Death to the Sandwich

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by Jennifer Fugo on April 25, 2011

Did you ever stop to think about how deeply in love Americans are with the idea of the sandwich?  It didn’t much occur to me until the past year when I’ve come up against an unconscious backlash of clients who need to go gluten-free (or simply need to really clean up their diet) and still want every meal to revolve around a sandwich.  We’re all so in love with bagels, breakfast muffins, bread, rolls, etc that we cannot seem to function if a sandwich isn’t upon the horizon of food options.  So, I’m casting out my vote to denounce the tremendous hypnotic hold of the sandwich and ask that we all reconsider it’s place in our diets for the betterment of the personal and national waistline.

It all began here as a kid – Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches on white bread with a big glass of milk.  We were trained meal-by-meal how to love the concept of the sandwich.  And how could you not?  I certainly did.  PB & J and grilled cheese sandwiches were staples for many years of my life.  Even in adulthood, everything seems to taste better as a sandwich.  Perhaps part of this comes from our on-the-go culture that doesn’t seem to have time to bother with utensils.  Or maybe you feel like good bread just makes a meal that much better.

Either way, I take issue with the myriad of excuses that people hide behind to avoid shifting sandwiches to the dietary backseat.  Enough’s enough.  There’s a world of dishes and meals out there that don’t require two flat pieces of baked goods propping them up.  This also includes veganized versions of regular sandwiches that honestly disgust me.  Sorry, but vegan and vegetarian options don’t necessarily make it any healthier.

Part of the problem stems from the fact that most of us aren’t seeking out the best quality, highest fiber and least refined loaf of locally baked bread.  I’m certainly not now that my life circumstances changed so that I became gluten-free, but it wasn’t always this way for me.  I used to eat regular wheat breads and baked goods.  And I honestly still do eat some gluten-free alternatives on infrequent occasions.  However when I was diagnosed with a sensitivity to gluten, the first thing to go was bread.  At the time, gluten-free breads were awful.  In fact, one client commented to me that I needed to more forcefully stress how bad gluten-free breads were to forewarn others.

Honestly, they were that bad back then.  For that reason, they completely disappeared from my plate for the last couple of years since I found gluten-free bread to be so unappetizing.  And you know what?  A former self-proclaimed bread addict was just fine creating new meal options that didn’t involve bread.  Sure there were times where I needed to get creative and other times where I just, frankly, needed to pick up my fork.  I went from hand-held eating apparatus to delicious bowl-centered meals that required utensils in order to indulge (and more slowly, I might add!).

Yes, I do eat bread.  There are some great options out there now that I occasionally enjoy, but occasionally is the key word here.  For example, I bought two loaves of gluten-free bread back in November and I’ve still got half of one left in my freezer.  That’s a good five months of slowly using gluten-free bread.  In fact, I’d often not remember that it was in there because it’s not at the top of my list of foods to eat since fiber content of gluten free bread generally isn’t fantastic.

I realize that you may feel a sense of panic rising up with the thought of making this sort of dietary change, but please know that I do this from a place of real concern.  There are too many people struggling with stubborn weight loss and other metabolic issues to NOT say anything about it.  Consider your personal situation.  Maybe bread and baked goods have got to go for awhile until you can get your eating on track.  Here’s some points to consider that might help you to begin breaking up with bread.

Six Reasons to give Sandwiches the Backseat

1. You don’t need the extra calories and starches in your diet.  Your waistline will thank you.

2. Using utensils help you to slow down, more fully enjoy your meal and eat less calories since you’ll feel full faster.

3. There’s too much junk added to bread and baked goods these days including HFCS (high fructose corn syrup).  I dare you to find a bread without added sugars.  It’s quite hard.

4. Bread’s addicting.  Sometimes you’ve just got to cut the cord and let it go.

5. It’s a poor excuse to eat whole grains.  Real whole grains look like …well …whole grains.  Try eating them that way and you’ll be sure to reap much more of their nutritional benefits.

6. A sandwich is not the only way to eat a meal.  You will survive.  I promise.

With all that said, are you a bread addict?

What’s your feelings on sandwiches and have you been able to cut the cord?

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{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Jen fanega April 25, 2011 at 4:08 am

I feel the same way. When I started to eat a healthier diet, sandwiches just naturally appeared less and less on my plate. All that bread just makes me feel stuffed.

