Do We Need To Be Eating So Much Bread?

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My grandpa always held a slice of bread in his left hand while his right hand held his fork.  A meal was not a meal to my grandpa unless it included my grandma’s homemade bread.  He often used his bread to sop up gravy.  Or he would slather his bread with Grandma’s homemade jelly or applesauce.  If there was no bread – well, there just always had to be bread.

Let’s pause now to give three cheers to my grandma who had nine children, the tiniest kitchen I’ve ever seen, and never failed to provide homemade bread at every meal.  She was a rock star.  Grandma made bread like a boss.  (They’re compliments, Grandma.  Really.)  

I also grew up with bread served at every meal, likely the result of having a dad who had lived with a dad who always needed to hold a piece of bread in his left hand – we’ve already been through this.  Thus, I began our married life always including a side dish of bread with our meals, which Matt held in his right hand – if you can possibly imagine (because yes, my husband is a lefty).

Now, of course, there are all the experts who suggest we eat “low-carb” and others who insist we all need to go “grain-free” and someday soon like tomorrow there will be a new diet claim that suggests that if we all avoid eating (fill in the blank) we will all be healthier, skinnier, and have a perfect complexion.  I am not interested in a one-size-fits-all diet, fad, or bandwagon because I believe in eating real food, in balance, in its whole form, according to an individual’s needs, for the sake of nourishment and good health, all the time. It’s not a diet.  It’s a lifestyle.

We interrupt this post for some important disclaimers before I share my overall thoughts on eating bread:

  1. Some truly need to avoid all grains.  If that’s you, then do it.
  2. Not all grains agree with everyone.  This is a real thing.
  3. My grandpa probably needed more carbs (and food in general) because he was a farmer, doing hard physical labor for many hours every day.  Most of us don’t work that hard on a daily basis anymore.

Now these thoughts:

Do We Need to Be Eating So Much Bread

I do not believe that bread is evil.  

However, many of us eat more bread (and cookies and cakes and muffins and donuts) than we should.  To say nothing of the empty (negative) calories we consume in white flour products which do very little to nourish us – I would suggest that many of us even eat more whole grain products than our bodies actually need.  Especially if we compare it to the amount of other nutrient-rich food we are consuming – like fruits and vegetables.

Oh, you knew I would bring up the fruits and veggies.  The good ol’ F&Vs.  May as well shorten it to save time since we talk about it so much around here and simply call them freggies, don’t you think?

Bread (and pasta and rice) can really fill us up, leaving little room in our appetites for other necessary foods that our bodies crave.  (Like freggies.  There.  I’ve used it twice, so that makes it a real word.)  Sometimes we even load our families with grainy foods in an effort to save money as they appear to be an inexpensive, filling food choice.  I totally get it.  I feed five hungry men 3 meals plus snacks every day, and they definitely like grain based foods.  These foods have their purpose and they are filling.  But…

As  you think about the food you plan to put on your table, consider the variety of nutrients in the meal.  A spread of spaghetti, corn, and bread offers little compared to a meal of spaghetti, salad, green beans, and cantaloupe.  See the colorful and nutrition-packed difference?  If we’re already serving rice, pasta, or potatoes at a meal, we probably don’t need bread, rolls, or bread sticks too.  But an extra side or three of veggies along with a delicious bowl of fruit – well now our bodies are happy.

Fruits and vegetables are the most important part of our meals and snacks.  The other parts are important too – we just need to make sure we aren’t going overboard with the bready stuff and neglecting other important food groups.

So less bread, more freggies.  What do you say?

No seriously.  What do you say?  What are your thoughts on eating bread?  And also – what do you think of the word freggies?  I am so going to start saying that now.

Comments

  1. Jennifer says

    We are bread lovers, but have tried to replace that bread with… you guessed it, a fruit or vegetable. We still tend to eat a lot of it. None of us have allergies or sensitivities, and darn it, we like it.

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    Laura Reply:

    I feel like we still eat a lot too, mainly for breakfast (waffles, muffins, etc). I feel that as long as we’re balancing it and hitting the fruits and veggies (as it sounds like you’re doing), our bodies can handle it. :)

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  2. Lesley says

    I track my calories and nutrition on myfitnesspal. I really am not much of a bread eater. I love carbs, but try to limit them. Even so, I almost always go over my carb goal. They are typically good carbs, but they add up so quickly! I am trying to get more protein, less carbs and I am finding it hard to do.

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    Laura Reply:

    Interesting, and I haven’t broken down a lot of foods this way, but I’m thinking a lot of fruits and veggies are carbs too. Like you said, at least they are good carbs – full of nutrients!

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  3. michelle says

    Love freggies as both a word and a food. I agree with you – grains are good, healthy, and should be part of a nutritious diet but not the star. Most of what we eat should be freggies.

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    Laura Reply:

    I like how you said that the grains shouldn’t be the “star” of our meals. Great way to think of it!

