Bread : Avoiding The Trap Of Nutrition Marketing

I’ll never forget when the 60% less carb bread was released to the market. 

It was this odd round shaped bread and proudly sported the title of 60% LESS CARBS THAN REGULAR BREAD!

Almost overnight I had an avalanche of clients writing this down on their food diaries, proudly showing me of their achievement.

But the thing is, I’d never actually asked them to eat low carb bread.

You see, when I write a nutrition plan, it has one of two things going for it:

  • It’s either specifically to a calorie and carb level or
  • It’s lifestyle, which means I’m teaching people how to choose sensibly

So if it was a specific carb level, then obviously – eating 60% less carb bread would mess with my numbers. If it was lifestyle then 60% less carb bread is teaching people that carbs are somehow bad.

This is the marketing trap around bread at work.

But I have a question for you …

After all this marketing, could you tell me what the healthiest and best bread is?

Vogels super thin … 60% less carb … wholegrain … 6-seed … Burgen vs Freyas? The choice is endless

And so is the confusion.

Spoiler alert: The healthiest bread is artisan style sourdough. And you won’t find it on the shelves of a supermarket, nor will you find it packaged with some enticing marketing label on the front.

You are being marketed to.

Let’s say I have one type of bread and I sell it for $100 profit a year.
Then I add another bread, and both sell for $175 profit a year

… see how that works?

It keeps going until that company has reached saturation and profit no longer increases (in other words, a new bread won’t bring in NEW customers, it will only shift the old ones over)

 And then here’s what happens.

They add a “different” type of bread based on whatever is trending.

Enter … low carb bread (60% less !!)

Now, all of a sudden they can sell to people who were perhaps scared of bread, or they can sell to people who were eating a different BRAND of ‘healthy’ bread.

This is called brand extension and brand refreshing.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with it – all businesses have one goal and that is to make a profit. You can think that’s evil or wrong, but tough. Without profits, you’re out of a job.

It’s not about your health. It’s about making you THINK it’s healthier so you go and buy it. Because when you buy it, their cash register rings.

Enter … The Marketing Messages!

Healthier than regular bread!
Great for a Low Carb Diet!
Less Carbs has never been so more-ish.

Now, I just happened across the label for Freyas 40% less carb bread. So I looked at the labeling – it reads 20g of carbs per serving. Ok, cool.

Vogels soft mixed grain has 24g of carbs. This is 17% more than our Freyas example. Not quite the “whopping 40 per cent less carbohydrates than standard multigrain bread” (Freyas Website)

It is however, 40% less than Freyas standard bread.

So the marketing message you are being fed is slightly incorrect – it’s not necessarily 40% less than OTHER breads (although it is).

So does this marketing even matter? Did you actually know how many grams of carbs were in bread anyway? No, I didn’t think so.

The difference between 20 vs 35g of carbs is 60 calories.  It’s not a big deal in a 2000 calorie diet.

Is It Really Healthier?

Bread is bread. Unless it’s sprouted, stoneground or produced in an artisan style it’s going to contain preservatives and additives to make it last a long time on the shelf.

The flour is bleached and processed (yes, even your precious brown bread started with white flour)

It still has ADDED gluten.

Marketing messages are designed to make us focus on the ONE thing the company wants you to believe – even at the expense of your health. There are lots of other things in bread that may not be suitable for your body.

I can’t eat certain preservatives – they make me quite ill.

Two weeks ago I went and got some wraps, I foolishly didn’t look at the packaging, and about an hour after I ate it – I couldn’t concentrate and felt very sleepy, I ended up sleeping for 3 hours. And this is abnormal for me. After that, I ended up with dizziness and nausea and the next day I felt wiped out.

It had the preservatives that screw with my body.

Now, you might be ok with preservatives – but my point is, regardless of the low carb tag, bread still isn’t necessarily a healthy choice.

It’s not a healthy choice – unless you choose artisan, sourdough or sprouted breads. The way our ancestors created bread … you know, before we ended up with heart disease, cancer, obesity and diabetes.

Do You Read The Front Or The Back Of The Pack?

The front of a pack is a mini billboard or ad. It is designed especially to catch your attention and provide a compelling and persuasive message. Things like:

  • 60% Less Carbs!
  • Less Sugar Than Other Brands!
  • Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Soy Free!
  • Made from 100% Wheat

When we read the front of the pack only – we are getting MARKETED to. The front of the pack is not to inform you, it is to ENTICE you and make you buy the thing.

Read the back of the back instead to be INFORMED.

Stay Savvy

Here are three tips to help you overcome the bread-marketing trap

  • When choosing bread, listen to your body about what feels good. Ignore the messages in ads and packaging and go to your internal source of trust.
  • Use sensible portions in bread consumption – 2 slices is enough for most of us. Add a protein to it and some veg (salad) to keep you satiated.
  • Choose better carbs MOST of the time: fruits and vegetables. These are the carbs that promote health and weight loss.