Health And Wellness

How I Ended My Lifelong Love Affair With Bread, Wheat, And Gluten

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woman tasting food

For those of us over 50 — especially women and those who need to lose weight — how much have we heard that bread and foods that contain flour or gluten are not that good for us?

I was one of those many people that grew up loving bread, burgers, fried chicken, pizza, spaghetti, and, especially, a creatively made sandwich!

I eventually learned that I needed to make changes, and that meant letting go of bread and gluten — primary foods in my diet.

So, how do you practically reduce or even eliminate bread and gluten?

Flour is woven into the fabric of so many foods in the American diet, it's incredibly hard to avoid.

When I was a child, I didn’t think it was possible to live without it and that it was necessary to be healthy. As I entered my teens, I wanted to be in shape and look attractive, I started experimenting with the Atkins Diet.

I found that getting rid of bread, pasta, starches, and high-carbohydrate foods caused me to get lean quickly.

So, for the next 20 years when I wanted to lose weight, I would begin a low-carb diet yet again, always gaining the weight right back as soon as I went back to "normal eating."

I did this on and off until my 40s when I finally got tired of this yo-yo effect. I wanted to find out what was the best way of eating as a permanent lifestyle.

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The more I researched the more evidence I found that I really needed to remove bread and gluten from my diet altogether.

I found out that my blood type is O, the blood type for about 45 percent of Americans. Wheat and gluten are considered "not beneficial" for this blood type.

The fact is that bread and foods containing gluten are absolutely a roadblock to weight loss if you're overweight — this is about 66 percent of Americans!

And for those sensitive or allergic to it, which happened to me over time, then it's problematic for staying healthy and feeling well.

For those who have Celiac disease, then it's not an option at all and they have to have proper medical care to treat this condition.

Here are 8 strategies on how I ended my life-long love affair with bread, wheat, and gluten.

1. Remove sandwiches from your diet.

Instead, choose a proper meal.

I worked in the restaurant business in menu research and development as well as food purchasing for over 20 years and decided to use some of the common-sense approaches we had to the basic meal: a "center-of-the-plate" protein accompanied by a couple of side items.

I started planning my meals around this concept. Pick a lean, healthy protein as the main course — chicken, fish or seafood, turkey, and beef (in my case, beef is beneficial for blood type O) — and sides that consist of a variety of low carb, non-starchy, healthy veggies.

2. Plan your meals to include a variety of vegetables and keep them on hand.

I'm always roasting, sauteeing, or grilling vegetables and in quantities that make leftovers. It makes it easy to put together a meal without having to chop and cook from scratch every time.

Try veggies you might not normally buy and combine in different medleys — they take on a different flavor profile when mixed.

To speed the process along, my grocery store has them pre-chopped so that all I need to do is season and cook them. Saves a lot of time when you're in a hurry!

3. Discover the versatility of the sweet potato.

I discovered that sweet potatoes don't have the same negative effect on the body as white potatoes.

White potatoes are in the nightshade family and cause inflammation and bloating in people with already aggravated inflammation conditions.

Previously, I had only eaten sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, but all of a sudden, I realized how much better I felt when I ate them versus white potatoes and really began to experiment with them.

Dicing them and putting in veggie medleys, baking and stuffing them with chopped protein, veggies, and greens. Keep them on hand in your pantry, they last a long time.

4. Use long-grain brown rice as a bread alternative.

Yes, it is a carbohydrate, but it's a gluten-free, whole grain carb. In small amounts, it helps round out a lot of meals and substitutes for bread beautifully.

Make a batch of rice and keep that on hand in the refrigerator to heat up quickly. When you want whole grain food or need the extra touch to make it more of a meal, you won't have to wait 45 minutes to make it.

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5. Keep a box or two of spring mix, spinach, or other pre-washed greens on hand for salads.

These make for a quick salad meal or plate garnish and speed the process along to add fiber and roughage to your diet.

Add a protein to a salad and add some of your saved vegetables and healthy fat like avocado to give it more substance.

Also, learn how to make a simple, homemade dressing with quality olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and seasonings, this can take your salad to a whole new level!

6. Have healthy snacks with you.

I carry with me a bag of whole natural almonds, pecans, walnuts, or pistachios. I also spread almond butter on whole-grain brown rice cakes from time to time, or have the occasional apple as well.

Having a healthy snack handy can help bridge the gap until your next meal and keep you from getting too hungry with leads to bad food choices.

Think about choosing whole, natural foods, not processed, packaged foods whenever possible.

7. Plan your meals ahead of time.

Have at least three or four ideas or ingredients in the cue.

8. Have healthy alternatives picked out on your favorite delivery services.

There are healthy options on DoorDash and GrubHub, too!

The fact is that bread and flour are addictive.

They're probably some of the most addictive foods on the planet next to sugar.

The sensation in the brain when eating it says, "This is so yummy and good for me" when, in fact, it's just the opposite. If your motivation is to be truly healthy and not controlled by food addictions, I believe this is important to understand.

Saying goodbye to flour and gluten is much simpler than you might think!

With a little creativity and practice, it is totally doable!

Once I started feeling better and keeping extra weight off with ease, eating this way became a way of life. I can’t say it happened overnight, but with hard work and dedication, I stuck to my goal.

For those who want to be healthier, feel younger, have more energy, better brain function, and reduce inflammation, this is a key step.

Finding motivation and discipline is something that comes with practice. And before you know it, you'll be turning good choices into daily habits and adding years of healthy living to your life. 

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Becky Smith is a Certified Health Coach with a background in Menu Development/Food & Beverage procurement in the restaurant industry. She shares her knowledge of healthy food and healthy lifestyle habits to help people achieve their own health/wellness goals and to have the motivation and discipline that it takes to succeed. Go to her website to learn more.