You know you’ve been there before…caught in the ugly love triangle of you, your grocery cart, and the sleazy bread aisle. Hundreds of loaves just luring you with their skimpy labeling: “double fiber,” “100% whole grain or 100% whole wheat,” “multigrain,” “12 grain,” “good for digestive health….”
Trust me, most of these one-liners are just cheesy pick-up lines that you should never fall for, and definitely do not take her home with you – you don’t know where she’s been! (ok…enough with the innuendo, but you get my point!).
Seriously – the bread industry is so difficult to navigate and it’s not your fault. There are literally hundreds of choices and it doesn’t help that their clever, multi-million dollar marketing campaigns make it even harder to make smart choices.
I’m going to try to make the bread-choosing process as simple as possible for you and give you the top 3 tips to make you “Good in Bread!”
Good in Bread Tip #1:
Be wary of what the labels claim – your health depends on it!
You must be a smart consumer. TRUST, BUT VERIFY! Yes, that means you must read, and understand, the labels and ingredients of the food you put into your body. You’re putting this food into YOUR body and YOUR CHILDREN’S bodies…no excuses to take the easy way out just because some label told you so.
The tricky thing with bread is that you can’t just look at the nutrition facts, because they can be very deceiving. The real key is to look at the ingredients list.
Here are a few common pick-up lines that these sleazy breads might just use to get you hooked:
12 Grain or Multigrain: The number of grains is completely irrelevant. 50 grains…100 grains…if they’re not whole, who cares? You miss out on the natural fiber in the complete, whole grain.
No high-fructose corn syrup: Well…now that there has been an all-out attack in the last couple of years on high-fructose corn syrup, you’re not seeing it as often in bread ingredient lists. However, if they take out the sweet stuff…they’ve got to put back the taste somehow, right!? You really think these companies have the best of intentions in mind? HA! They’re adding in other artificial sweeteners to make up for it (common one: acesulfame-potassium).
Double fiber or Probiotic: If you’re eating bread that is 100% whole grain, it is naturally a good source of fiber. If a company has to scream it to you on a label, chances are, they’re adding in isolate fibers that are actually very difficult to digest and often cause constipation and digestive issues (p.s. this goes for many high-fiber bars and cereals too…most of you all know how much I DESPISE Fiber One…because it’s chock-full of isolate fibers and artificial sweeteners – ever wonder why you’re so bloated after eating this stuff??)
Also, brown bread doesn’t always mean “good-for-you-bread:” Additives like molasses are often use to color the bread so that it looks darker and “healthier.”
What you DO want to see on your labels:
100% Whole Grain: These companies better not be lying to you…or they could get in big trouble. And it’s important that you see the word “WHOLE” AND “GRAIN” NOT…WHOLE WHEAT!!! Whole wheat can be very tricky and there are lots of ways for companies to get around the labeling restrictions. You really want to get the benefits of other grains…not just the wheat (which is often difficult for our bodies to burn). This goes for pasta too…go for whole grain pasta, versus whole wheat pasta.
Good in Bread Tip #2:
Buy bread that you have to freeze/refrigerate to keep fresh.
Ever wonder how those hundreds of loaves can sit on the shelves in the grocery store and then in your pantry and not go “bad” for several days…and sometimes even weeks? PRESERVATIVES! Good, wholesome bread should go bad – this means that the grains are fresh. Remember, if a food doesn’t rot outside of your body…what do you think it will do inside of your body?
Good in Bread Tip #3:
Know your ingredients – many are incognito in even the “healthiest” of breads (and many other products you may be buying).
Say NO if you see any of these words in your bread (especially in the first few ingredients):
Enriched wheat/white flour – “enriched” basically means they’ve stripped out about 15 essential nutrients of the grain only to replace about 4 back in after processing it – these are nutrients and antioxidants that are critical to the digestive process. Virtually all Vitamin E is stripped out along with magnesium, calcium, potassium, and other nutrients as well as essential fatty acids. So basically most bread is nothing but poor quality proteins and starchy-nothingness…that will land right on your hips.
