If gluten free bread is a staple in your home and diet, you may want to rethink that choice. Though easy and convenient, here are ten reasons why it’s time to break up with (gluten free) bread.
10 Reasons to Give Up Gluten Free Bread
As a former breadoholic, I know this type of advice might seem strange. But my experience as a clinical nutritionist as shown me that gluten free bread (while not the devil) isn’t the best staple in your diet.
I certainly don’t mean to take away the joy of biting into perfectly soft bread… I would instead prefer to hand you some points to consider as you make this week’s shopping list.
You don’t HAVE to buy gluten free bread (or nearly as much as you already do). There are other options out there to enjoy for meals that do not revolve around bread.
So read the following points and then make up your mind about whether gluten free bread needs to take a backseat in your diet.
1. Gluten Free Bread is addictive.
When you’re trying to get healthy, there’s something to be said for reducing or eliminating addictive foods. Whether they trigger you to eat the entire bag or totally go off the rails for a meal (or an entire day… or weekend), these foods are better eliminated.
Being a former breadoholic, I personally know how addictive bread is. Sadly, I found out how emotionally tied many people are to bread when I wrote a post a year ago asking people why they were still eating it.
Emotions run high around food, so it’s natural to get upset when someone tells you to give up something that “makes you feel normal”. Though I understand the sentiment, that’s not a good reason to keep eating something that’s not good for your health (which is why you went gluten free in the first place).
2. It makes for easy, mindless eating.
No matter what most people say, it’s too easy to scarf down a sandwich, gluten free or not. I’ve found from working with clients, watching people eat and my own personal experience with sandwiches that there’s a tendency to take very large bites and thus, eat way too much, way too fast.
Sandwiches are in many ways the epitome of convenience and fast foods.
When utensils get involved, the process of eating can slow down leaving you a better chance of feeling full when you actually are.
3. Gluten Free Bread is ridiculously expensive!
If you haven’t yet done the math, most gluten free bread ranges from $5 to $7 per bag. This one reason alone is what drives those avoiding gluten to eventually try to make their own.
Cost-conscious folks who eat daily sandwiches (or whose kids do for lunch) find themselves in a pinch because there’s typically enough bread in a bag to make about 6 to 8 sandwiches. That means your daily sandwich habit just upped in price by about $1 and equates to spending at least an additional $365 each year just on a (frankly) mediocre gluten free substitute that’s often loaded with big holes and has to remain frozen.
Though gluten free food has been found to be about 242% more expensive (on average) than their gluten-filled counterparts, gluten free bread comes in at a whopping 300 to 400% more expensive. Yikes!
4. Beware of added sugar
The health world talks a lot about the importance of removing added sugars from our diets and limiting the overall sugar we down each day. With that thought in mind, have you considered gluten free bread to be a suspect?
Nearly every loaf of gluten free bread I’ve come across has added sugar somewhere in its ingredients.
Ranging anywhere from 1 to 4 different types per product (Udi’s Gluten Free Bread has 4 different sweeteners in it including corn syrup solids most likely made from GMO corn), gluten free bread’s not going to help you in this endeavor.
Additionally, once you subtract any fiber from the carbs listed on the ingredients label, you’re left with starch content. That starch also gets converted to sugar (mostly glucose) during the digestion process.
So there’s always more “sugar” in these products than what’s added.
5. Xanthan Gum… it’s a really gross (and highly processed) ingredient
In case you missed my recent exposé on xanthan gum (CLICK HERE to read it), gluten free bread uses this common gummy substance to make up for the “glue” of gluten.
Don’t be fooled by this perfectly white, powdery substance found in grocery stores. It’s an engineered food product made by food scientists that’s derived from a specific bacteria which ferment starches such as wheat and corn to produce a slime that’s milled and processed into the white stuff added to this gluten free baked good.
Aside from it helping gluten free bread seem more like its gluten-filled cousin, the bacteria involved has a bad reputation because it’s responsible for Black Rot which forms on and completely destroys vegetables of the cruciferous family.
6. Other food protein offenders are hiding in it
If you’re sensitive to gluten, there’s a good chance that you’ve got other food sensitivities as well. According to Dr. Amy Myers, about 50% of gluten sensitive folks are also sensitive to casein (a dairy protein found in all forms of dairy). Others are sensitive to soy, corn, eggs, and yeast which can all be found in gluten free bread.
If you feel like you get glutened a lot (especially if you can’t figure out where you ate gluten or you react to certified gluten-free products), you have to consider that gluten’s not your only problem.
