If you're like most folks, you're typical lunch probably involves grabbing a sandwich for lunch each day, and if you're like most, you probably didn't make it yourself, but rather picked it up from a local cafe or sandwich bar. So what's wrong with this 'typical' lunch? Well, there are many factors that make the humble sandwich a poor choice. I know a lot of you may throw your arms at me for saying this, but before you switch off, take a moment to hear me out.
First of all, I want to state that for those of you who buy good quality bread, or even bake it yourself from organic whole wheat flour, free of anything artificial, you're one step ahead of the rest, because the majority of commercial bread brands contain a preservative known as calcium propionate or 282.
In small amounts, this preservative is not harmful, but, like many other additives, the effects are cumulative and dose related, so if you or your children are eating commercial brands of bread each day, often up to 4 slices if you count breakfast and lunch, then you are ingesting a pretty whopping dose of this preservative over time.
Reactions to calcium propionate include typical food intolerance reactions, such as stomach aches, bloating, excess flatulence or irritable bowel, diarrhoea, headaches and migraine, skin rashes such as eczema or itchy skin; nasal congestion, fatigue, even depression, poor concentration or memory and irritability can be linked to preservatives such as 282. Children can also experience restlessness, poor attention, difficulty with sleep, such as night waking or night terrors in reaction to preservatives.
The problem with preservatives such as propionates, is they are added to so many processed foods, including bread and some dairy products like cheese, to inhibit the growth of mould. We never used to add preservatives to our bread until we became an industrialised nation so in less than one generation, we have gone from eating no preservatives to eating them every day of their lives.
But the preservatives don't just stop with the bread, think of your typical sandwich fillings such as ham, salami, bacon or turkey - these are all processed meats and again, loaded with artificial food colours and preservatives, and an additive known as sodium nitrate.
So that's the preservative issue out of the way, what about the gluten issue so many of us suffer now days. I have written about this in two previous posts here and here so I won't go into monumental detail on the issues with eating gluten in this post, but I will tell you that the majority of folks are reacting to gluten now days without even realising it. My advice if you're unsure whether or not gluten is affecting you, is to avoid ALL gluten including hidden sources commonly found in many processed foods, for 6 weeks then reintroduce it and note your reaction. If you're like the nine out of ten people I have treated over the last 14 years, you will feel remarkably better off gluten. For some, like my recent patient Fred, avoiding gluten may be totally life changing. You can read more about his story here.
The last point I'll make on why the humble sandwich doesn't cut the mustard is because of the ratio of carbs, to fat, to protein, is all out of whack! If you're trying to lose of maintain your weight or stop sugar and carbohydrate cravings, then you will need to eat more 'clean' proteins and less starchy carbs, like bread and of course a very hefty dose of plant matter from fresh, preferably organic salads and vegetables. Adding a mere lettuce leaf and a slice or two of tomato between two slices of bread, is not what I call a healthy serve. And then there is the issue of either the lack of, or wrong source of fat, coming from either margarine or processed cow's cheddar cheese. We need to healthy sources of fat to fill us up, not to mention to reduce inflammation, manufacture hormones and give us beautiful skin, hair and nails. You can read more about the benefits of healthy fats here.
Chicken goats feta quinoa salad
So to wrap it up, you and your belly would be far better choosing a gluten free dish for lunch, containing a low sugar, slow burning carbohydrate, lots of fresh salad or vegetables and a clean source of protein, with plenty of healthy fats. Why not try my chicken & goats feta, quinoa salad for starters. You will also find heaps of other healthy lunch choices in my book- Love Your Gut
For those of you who can't give up the sandwich for lunch, I recommend a gluten free wrap with loads of healthy fillings, including healthy fats and fresh salad!