Baking and sharing bread is more than just baking; it is a way of eating and of participating in a socially equitable food system.
Baking as Lifestyle Medicine (BALM) is underpinned by the six pillars of Lifestyle Medicine. It is impossible to practise Lifestyle Medicine without formally addressing the fact that the choices we make around how we eat our bread every day significantly impact our health and the way we feel.
We always say that fermenting and eating bread is not enough, and so, many years ago, when I began teaching, I included a Mediterranean diet. Over the years, we developed an approach to eating bread to nourish, and in particular to nourish and support gut health. This is part of the BALM Protocol, and it is called symbiotic eating. It was part of my upbringing. With an Italian mother, and growing up working in a French restaurant, then training in a French Bakery, following a Mediterranean-style diet has always been part of who I am. My initial training was actually as a chef; I am a fully qualified City and Guilds 7061 & 2 chef. I often forget to tell people this, but as part of cheffing, you learn to bake and as I finished college, I went back to France and started working in the bakery.
With students from 84 countries around the world, I decided that there was no such thing as just one way to eat, so using the Mediterranean diet as a base, we developed a multicultural guide applying a global and more diverse eating pyramid, using the most up-to-date research on optimising wellness.
The EAT-Lancet Commission on Food, Planet, Health brought together 37 world-leading scientists from across the globe to answer this question: How do we feed a future population of 10 billion people a healthy diet within planetary boundaries? Our symbiotic eating approach follows the advice in this report. You can download the EAT-Lancet Summary report here .
Empowering bakers & patients – we follow a planetary health diet
The report has a recommended brief for healthcare professionals. These recipes have been developed following the recommendations within the Lancet report, with the following criteria:
• Affordable – The recipes are easy, delicious and should work out less expensive than ready-made, shop-bought items.
• Relationship building – We ask the member/patient to engage with the process of connecting to themselves and their family to support their gut health.
• Empowering – By cooking and eating symbolically, the member is empowered to exercise choice over what they eat and how, and about where their food is is produced.
• Connecting – These are recipes that encourage the members to connect to the farmer and engage with the process of shopping and gathering ingredients – and, in doing so, to engage in function movement and making connections to the community. In this sense, this is activism.
• Built-in Environmentalism – These recipes apply ecological and social concepts and principles that connect the ingredients to the management of sustainable agriculture and food systems. For example, including legumes, and pseudo-grains like quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat, we directly support low-input farming.
• Nourishing – The recipes adhere to the BALM Protocol and deliver fibre, diversity, fermentation, increased polyphenols and live probiotics, and reduce consumption of refined carbohydrates and sugar.
• Balancing – The recipes help to balance blood sugar, which underpins the practice of sequenced eating as part of how you eat your bread, because being able to enjoy bread without any digestive issues goes beyond just fermenting.
We engage our Club members to use bread as their centre of gravity to help maintain digestive health is understanding their body and what it needs to function, then applying this knowledge in a simple way that becomes a joyous part of life.