Photo by Morgan Grana.

It has been an exciting summer, filled with lazy days and quick trips to the beach for some, and crowded with jobs and summer school for others. Regardless of whether you were tanning or traveling, let me be the first one to say, “Welcome back to school!”

It’s time for a new school year, time to buckle down and get focused. How do you do that? you might ask. I’m sure you already know the answer: It’s all about food.

Your food choices affect how you feel every day, and will affect how you perform inside and outside the classroom this fall. But before I lecture, please know that I myself am by no means an angel when it comes to healthy choices. I’m a confessed late-night snacker, mostly of Doritos, especially when I’m trying to stay up an hour or two longer to watch “90210” because I missed it while I was in class. It’s hard for me to watch the things that go in my body, but this fall I’m turning a new leaf and making some goals for myself.

What’s the first step? I decided to narrow my search for healthier foods to one change of diet at a time, and this week I’m changing my bread of choice from Wonderbread to whole grain.

I’m just kidding. Nobody eats Wonderbread.

I’m not kidding, however, about starting to eat whole grain bread. Before going into the benefits of whole grain versus other types of bread, it might be beneficial to ask why people eat bread at all.

Bread has an entire history, and a person can trace it to the beginning of civilization. Ancient cultures celebrated their salvation when God made manna, a flat type of bread, fall from the sky. Native Americans ground their bread-making wheat in shallow bowls dug out of large boulders. And today, bread is a staple of the modern human being’s diet, no matter what far reaches of the world you live in.

Obviously bread is important, but how? I asked myself this same question earlier this week, and my search through the bowels of Google proved helpful. Through my research I found out that bread provides your body its essential carbohydrates, and if chosen correctly, fiber as well.

Your bread choice makes all the difference. White bread, while great to eat with peanut butter and jelly on a hot day, is bleached and contains less nutritional ingredients overall compared to whole grain. The one category it supersedes whole grain bread in is the starch category. If you don’t know already, that’s not so good for you. The way white bread is made takes out all the germ and bran — the very stuff that makes your body happy.

Wheat germ as an ingredient of whole grain or wheat bread has been known to contain essential vitamins like Vitamin E, zinc and magnesium. It also contains large amounts of Vitamin B, which give you energy to use during your day, so you can be full and energized with only a few pieces of whole grain toast at breakfast.

Wheat bran is also imperative to your healthy diet. It contains a lot of the fiber you need to maintain a clean colon.

White bread is not the only culprit in the anti-nutritional scheme to trick customers into eating mass amounts of starch without germ or bran. You can also buy bread that wears the guise of whole grain or wheat, but is just as bad as white bread. It’s imperative to be cautious when choosing your whole grain bread, because if wheat or grain is not listed within the first few ingredients on the packaging, it’s not worth your money.

Despite the expense, I am already beginning to feel the benefit of my life-changing choice. Why, just today I had the energy to write this blog. Thanks, whole grain!

Are the dining halls boring you? Looking for something new to try? Every week, Mikaela Todd introduces great food on a budget from a college student’s perspective in Cooking for Slugs. New stories are posted Fridays through the quarter on the CHP Eats blog.