I write this article with tears in my eyes and a baguette hanging out of each of my sweatpants pockets (because, like Regina George, these sweatpants are all that fit me right now). If you’re anything like me, you’ve recently eaten an entire box of pasta, instantly regretted it, and realized it’s time to make a change. You want to cut out (or at least significantly reduce) bread from your diet in the new year. You may think it’s impossible; I mean, bread is everywhere. And it’s delicious. And it smells delicious. But, with the tiniest little bit of discipline (and that’s all I have, really), it’s actually not that tricky to start cutting bread out of your daily routine. Take a moment of silence for all the bagels, linguine, and English muffins that you’re done stocking your pantry with because I’m about to help you eat less bread this year.
Know that you’re not doing this in vain.
Like I said, bread is everywhere and carbs are filling, so it’s easy to trick yourself into thinking it’s quicker and more satisfying just to shove a bagel down your throat, pelican-style, as you run to catch the train. Remind yourself that there are actually health benefits to cutting bread out altogether. For example, you may not even realize that you’re eating more carbohydrates than your body actually needs. You know that scene in “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” where Michael Cera finds out bread makes you fat? Well, bread literally does make you fat. Eating excess carbs ups your sugar levels and, if your body doesn’t need as much sugar as you’re taking in, it’s stored as fat. If sugar levels are something that’s concerning you, it definitely behooves you to cut down on the bread—at least a little bit.
Understand that cutting out bread and cutting out carbs are two totally different things.
Your body still needs carbohydrates—maybe just not as many as you’re currently taking in. For example, my sophomore year of college I had to keep a food journal for my anthropology class, and it turns out my diet at the time was—and I am not exaggerating—70 percent carbs. I don’t know what the hell I was doing. No human on this earth needs 70 percent of their diet to just be carbs. So, while cutting out bread would significantly reduce that percentage, it’s definitely not ideal to cut out carbs altogether. There are much healthier sources of carbs that would also give you a lot more energy to get through the day—like sweet potatoes, chickpeas, blueberries, bananas, and even low-fat yogurt. If I had known this at the time, maybe I wouldn’t have been so embarrassed handing that food journal in to my professor.
Take it one meal at a time.
If you cut out bread and pasta the second the ball drops, you’re going to make yourself crazy. You’ll have cravings so bad that you’ll rip into the first Panera bread bowl you see like it’s the bitter heart of your enemy. Know that this is going to be a process and learn to embrace that process. Maybe go your first couple months with breadless breakfasts only. Eggs are a great source of protein and they’ll leave you feeling full in the morning. If you’re more of a pancake person, there are tons of substitutes for flour (like applesauce or bananas) that make for a guilt-free pancake or French toast. Then maybe move on to lunch. If you’d normally enjoy a sandwich, try a salad. You can still enjoy that burrito—just get it in a bowl instead of wrapped in a tortilla! Enjoy little protein-packed snacks throughout the day (like apples and peanut butter) so you’re not missing bread too much. Finally, work your way to dinner. If you’re anything like me, you could eat pasta every day. Cut that down to three times a week, then two, then one. Or, switch pasta night to quinoa night, because quinoa is a healthy substitute for just about anything. Before you know it, you’ll have weaned yourself off the stuff for good.
Catch up on sleep and exercise.
I know this is an article about bread, but hear me out. If you’re lethargic or fatigued due to lack of sleep, your body may actually trick itself into thinking it needs to eat. And not just any food will do. Your body will begin to crave starchy and more comforting foods like—you guessed it— bread. Exercising will help kick start a healthier eating and sleeping routine, so maybe all those people who flock to the gym on Jan. 1 are on to something, after all.
Invest in a spiralizer.
I used to be one of those people who cringed at the word “zoodles,” but hey: new year, new me, right? Sometimes changing your lifestyle is all about tricking your body. A spiralizer will cut vegetables into thin, noodle-like shapes, so you can literally just fool your brain into thinking the thin strands of zucchini you’re eating are actually delicious spaghetti. And since spiralizers are very popular right now, there are about a billion recipes online for how to make your vegetable noodles taste great!
Indulge once in a while.
You are not a failure and you have definitely not gone back on your resolutions if you reward yourself once in a while for the hard work you’re putting in. Maybe once a month, throw a little pasta party for yourself. Eat some meatballs, make your own garlic bread, and go nuts. Have a “Jersey Shore” Sunday dinner all to yourself. But remember, everything in moderation.
Happy New Year, happy eating, and I believe in you!
Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.