How a Bread Eater Stays Thin :: Being Slow

Face it. The evidence is overwhelming. Too many carbs will make you fat. Our country has gone carb and junk food crazy and it’s showing. Even kids these days are struggling with diabetes and over-eating issues.

But you know all this…

With my father as a baker, we always had bread in the house. Fresh bread, every day, came home from those fabulous old brick ovens at 512 Rose Avenue. I bet I ate a sandwich on sourdough bread every day of my elementary school life! I loved salami and yellow mustard best. (Still do!)

Over three posts I’m going to outline a bit how our family, despite the enticement of fresh bread being pulled regularly from the oven, has managed to stay thin.

Quick Disclaimer! I am not a medical doctor. I don’t pretend to be a nutritionist. My only expertise is a lifetime of trying to be Jane.


My husband and I used to own a much bigger home, and spend more money, and drive more miles, and consume many more goods. We were the kind of Americans who helped the people in Washington DC do the Happy Dance. Somewhere along the line we made a few big decisions and moved (from Colorado to Santa Barbara) for a variety of personal reasons. We found ourselves at a time of change, which allowed us to make all sorts of choices about our lives. We set out on a course to live more simply, and slowly, and have been adjusting this past decade, with more changes probably still to come.

I believe that many of these changes have helped us live a happier, healthier life–keeping us fit and thin. Here are a few examples of how choosing slow–over the alternative of fast–has kept us in shape.

Walking Shoes. Well, we wear sandals most of the year, but we chose to buy a home in a neighborhood that is near many services. It is a quarter mile walk to: two food markets; the post office; the hair salon; a bookstore; three coffee shops; dry cleaners, etc… You get the idea. When there’s a choice to walk or drive to pick up those fall pumpkins using the blue wagon, even if it means taking an extra half hour, we walk. And when it’s a bit too far to walk, we (my husband mostly) hops on the bike. Down to the farmer’s market, off to the beach. We’ve even set our big kids free, encouraging them to get places on foot. Three miles to downtown to hang out with their friends. They plan a bit in advance, put on their favorite pair of Vans and off they go.

Muscle Power. In our home we have an assortment of appliances and machines, just like in other homes. A mixer, a vacuum, a waffle maker, a dryer, even a mini food processor. But when it comes to making choices, we typically choose the slow, electricity-free route. We use a push mower on our lawn, we sweep with a broom, we knead our bread by hand, we crush the croutons into bread crumbs using the mortar and pestle, we hang our sheets on the line, we even gave away our microwave. If there’s an opportunity to get fit and do a chore, we choose the muscle-building route. It may take a bit longer, but in the end we’ve saved energy, money, and burned a few calories all in one swoop! Not a bad tradeoff.

Saying No. This is a big one, and something we have to struggle against constantly. We try to live a life that leaves us time to sit and chat with the neighbors. We say no to many extra activities so that we can take a walk after dinner, or go for a hike on a Saturday morning. Sure, my husband is on the parish council at church, and I volunteer at my kids high school often, but we know our limits. Being out every evening at meetings, rushing from place to place changes the way you eat, and live. Suddenly you’re sitting at In n Out, munching down fries and a hamburger. Or drinking too much soda in the afternoon to keep you awake. Or having to drive that quarter mile to the store simply because you don’t have two extra minutes in your schedule.

Eating Together. Though breakfast and lunch are a bit scattered, with most of us on different schedules, we always have dinner together. Every night we set the table, light the candle, prepare a healthy meal and sit around our table, eating, laughing, planning and simply being together. We don’t watch TV and eat. Well, we don’t watch TV at all. We eat our food slowly (most of us, Andrew!), teaching our kids to enjoy a variety of different foods and to enjoy them in company. Dinner is at least an hour long, and later there is herbal tea in the pot.

So, there’s some of what we do to live a life that isn’t flying by at super speed and that helps keep us active and thin, despite fresh enticing loaves of bread. I know many of you live this way too. I’d love to hear your ideas–feel free to add any and all in the comment section below.

Cheers, my friends!


10 thoughts on “How a Bread Eater Stays Thin :: Being Slow

  1. Thanks for sharing this! We are currently working on changing out eating and exercising habits. I hope that months from now I will be able to see how much things have changed in all areas of our lives. This was very encouraging to me.

  2. One of the things I love about our small town is walking as much as I can. I have to admit i still drive wayyy too much, but I at least have the option of walking.

  3. We definitely love the family meals! Even with our busy schedules we have dinner together, sometimes late, but healthy and together. It is an important time of the day. Thank you for all of your thoughts and inspirations.

  4. Inspiring and beautiful…we already do many of the things you wrote, we live across the street from the library, a pharmacy, grocery store, etc. We walk a lot. We hope to make more changes for a simple life!

  5. I enjoyed this. We have recently moved and significantly downsized our yard. One thing I told my husband is that I wanted to get a push mower – for me! He looked at me like I was crazy. 🙂

    I’ve come to the sad conclusion that I really cannot eat wheat, so I’ve mostly hung up my bread baking apron. But, I still love seeing all your beautiful creations.

    • Yes, I gave up wheat for about a year in the late 90’s because I thought it was causing allergies. I was surprised that it wasn’t all that hard to make that shift, but because it didn’t help, I happily went back to eating bread!

      Still, baking is fun, but giving is what this blog is hopefully more about. I am sure that you are already a much better giver than I am–and that you’ve found lots of ways to shower love and kindness on those around you.

      Enjoy that push mower!

  6. The description of your easy access to the hair salon, markets, etc. is what I love about the big city we currently live in. We walk everywhere. And it is what I’m going to miss most. We know the local pharmacist, the baker, the sweets bakers, the cashiers at the local grocery store. But where we’re from in Canada there is a much smaller population and everything is far more spread out. It would take like an hour and a half to walk to the nearest grocery store in the city I grew up in. I don’t know what we’ll do, we’ve never owned a car and I don’t want to become reliant on one…

  7. Yes, often we give and take when it comes to conveniences… Living in the city certainly has its appeals when it comes to getting places easily, but there’s nothing like being out in the country, and we are hoping to find ourselves in the boonies at some point. We wouldn’t have the ease of walking to the grocery store, but we would have the space for a large garden! Wouldn’t that be amazing–talk about embracing slow. How many months does it take for a cucumber to take root, grow and ripen! 🙂

  8. Thanks, Jane, for these beautiful images of your simplified life. Often I feel proud of myself for all I am learning and doing about health, but what you have said has challenged me to think much broader and deeper than I’ve yet done. I know you’re right. Slowing down, doing fewer things in a slower pace, walking and not worrying that it takes an extra hour, and enjoying the very simple things that can be nurturing to the soul and spirit. I want to do that! I’m grateful for your challenge…and now the bread’s in my court.

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