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  4. says

    I grind my own grains and bake my own breads. I couldn’t fill up my kids without it. That being said, I usually limit my own bread consumption to a reasonable amount and usually only eat the sourdough breads and muffins I make — Because I’m not a farmer. At least not yet.

    And I like freggies better that vruit. Vruit sounds too much like a caffeine drink. And Veguit is just weird.

    Thanks for your common sense approach to bread.

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    Laura Reply:

    I, like you, limit my bread consumption more than I limit my kids. My body simply doesn’t need much any more. My kids, on the other hand, are super active which apparently means that they need about twenty more helpings of food every day than I need….

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    Kristin Reply:

    Funny, I was thinking vruits, because I like to say veggies and fruit, as in we should eat MORE veggies then fruit. I know too many parents that interpret fruit and veggies category as an either or. So, they mostly feed their kids fruit, because their kids don’t like veggies as much.

    In regards to grains, I like to limit my kids to 2-3 servings of wheat per day. breakfast is oatmeal, so if there is going to be pasta for dinner and sandwiches for lunch, their school snack is non-grain item, like veggies or fruit. I also try not to serve bread and potatoes or other starch at the same meal.

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  5. Sheri says

    I like saying freggies a lot more than I like eating them :-(

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    Laura Reply:

    Hang in there! It has taken me years and years to finally get to a point where I love and crave a variety of freggies. Keep trying, you’ll get there – one fruit and veggie at a time. :)

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  6. Kathleen says

    Jesus ate bread. In fact, he thought bread was so good that he used 5 loaves (plus 2 fish) to miraculously feed 5,000 people. On the night before the crucifixion, he took the bread, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat…..”

    If you are allergic or have a medical condition that makes it dangerous to eat wheat, then for Pete’s sake. Don’t. If you feel better not eating it, then for Pete’s sake. Don’t. BUT. If you don’t need to avoid it, then for Pete’s sake, feel free to enjoy it. After eating your freggies, of course!

    (And for the naysayers who suggest that today’s wheat is nothing like ancient wheat: Get over it. Neither are most fruits and veggies which have been hybridized and cross-bred too! They aren’t like ancient fruits and veggies. And finally, no, wheat is not genetically-modified. Yet.)

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    Laura Reply:

    I love thinking about Jesus being the Bread of Life. He sustains us in every way. :)

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    Stacy @Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    I like everything about your comment. It made me snort. :-)

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  7. Molly says

    Now I feel the need to bake some bread for my hubby to go along with those freggies (our FRiendly vEGGIES) for dinner. His coworkers are apparently jealous that I send texts at 6pm saying things like “dinner will be ready in 10 minutes! I love you!” I think they’d fall over at “homemade bread is coming out of the oven in 5 minutes! I love you!”
    And we’ll be eating oranges with it because oranges are in season and delicious.

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    Laura Reply:

    You SO totally rock – just like my Grandma. ;)

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  8. MrsCookin says

    Eating bread and baked goods that are homemade with simple wholesome ingredients, in moderation, with other whole foods is never a bad thing. I’ve got bread proofing in my kitchen right now! Forget store bought breads though, manufacturers can’t touch the taste of freshly baked bread!

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    Laura Reply:

    Sometimes I have to compromise and grab something 100% whole grain from the store, but if it really comes to that, I try to avoid bread altogether. There are plenty of other good foods to eat, thankfully!

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  9. Fanny says

    I love your balanced view on everything. That is why you are one of the blogs I continue to follow year after year!

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    Laura Reply:

    Thank you for your encouragement! I super appreciate you hanging around here so long. :)

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  10. Jennifer says

    I sat up in the middle of the night with a thought. What a blessing it is, that we have so much food that we have to *limit* how much we eat. I mean, really. We do stretch some meals with bread in some form, but for the most part, we have a ridiculous plenty.

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    Laura Reply:

    YES! I look around my kitchen at all the produce in bowls, then in my fridge where I don’t have enough room for everything, then at my pantry and my freezers…. We have so much!!! I’m so thankful. :)

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  11. says

    Hi Laura, thank you for this post… I always read but never comment so I would really love to give my two cents on this topic.

    I am Italian and I recently moved to the US… so, YES, all the cliches about italians eating lots of carbs and grain are true. We simply love pasta! My dad does the same as your granddad did.. alwaysbread in heand ! ( and sometimes he dips bread into the pasta sauce – which we called “scarpetta” and I recognize is a delicious “NO NO” -)
    When I moved here I took my habits with me and started buying bread from the local stores (Kroger, Meijer, Costco..).
    We eat wholgrain bread and – honestly – the bread from those stores was quite tasty. In a completely different way from the italian ones, but it was still a blessing and we bought it.
    After a couple of monhs I started feeling bad. I could not stand bread anymore. I used to start my day with bread and jam, but after that I felt so full and quite tired. Same after dinner (generally we prefer pasta or rice for lunch and protein plus a side of bread for dinner).
    I felt my tummy was exploding all the time I had bread,
    I thought it could not be gluten because I have always had lots of grains and feld good!

