It all started when the world began making sourdough during lockdown. Then it was banana bread, all cracked and perfectly imperfect. And in the latest evidence to suggest that bread is bound for world domination, a number of famous erstwhile carb dodgers are confessing that they now embrace the good stuff in ways they never allowed themselves to in the past. Yep, bread is back, baby.
“Everyone’s very afraid of the bread basket,” said Jennifer Aniston in a recent interview with People magazine. “And I’m no longer afraid. As long as it’s all done in moderation.” Having “started to give [herself] a break” by eating pasta or a sandwich on occasion, at 52 Aniston is reintroducing carbohydrates into her notoriously clean diet. “There’s something my body appreciates about [having carbs], like, ‘Oh, thank you! Why are you depriving me of things I love?’” she said.
Aniston no longer fears the bread basket.
Aniston joins the equally honed and healthy Gwyneth Paltrow in rediscovering the wonders of bread, in all of its springy and satisfying guises. Describing her own lockdown eating habits on the SmartLess podcast, Paltrow said she had gone “totally off the rails” in quarantine, by “drinking seven nights a week and making pasta and eating bread”. Relating hard.
While carbs have long been derided by certain segments of the wellness community, due to the popularity of diets like Atkins and Keto, they are essential for a healthy body and brain. In women especially, low-carb diets have been shown to affect hormones, with the hypothalamus, pituitary and adrenal glands (which regulate everything from stress and energy levels and mood to sex drive, metabolism and immune function), sensitive to how many calories we take in.
Research suggests that too few carbohydrates can actually prompt a rise in the stress hormone cortisol, as well as affect the menstrual cycle and sleep patterns, and even cause hair loss. One study of teenage girls who followed the very low-carb ketogenic diet for six months found that 45 per cent of them experienced menstrual problems.
Put simply, our bodies need carbs as part of a balanced diet, so Aniston and Paltrow are right to get them onto their plates. The best and healthiest way to consume them is to avoid refined and simple, sugar-packed carbs – think pizza, pastries, white bread and cereals – in favour of those filled with fibre and nutrients, like wholemeal, rye and seeded bread, oats, potatoes, quinoa and so on. But then again, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the odd bagel or white roll for an injection of pure happiness on a rainy summer’s day. Welcome back, old friend.