The reason is that gluten tends to go hand-in-hand with leaky gut syndrome and when left unattended, other foods become problematic as they sneak through the small intestine barrier and alert your immune system.
Even seemingly harmless foods like potato, flax seeds, and rice can elicit a response similar to “getting glutened” if you are sensitive to them.
7. Loaded with gut-irritating oils
Are you aware that most vegetable (or seed-based) oils aren’t good for you? Despite all of the years that vegetable oils have been pushed on consumers as a “healthy fat”, the verdict is in … their high omega-6 content just isn’t what a body needs to thrive. Omega-6 oils are highly inflammatory and gut-irritating.
Allow me to repeat that final phrase again… gut irritating. Do you think your gut, which already has issues, needs to be irritated further? I don’t.
Moving forward, consider anything with canola, safflower, corn and soy oils to be red flags. And sadly, you’ll see some combo of these in 90% of the gluten free bread on the market.
8. Get ready for blood sugar spikes.
If you didn’t know that many of the gluten free flours are incredibly (and ridiculously) high glycemic, now you do. Even brown rice flour is high glycemic, so do not be fooled into thinking that somehow it’s healthier than white rice flour. Both are equally problematic.
And guess what predominates the bulk of gluten free bread? Yep, high glycemic gluten free flours such as rice (sometimes labeled white rice or brown rice), corn, potato and tapioca which are typically found somewhere in the first five ingredients.
If an ingredient contains the word “starch” (as you might see potato starch or tapioca starch), that’s a surefire indicator of a high glycemic ingredient.
Why care about this? Blood sugar spikes aren’t good for your body and can do a total number on your hormone system. If you don’t believe me, check out any number of podcasts I’ve done with experts such as Dr. David Perlmutter, JJ Virgin, Dr. Datis Kharrazian, or Dr. Kelly Brogan who have all said that gluten free products like bread are undoubtedly bad for hormonal balance.
And what might surprise you most is that gluten free bread is…
9. One of the worst foods you can eat for breakfast (especially if you’ve got Autoimmune issues)
Running out the door in the morning after a gluten free bagel or toast (or even waffles, pancakes, or English muffins) isn’t anywhere near a “breakfast of champions”. What seems easy and convenient is problematic for your body because of the ingredients used in these products. As you can guess by now, many aren’t good for you, irritate your gut and will spike your blood sugar.
When someone is in a state of autoimmunity (like Celiac Disease or Hashimoto’s), these type of meals do not support healthy gut function, maintain stable blood sugar, calm the “flames” of autoimmunity to arrest or reverse its progress, nor do they provide the necessary nutrients you need to get your body running first thing.
And they’ll leave you starving by mid-morning, looking for a snack or some other sugary or starchy fix.
Blood sugar regulation is really important for good thyroid health. It’s also critical if you want/need to lose weight. Furthermore, it reduces the stress placed on the adrenals that simply can’t keep running on the fumes of gluten free baked goods.
10. Occasionally, eating gluten free bread isn’t the end of the world.
If after reading all these reasons you don’t swear off gluten free bread altogether, I’d like to take a moment to clarify my argument. You may read this and think that I’m a food nazi… but that notion is so far from the truth. I’m not perfect and occasionally I like to eat something that isn’t an everyday staple (like a gluten free sandwich). And you know what? It doesn’t make me a bad person, nor a failure to my commitment to good health. (Nor am I judging anyone out there who does eat gluten free bread.)
Though I can count the times I’ve had gluten free bread on one hand for the last six months, I believe it’s important to clarify that everything in moderation is ok. In making this statement though, I’m NOT saying that eating one sandwich per day is moderation. It might be if you ate ten sandwiches per day, but I doubt that’s what’s going on.
Moderation is a really tricky concept because we can justify just about anything as being “in moderation”. So I challenge you to really think about how much gluten free bread you eat (please include bread-like products such as bagels, English muffins, and wraps) on a daily basis. Then make a decision to slide these sandwich holders over to something much more moderate that would verge on even being occasional.
As I said before, I was a total breadoholic before going gluten free and was able to break the habit. I’m healthier and happier now than I was before and my clients would resonate the same sentiment. CLICK HERE for some ideas on how to eat fewer gluten free sandwiches!
Life will go on, I promise.
NEED MORE HELP?
If you feel like you’re at your wits’ end and fed up knowing what to eat…
Or you feel like food is your enemy now that you’ve gone gluten-free because you don’t know what’s safe…
And you’re feeling deeply overwhelmed with the process of ridding your life of gluten…
I have a really neat opportunity for you so keep on reading!
