Processed or refined grains like the white flour used in supermarket bread are simple or ’empty’ carbohydrates. All of the fibre, vitamins and minerals your growing child needs have been stripped during processing.
Unlike whole grains which contain three parts; the bran (the outer layer), endosperm (the middle layer), and germ (the inner layer), refined grains are left with only the endosperm which is the least nutritious part composed of starchy carbohydrates and low in nutrients.
Refined Grains = Energy Wobble
So instead of retaining all their natural goodness and satiating your child, refined grains very quickly convert to sugar in the bloodstream. A rapid spike in blood sugar may give your child an instant energy hit, but very soon afterwards he will feel tired and struggle to concentrate.
Introducing complex carbohydrates in the form of whole grains won’t create that insulin wobble. It’s a change that can be as easy as swapping white bread for sourdough in your child’s lunch box. This one change alone also has the power to set the foundations for healthy eating, may help reduce blood cholesterol levels and lower heart disease risk later on in life.
In a nutshell, when you swap to whole grains you will:
✓ help stabilise blood sugar levels
✓ improve concentration
✓ steady mood swings
✓ reduce sugar cravings
Switching to sourdough
Supermarket breads are highly processed and do not follow traditional methods of bread making, whereas sourdough bread is higher in protein and minerals than white bread.
A sourdough loaf is also more easily digested than a standard loaf due to the fermentation process, which involves lactic acid breaking down the phytates, and starches in the dough. As a result, once digested, it enters into the bloodstream at a slower rate avoiding blood sugar spikes.
While sourdough is not suitable for coeliac sufferers or those with wheat allergy, people with gluten sensitivities may be able to tolerate small amounts of spelt sourdough. However it is important to look for an authentic spelt sourdough loaf most commonly found in health food stores or artisan bakeries.
A true sourdough loaf should only contain wholemeal flour (e.g.spelt, wheat, kamut), olive oil, sourdough starter culture, water, seeds (optional) and water. Supermarket versions are becoming more readily available but they are often not true sourdough breads, containing yeast and other artificial ingredients, so always check the ingredients before purchasing.
Interpreting nutrition labels is something I go into a great deal of depth in my book and it is a topic that I’m incredibly passionate about and something that I’m always eager to alert my clients to.
Understanding nutrition labels will allow you to make the best decision about what belongs in your trolley and what’s best left on the shelf – it doesn’t need to be daunting either!
What to look for when buying bread
- Whole grains should be listed as the first ingredient e.g. whole wheat flour, whole spelt flour and oat flour.
- It should offer at least 2 grams of dietary fibre per serving.
- Avoid bread with added gluten (this is used to increase fluffiness), vegetable oil, sugar and high levels of sodium (anything above 400mg per 100g).
- If the ingredient panel contains more than 4-6 ingredients, move on to the next loaf.
- Avoid likely GM additives such as canola oil and soy lecithin.
- Go for breads that are preservative free. The main preservatives to avoid in bread are propionates 280-282 (including cultured dextrose or whey), potassium bromate, butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA) or butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT).
- Choose freshly baked bread at your local supermarket as it’s more likely to not contain propionates (always ask before purchasing).
- Be wary of wraps. In my Lunch Box Solutions workshop I show many examples of wraps that have nearly as many preservatives as ingredients. Most contain 280 or 282.
To learn more about Mandy Sacher please visit the Wholesome Child website. Her book “Wholesome Child: A Complete Nutrition Guide and Cookbook” is available to purchase online and through iTunes, and you can connect with Mandy on Instagram and Facebook.