Bread has a combination of flavor, texture, and high carbohydrate content that make it so enjoyable that many people find it hard to stop eating it, especially if it’s fresh from the oven. In fact, there is a chemical process that occurs inside the body when you eat bread that prompts you to eat more and more.
Is it any wonder diets warn us about breads, especially white breads? White bread is made from refined white flour and, although tasty, it is clearly not good for keeping the body in shape.
Could you have a bread addiction? Ask yourself these questions:
* Do you feel like eating bread products instead of other foods?
* Do you have a strong craving for bread, pastries, cakes and cookies?
* Do you still eat bread often 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 a bread addiction. Not surprisingly, around 75% of all overweight people are addicted to breads and other carbohydrate-laden products.
Okay… maybe you’re a bread addict. Why is bread so irresistible and addictive? Bread is made from cereals. It has fiber which is healthy…although not all carbohydrates. It is made from all natural ingredients, but why is it so addictive for a large number of people?
One answer is that, at least in North American and European societies, we grow up on bread. It is served with most meals and is definitely a comfort food. Toast, rolls, sandwiches, hamburgers and hotdogs, brioche. Then, of course, there are the cakes, the croissants, the muffins, the tarts, and the carb-heavy donut.
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 danish mid-morning, a muffin or doughnut, a burger for lunch, cookies in the afternoon, a bagel or two with dinner, and maybe even a bedtime snack to curb a craving, you’re addicted! You’re eating more than you need and you’re probably finding it more and more difficult to put on your clothes.
If you find yourself often thinking about your next snack or meal, you’re 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 the appetite. Another problem is that it takes about 20 minutes for the brain to realize that it is full, so the last 20 minutes of eating is really overeating.
Over time, you can develop insulin resistance and your body may stop making insulin. This is an abnormality, and glucose, which normally fuels your internal organs, can get trapped in your bloodstream, causing parts of your body to malfunction, possibly leading to type 2 diabetes.
If you have high blood glucose, it can also make you hungry and you will crave foods that are high in carbohydrates, i.e. breads. More bread = more insulin released. More insulin released = more insulin trapped in the bloodstream = craving more carbohydrate-rich foods. Talk about an unhealthy cycle!
This plus the feel-good feeling of comfort food makes it easy to understand why it’s so easy to get addicted to bread. When people are bored, depressed, angry, lonely, or sad, what happens? They eat! It’s usually high-carb comfort food that they crave because they’re looking for that feeling of well-being and believe that eating comfort food, much of which is bread, will help. Maybe so… but it’s short term. This is a form of self-medication, like taking aspirin to relieve 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 binge eating.
Whole grain, multigrain, and rye breads are not that addictive for most people. When the body eats white bread (or cake), it breaks down into sugar, which causes blood glucose levels to rise. After this rapid digestion, blood glucose drops rapidly, causing hunger and a craving for more carbohydrates.
If you are a bread addict, it is not easy to break the habit. However, it is important for your health that you break the habit. You don’t have to give up breads entirely. Of course not. But eat whole grain, multigrain, or rye bread instead of white bread. And it’s not just the bread but what you put on it. Instead of butter or margarine, try a little olive oil. This is great for your body and contains much less fat than the other two options. Also look for jams that have less sugar, or have no sugar, but maltitol.
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 adapt and you will be much healthier. Best of all, you’ll stop your bread addiction and control what you eat, it won’t control you.