When transitioning to a gluten free diet, many people are often horrified at the thought of giving up toast for breakfast. But is gluten free bread healthy? Gluten free bread is so widely available now, and some of it is not bad, why wouldn’t you just swap your normal bread for this, slap on some jam, and carry on as you were?
Before delving into this, I want to clear a few things up about toast for breakfast in general. I’m not talking about your artisan, organic, stoneground, bread made in a 17th century mill in the Pennines (this is pretty good stuff), I mean your bog-standard, ubiquitous supermarket loaf.
The concept of bread, and toast in particular, is so deeply entrenched in the British psyche that to suggest removing it is tantamount to chopping an arm off. Yes, there is some fibre in the wholewheat varieties – which we’re told is very good for us – and some might be fortified with a few vitamins and minerals, but on the whole I consider it to be a pretty empty food in terms of nutritional value.
As a refined carbohydrate, bread sends your blood sugar levels skyrocketing soon after eating it. Fairly shortly after this, your blood sugar levels drop again, leaving you hankering after more carbs. At this point, your body is begging you to refuel with more carbohydrates. Cue cravings for anything resembling a muffin.
I’m sorry to be so blunt and un-PC about it, but it’s basically true. You know those blood sugar levels I just talked about? Once they begin to dip again, any carbohydrate that has not been converted to energy gets stored as fat. So, if you’ve had toast for breakfast then sat in the car, or at your desk, or on a train, not a lot of that carbohydrate is being used for energy, is it? It’s just hanging around as fodder for your fat cells. And this kind of fat likes to gather around your mid-section. Want to lose your belly? Ditch the toast.
About 97.2% of clients who walk through my doors suffer with bloating. Quick flick to their food diary…ooh, look…TOAST! The wheat in bog-standard bread is so far removed from the wheat that our grandparents made bread with. Our bodies literally do not know what do with it. Couple this with the fact that we eat wheat in about a million other foods, our digestive systems just cannot deal with this gluttony of gluten. It is so hard to digest, it plays havoc with our gut flora and is one of the main culprits of the ‘six month pregnant’ belly that I see in so many people (who aren’t pregnant!).
What do you like to put on your toast? Some sort of ‘healthy’ low-fat spread? Some jam? A bit of honey maybe? Peanut butter? (most mainstream peanut butters have sugar added to them). Adding more sugar to your toasted carbohydrates is fuelling all the stuff I have just talked about.
Commercial gluten-free bread is not the saviour of all gluten-intolerants! Whilst gluten free bread might not give you all the symptoms that regular bread does, it still contributes to the blood sugar rollercoaster, the carb cravings and the muffin top.
Most gluten free bread is made with a combination of refined flours such as rice, potato, tapioca and maize (corn), plus sugar and a LOT of unpronounceable ingredients which makes it no less a processed food than your standard loaf. And these white flours send your blood sugar skyrocketing as we saw before – fuelling energy slumps and carb cravings.
As with all these things, the solution is not always the solution.
If you can tolerate gluten and it doesn’t make you sick, go for the artisan, organic sourdough loaf (in moderation!), rye or spelt bread and top this with a savoury, protein-rich topping such, unsweetened nut butter, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon, avocado or sardines.
If you are genuinely gluten-intolerant, you can buy less processed gluten-free loaves made from whole grains such as quinoa, millet and buckwheat and with no nasty additives from Artisan Bread Organic.
But not every day! How about trying to eat something that isn’t toast for breakfast?
These are the kinds of breakfasts that are included The Secret Kitchen Club, my online membership club which delivers nourishing, gluten-free meal plans and recipes, as well as support in an exclusive Facebook group, every month.
If you feel your meals need a bit of a va-va voom, or if you’re on a gluten-free diet and it’s not particular inspiring, then The Secret Kitchen Club is for you!