Whole wheat, low calorie bread is another food that marketers use to create NuTrition Confusion because they know that when you see a label with words like, “35 Calories per slice”, you really think it is a health and weight loss food. Now that it is back to school time, grocery stores are pulling out their best marketing ploys to get parents to buy foods that are most convenient for their kids. I grew up taking crustless sandwiches to school, but fortunately health and nutrition information has come a long way, and it pains me to see these foods promoted to parents and kids that are not doing anything for the growing obesity rates.
So what makes whole wheat bread just as bad for you as white bread, and why should you stop buying ‘low calorie bread’ if you want to lose weight?
I hate to break it to you, but a calorie is not just a calorie, and although that ‘whole wheat’ bread is lower in calories, the impact it makes on your hormones and cells is very similar to that of white bread. So first, why is white bread so bad? Well, have you heard of the glycemic index?
The glycemic index “is a value assigned to foods based on how slowly or how quickly those foods cause increases in blood glucose levels. Also known as “blood sugar,” blood glucose levels above normal are toxic and can cause blindness, kidney failure, or increase cardiovascular risk.” (Harvard Health Publications, 2015). Moreover, if you are at risk for diabetes, experience fatigue throughout the day, or struggle to lose weight around your stomach, then you might need to pay attention to the glycemic index and load of the carbohydrates you consume. When your body is flooded with sugars no matter the form, it produces insulin, and too much insulin, from too much sugar, can lead to an array of health complications.
How does this relate to bread? Bread is a carb, and has a glycemic index and a glycemic load. What is wrong with this picture?
Here are some sample glycemic indexes:
- Glucose (pure glucose is the most basic sugar for our body): 100
- Coca-Cola: 63
- Whole wheat bread: 69
- White bread: 75
- White rice: 73
- Ice cream: 62
Do you see that? Whole wheat bread affects your blood sugar almost as much as white bread and more than a Coke! Marketers have been using terms like ‘whole wheat’ for years tricking your brain into thinking you are doing something healthy because it is ‘whole’, ‘natural’ or ‘high in fiber’. In fact, you can form that ‘high fiber’ bread into a tiny ball that takes up no space in your digestion (the point of fiber), and provides you with very little nutritional benefit. As a PSA, please don’t believe everything that is written on a package, do some research before you buy, especially if your kids are involved. All that whole wheat bread will do is make them sleepy a few hours later, potentially cause behavioral problems in school, and increase their chances for weight gain.
When packing your next school lunch or making your toast in the morning, try these healthy bread options and substitutions. You might have to dress them up a bit, but after some time, you or your kids won’t even notice! Or, just forget the sandwich and pack a salad instead!
- Lettuce or collard wraps
- Sweet potato buns (Check out my recipe here)
- Sweet potato toast
- Ezekiel bread (or any sprouted bread in the freezer)
- Wheat or corn tortillas (Flat out wraps are great!)
- Cloud bread
- Rye or sour dough bread