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Jennifer Fugo April 25, 2011 at 7:54 am

Hi Jen, yes becoming familiar with how you feel post-bread can make a big difference in one’s choice to eat it or not. Feeling stuffed is generally not a good sign. Some people will even comment that they get ‘food coma’ or feel bloated. It all goes to show that the body shows us in funny ways what is working and what just isn’t! Thanks for sharing!

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Nikki April 25, 2011 at 6:39 am

It’s funny, but I’ve really cut sandwiches out, too, almost without thinking about it. A loaf of bread lasts me WEEKS! Of course, as I write, I did bring a sandwich with me for breakfast today out of convenience and lack of planning… but generally speaking real grains just taste better.

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Jennifer Fugo April 25, 2011 at 7:52 am

Hi Nikki! Thanks for sharing about your experience. It goes to show us all that sandwiches do creep in even when we actively choose to eat better. Convenience and lack of planning are a huge part of the problem!

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thehealthyapron April 25, 2011 at 10:44 am

omg, great post! I DO enjoy sandwiches…alot. I feel like everything DOES taste better in sandwich form! For awhile (a long while) I wasnt really eating sandwiches and would go weeks without touching a slice of bread, but the past couple weeks I’ve been in the mood for sandwiches. This post has inspired me to get my creative juices flowing again! Thanks Jen!

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Jennifer Fugo April 25, 2011 at 12:29 pm

I’m so glad that I could get the wheels rolling! You’ll have to share with us some of your ideas that come from having this reminder of letting go of the bread. (And your adventures in Hawaii!)

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Laury @thefitnessdish April 25, 2011 at 11:39 am

I was able to not eat sandwiches at all for years. I never ever really had bread in my house. During pregnancy it was tough though, I did go back to cravings for PB & J. I did pick the better breads like Ezekial (no gluten allergy, luckily), natural PB and lower sugar natural jam but i really don’t need a sandwich. Eating the healthier grains like Quinoa and cutting out the bread is the way to go!! Great article.

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Jennifer Fugo April 25, 2011 at 12:30 pm

Great idea for upgrading your sandwich selection! Ezekial bread is a GREAT type of bread IF you can do gluten. Like I said, we need to make better choices even when we choose to eat bread and such. Thanks for sharing Laury, and for providing positive reinforcement!!

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Jen M. April 25, 2011 at 12:23 pm

You are definitely right! I lost 40 pounds after having my kids by going on weight watchers. I realized that to have a sandwich, I would have to sacrifice the rest of the day points wise. sometimes not such a bad decision because I would have an almost no point dinner of veggies. As a mother, I have to say I pack the kids sandwiches for lunch everyday. They like Nutella and peanut butter on wheat and usually along sliced apples or bananas. Sometimes a yogurt. We eat Total Raisin Brain for breakfast and usually home cooked meals with utensils for dinner….although about once a week I make French toast for the kids for dinner (and Ric too) but I never eat it because it just feels wrong. I love my kids, but bread is easy calories that I can quickly whip up.

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Jennifer Fugo April 25, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Thanks for sharing your experience, Jen! Congrats on the weight loss! That’s what happens…we fill up on carbs and often times they are empty processed calories that convert to sugar (there’s a lot of talk about this on the web and in health conscious circles). I’d suggest checking out your PB and make sure that it doesn’t have added sugar and make sure that the wheat bread has “Whole wheat” listed as the main ingredient. If it doesn’t say “Whole” then its processed.

So yes, you’re right- bread is easy calories and it’s something you can whip up fast. But we’ve all got to watch what we’re eating as convenience has become a huge problem for everyone’s waistlines!

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HKT April 26, 2011 at 6:35 am

Makes me feel bad about the chocolate croissant I just ate! However, it’s the first baked good I’ve had before 2 pm in months. This is a great post though, it is amazing how much of our American culture revolves around this food. We could stand to get a bit more creative with our forks!

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Joannie Ungerleider January 7, 2013 at 4:14 pm

Hi Jen,

I can go without bread for a while, then I cave in. I usually choose Ezekiel
Cinnamon Raisin. How do you feel about that. Actually, I have been meaning to ask you that for a long while.

Thanks Joannie

Reply

Jennifer Fugo January 7, 2013 at 4:18 pm

Hi Joannie!
Ezekiel is a better option if you eat bread since the grains are sprouted. HOwever if someone wants to eat GF, then Ezekiel won’t work as it does contain gluten. Hope that helps you.

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