I’m hosting a special webinar (that’s totally free) where I’m going to talk about the process how to simplify going gluten-free as well as how I (and my clients) have gotten to a place where the lifestyle and diet are a piece of gluten-free cake.
If you’ve been GF for less than 2 years, are still struggling to “stay on the wagon,” or haven’t even started going GF yet… this is for you.
Today and tomorrow, I’m hosting an exclusive webinar called…
There’s no cost to attend and I’m going to cover some of the biggest questions you have!
Think of it like you and I sit down for a cup of tea (or coffee)… let’s talk. Plus I’ll have a special surprise for you at the end! BUT please be aware that I will not record this event so if you miss it, then you’ve missed out.
Several months ago, my cardiologist suggested giving up all grains and cutting back on
sugar as an easy way to lose weight. Easy to say, not to easy to do. In order to do things
in moderation, I have instead limited myself to one serving of grains a day 3-4 days a week, in the form of 1/2 cup brown rice, or half a very small muffin, or 3 (almond flour)pancakes, or 1 chia seed waffle- the result? A loss of 15 pounds in 3 months. Cutting out sugar is nearly impossible but cutting way back on it is doable. Limiting fruit to one serving a day (usually breakfast or an afternoon snack) always with a protein (almonds or cheese). Your article makes a whole lot of sense especially for those people struggling to lose weight who have to be on a gf diet. GF bread as it stands now is fine if a child wants or needs a sandwich for lunch. But for adults who can’t or don’t burn up the sugars/starches, it simply isn’t needed. Thank you for exposing this to the masses!
Wow! I probably eat gluten-free bread once a week, which I thought was pretty good, as I used to be a bread-a-holic prior to going gluten-free. But after reading this, I think I need to re-think even the once per week thing…I do have autoimmune issues, so I definitely should be more careful. Thank you for this article!
There is this gluten free bakery near where I live called Mariposa. A loaf of bread is $7 and it only lasts about 4 days. As much as it pains me to give up bread, especially the occasional bagel, I am doing so because of the expense. I am even giving up cereal because of the sugar. Thanks for this article. Sometimes, seeing things written gives you a different perspective.
I get so confused trying to eat right, I love bread. Does this mean I an’t have gf pasta, gf scones etc. I have multiple food sesativities and allergies. Have lost part of. My colon and Ll of the sigmoid, people need to take this seriously.
Now I know why I felt so rotten after eating GF foods of late. I used to eat all the muffins and cakes and anything that said Gluten Free, but I began to feel tired and my joints began to hurt; sometimes I cant stand after Ive been sitting for maybe 30 minutes. I do not buy the bread, cakes or cereal and no longer buy the chilled meals. I am healthier and wealthier. No more pain in my body….thats the bonus of taking control of what we eat.
Reading your article makes me want to share my experience. I used to buy, eat and love Glutinos cinnamon raisin bread. Ate it for months without any problem. Then they changed the recipe. Whatever they did ruined the product for me. It went from 70 calories per slice and delicious to 80 calories per slices and sticky, gooey icky. Made me bloated and very uncomfortable. I wrote them to say how disappointed I am in the change. What did they do? Sent me a coupon for a free loaf as if that would make it all better. Silly me, I used the coupon and only ate two slices from it. Yup. Still bad. hmmmm
I never eat gluten free bread purchased from a store. When I have a craving for bread I make Coconut Butter bread. It has five simple ingredients: eggs, butter or coconut oil, coconut butter, salt, and baking soda. It’s not something I eat daily or even weekly. I use it as a treat about once a month – mainly because it is fairly expensive to make. The recipe can be found here: http://www.lovingourguts.com/coconut-butter-sandwich-bread/?w3tc_preview=1
Thank you for the information on gluten-free breads. I tried these a few times when I first went GF ( and mostly dairy free except ghee, but I’m still tweaking my diet). I found out quickly about xanthan gum…the inflammation cascade set off by that ingredient is far worse than gluten for me. My digestive tract goes haywire and takes weeks to heal. I also found out later that it is in almost all gf foods and even regular salad dressing after I wanted a change from my usual balsamic vinegar and walnut oil. I wish it would be recognized as an allergen, there are so many people reporting gastric distress among other things after eating it. Perhaps food shouldn’t contain laxatives…
Even though I knew the bread made me feel awful, I had not known about it’s nutritional profile (or lack thereof) and glycemic levels. I will certainly take these factors into account when considering gf baked goods whether homemade or store-bought. It was hard to give up baked goods, I was a professional cook and specialty baker and it hurt to let years of training, experience and knowledge go. I’m actually kind of glad now that there are few good substitutes for bready carbs, I’m sure the weightloss I’ve experienced living gluten free has something to do with eating far less of them.