Refined wheat/white flour – there’s nothing “refined” about this…it causes spikes in blood sugar that can lead not only to diabetes and metabolic syndromes but are a cause of weight gain (especially in the belly and hips/thighs) because of fluctuations in insulin levels.
Bleached or Unbleached wheat/white flour – the chemicals used to bleach flour will make you think twice. How does “chloride oxide” sound with that turkey sandwich?
Say YES to:
Grain flours: check out the ingredient list below for Ezekiel bread…great examples of flours that you should be looking for in your bread:
INGREDIENTS EZEKIEL 4:9
Organic Sprouted Whole Wheat
Organic Malted Barley
Organic Sprouted Whole Millet
Organic Sprouted Whole Barley
Organic Sprouted Whole Lentils
Organic Sprouted Whole Soybeans
Organic Sprouted Whole Spelt
Compare Ezekiel bread above to this ingredient list for Nature’s Own 100% Whole Grain:
WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, WATER, WHEAT GLUTEN, YEAST, BROWN SUGAR, SUGAR,
CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF EACH OF THE FOLLOWING: WHOLE RYE FLOUR, SOYBEAN OIL, RAISIN JUICE CONCENTRATE, ROLLED OATS, SALT, BARLEY FLAKES, TRITICALE FLOUR, SUNFLOWER SEED, DOUGH CONDITIONERS (CONTAINS ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING: SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, CALCIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, MONOGLYCERIDES AND/OR DIGLYCERIDES, CALCIUM PEROXIDE, CALCIUM IODATE, DATEM, ETHOXYLATED MONO- AND DIGLYCERIDES, AZODICARBONAMIDE, ENZYMES), FLAX SEED, CULTURED WHEAT FLOUR, VINEGAR, WHEAT STARCH , WHOLE SPELT FLOUR, WHOLE AMARANTH, HULLED WHOLE MILLET, WHOLE KAMUT, WHOLE BROWN RICE FLOUR, WHOLE BUCKWHEAT FLOUR , WHOLE MILLED CORN, CALCIUM SULFATE , SOY LECITHIN, ASCORBIC ACID, AMMONIUM SULFATE, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, TOPPED WITH
WHOLE AMARANTH SEED, FLAXSEED, AND WHEAT BRAN
**WOW…no comments needed! Some good stuff in it…but I don’t think I like “dough conditioners” and I certainly would hope for more than 2% of my bread to be made with those grains…not the sugar they’ve added!**
A few of my other bread tips:
I buy whole grain bread, freeze half of the loaf and refrigerate the other half that I’m going to eat throughout the week.
Do I love good crusty fresh French or Italian bread, or the crust on pizza – OF COURSE! But this is something I limit to special occasions and I am sure to pair it with other foods that will fill me up so I’m not going back and finishing off the loaf myself!
My favorite breads:
Loaf bread for sandwiches, toast, etc:
Ezekiel breads (the company is “Food for Life Baking Company”) – you’ll find it in the freezer section or the organic freezer section – ask your grocer if they carry it. This brand also has bagels, pitas, tortillas, and cereals. Many are gluten-free and flourless…and…they actually taste pretty good!
100% Rye bread
Wasa crackers are a good substitute for bread
Tofuyan Whole Grain Pita
So the moral of the story – bread can be a great part of a balanced diet. It doesn’t have to be “BAD”…like many low-carb diets have brainwashed us to believe. But now you have the tools to make well-informed decisions of what you put in your body and what you feed your family.
Here is one of my favorite “go-to” meals…super-quick and very satisfying. I always make sure to have the ingredients on-hand.
My Whole Grain Goodness Sandwich:
2 slices Ezekiel bread (any variety), toasted
1 Morningstar or Gardenburger (or other variety) veggie burger (I like the sundried tomato flavor)
2 tbsp salsa
Makes a great sandwich…with a side of baby carrots or a big salad!
So…cheers to being great in bread!