Lovely, fluffy, crunchy, warm, cuddle-in-your-actual-mouth bread.
Like many people, diabetic or not, it’s the stuff of my dreams, and of my nightmares.
Over the years me and my body have been rebounding through an intense love-hate carbohydrate relationship. The whole reason I started this site four (FOUR!) years ago was because I’d swallowed Dr Bernstein’s mammoth doorstop of a book and decided that living a life sans potato might improve my blood sugars and make me a healthier, happier person who wasn’t about to go blind. And he was right. Cutting out carbs and increasing my good fats gave me the most stable levels I’d had as an adult; it was quite frankly a revelation for a girl who when she was diagnosed had been told to eat something like 70% carbs in her diet (whaaaat?!). BUT… low carb a la Berstein is a pretty strict regime that is pretty hard to live by in rural Yorkshire, where everything you order comes with a side of chips-on-bread-on-roast-potatoes, who would think Spirulina was a fledging band.
(Yorkshire, I love and miss you).
Society has clocked onto this way of thinking (oh hey there, Dr Atkins) because although I have to inject my insulin myself, the processes are the same as in a non-diabetic. Eat shit loads of carbs/sugar = masses of insulin needs to be produced = your body goes mental = you feel a bit shit. Society as a whole feels a bit shit and I think a lot of this is to do with the vast quantities of processed, fast-acting stodge on stodge on stodge that we swallow, because it’s in our face every day on every telly, in every magazine, on every sidebar, in every advert. Low and behold, brand loyalty without any question for the ingredients we so readily fuel our precious bodies with. I’m not saying a little slice of pizza here or a wee sandwich there is going to kill you (I’ve done the practice on that one). But we’re gluttons, and our bodies weren’t designed to cope with the processed-carb-guzzling-yet-wholly-sedentary combo a large proportion of our culture has adopted. And it’s making us quite literally sick. There’s also a HUGE problem here of lack of understanding on the nutrition front – many people cut out the potatoes in the hope of dropping a few pounds, which I’m all for, until the replacement becomes swallowing stacks of processed meats and cheeses full of chemicals and nasties and hello… We’re still sick. Skinnier perhaps. But still sick. And for the ever-present issue of food addiction and emotional eating rapidly enveloping our society, nothing gets solved. But that, dear friends, is a can of worms I will bore you with another time.
So, the big carb adventure of life. With Dr Bernstein being just a little too inhibiting to live by long term when a penchant for eating far more than many consider humanly possible is taken into account, I carried on reading about nutrition, and experimenting, learned a little about eating clean instead of following a fad, and found that as long as I continue to move a little, I can cope with the cleaner, more nutrient dense carbs like oats, sweet potatoes and quinoa (when I’m feeling particularly snobby and middle-class) without embarking on too much of a blood sugar rollercoaster that is set to make me go blind and lose limbs in a few years. Cool.
So the bread, my dear, sweet cuddly bread, ultimately had to go, just as I was at the peak of a deep love affair with Warburtons Seeded Batch. I can cope with the little loaf but for the good of my blood sugars, and a life free of most processedness, we were for the most part painfully and brutally torn apart.
Fast forward a few years and a whole load of low-carbing, bread-shunning frenzy later by the world at large, and up pops LivLife.
Took me a while to get to my point didn’t it? Sorry about that.
LivLife is a low carb bread that uses its low GI as its main selling point, but for me it’s the fact that a slice is only a minuscule 3.8 grams of carbs that is the winner here – 14.8g per 100g. A normal slice of bread, aka my beloved Seeded Batch contains 39.7g per 100g; nearly three times as much (despite the fact that they’ve spent a lot of money on branding saying ‘with half the carbs’… confused). So excuse me, this apparently means I can have my big cuddly sandwich and not plough endless units of insulin into my body?? OH HELLA HIYAAAA, bring it in. By the truckload please *opens gluttonous mouth wide with gleeful anticipation*.
Sure. But what’s the catch of this apparent diabetes miracle in my mouth? Does this mean it will taste like shite? Is it actually good for my body? Or is this some kind of chemically-created low-carb replacement for flour?
Firstly, this does NOT taste like shite – in fact I was really surprised at how ‘bready’ it tasted, which I’m fully accepting is a weird thing to say. Basically the wheat flours have been replaced by protein flours (extra protein = more good news) but comparing the ingredients list to a normal loaf of bread, there is nothing that makes me wince in horror as my insides melt and turn to acid with each mouthful. Bread is never going to be the cleanest of foods, due to the processes involved in making it, well, bread. But for all the nitrates and sulphates and the benzoates and the hydroxyanisoles (WHHHOOOO? Precisely) turning much of our fuel into poison, this one’s doing ok. Be warned – it lists it’s e-numbers as their full names which I think is a liiiiittle bit sneaky. Ascorbic acid anyone? If this is your priority then it’s back to the bread-maker you go with your almond flour, I’m afraid. This is definitely not ‘clean’ or paleo-friendly, but to be fair to LivLife they’re not claiming to be any of those things.
On the plus, it IS suitable for vegans, Also, like its higher carb equivalent, it contains a not insignificant amount of seedy goodness, which is a particular plus point for me, who has no time for eating ‘bread’ that amounts to not a lot more than eating air. Only serious bread will be taken… seriously, thankyouverymuch. It does still contain wheat flour and gluten, so those with an intolerance won’t be so happy, but if your sole focus is keeping your carbs to a minimum and you just want some bread FORTHELOVEOFGOD, this bread is bread with intention, which tastes of nutrient dense, yummy, nutty breadness. NOM. And my sugars didn’t go mental! I had a sandwich – A SANDWICH! – with a bolus of two units – TWO UNITS! – of insulin. The low GI element means that the energy is released slowly (it has a GI of 16; anything under 55 is considered low) and thus one doesn’t have to worry about falling flat on one’s face in 30 minutes from the carbocoma your average oh-so-deceptively-seductive white baguette usually offers as standard.
*does Beyonce dance in full lycra while munching on a second sangy just coz I can*
A 500g loaf costs £1.99 and is currently available at Waitrose, Morrisons and Ocado. Bread has been somewhat (reluctantly, by the ciabatta lovers among us) demonised on the whole of late (I can hear Yorkshire stubbornly holding onto their butties though, they ain’t having none of it), so despite it still being a processed foodstuff – which makes it something of a naughty for me – LivLife in my opinion have been seriously smart in producing this little gem of an antidote to the low-carber’s greatest nemesis.