‘A thing that harms or weakens something else’ – Enemy. One rarely associates the word enemy with food, however in recent years it seems the bond between these two words has become stronger and stronger. A combination of diet culture, fad words like ‘detox’ and celebrity influence has meant that food that was once seen as healthy, nutritious and a staple in everyone’s diets, has now become ‘the enemy’.
Diet culture appears to have labelled carbs as the root of all evil, the unhealthiest food you could possibly eat, the enemy. In particular; bread. With the Keto diet being the latest in the world of diet culture, more and more people are ditching the carbs in favour of high fat and processed foods with the false belief that this is the best way to fuel their body, or even lose weight. How are we so far removed from the simple nutritious food that we can grow or make ourselves? How has bread gone from a homemade staple to the enemy? What makes bread so bad?
Many of these questions lack an answer. But the cause of these questions can often be linked back to celebrity culture. Most recently, with Gwyneth Paltrow claiming she went ‘totally off the rails’ and was ‘eating bread’ during lockdown, as she stated in her latest podcast. Celebrities make these factless statements without thinking of their influence on people. If eating bread is her going ‘totally off the rails’, she is inadvertently placing guilt on thousands of people who eat bread daily, indulged in many other pleasures during what was for a lot of people the most difficult year of their life. I witnessed this direct link in a cafe recently, after a server was speaking to a customer about their fresh loaves of bread, the customer replied ‘Oh I better not’, as if this handmade loaf of bread would ‘harm or weaken’ their body. I can’t help but feel empathy for these people whose minds have been so distorted by diet and celebrity culture that they feel so guilty, or actively fight the pleasure of eating something as simple and nutritious as bread.
Bread is a staple food in many countries and has been eaten worldwide for millennia. This is because, despite what many diet trends would have you believe, bread has many benefits to our body and digestion. One being that bread is naturally high in fibre, particularly wholemeal, which aids our digestion. Foods high in fibre can also slow the absorption of sugar into our bloodstream which helps to maintain sugar levels. Studies have shown that actually upping your fibre intake may lower your risk of coronary heart disease.
Our body requires energy for all our metabolic processes to be carried out, we find this energy in the form of food, in particular – glucose. Glucose is a sugar which can be found in fruits and vegetables, but also in starchy foods, like bread. This is because glucose in its complex form is starch, and only when these starch molecules are broken down does it become glucose, or energy. Wholegrain breads provide us with slow-release energy that provide us with nutrients and help to keep us sustained. Whole grain bread is high in fibre, protein and micronutrients like selenium and manganese, all of which are important for our bodies and our digestion. Certain types of wholegrain bread may also be made from less-processed grains, which are digested more slowly and may carry more health benefits.
With all of the evidence present, it would be foolish to still consider bread an enemy, but rather as an ally: something that ‘combines or unites a resource with another for mutual benefit’. With all that bread provides us, there’s no reason to deny your bodies the pleasure of the taste of a freshly baked loaf of bread. It’s time to ditch the diet culture and fight for the facts.