Bread has a combination of flavour, texture, and high carbohydrate content that make it so enjoyable that for many people, it is difficult to stop eating it – particularly if it is fresh and hot out of the oven. There is, in fact, a chemical process that happens inside the body when you eat bread that urges you to eat more and more.
Is it any wonder that diets warn us off of breads – white breads especially. White bread is made from refined white flour and, although tasty, it is plainly not good for keeping our bodies in trim.
Could you have a bread addiction? Ask yourself these questions:
* Do you feel an urge to eat bread products instead of other foods?
* Do you have a strong craving for bread, pastry, cakes and cookies?
* Do you often continue to eat bread even when you feel full?
* Do you feel relaxed after eating your fill of bread products?
* Shortly after a meal, do you crave more bread products?
If that sounds familiar, you may very well have an addiction to bread. Not surprisingly, about 75% of all overweight people are addicted to breads and other carbohydrate-laden products.
Okay…maybe you are a bread addict. Why is bread so irresistible and addictive? Bread is made from grain. It has fibre which is healthy…not so all the carbs, though. It is made from all natural ingredients but why is it so addictive to such a large number of people?
One answer is that, at least in North American and European societies, we grow up with bread. It is served with most meals and is definitely a comfort food. Toast, dinner rolls, sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs, brioche. Then of course there are pastries, croissant, muffins, pies and the over-the-top-in-carbs doughnut.
People handle breads differently. Some can take it or leave it. They can enjoy toast for breakfast and that’s it. But if you then have a mid-morning Danish, muffin or doughnut, hamburger for lunch, afternoon cookies, roll or two with dinner and perhaps even a before-bed snack to quell a craving, you are addicted! You are eating more than you need to and likely find it more and more difficult to fit into your clothes.
If you find yourself often thinking about your next snack or meal, you are hooked! Bread really can be as addictive as a drug. The problem is that when you eat bread, your body releases insulin. Eat too much bread and your body releases too much insulin. This “hunger hormone” stimulates your appetite. Another problem is that it takes about 20 minutes for your brain to realize you are full, so your last 20 minutes of eating is really overeating.
Over time, you can develop a resistance to insulin and your body might stop producing insulin. This is an abnormality and glucose, that normally feeds your internal organs, can stay trapped in your bloodstream – causing parts of your body to malfunction and possibly leading to Type 2 diabetes.
If you have a high level of glucose in your blood, it can cause hunger as well and you will crave foods with a high level of carbs, i.e, breads. More bread = more insulin released. More insulin released = more insulin trapped in the bloodstream = craving for more high-carb foods. Talk about an unhealthy cycle!
This plus the comfort food feeling of well-being makes it easy to understand why it is so easy to become a bread addict. When people are bored, depressed, angry, lonely or sad, what happens? They eat! It is usually high carb comfort food they crave because they are looking for that well-being feeling and they believe eating comfort food, much of which is bread, will help. Maybe so… but it is short term. This is a form of self-medication, like taking aspirin to fix a headache. It only lasts for a while and then you have to take more aspirin. Similarly, breads offer a quick but temporary fix, which can lead to bread binges.
Whole grain, multigrain and rye breads are not so addictive to most people. When the body ingests white breads (or cake for that matter), it is broken down into sugar, causing blood glucose levels to rise. After this rapid digestion, blood glucose drops quickly, resulting in hunger and craving more carbs.
If you are a bread junkie, it is not easy to break the habit. However, it is important to your health that you do break the habit. You don’t have to give up breads entirely. Of course you don’t. But eat whole grain, multigrain or rye bread instead of white. And it is not only the bread but what you put on it. Instead of butter or margarine, try spreading a little olive oil. This is great for your body and contains way less fat than the other two options. Look for jams,too, that have less sugar – or no sugar but Maltitol instead.
Try to limit the amount of bread you eat in a day. Instead of two sandwiches, try one with the same amount of filling as two but half the bread. Slowly, your body will adjust and you will be much healthier for it. Best of all, you will stop the bread addiction and control what you eat – it won’t control you.