Breaking up with bread

Over the past 10 years, I have completely redefined what constitutes a healthy meal.

It’s been a journey. And the way I cook looks very different now.

My desire to change came from learning there was a link between inflammatory diets and chronic illness.

Realising that bread (and pasta and processed carbs generally) were some of the most inflammatory foods going around, the decision to remove them was an easy one in some ways.

I’ve become less reliant on building my meals around these traditional staples over time, but removing those things from my diet was initially quite the challenge.

But boy was it liberating!

Simply by taking the bread away, you not only change the whole dynamic of a meal but you also change the trajectory of your health.

The fallout 

It can seem so daunting to move away from bread – we’ve become so heavily reliant on it as a society.

When we have bacon and eggs, it needs to be on toast.

When we have meat and salad, it needs to be sandwiched between 2 slices.

What happens when we remove the bread?

We are left with all the best parts of the meal with nothing to house it.

So why not plonk it all in a bowl? 

The revelation that is bowls

These days the majority of my meals have become bowls.

Bowls are so much more than the ingredients in a sandwich.

Leaning into the versatility of bowls encouraged me to try SO many different things that I would never have put in a sandwich.

Some days I actually eat a bowl for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and I manage to have 3 completely different meals!

This experience has made me realise how much bread can actually constrict us.

It also means that cooking can be super quick and simple, cutting down your time in the kitchen.

My bowls consist mostly of leftovers, so I can make a thoroughly nutritious and extremely yummy bowl in 5 minutes.

This means no need to buy lunch on busy days!

Variety is the spice of a bowl

Eating bowls like this means your options are close to endless and you never have to be bored. It also means you can fill your meals with nutrient dense foods and avoid those inflammatory foods.

If you want to move towards a life of low inflammation (which is in all of our best interests as we age to keep our weight in check, avoid chronic illness and improve our gut health) then it’s best to avoid bread and other gluten filled products and instead fill your diet with highly nourishing foods, and bowls are one of the best ways to achieve this.

How to make a killer bowl

Bowls may look or sound complicated but I follow a pretty simple method:

  1. Ensure you have quality protein in every bowl (this is by far the most important step as protein is ESSENTIAL!)
  2. Start with a layer of salad or veg (I like to make sure I always have a large amount of salad or roast veg in the fridge at all times so this step is quick and easy)
  3. Add some healthy fats! Olive oil, avocado, or maybe for a 2 in 1, make sure your protein portion includes healthy fats ie. a fattier cut of steak, eggs, chicken thigh, brisket, etc.
  4. Add some crunch in the form of nuts and seeds (this really adds deliciousness to the bowl)
  5. Add other toppings that excite you like sauerkraut (highly recommended for improved gut health) olives or jalapeños to name a few.
  6. Add some sauces or flavour to your bowl. Salad dressing, mayo, BBQ sauce, chimichurri. Just make sure these sauces don’t contain any nasty ingredients like vegetable oil or additives!

What about the kids? 

Not only can you feed the whole family this way but it can actually be a really rewarding experience!

Kids are much more likely to try foods when they’ve played a role in making it and have some control over the experience. They don’t have to go the full variety bowl straight away, they can start off simple and get more adventurous as they go.

I find if you offer your kids a range of nutritious whole foods that you’re happy with them eating, then get them to fill their own bowl with whatever they like, they will be more likely to try new foods. Try not to pressure them and they may surprise you. It can be very empowering for them to take some control over their own food choices. If you arm them with the knowledge of why eating this way is advisable, with some of the reasons I’ve written above and encourage them to try new options each time, then you’re putting them in a great position to make positive changes and choose wisely for their bodies as they grow.

My motivation with bowls?

To see myself ageing well with the ability to move freely and play with my grandkids – this was my biggest inspiration to change my diet.

What’s yours? I’d love to hear from you!

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