“But that’s the biggest part of the pyramid!” Well, I guess the food pyramid is in the shape of a plate now…either way, when people are introduced to the PFC way of eating, one of the most common initial questions we get is, “wait, why no bread?!”. You have likely been told that if you do not eat bread you are completely neglecting a food group, and that it’s a terrible idea that will only lead to nutrient deficiencies. That is not true, and we’re about to discuss why.
When we were kids, the Food Pyramid told us the majority of our calories should come from breads, pastas, cereals, rice, and other grains. Two problems here: we would never tell you where “the majority of your calories should come from” because we don’t want you to worry about calories when eating PFC! Second, we would never recommend the majority of what you eat come from any ONE food (especially refined, processed carbohydrates) because after all, balance is our mantra! Back to the bread question:
5 simple reasons why we don’t recommend bread:
1. Your’e not getting anything out of it.
We’ve been taught over the past few years that anything “whole grain” is good for us. Guess what? Marketing tactic. Money. Manipulation at its finest. From a nutrition standpoint, even whole wheat or whole grain bread is mostly devoid of any kind of real nutrients. Replace bread with vegetables and fruits and you’ll get all of the things bread promises to deliver, and at a higher concentration AND without all of the negative side effects addressed here! Breads are often “fortified” or “enriched” with vitamins and minerals. This means things like vitamin E, calcium, iron and fiber are added back into the bread after the ingredients have been so highly processed they are stripped of their nutrients. As amazing as it is that science is able to do that, those vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that are added back in are likely not even absorbed and utilized by our bodies! This leads us to our second point…
2. Lectins and phytates: The anti-nutrients!
Lectins are toxins that are found in all grains and legumes. Like a mushroom that is poisonous, think of lectins as the grain’s natural defense that keeps predators away, or makes them sick upon eating too much of it. Since bread is made up of—you guessed it—grain, you can bet its full of awful lectins. They wreak havoc on our gut, causing the stomach lining to become inflamed, making it difficult to absorb nutrients in the foods we eat. Phytates are another toxin found in grain that actually bind to certain nutrients (like iron, zinc, calcium and others) and can slow or inhibit your body’s ability to absorb those nutrients. So, all of those nutrients your bread is “fortified” and “enriched” with? You’re probably not even able to utilize them anyway. Sorry bread, you cause more harm than good. We’ll leave you for the birds.
3. It is typically packed with junk.
The majority of breads at the grocery store have high fructose corn syrup in them. Dead serious. Yes, we’re talking bread here—not soda, candy bars, or salad dressings. White bread, generic and Wonder, whole wheat, whole grain, ten grain, nut and seed—all of them have high fructose corn syrup. Read the ingredients on a few bread labels and you will be amazed not only at the sheer number of ingredients, but that HFCS is in SO MANY of them! In addition to high fructose corn syrup, many also contain hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils—yes, TRANS FATS —in your bread! In that neutral safe house where your turkey and cheese live until your lunch break! That innocent sandwich may not be as innocent as it seems. The bakery goods can be tricky, also. Those fresh loaves of Italian and French breads, the fancy rolls that come in different shapes and sizes, these too are full of HFCS and damaged fats (sometimes it’s hard to tell since the ingredients are 50% unpronounceable). Keep it simple: Avoid!
4. It highly impacts your blood sugar.
If you aren’t familiar with The Blood Sugar Roller Coaster, take a minute and check out that important blog. When you eat processed carbs, your blood sugar spikes, insulin surges, blood sugar crashes and you feel like sleeping, so you eat more carbs to bring yourself back up to consciousness. Eating a slice of bread is like standing in line for one of those rickety old wooden coasters that leaves you with bruises you find the day after the trip to the amusement park. You can feel them, they don’t feel good, and you knew that you shouldn’t have gone on the ride when you saw the people getting off of it, rubbing their necks and unable to turn their heads without wincing. Everywhere you look, you see people walking around who “just got off of the rickety coaster”; they’re overweight, huffing and puffing, struggling to make it up the stairs. Many people are riding that coaster every day, usually several times a day, eating toast for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and garlic bread with pasta for dinner. Next time you’re at the store, pick up the “healthiest” loaf of bread you see. A quick search online for “healthiest bread” tells me that Pepperidge Farm’s Whole Grain Honey Wheat ranks near the top. If we look at the nutrition facts label, it tells us there are 21g of carbohydrates in a serving, but a serving is ONE SLICE. That means there are 42g of carbs in just the bread part of a standard sandwich, and those 42g of carbohydrates turn into 10.5 tsp. of sugar in your body. Ten and a half teaspoons of sugar! Your bloodstream is happy with 1 tsp of sugar, so we are talking about at least 10x that amount! Do yourself a favor and skip the line for the coaster! Ride the steady and stable ferris wheel of fruits and veggies instead (because remember, those are carbohydrates, too!).
5. Eating Bread Causes Inflammation.
Remember the people I mentioned who you can see are riding that rickety old wooden roller coaster all day? There are just as many people who ride that coaster that don’t show bruising on the outside, but their insides are a mess! Just because someone is thin doesn’t mean they’re healthy. And just because someone isn’t overweight doesn’t mean their gut, their brain tissue, and blood vessels aren’t inflamed from the constant onslaught of processed carbs. We know that inflammation is the root cause of most health issues, so why would you want to put something into your body (several times a day even) that can make you sick? Especially when you can replace that something with vegetables and fruits, and not only avoid getting sick, but also be healthier because of it?
What’s more, the bread we are eating is more than likely made with wheat and is, therefore, packed with gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, and most digestive systems do not digest it well. Many people are sensitive to it even if their symptoms are not as aggressive or inflammatory as you may see in someone with Celiac Disease. Your reaction to gluten may not manifest itself in your gut, but since gut health is intricately interconnected with overall health, your sensitivity may manifest through skin problems, muscle disorders, neurological (fibromyalgia), psychological (depression), and many other ways you may not have suspected. It doesn’t hurt to try foregoing the bread for a few days and see how you feel. You may be pleasantly surprised! As always, real food, the PFC way and keeping it simple is the way to go! (One thing to remember is that you do not need to buy gluten-free products to avoid gluten. You likely do not need any of the gluten-free breads or cookies, and they usually taste worse than the original product anyways.)
When it comes down to it, we vow to always keep it simple. We don’t recommend bread because you don’t need it. If you listen closely to your body, it will always tell you to choose the vegetables and fruits over the English muffin or bagel. “But I love peanut butter sandwiches!” Do you know what else loves peanut butter? Apples. Celery loves it too. Think outside of the box. Try giving up bread for one week and see how you feel. Once you realize you can make it a week, try for a second. Replace the bread with vegetables and fruits—lettuce wraps with tuna or chicken salad, a sweet potato with your dinner instead of the dinner roll, and add a bunch of spinach to your eggs in the morning and skip the toast! When you realize how much better you feel, you won’t be tempted to stroll down the bread aisle again.
And remember, if you need ideas, suggestions, or feel like you don’t have the willpower to give it up, we are here to help you! You can always set up an appointment and talk to one of our health coaches, as we specialize in helping people get over their bread, pasta, grain, and sugar addictions. We know you CAN do it and WILL feel better for it!