It’s hard to avoid articles, talk show segments, and book titles that address questions about bread and weight — “how fattening is bread”, “why is bread fattening”, “is bread bad for weight loss”, and “is bread unhealthy”. And our participants at Green Mountain ask similar questions about bread and weight. So how do we respond?
First, let me say that I really hate the term fattening when it is used in conjunction with food. At Green Mountain, we’ve long said — and others agree — that food often isn’t the real reason for struggles around weight. It’s feelings that send us to food to cope, and a lack of other ways to cope, that truly pose the problem.
That said, there may be issues with the current food supply these days that do contribute to weight struggles. But is bread part of the problem?
Is Bread Unhealthy? Many Believe So.
According to Mail Online, new research out of Australia shows that 43% of women avoid eating bread when trying to lose weight and 20% — one in five — feel guilty when they eat bread.
I doubt that the picture is much different in the US or Canada, given that the popular “bad food” these days is carbohydrates.
What’s even more disturbing is that the Aussie research showed that about 15% of moms cut back their kids’ bread intake because they don’t want them to get overweight.
The Facts About Carbohydrates and Weight
One of the biggest sighs of relief that I hear frequently from the women who come to Green Mountain is when I talk to them about putting carbohydrates — including bread — back on their healthy eating plates. The reason is clear: They love carbs and trying to avoid them is stressful, especially when they aren’t successful in avoiding them.
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The good news is that carbohydrates are an important part of healthy eating. Minimally-processed carbohydrate foods such as whole grain breads, winter squashes, white and sweet potatoes, beans and more play a significant role in our health. That includes a primary role in our appetite regulatory system that can tell us very accurately what, when and how much to eat if we support its efficient operation by feeding ourselves well.
That’s not to say that we can’t eat refined versions, though. Picture savoring a croissant in France. There can be a lot of good health in that act — pleasure is good medicine!
Craving Carbs: Restriction May Lead To Overeating
When we cut out carbohydrates, it creates problems. We may end up craving them — often for physiological reasons and even more often for psychological reasons. And that can lead to overeating them.
Putting them back on your plate can short-circuit that cycle. Plus, research shows that in terms of helping a person reach her healthy weight, low carb diets are no more effective than low-fat diets or high protein diets or any other myriad versions of weight loss diets.
Which brings me to the main point: Diets aren’t effective period for the vast majority of us. We need to learn to eat what we love in a way that makes us feel well. And for many of us, that includes breads. So the question really isn’t “is bread fattening”…it’s “how will I eat for pleasure and for health.
Should I Go Gluten-Free?
If we’re gluten sensitive, the task is to find good-tasting breads that satisfy. A couple of great brands are Udis and Canyon Bakehouse.
But remember, going gluten-free isn’t part of the solution to healthy weights unless you are gluten sensitive. Then removing gluten from your diet may help you feel better and find your healthy weight in the process.
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If you’re not gluten sensitive, you may end up gaining weight as many gluten-free products are richer than their glutinous counterparts.
At Green Mountain at Fox Run, we’ve helped thousands of women who struggle with overeating and weight. Contact our Program Advisors to find out if our program is right for you