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.

Simple Swap

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.

Hidden nasties

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.

This article is shared and powered by mom.Connect

  • It’s a bit worrying all the additives in use now will be looking out for better options


  • Thank you, this has been helpful and informative.


  • wheat flour has nutrition, that’s ok for us to eat isn’t it?


  • I make my own bread and also buy bread.


  • I love the smell of fresh bread so I bake my own these days. Great article. These were things I didn’t know

    • I do indeed love the taste of my fresh bread and adore the smell of fresh my fresh bread throughout my home.


  • I love how many bread options we now have. My favourite is sour dough pane di casa. I eat it every day.


  • a great comprehensive article thank you. the only comment is 4-6 ingredients is a bit odd as my bread has lots of seeds and grains through it and my ingredient list is long because of this.


  • Not worth our trouble to bake our own any more as bread is one of the things not recommended for dialysis patients and add to that an oesophagus problem that makes it difficult swallowing and bread is not eaten often in our house. Usually stick to a Rye flour if I do buy it as it seems to stick less in the gullet when eaten.


  • I have been making my own sourdough spelt bread for awhile now, once you get the hang of it it takes less time than standing in line at a bakery. I make two loaves at a time and freeze one. I also found that the fresher the flour the better the bread, so now buy it from a farm in Tassie, from Farmhouse Direct, they grind it the day before or on the day of posting.


  • Great tips, which we all follow. It’s also nice and easy to make sourdough yourself, which also can be done with glutenfree flour. Good to stay away from white and brioche bread.


  • I only buy the good bread. Have been for years. You would have to have lived under a rock for the last ten years to not know the lack of nutritional value in white bread


  • Freshly baked bread tastes lovely and is good for you too


  • We eat whole meal or multigrain bread in our household because it is better for you.


  • This is great news I love sourdough


  • Thanks, I will be checking my bread more thoroughly. I have managed to move my kiddies onto wholemeal, but maybe making the next move to a more wholegrain bread soon.


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