Christian Living


Grain of Truth

My good friend Lynn loves bread. She would openly declare bread as one of her self-proclaimed weaknesses. Lynn shared with me that her time spent in the Azores, Portugal— where American bread was limited, was the probable source of her continual bread craving.

Over the years I spent on the road with Lynn and her theatre company, Storybook Theatre, it became a standing joke that all of our destinations had a restaurant associated with it. And, yes, every restaurant was known for a certain type of bread or worse— dessert (but that’s a different article).

Lynn is not alone in her obsession with bread. I can visualize some of you right now, nodding your head in agreement—bread is essential!

My fondest childhood memories of bread go back to Friday mornings in West Virginia when my grandmother would do all of her weekly baking. Every Friday morning, my nostrils would wake up before the rest of me, flaring in and out, as the sweet aroma of fresh baked goods wafted through the bedroom. I can recall licking my lips before I even raised my head. Ahhh… those were the good old days—a thick piece of yeast-raised bread fresh and hot out of the oven, smothered in home-churned butter. Could life get any better than that?

Back then, when I burned every calorie I even thought about consuming, no, it couldn’t get any better; but today with a 50-year-old body (albeit active) that has to work off every calorie it takes in—yes, life can be better—but it takes choice, and we have a lot of them to make.

As we take a look at breads, cereals, and pasta, I want you to consider three points: Always include variety, always review quantity, and always consider quality. These three points will always guarantee a healthy balance.

Always Include Variety
Not only do our muscles respond with complacency when we continually do the same weekly workout routine, but our digestive system gets bored, too. When we offer our body a variety of foods, we touch on different nutritional needs and are likely to find a balance that will enhance our daily walk—physically.

So where do we begin? Check out the food grid! I have listed only a few choices out of the endless alternatives when it comes to breads, cereals, and pastas (BCP). Not only are there volumes of consumable selections, but there are also daily time choices that make a difference as well: morning, mid-morning, lunch, mid-day, supper, and evening snack. You have roughly six opportunities a day to consume your bread, cereal, and pasta products.

This food group is a high source of carbohydrates, and my experience has shown that when carbohydrate calories are consumed early in the day (before 2 p.m.), you have a greater chance of burning them off via walking, daily hustle and bustle, or the recommended accumulated 30 minutes of physical activity throughout each day. On the other hand, in the evening, your activity is limited; you are settling in for the night, kicking back, relaxing, and hitting the sack. And unless your resting metabolism rate is high enough for you to continue burning efficient calories as you sleep, gaining fat is what you’ll reap!

Eating a variety of BCP is one way to combat the doldrums and mediocrity of life—and for some of us, our work/home life is regimented beyond our control, so why not change up what you can. Sounds like a plan to me!

Always Review Quantity
We all have heard “Cut the carbs and lose weight!” “Get healthy on a high carb diet!” Choices, choices—what’s a person to do? The new MyPyramid suggests we consume 6 - 11 BCP servings daily based on our recommended caloric intake. (Check out your recommended caloric intake at mypyramid.gov.)

Do you feel stuck between a rock and a hard place? Join the club! Dietary intake is controversial - always has been, always will be. Whenever you live in a society of free choice, everyone will have an opinion. One thing I believe is true and always will be: burn more calories than you take in, and you will lose weight.

As far as this food group goes, our chances of gaining weight due to the consumption of BCP is great because they are carbohydrates (carbs), and our body only stores a certain percentage of carbs as carbs; the remainder is stored as fat. Carbs are easily burned off, but fat takes extra effort. (Reminder: a reduction of 3,500 calories will result in the loss of one pound of body weight.)

So what do you do with the BCP group? Moderation! Check out the serving size on the grid and see what you get for it: calories, fats, proteins. We all have different dietary needs based on our physical activity level, health challenges, and medicine intake. So find the foods that offer you more for the buck, so to speak—you’ll find that easy is seldom better.

But even moderation alone will not bring lasting positive, healthy results; you need to include physical activity and resistance training as well. This will get rid of your well-rounded body and give you a well-rounded lifestyle. And lifestyle is key.

Always Consider Quality
When extracting reliable and quality information for a judicial trial, it is equally important to consider the quality of the products you consume. There are beneficial properties in this food category, but you need to understand what in what helps what, or for that matter, hurts what. Let’s look at the carbohydrate aspects of our breads, cereals, and pastas.

Maltose (found in grains) is considered a simple carbohydrate. Breads, cereals, and pastas are complex carbohydrates and an excellent source of both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber—as found in barley and oats—tends to delay the stomach’s emptying time, making you feel full longer, and as it sucks up the fat in your blood, it promotes lower blood cholesterol. Insoluble fiber—found in whole grains, such as wheat and cereals—relieves constipation, and as our intestinal scrubbers, has been found to lower the risk of colon cancer.

Looking once again at the grid, you’ll notice major differences in raw or naturally found products versus prepared or pre-packaged ones. You may save time when fixing a meal, but you are losing when it comes to comparative serving sizes versus calories. Take the time to read labels so you know exactly what you are getting. Most suggested serving sizes are about one cup. Pour your regular bowl of cereal out, and then measure how much it really is. You will be surprised that you have in fact been consuming 2 ½ times as much as is recommended. Now, look at your calories. Read your labels and readjust your intake and that of your family. Eat slowly and allow yourself to enjoy the moment. You will be pleasantly surprised how full you will feel with the reduced portion.

Making wise dietary choices can be as scary for us as walking through the dark forest was for Dorothy, Toto, and their friends, but ultimately they arrived at the other side with a new appreciation for themselves and those around them— the same will be true for us as we take the time to recognize and appreciate what’s in the breads, cereals, and pastas we eat on a daily basis. I encourage you to always include variety, review quantity and consider the quality. By making wise choices, you will make a positive impact on your family's health… and it will lead to a higher quality of life.

NOTE: Before beginning any new fitness program that requires a change in diet or exercise, it is recommended that you consult your physician for input. This informational series is not intended for medical or nutritional claims dependent on substantial clinical studies and FDA approval, and should not be construed as a claim for cure, treatment, or prevention of any disease.  It is intended solely for information and educational purposes. Linda is not a physician or an expert in the medical field. She has been involved in the health and fitness industry as a personal trainer and fitness instructor for numerous years. The information given in these sessions have been derived from books and materials brought together over the years from many sources, including her personal life experiences.


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