More On Bread

October 15, 2007 · 8 comments

In my weekly update yesterday I suggested that cutting out bread was a factor in my having a record week.  This comment from reader Jan B got me thinking more in depth about bread in my diet:

I cut out bread a couple of months ago when I started realizing that I was using it more as a handle for food than anything else. Now I use a fork. How many calories does a fork have??

She is absolutely right, I have never thought of bread as a handle before but that really is the genius of the sandwich, isn’t it?

Here are all the ways I can think of where I use bread in my diet:

Here bread is used, as Jan says, as a handle for some meat, cheese and lettuce or something similar.  While a sandwich certainly can (and probably should!) be made with really good tasting bread the reality is, at least for me, that the bread is secondary to whatever is on the inside.  It isn’t quite as good a handle as bread but this week I started using the lettuce on the outside instead of on the inside.  Early in the week I made baked chicken breasts for dinner and I made a few extra to be eaten later in sandwiches.  I took a cold chicken breast, put a slice of cheese on it along with a little blue cheese dressing and some salt and pepper and wrapped it up in a couple of romaine hearts.  It was a little messy but tasted great and I didn’t miss the bread at all.

This is the bread basket served almost right away at nicer restaurants.  Usually with some sort of special butter.  I couldn’t stay away from this last week when we went to a restaurant that served fresh popovers with maple butter.  Yummy.  I did reserve myself and have just one however.  The thing is this bread is so easy to eat because you are hungry - that’s why you went out to eat in the first place.  You didn’t come to eat bread but you always do.   And if you are like me (or like I was) you fill up on bread but then don’t want to admit it because you have ordered all sorts of really good food so you forget about the fact you have already eaten your fill and you eat way more regular food than you need to.  As I am writing this I am realizing how bad this brand of bread is and I am going to work hard to recognize when the bread is just there to fill time, and to stay away from it.

This is either another basket of appetizer bread eaten through the meal or a roll served directly with the meal.  Now that I think about it I had some of this last week too when my son ordered a roll with his pasta and he only ate half of it.  So I ate the other half.  I just remembered that.  Why would I do that?  Damn bread!  When I’m in Chicago I usually have a salad for lunch and they always add a small roll with it.  I’ll be declining it this week so I can focus on the salad.

This is the toast or bagel for breakfast, or the giant soft pretzel as a snack.  These are typically convenience foods but they are also pretty easy to replace, you just have to be aware of where your habits are hurting you - like my daily bagel habit I gave up last week.

I love bread but when I think about it honestly I realize it’s often an unnecessary add-on.  I’m making a concerted effort to limit the amount of bread I eat again this week and we’ll see how it goes for me.

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GroovyBabe October 15, 2007 at 8:30 am

Giving up bread has really worked for me too. I think even if you don’t continue to see a dramatic fall on the scales (I expect that to stop once our bodies get used to no bread) in the next week, taking up bread again would be a mistake because we obviously dont need it and it seems to me to be such a negative food.

Israel October 15, 2007 at 11:45 am

omg, you are so right. i never thought of it that way. wait till i tell my wife about this. its gonna blow her mind.

Skinny Guy October 15, 2007 at 5:26 pm

While I did greatly reduce my bread intake, I also kept some low calorie bread handy for times when I wanted it. I also took advantage of “light” English Muffins and “light” tortilla wraps.

Now that I’m not in losing mode anymore I go for a whole grain/multi-grain variety whenever I have bread and stay as far away from the enriched stuff as possible.

Gibbons-Camp October 16, 2007 at 8:30 pm

For me, I haven’t made any conscious decision to give up bread, but I find that I’m eating a lot less of it. It just doesn’t really fit within my meal plan, and I find that I never really want it badly enough to justify the amount of calories it uses up. I had never really though about it in these terms before, but it is something of a unnecessary appendage to food rather than actually something you’re eating because you want the bread.

Great post, it has given me a lot to think about…

Sarah October 19, 2007 at 5:03 pm

Limiting bread while you live in the Netherlands is darn near impossible. A Dutch breakfast is bread with cheese, meats, peanut butter or even chocholate. I see parents giving their child bread as a meal, just a hunk of bread to munch on. Lunch is the exact same meal. Bread with stuff on it. The only meal that isn’t bread based is supper.

I LOVE your suggestion of using romaine lettuce as “bread” for sandwiches that dont really need bread. After all it’s the inside that counts isn’t it?

JoLynn Braley October 24, 2007 at 3:07 pm

The lettuce is a great suggestion. I like to use iceberg lettuce because it’s firmer. I know it doesn’t have as many nutrients as the greener romaine but it reminds of some lettuce wraps I’ve had in a restaurant. I fill them with shredded chicken chili that I made myself (no preservatives, no added sodium, no sugar).

Besides that, white flour is addictive for many people. It keeps you coming back for more, and more, and more…. ;)

john - from fat to fit October 24, 2007 at 4:56 pm

I have actually been using romaine hearts, which are crispier than normal romaine. In fact this morning I had a left over chicken breast and a piece of cheese and blue cheese dressing instead a couple of romaine hearts for breakfast after my workout. Tasted great!

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