Not long ago, bread was a diet staple. But in recent years, the humble loaf has become a dietary villain: "I'm trying not to eat bread" is one of the most common proclamations I hear from clients; and when I ask why, I get a variety of responses from "It makes me feel bloated," and "It's full of sugar," to "It will make me fat."
And among those who still *dare* to eat bread, many admit to feeling guilty when they do. But is bread really a dietary no-no? And should gluten be avoided at all costs? Let's separate the wheat from the chaff.MYTH 1: Eating bread will make you gain weight.
TRUTH: Contrary to common belief, bread is not inherently fattening. Eaten in moderation, and as part of a nutrient-dense and balanced diet, you can most definitely enjoy bread, even if weight loss is your goal. Just try to avoid white bread, which is stripped of many of its vitamins, minerals, and fiber during the refining process. Why is this important? The fiber found in wholegrain and seeded wholegrain breads has been shown to help with satiety and appetite control.MYTH 2: Gluten-free bread is healthier.
TRUTH: A gluten-free label is absolutely no guarantee of health. In fact, the gluten-free alternative could actually be higher in sugar and packed with nasty ingredients. Gluten gives breads and other baked goods their shape and sponginess, so when manufacturers take it out, they often swap it for additives like xanthan gum or corn starch to create a similar texture—and extra sugar or fat to create a better flavour. So beware of these over-processed gluten-free options, just as you would any other processed food. If you choose to avoid gluten, opt for bread made with wholefood alternatives instead, like buckwheat, quinoa, flax, chia, or rice flour.
TRUTH: Brown bread is thought of as the healthier choice, but an analysis found many types of brown and wholemeal bread actually contain higher levels of sugar than their white counterparts, with food manufacturers adding it in to make the bread more palatable. Additionally, a number of the brown versions have caramel or syrup added to make them darker and give the illusion of wholesomeness. There is no question that wholegrain bread (rather than brown or wholemeal) is the gold standard for bread in terms of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that it provides. However, to avoid added sugar or other sweeteners, always check the label and steer clear of the mass-produced ready sliced loaves, which tend to be the biggest culprits.MYTH 4: Eating bread is bad for your blood sugar.
TRUTH: Bread is a carbohydrate, and when eaten alone (particularly highly refined white bread), it can cause blood sugar levels to spike and then drop, which can subsequently lead to low energy and cravings. Combining your bread with high protein or fat options, like hummus, butter, or cheese, can reduce the glycaemic load of that meal (the rate at which it is absorbed into your bloodstream). To avoid a post-breakfast energy crash, avoid sliced white bread and make wholegrain bread an addition to your meal rather than the main event.
TRUTH: There is no singular dietary cause of bloating. However bread can be bloating for many individuals, and this could be due to several factors. It may be a particular commercial process that uses enzymes and flour improving agents, which many individuals can be sensitive to. If you find that sliced supermarket-bought bread bloats you but artisan bread doesn't, this could be why. For others, it's the yeast in the bread that they are sensitive to, while for some, it's the gluten. Some individuals find wheat-based breads hard to digest, but find they can tolerate rye or spelt bread. Again, it all comes down to the individual. Find what works for you instead of following things blindly.
This article originally appeared on Cosmopolitan.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Cosmo.ph editors.