Bread is not the enemy
Bread has got to be one of the most vilified foods around. I have had friends tell me they ate bread, under their breath, as a confession. Like "don't tell anyone but I had a sandwich yesterday ..." My response, of course, was"hey me too... like almost every day"
Within the Whole Food Plant Based Community I hear things like
"Bread is not a plant" "Flour is not a whole food"
"Bread makes people fat" "Gluten is bad for us"
Understanding that "Whole Food Plant Based" means whole and minimally processed plants is an important first step to understanding that bread is included in a Whole Food Plant Based way of eating. "Minimally Processed" is defined as any process that doesn't remove the health benefits of a food and doesn't add negative health consequence to the food. Milling Whole Grain into Whole Grain Flour is no different than making hummus, blended soups, or dried spices.
No food on its own will make you gain weight. What people tend to put on bread - think butter, cheese, oil - is super high in calories and nutritionally void. If you are pairing those high calorie toppings with highly processed breads than honestly yes that bread choice isn't health promoting. Thinking all bread is bad because super processed breads paired with unhealthy toppings don't support health is the same as saying apples are bad for you because you are looking at the health implications of people eating candy apples every day. When grain is not overly processed it is packed with nutrients like B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, Folate, Fiber, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Protein, Selenium, Zinc, and Fiber.
Gluten is bad for people with Celiac Disease. Outside of that many people do have sensitivities to Gluten - yes. However it is very common for that sensitivity to in fact actually be to the chemicals used on non organic wheat. You'll notice the wheat in the three breads I recommend are all Organic.
Some tips for reading Bread labels and picking a Health Promoting Bread
1. Whole Grain is the goal. Flour is considered "minimally processed" when nothing good has been removed and nothing bad added. So you want the least processed flour possible. This can be called different things in different parts of the world. You want 100% Whole Grain though.
2. If you see the word Enriched or Fortified put it down. Enriched or Fortified sounds like a good thing right? Actually what it means is the grain has been processed to the point of having NO nutritional value and they have to artificially add nutrients back into the flour.
3. Look for a minimum 5:1 ratio between the carbohydrate and fiber. So if you read the label and it shows one slice of bread has 20g Carbs it should have at least 4g Fiber. 25g Carbs it should have at least 5g Fiber.
4. You should recognize all the ingredients. Bread is terribly simple to make. Of course when buying a product that needs to last on a shelf for a few weeks it may have a few extra things that you wouldn't use at home.
Check out these Whole Food Plant Based Breads - each of these companies have a large line of breads. Be sure to read the ingredients as some may contain oil, sugar or salt.