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Should bread be really excluded from a healthy diet?

Bread in a healthy diet

Recently media is filled with the advice that we should give up eating carbohydrates – especially bread. Bread is usually blamed of causing digestive problems and bloating – and making us fat.  Is it right?

Is it right? Is bread really bad for us? How can be bread included into a healthy diet?

Below listed 7 alternatives for bread

There is so many confusing and misleading information about bread. One hand we eat too much bread and bakery product another hand we ban bread completely or we try to escape to gluten-free versions. What would be the right way?

The truth about bread

Low-carb diets -like Atkins diet and paleo diet – suggest us to cut out bread (and any form of carbohydrate) completely in order to lose weight quickly and effectively. However, there is no good health reason for  excluding grains from our diet completely.

Grains – especially wholegrains – provide carbohydrates, protein, fibre, B vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals and they are low in fat. We would miss out these essential nutrients by cutting out this food group completely. What is the problem then?

The problem is that we eat too much and not the right kind of carbohydrates.

Bread is a quick and satisfying food and can be transformed to a meal in seconds, just adding baked beans to make beans on toast, or a bacon to transform it into a bacon sandwich… So we can pick up the habit to reach for bread at every meal: toast for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and pizza for dinner and we snack on biscuits and bread sticks between meals.

Grains also arrive in different form onto our plate: bread, pasta, rice, cake, biscuits… Processed carbs like white bread, white rice and pasta are made from grains containing very little fibre and nutrients as these were removed. These also less satisfying than the wholegrain versions, so we tend to over eat them.

Wholegrains products, though, are our ally in a healthy diet: they are less energy dense than fat, they are more satisfying and high in fibre, so they help us to feel full too. They contain all the health benefits of a whole grain: packed with Vitamin B and minerals. So wholemeal bread should be part of our diet.whole grains in a healthy diet

What is the recommended daily intake?

The official recommendation in the UK is three serving of wholegrains a day. For example 3 tbsp wholegrain cereal or 1 slice of wholemeal bread for breakfast, 3 heaped tbsp brown pasta or 2 tbsp brown rice for bread and 3-4  rye crisp bread. So the key is a limited amount distributed evenly throughout the day. This keeps the blood sugar level even and we do not feel hungry after having a meal.

How can be bread included into a healthy diet?

Bread and carbohydrates must be part of a healthy diet, but only in moderation and preferably wholegrain products. The best to eat a variety of carb-based foods (like brown rice, potatoes, wholewheat pasta, bulgur, couscous, millet, whole grain cereal) and not to rely on bread too much.

I would not recommend a gluten-free diet for people who do not suffer from coeliac disease.  (I shared my views on this in an earlier post: GLUTEN-FREE DIET – IS THIS A NEW FAD DIET?)

However, I think we can gain a couple of good ideas from gluten-free recipes how is possible to put together a satisfying meal without relying on bread and carbohydrates too much. Reducing carbohydrates in our diet and keep it within the healthy limit is hard. I know, I am struggling with it myself too. As the example for recommended daily amount shows, we need much less than we think. A big help if we plan our meals ahead – for at least 3-4 day but one week is even better,- and we start thinking carbohydrates in our diet first then adding protein and finish with fruits and vegetables. This planning method results in a balanced healthy diet.

Alternatives for bread

#1 Rice bread

Strictly the unflavoured rice bread, as the flavoured ones are high in salt and contain additives. Always check the ingredient list and salt content. We do not need the added flavour really as we can compensate the bland taste with a tasty topping: mustard and ham with peppers, or guacamole with poached egg and my favourite: tomato salsa and mozzarella with basil leaves.

#2 Oat morning bread

This is a quick bread alternative, high in protein and calcium and completely gluten-free. The only disadvantage that it shows it’s best freshly baked as  becomes quite dense next day. (I still enjoyed it toasted the following day but family wasn’t that enthusiastic.)


300g porridge oats – roughly chopped in a food processor

8g baking powder

3 egg whites

150g quark

50g water

Pre-heat oven to 180 C/ 350 F/ gas mark 4. Mix all the ingredients and form 8 bread rolls and place them on a baking sheet. It is a sticky soft dough, so do not expect a yeast-dough consistency. Bake the bread rolls for 15 minutes until they are golden. The bread rolls are not too big, but they are very filling. First I added some salt but I felt too salty. Somehow I do not need salt with oats, but if you do you can add 3g to this amount.

#3 Use salad leaves in wraps

Here is a brilliant example how to skip carbohydrate: use salad leaves instead of wraps

Salad wraps


Recipe and photo source:



#4 Nuts

Use nuts and seeds instead of croutons on salads or soups. It is a good idea to keep nuts and seeds in your cupboard, they come handy as a snack, toppings on porridge, salads and soups. The best ones: pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, walnut, cashew, almond (ground, flakes and whole), sesame seeds, linseed (whole and ground), pecan nuts. At the moment, I have all in my cupboard except sesame seeds. You can make you favourite mix in a glass jar for busy mornings.

#5 Pizza crust

I do love pizza, who doesn’t? But a lighter version for dinner doesn’t leave me feeling guilty.

quinoa pizza crust

Recipe and photo source:

#6 Corn crispbread

Corn crispbreads are light and so handy, some of them is mixed with rice. They can be used instead of bread sticks, taste best with pâté or with vegetable dips.

#7 Toasted quinoa granola instead of toast/cereals in the morning

toasted quinoa granola recipe


200g cooked quinoa

1 tbsp clear honey

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp chopped hazelnuts

1 tbsp chopped almond

2 tbsp chopped dried apricot

Mix the ingredients – with exception of the apricots – and spread them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Roast the mixture in the oven on 180C (fan 160C) for 10-15 minutes. Stir the mixture once during the cooking time. Do not expect a crunchy granola here, the secret is to dry the quinoa in the oven, but not to make it chewy. Cool completely and mix  in the dried fruit and store it an airtight jar. It is great with yoghurt or formage frais. Make just a small amount in one go as it can be kept only for a couple of weeks.

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