The Fat-free Illusion
We’ve all known people who vow to lose weight, followed by trips
to the grocery store where their carts are promptly filled with “fat-free”
items. Future sightings of these same
people often reveal disappointing results regarding weight loss. Unfortunately, a fat-free diet doesn’t
produce a fat-free body!
Take a look at the nutrition facts of most non-fat,
reduced-fat, and fat-free products and you can see why. You see, fat gives food flavor and, when
manufacturers synthetically remove it to get the “fat gram count” down, they
add chemicals and artificial ingredients like high fructose corn syrup and
modified food starch to the food to make it taste good. The result is that “fat-free” products usually
have more calories and carbs than real foods, and the added chemicals can alter
the body’s hormone levels and make losing weight even more difficult!
Dairy products are an exception because the fat in dairy can
simply be skimmed off after the fat has risen to the top during processing and
nothing else is required to alter the taste. Therefore, low-fat and non-fat dairy products such as cheese and milk are
considered healthier alternatives.
While fat gets a pretty bad rap, know that there are
different kinds of fat and that not all types of fat are bad. In fact, your
body needs some fat! Essential fatty
acids acquired their name because they are just that…“essential” to every cell
in your body. Eating healthy fats helps
your body absorb nutrients and vitamins, strengthen cell walls, and protect the
heart. They also leave you feeling full
and satisfied so that you’re less likely to overeat or reach for unhealthy
It’s also important to know that healthy fats must be
consumed since the body cannot manufacture these essential fats. A healthy diet
should derive about 30% of calories from fat, preferably monounsaturated or
polyunsaturated fats that are found in foods like olive oil, fatty fish, coconut
oil, avocados, and nuts.
Here are a
few ideas for adding healthy fats to your diet:
- Buy prepackaged almonds for a snack.
- Sprinkle a few chopped pecans with some sliced strawberries on your
oatmeal in the morning.
- Throw some slices of avocado on your salad.
- Make your own healthy snack mix using:
Organic, with no
sugar added, fruits such as cherries, cranberries or raisins
This homemade snack mix is delicious and you can eat too much pretty quickly, so it’s
a really good idea to package single portions of the mixture in snack-size
baggies. This mix is a healthy alternative to many sweetened treats that have
lots of sugar, lots of unhealthy fats and not much nutritional value.