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Bread: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

You walk down the bread aisle and how many options are there for you to choose from? A gazillion. Where do you even begin?

Let’s start with the basics. What macronutrient does bread have? Carbohydrate. And yes, we need carbohydrate. Carbohydrate in foods breaks down into sugar in our bodies, and this your body’s preferred energy source. On average, men need 60-75 grams of carbohydrate per meal, and women, 45-60 grams per meal. I guess it is okay to go ahead and have bread on that sandwich then or a bun on your burger :)

What kind of bread to eat though, because again, there are SO MANY options? In short, think fiber. When adding a food with carbohydrate to your plate at a meal, there is usually an opportunity to make that carbohydrate a high fiber choice. Bread included!

But wouldn’t a lower carbohydrate bread be better? Not necessarily. Here is why.

Again, we need carbohydrate at each meal. If you choose for the carbohydrate to be in the form of bread, great! If you choose for the carbohydrate to be fruit or milk or a potato or baked beans or any combination of these foods, that’s great, too! What you may find is these carbohydrate choices at a meal can add up very quickly. If that is the case, then it may be more helpful to find a bread that is lower in carbohydrate to better manage how much carbohydrate you are eating at that meal.

Even then, however, you must still consider taste and enjoyment of that bread. Often, reducing the carbohydrate in a food will compromise texture and flavor. Then, it’s up to your taste buds! Would you rather enjoy regular bread with less wiggle room for carbohydrate in your side options at that meal, or would you rather have more carbohydrate-dense options on the side and enjoy a lower carbohydrate bread or no bread at all?

For most, eating regular foods is the most enjoyable. Substituting a lower carbohydrate option or skipping bread at a meal can quickly trigger feelings of deprivation, and then, overindulging with guilt. If this is something you struggle with, I would suggest finding a high fiber bread to enjoy at your meal rather than skipping or substituting the bread.

How do I know a bread is high in fiber? Look past the marketing messages on the front of the package to review the nutrition facts.

Here is my guide for you to navigate the nutrition label. A bread with > 20% Daily Value of fiber is high in fiber, and < 5%, low. The % Daily Value is based on a 2,000 calorie diet and is listed on the far right side of the nutrition facts or directly after the grams of each nutrient. Be sure to glance at the serving size on the label as well to compare products.

Has anyone found a high fiber bread they enjoy? Share!

Let’s kick the idea that bread is “bad” and get back to the facts. We need carbohydrate. Bread has carbohydrate. So enjoy bread at a meal with the rest of the foods on your plate.

Healthy Regards,

Gretchen Stroberg, RD, LD, CDCES

Registered Dietitian & Certified Diabetes Care

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