Bread just never tasted the same as the ‘normal’ wheat loaves. And gluten-free bread is damn expensive whether you make it yourself or buy it at the store.
As a former breadoholic, I spent quite a bit of time contemplating my options when I went gluten-free back in 2008 and decided I was better off without. Now I know I made the right choice…
Gluten-Free Bread: Are You Married to it?
Did you ever stop to think about how deeply in love Americans are with the idea of the sandwich? It didn’t much occur to me until I began working with clients several years ago. Many expect and continue to demand that every meal revolves around a sandwich. No matter how many solutions I’d present, they’d always revert back to those 2 pieces of gluten-free bread.
This tug-o-war got me thinking… are you so in love with bagels, breakfast muffins, bread, rolls, etc that you cannot imagine your existence without it? Will your life end without bread (yes yes, the gluten-free type)? And what the heck are you so afraid of? Starvation is no where on the horizon and yet you cling to bread.
Breaking up with (Gluten-Free) Bread
It all began as a kid – Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches on white bread with a big glass of milk. We were all trained meal-by-meal how to love the concept of the sandwich. And how could you not? I certainly did. PB & J and grilled cheese sandwiches were staples for many years of my life. Even in adulthood, everything seemed to taste better as a sandwich.
Whatever the issue, it felt like bread made everything about eating better. I can recount many instances where the bread was the best part of the meal (while everything else was so-so) and made meals feel incredibly portable. I mean… Who has time to bother with clumsy utensils?
But gluten-free bread just isn’t the same. It’s often frozen to keep it longer than a few days and just doesn’t have the same texture and quality ‘normal’ bread has. And it certainly doesn’t smell the same, but we keep on buying the gluten-free versions hoping to maintain some semblance of normalcy away from our former gluten-eating selves.
I have to ask: What is bread even doing for you? Aside from convenience, do you have a real reason why you’re still eating bread at all? My guess is no. I’ve heard every single excuse in the book about why gluten-free folks continue to include GF bread in their diet (and all the grievances that go along with it) and I don’t buy it.
You went gluten-free for your health, right? You felt sick and now you feel better (though for some, they still may not feel better), but you kept eating convenience food that now has a gluten-free label. How is that healthy?
Face it… Gluten-Free Bread isn’t Healthy
I don’t care what the “whole grain” fan club says, bread is not whole grain nor healthy. And gluten-free bread is DEFINITELY neither of those things. Most folks who count themselves as GF carboholics or breadoholics are actually just GF sugar addicts.
GF bread is not anywhere near being “whole” in any sense of the word. Even the “multigrain” breads aren’t whole grain since the term “multigrain” just means that you’re buying a product made from more than one grain rather than referring to it’s level of processing. It’s usually still processed ‘white’ flour.
The most concerning part for me is that the majority of flours and starches used to make conventionally sold Gluten-Free bread are incredibly high glycemic (meaning they do a darn good job of elevating your blood sugar quickly). Chronically elevated blood sugar can lead to all sorts of hormonal problems (ie. metabolic syndrome & diabetes) and even heart disease. Turn over your GF bread and look for the big flour and starch offenders: rice (yes even brown rice), potato and tapioca.
For further concern, there’s barely any fiber in those two slices that will leave you hungry sooner rather than later. And gluten-free bread is often held together with certain ‘industrial’ type binders such as xanthan gum which is highly processed and can actually cause a lot of problems for those who eat it often. Xanthan gum is actually made from the bacteria that produces black rot on the cruciferous family of veggies (think kale, cabbage and broccoli). In this case, it ferments either corn, wheat or soy producing a gummy slime that is highly processed into what’s in your bread and baked goods.
Though you may have gone gluten-free with the hopes to reduce inflammation, gluten-free bread won’t help you win that battle. The oils used tend to be the inflammatory (Omega-6) fats (like Sunflower, Safflower and Canola) which can irritate your gut and only serve to upend any efforts you make to reduce systemic inflammation.
Aside from these points, I feel that gluten-free bread is a cop out for avoiding new items at the grocery store or learning new recipes at home. Or perhaps it’s a bad excuse for failing to plan out meals and what you’ll bring for lunch.
I realize that you’ve already given up a lot (maybe even more than just gluten) and feel a sense of panic rising up with the thought of saying bye-bye to bread. Though it’s made your life feel easier, you may pay dearly down the road for the price of convenience which is riddled with serious concerns that will certainly make you wish you’d parted ways with gluten-free bread sooner rather than later.
Here’s the tips I share with clients to stop the Gluten-Free bread addiction…
Seven Tips for giving UP Gluten-Free Sandwiches
1. Plan out your meals and cook enough extra to allow for lunch leftovers.
2. Opt for actual whole gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa or even sweet potato to make up for your starchy cravings.
3. Use glass or plastic containers to transport meals to and from the office. (You’ll definitely save money this way.)
4. Eat dinner for lunch (or even breakfast). You will not die if you don’t have something starchy or sweet for either of those 2 meals.
5. Use lettuce or collard greens in place of wraps. Even lunchmeat can be sturdy enough to act at the ‘shell’ with your veggies and toppings inside.
6. Freeze 4 to 6 extra single serving meals in the freezer so if you get stuck, you can pull something out and bring it to work.
7. Toss out the traditional GF mixes and make your own bread from almond or coconut flour.