Thank you for the information here, you have a great site!
Good information to process. I like what you say about eating gluten free bread occasionally. Our motto at Real Food Real Life is “if you eat something bad, eat something good. balance your life.” It’s always best to eat whole and fermented foods, but if you feel like splurging occasionally, it’s ok. The more healthy whole foods you eat, however, the less likely you will want to eat processed foods; gluten-free or otherwise 🙂
So what do you suggest mothers feed their children? Provide alternatives to busy mom’s that have children with gluten and celiac issues. Why hasn’t GIG wrote about this? If xantham gum is so bad then why is GIG not backing this?
I use GF Tostado’s instead of bread. Taco shells work as well. I hate the dryness of bread and have been on a GF diet for over 50 years. You just have to find what works for you and your kids. School lunches were really hard for me 40 years ago, I had to pack and there were no microwaves to heat up left-overs. Talk with you kids and find things they like and send that. That way you know their eating and not just throwing the food away because kids are making fun on them.
I have had on and off gut inflammation for years. But in my case gluten isn’t the problem. Gluten-free bread is far worse than well fermented levains & sourdoughs. I know a lot of people that have thought they were gluten intolerant, but it turned out to be the other ingredients in combination with the grains: yeasts, poorly hydrated refined flours, dough conditioners, artificial sweeteners, etc. Just plain bad diets and hypertension are often the problem and removing wheat is a relief, but not a fix. I own and manage a bakery and cafe and am often asked if we have gluten free options. Of course, the salads, most of the soups, all of the meats, cheeses, etc. But they keep asking me to bake fake bread which is not healthy. We don’t do it, won’t do it. Thanks for the article.
Wow, this makes a lot of sense. I tried a Whole 30 (paleo) challenge just to see if bread, grains, dairy, etc. were contributing to my horrible seasonal allergies. Sadly, I found out that gluten was a big culprit. I too have always been a bread and pastaholic so of course I was delighted to see all the “advances” in GF products recently. But the GF breads, even the tastier ones, tend to leave me just as bloated and uncomfortable as their gluteny counterparts, although my respiratory allergies are much better. SIGH.
Regarding the family meal planning issues, that’s unfortunately what you get when you have a child/multiple family members with food sensitivities. Time to rearrange the priorities a little. We’ve all been there but if you want to feel better, that requires WORK. There are no shortcuts, as your article proves. Thank you for your support as we all try to live better and symptom-free.
What a great post! Most supermarket gluten-free breads in Australia are either full of soy, or milk solids, which can both be difficult to digest for people who are gluten intolerant or coeliac. Thanks for sharing why it’s not always so great! I personally feel opting for naturally GF products is always best, but it is great that we now do have the option for everyday GF products if we do need them. It shows that society is hopefully further understanding coeliac disease and gluten intolerance, and hopefully are beginning to take them seriously as serious medical conditions.
It was suggested to me recently to try baking bread from chick pea flour for a better result, if anyone’s tried this I would love it if you could comment or share the recipe ! It is sad but typical that the mass produced gf breads contain the lowest quality ingredients & are most expensive. Where are the higher fibre options for Celiac sufferers who have the toughest time getting fibre into their diet….?
While I do believe that cutting back on grains is important (I am gluten intolerant and do not eat wheat/rye/barley or other gluten containing foods), I do still eat some of the ancient grains (preferable in sprouted form) and have found that Sami’s bakery in Florida produces some great gluten free products without the questionable ingredients (although they are not a gluten free bakery they do clean between each). Yes, they are pricey but there are nutrients contained in grains. There are ways to control sugar spikes (google Glucotor by Jon Barron) when such products are eaten and it’s important whenever carbs are eaten. Check out his articles on grains and why they are still important http://jonbarron.org/search/gss/grains
Addictive? Haha! That one cracks me up. It is dense and full of holes. I cannot see why anybody would love it to the point of addiction/
Thanks for this, it’s cemented my opinion. I just ate FOUR slices of GF bread and margerine in a row, and decided not to buy it any more. Im glad to know im not the only one who finds it addictive. Its crappy, empty food. Also not buying the margerine anymore. If i dont buy these things i cant overeat them at midnight when i really shouldve had some fruit!