Gluten free bread woes?

The one anxiety people have when they are diagnosed with coeliac disease is the bread. People complain about the texture, the taste, the fact that sandwiches ‘are just not the same’, the slices are too small and they struggle with choices at lunchtime. In my experience most people find a solution to the bread ‘problem’ and this can be achieved by trying all different types, most

companies will allow you to sample the products. Free From shows are ideal venues to visit as most companies exhibit and will allow you to taste. It can be argued that the popularity of the gluten-free diet as a lifestyle choice is not ideal, but one thing is for sure, choices for gluten-free foods are improving all the time. Although free market competition and following price reductions due to market competition does not seem to have followed with the increasing choice available.

The fresh breads that are marketed are good options and if you can tolerate codex wheat (wheat that has had the gluten removed) but you may need to have freezer storage as if these are ordered on prescription (for people with coeliac disease only) they are delivered in larger batches. Try to choose ones with added fibre or seeds to increase wholegrain options in your diet. Some breads can be freshened by warming in an oven or microwave – this is usually stated on the packet and some versions have humectants (an additive that holds on to water) added to keep them moist, such as psyllium husk flour, which can also act as a bulking laxative! Useful for most people but you might want to limit the amount of these types of bread if you have irritable bowel syndrome and you suffer from diarrhoea and bloating.

lunch day 2

Most types of bread are available in gluten-free varieties, such as baguettes, rolls, fruit loaf, pita and naan, a new wrap has even been introduced recently. If you use artesian bread outlets or farmers markets, please ensure contamination with gluten has been avoided and the seller is aware that spelt flour is not gluten-free. One clear problem with the gluten-free bread is that the slices are often smaller – but do be cautious as these slices may contain the same calories as a standard sized loaf. Those people who have weight management requirements need to review the labels when choosing bread as sometimes ingredients that are used to improve the texture increase the calories the bread contains. Some of the more common breads and there fat and calorie contents are below.

————–Energy per Slice/per 100g (Kcal)              Fat Content per slice/per 100g (g)

Juvela Fibre Fresh                           73/229                                                     1.3/4.2

Glutafin Select Fibre Fresh             88/252                                                     2.2/6.1

Genius brown original                      82/304                                                    3.8/14.3

Warburtons Brown                           73/229                                                    2.2/6.1

Yes You Can (fibre)                          83/221                                                    1.4/3.7

Wellfoods (fibre)                               –/216                                                     –/2.3

Ener-G (rice brown loaf)                  –/334                                                     –/15

Fria Fiber                                            83/265                                                   2.1/7.0

Barkat Brown                                      –/221                                                   — /3.2

Dietary Specials                                68.5/249                                                 1.7/6.2

Biona rice brown bread                       –/200                                                  –/2.0

Asda Brown                                            86/234                                                1.2/3.3

Sainsbury’s Brown  (slice = 36g)         86/302                                                3.6/12.5

Tesco Brown                                         105/285                                                3.1/8.6

Only two of the above products would be classed as a low fat product if you go by grams of fat per 1oog only, but this is complicated, as slices are different thicknesses and sizes and calorie content is also important. Concentrating on the fat level might not be that helpful (and the calorie content of the rest of the diet too is clearly important – it’s no good complaining about the calorie content of the bread, if you consume lots of gluten free cake, biscuits and pastries!) Those examples above without per slice options may be unsliced, therefore the calorie content depends on how generous you are, thin slices or ‘door stop’ slices, as my Lancashire family would describe. Some companies are now producing loaves that have larger slices to address the issue of small slices, but again caution might need to be taken for those who struggle to maintain a healthy weight.

gluten free bread loaf 3 4-23-12 w

As can be seen above we now have lots of options for choices for bread – so those who are newly diagnosed should ideally try each version to see which they prefer, this choice can be as different as chalk and cheese! You can make your own using breadmakers and baking by hand, mixes are available to help and they are usually very good in my experience. Making your own can take some time to get used too but home-made can taste much nicer – you could add dried fruit, a source of iron and fibre. Other options are gluten-free crackers and crispbreads, good options for lunchtime and eating away from home. Toasting the bread can also make the bread more tolerable for some.

If you are following the Low FODMAP diet ensure you check ingredients.

If you have any tips for people please share!

No funding or free samples were provided to faciliate writing of this post.

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I am a state registered dietitian. My speciality is dietary treatment of gut disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome, crohns disease, ulcerative colitis, coeliac disease, lactose & fructose malabsorption and multiple food intolerances. I have had lots of experience in other areas of dietetics and I wished to start this blog to spread the word about evidence based dietary treatments and dispel much of the quackery that is common with these diseases. All information on this site is of a general nature and is based on UK based treatments and guidelines. Please see your healthcare practitioner should you need more country specific information.

5 thoughts on “Gluten free bread woes?

      1. My pleasure, Julie. We will share visits and information as we go along…


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