There is a bagel shop in my town that I pass every day on the way to my daughter’s school. This means I pass it four times everyday and two of the times I’m alone in the car.

In years past I’ve stopped there a lot. Especially on days when I’m tired, feeling sick, and staying in a pair of sweatpants all day.

The other morning I had to go to the UPS store in town and I wound up parking right in front of the bagel shop. Of course, I didn’t go in. That’s not what’s noteworthy here. What’s noteworthy was the thought process I had while not going in.

My first thought was, I confess, about how much I love bagels and there was a pang of disappointment that I really can’t ever have them anymore. Then, I started thinking about all the bread products I love and will hopefully not eat again: pasta, bagels, sourdough bread, toast, pizza, pancakes… well, any kind of bread really. Then I let myself think about what it is about them that I like so much.

That’s when it dawned on me that my favorite part of the bread is actually what I put on it. With a bagel, it’s the lox and cream cheese. With pasta it’s the sauce and cheese. With pizza it’s the sauce and cheese and veggies on top. With pancakes it’s the maple syrup and butter.

This was an epiphany of sorts because I realized that all those things that I love to put on top of the bread I can still eat. The bread products are, in fact, simply vehicles for their toppings.

Instead of  pancakes, I have maple flavoring in my oat bran and that works just fine to hit that craving. Instead of pasta I have the sauces over grilled chicken or tuna or some other protein. Instead of pizza crust I make crusts out of cauliflower and egg whites and still get all the delicious toppings. Instead of bagels with lox and cream cheese I buy these fantastic flax crackers and top them with low-fat cream cheese and lox and they are perfect.

Suddenly, the bread doesn’t seem to matter that much.

What a relief!