    I came back to Italy for a month and did not change my diet (bread, pasta etc) … and I slowly started feeling better. So I went to the doctor.
    Guess what! He told me about lots of italians having the same problem in the US! It seems that the quality and properties of the flour are different and people who normally are not allergic to gluten, found themselves to be allergic to the american gluten.
    He suggested me to use only organic flour and do my own bread… and I have to say that now things are quite better. (But not all the organic flours are the same according to my experience so far… and to find the good one for me it is still not easy).

    I was genuinely surprised to know this. You are completely right about paying attention to what to put into your plate and how to feed your family. You have an aboundance of food for less here in the US … and this is a REAL blessing – but you need to know more about nutrition than in other country… so thank you for all the tips you give me!!

    xo, Paola

    [Reply]

    Laura Reply:

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! It’s great to learn from your experience. I have some friends who grew up in Italy – I wonder if they experienced something similar. I know they LOVE going back to Italy to visit because they enjoy the pureness of the food so much.

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    Krisha Reply:

    Oh! What kinds of organic flour have you found here in the US that does not upset you? I love homemade bread, but darnit, bread does not like me. And like you, have experienced issues eating it. Thinking it has always been gluten, but suspecting otherwise. So I’ve been avoiding it altogether. Even GF doesn’t always feel good.

    Also, I think boys, men are hungry and how in the world would we fill them up without bread, rice, or pasta? They just aren’t going to get full on freggies alone…they just aren’t.

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes on not being able to get men/boys full on freggies alone! There’s no way. I’m thankful for wholesome whole grain foods to fill them up and nourish them along with the freggies.

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  12. Rebekah Williams says

    I am a fresh bread lover! However, I am trying to lose weight and firmly believe in my need for the lovely nutrients and filling power that protein, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats provide. Thus, no room in my calorie allotment for bread which supplies nothing that other more nutritious and filling foods can’t. :( The other members of my family are bottomless pits though (and not even teenagers yet!), and we also just found out that my son is allergic to wheat. So when I am at my goal weight I hope to find some tasty wheat-free treats we can incorporate into our routine.

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    Laura Reply:

    Hope you can get his wheat allergy figured out! That’s a big change to make. :(

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  13. Karen S says

    I don’t serve bread at every meal, but there are certain foods that cry out for biscuits, cornbread, loaf bread, or rolls. Also, when trying to reduce the grocery bill, adding “tummy filling” breads helps tremendously.

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    Laura Reply:

    Yes, some meals can’t help but need a side of a biscuit. Like soup! :)

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  14. Wendy Hoff says

    .love this post. Totally agree. And I really appreciate your constant reminders/encouragement to eat and serve more fruits and veggies. Still getting better at it!

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  15. Jaime says

    I have experimented with my family over the past few months with grains. My husband and I have taken out carbs and sugar out of our diet for the first part of our day. As in we eat protein and healthy fats for breakfast and lunch. We have cut WAY back on eating breads. I have four young daughters, who love to bake with me in the kitchen. We haven’t baked in over 6 weeks. I can’t tell you how wonderful we feel. My mind is so clear and my thoughts not scattered. I don’t think that Americans eat to much bread, I believe it’s too much sugar! Which in turn bread breaks down into sugar, not good fat which is what our body needs for energy. Our girls are eating and enjoying there veggies. My husband and I crave our veggies. I cook 3-4 veggies at dinner with fruit being our desert. We don’t crave sugar, the non natural sugar like cookies, cakes, or muffins. Fruit is a wonderful treat if I do want something sweet. And I can tell you desert, like Ice cream tastes wonderful since we don’t eat it that often anymore. We all feel better, our bowls are smoother, our hair is easier to brush and my 8 month old’s diaper rash has gone away. I believe I was eating too much sugar, in all forms. I’m a small lady, not over weight at all and I can’t believe how great I feel and I felt great before.

    I highly encourage others to use Laura’s recipes which are wonderful, quick and taste fabulous, to experiment with their lifestyle. See if anything changes. Too many moms are tired and that’s just not how it should be. God gave us children to enjoy them, not be tired all the time.

    [Reply]

    Krisha Reply:

    Hi Jaime! check out the book Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter. (He also has a cookbook!) He completely backs up what you have experienced with brain fog, more energy, etc. He contributes diseases of the brain – he is a world renowned neuro-surgeon and works with all sorts of brain diseases – like Alzheimers, dementia, Parkinsons, ADHD, etc. to eating grains, specifically gluten and sugars as well. It’s a really good read. He has a good website as well.

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  16. Ashley says

    My hubby had major issues with the word “ginormous” becoming mainstream. Just wait til I hit him with “freggies”!

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