginning to bake bread again. They are either learning or they are re-starting. I’ve seen keto bulk food companies start selling bakers flour, I’ve seen countless images of freshly baked loaves. It’s truly warmed my heart.
I hope that each of them can eat it without fear or shame or guilt because I truly believe that eating bread is saying FU to diet culture and hello to a healthy relationship with food and a healthy body, mind, spirit and heart. And yes, gluten-free is just as good if that’s what you need to do. Crack open that GF loaf and dig in.
This is why as a nutrition coach I can’t jump on the fad bandwagons and ditch the bread completely. Instead I want to teach others how to bake bread for all the reasons above, and to be able to find the right balance for each individual person's body.
To me, bread is the ultimate symbol of Empowered Eating – so much so you may have noticed it dons the cover of my Empowered Eating Handbook!
If you are struggling to eat bread without negative emotions – please get in touch. Or join my Facebook group: Shameless Eating. If you’re ready to dig in, hop into this group, Sourdough making for amateurs, for some FREE live sourdough baking classes. Woo!