The reason why I stopped buying bread.
It started two weeks ago when I was counting the points value for my low calorie bread. I’ve been on Weight Watchers since Thanksgiving, on what feels like a never ending quest to shed ten pounds of baby weight. It’s an ugly feeling when you start to sound like a broken record every time you complain about how fat you are. Your jeans don’t fit. Every shirt is too tight. Yoga pants and sweatshirts are the only thing you can manage to wear without getting embarrassed when your neighbor sees you pulling the trash can off the curb. I finally decided to do something about it, so I jumped on the diet bandwagon long before anyone started talking about New Year’s weight loss resolutions.
In my mission to shed the weight, I’ve been forced to be super diligent about counting the points value for each piece of food that goes into my mouth. I made the commitment early and you have no idea how incredibly hard it is to stick to the plan during the holidays. An It’s-it ice cream sandwich: 9 points. A (very small) 5 oz. glass of Reisling: 5 points. Two slices of deli ham: 2 points. Two slices of low-calorie multigrain bread: 3 points. The points add up quick. Three meals a day takes a lot of planning and math. What I couldn’t get over though was the amount of additives in fat-free, low calorie food. Sure you can save yourself a few calories by choosing the over processed alternatives, but how is that healthier than eating wholesome foods in moderation? That’s my dilemma.
I want to feel healthy inside and out. Average grocery store bread sits at the top of the offender list when it comes to ultra-processed food… even the healthy 12 grain bread that you think is good for you. In reality most breads sitting on the grocery shelf are commercial white flour breads with food coloring, additives, refined sugars, and preservatives meant to keep them sitting around longer. Don’t believe me?
Look at the ingredient list:
- Chemical Dough Conditioners
- High Fructose Corn Syrup
- “Caramel” Coloring
- Soy Flour
- Guar Gum
- “Natural” Flavor
- Yellow #5 & Yellow #6 (mmm… sounds tasty)
Yup it’s all in there along with about a dozen other unpronounceable ingredients. Now real bread, the unprocessed stuff that comes out of your neighborhood bakery oven only has about four ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, and water. That’s it. It doesn’t get any better. The only problem is that it usually only lasts a day or two before becoming stale and moldy. I don’t know about you, but I’m not spending $4 dollars on a baguette everyday and then tossing half of it out the next day. I might as well just throw $2 dollar bills in the trash can three times a week.
The solution: make it myself. I know it sounds crazy, but what’s even more crazy is the amount of processed stuff that goes into your body every time you make a sandwich. Lucky for me; I was fortunate enough to learn the process of bread making when I worked in a pastry shop. There really is no excuse for me to not make bread. But now you might be saying, how is that convenient or realistic for someone who might not know how to bake? Believe it or not, bread is not that complex. The idealistic version with perfect even slices and uniform crust is not what the rest of the world eats.
Bread around the world comes in many forms; supple handmade tortillas from Mexico, thick tandoor baked naan from India, flat and flavorful focaccia from Italy, porous griddle cooked crumpets from the United Kingdom. I would take any of these over the bland store bought bread sold at our local supermarket. In reality I can’t expect myself to go full Betty Crocker and have a fresh loaf of bread on the table every night, but I can make a difference in my health by choosing wholesome bread alternatives and saving myself a few Weight Watchers points while I’m at it.
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