The Great Bread Debate

I sat in my office innocently, lunch in front of me.  The girls in my office (who you will come to know through this blog) joined me.

I pulled out my peanut butter and jelly sandwich, juice and yogurt.

I opened the foil and started eating my sandwich.

Is that a sandwich?

You know, you should never eat regular bread, said one; I learned that in weight watchers.  You know, I memorized the points for everything. Once you get that in your head you never forget it.

That’s cool, said another. I am so glad they make sandwich thins now-less calories, less carbs. Fabulous.

Really, it’s just a PBJ right? It can’t be that bad.

My doctor once told me that I needed eight to eleven servings of grains in a day, given my particular medical issues. I remember thinking eleven servings of grain? That is ridiculous, but, many days, I meet that quota and I feel fabulous.

The conversation devolved into how to avoid carbohydrates (evil carbs, evil carbs, be gone with you!) and “healthy” dinners, which were basically chicken on greens and fruits for dessert, how exercise never seemed to make a difference, and what each woman would change about herself.

A few days ago, it hit me once again that women are each other’s worst enemies.  Although our lunch also involved other conversations (how on Earth could Weiner’s wife stand by him, and there’s rehab for that? How ridiculous is this Casey Anthony trial, and how sad? When does the new fall season start? Where can you get nice suits?), we helped one another find a way to healthier living, which basically meant less eating and the crucifying of the bread eaters of the world.  I was mildly disturbed.  Here we were, five professional women, all successful, sitting around  a table in a high rise office building with views of downtown, and we were talking about bread-bread.

A couple of slices of bread cannot be that bad. So, I set off to do some research on the topic.  Carbohydrates have gotten a bad rap, and there’s no way around it.  All of Asia has been eating carbohydrates in moderation and in excess for thousands of years now and obesity is not a problem in Asian countries, and yet we struggle here to avoid pasta, rice, bread, and all the nutrients they provide.

Bread does not equal bad.  In fact, in moderation, carbohydrates are the fuel building blocks.  They are in essence human batteries. Without carbohydrates you would lose all energy.  The refined sugars are tasty, sure, but whole grains are “better for you” if they make you feel good.  Some people cannot tolerate them of course so they may not be so healthy.

But, to the point, why did a PBJ sandwich (a pretty healthy lunch-right?right?) cause such a stir, and would dudes ever have reacted that way? Maybe, maybe not.  All things in moderation are fine. A sandwich thin doesn’t cut it for me for a PBJ.  A sandwich thin is just that-thin, too thin and I like sinking my teeth into soft, pillowy, chewy slices of white (gasp!) bread with peanut butter and grape jelly sandwiched in between. Chicken on greens? Really? Or, one of my all-time favorites-spaghetti squash for pasta-pasta? Seriously?  Are you fooling yourself? I get that women know that pasta tastes better but what I don’t think they understand is that if a bowl of pasta, good old white pasta, pushes you over the edge then it’s not safe anywhere for you and something needs to change.  After all, a bowl of pasta is definitely not something to eliminate lightly, and definitely not for squash.  So, what’s the verdict on carbs? It’s easy.  Just like everything else, carbohydrates are good for you-in moderation.  All things in moderation are fine, even good. Share the wealth though, and save room for all the other nutrients your body needs. With that in mind, enjoy a slice of bread, or two, and-go crazy- pour some sauce on that pasta.

****For anyone who has been advised by a medical professional to avoid or reduce their carbohydrate intake obviously this post is not directed at you.  The post is directed at those who have self-diagnosed themselves as weight loss needed patients who should not ingest carbohydrates. 


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