Most Americans are bread obsessed. We eat bread everyday for breakfast (bagels, toast), lunch (sandwiches) and dinner (dinner rolls, burger buns). We even eat bread for dessert (cakes, cinnamon buns). It’s no wonder that Subway is the world’s second largest food chain. We love that all-American sandwich for lunch. Trust me, I know. I was eating a Subway sandwich when my doctor called me to tell me I had celiac disease.
With this continued bread obsession, it makes you wonder what on earth people eat besides bread, right?
Yep, we are a bread obsessed culture.
As someone who is gluten-free, bread is definitely something I miss. It’s an easy, cheap and convenient food… and it tastes pretty darn good too!
That said, gluten-free bread, particularly commercially produced gluten-free sandwich bread, just doesn’t do it for me. It tastes gritty. I can hardly choke a slice down no matter how much mustard, jelly or turkey I slather on top.
So unlike Oprah Winfrey who loves her bread, I’ve pretty much said “goodbye” to all bread – even the gluten-free bread!
While I gave up gluten-free bread because it tastes so bad, I implore others to give up gluten-free bread too. Bread is nutritionally devoid and so bad for you in so many ways.
Most gluten-free sandwich breads are made from highly processed and refined rice or other white flours. The refining process strips grains of their vitamin and mineral components. Sally Fallon in Nourishing Traditions* calls this “negative” calories because consumption of refined calories depletes vs. adds to your body’s nutritional reserves.
Dr. Joseph Murray, a celiac disease expert, gastroenterologist and professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, told Time Magazine that gluten-free breads are worse for you than regular wheat-based flours. He says they are “more likely to be low in fiber and not fortified with B vitamins” as regular wheat-based bread.
Dr. Marc Hyman, the author of, Eat Fat, Get Thin*, says that eating fat isn’t what makes you fat; rather he says eating sugar makes you fat. When you eat refined carbs, like the ones you find in bread, you’re basically eating sugar. All those white grains convert to sugar in your body, and guess what, it makes you fat.
Not only does it make you fat, but also it makes your blood sugar spike. Whole grains found in their natural state are slowly digested and enter the bloodstream at a moderate rate. When everything is working optimally, our blood sugar remains steady, allowing us to be physically and emotionally even keel. But when you eat refined grains, the grains are pulverized and manipulated so much that they immediately convert to sugar and give you a quick energy rush followed by a crash. You may feel weak and sluggish after eating refined grains. Even when a bread claims to be made with “whole grains” there’s no telling how much of the bread comes from whole grains in the first place. Labels can be misleading!
Gluten-free breads not only contain rice and corn flours, but also contain starches – corn starch, tapioca starch and potato starch. To make a good gluten-free flour blend, you need both flours and starches to create optimal structure and taste. These white flours and starches all have high glycemic indexes that spike your blood sugar higher than table sugar and wheat products according to Dr. William Davis, author of the bestselling book, Wheat Belly*.
Also, gluten-free breads may contain more sugars, fats and/or calories than regular bread. Gluten-free breads lack the texture and elasticity found in gluten-based breads. To compensate for lack of structure and taste, manufacturers often add more sugars, fats and gums to make them more palatable.
So as you can see, eating gluten-free bread does nothing for you.
There is a better way.
If you crave bread now and then, don’t deprive yourself of that craving, just be smart about it.
Look for gluten-free breads made from whole grains, nutrient dense flours and ancient grains. Try gluten-free breads made from oat flour, almond flour, chickpea flour, and quinoa flour so you get the most nutritious gluten-free bread available. I personally love Outside the Breadbox as it’s made with gluten-free oat flour and shockingly tastes really good too. (You can buy Outside the Breadbox at Natural Grocers and select natural grocery stores nationwide or order online. The cashier at Natural Grocers told me that Outside the Breadbox was their most popular selling bread, but I have not independently verified this information.)
The Food Babe also offers up a few gluten-free bread options in her article Before You Buy Bread, Read This, including:
- Buckwheat Bread – Happy Camper’s (contains added sugar)
- Gluten-Free Rice Almond Bread – Food for Life (contains added sugar)
- Gluten-Free Exotic Black Rice Bread – Food for Life (contains added sugar)
- Gluten-Free Super Chia Bread – Nature’s Path (contains added sugar)
- Gluten-Free Deli Rye Style Bread – Canyon Bakehouse (contains added sugar)
Even better, I recommend ditching gluten-free bread altogether and opting for these “breadless” options instead:
- Wrap it. Enjoy your sandwich wrapped in lettuce, nori (roasted seaweed), grape leaves or rice wraps
- Go naked. Eat the deli meat alone, or scoop your tuna salad or hummus with crackers
- Bed it. Enjoy the contents of your sandwich over brown rice, quinoa or a bed of chopped lettuce
Remember, you can take gluten out of bread but you can’t take out the refined carbs and sugar. Choose your gluten-free bread wisely and make the healthiest choice possible without being too hard on yourself.
I’ve compiled this list of gluten-free bread brands that are okay for celiacs to eat, albeit not always healthy for you :-). Please leave a comment if your favorite brand(s) is missing:
- Canyon Bakehouse*
- Ener-G Foods*
- Essential Baking*
- Food for Life*
- Happy Camper’s*
- Outside the Breadbox
- Three Bakers Bread*
I highly recommend this Time article – “The Case Against Whole Wheat and Whole Grain Bread”
*Denotes affiliate link