Thursday, December 29, 2011

Are You Low-Fat Fixated?

Here goes my confession. When I was a brand-spanking new registered dietitian, I insisted on making sure everything I ate was low in fat or had no fat at all. In addition, that was the "big thing" back in the 90s. So yes, I was a low-fat fanatic. I did this, because I thought it truly was the "healthy" thing to do AND I wanted to set the utmost example to all of my patients, family, and friends on how to eat properly. Boy, was I wrong!

Let me go on to unravel how I felt eating everything extremely low fat. In a nutshell...NOT GOOD! I was always hungry! Well, of course, there was no lasting satiety to sustain me. My energy level was also mediocre. Taking anything to the extreme, even if its "good" for you is dangerous and honestly, unhealthy. When I brought back in more of the healthy fats in my meals, it made the most remarkable change in how I felt overall. Since then, I have been a crusader for moderation!

There are a couple of people that I feel sorry for whenever they boast about their low fat dishes. One gal is always trying to make a dish and dessert that she makes low fat. The other gal takes pictures of her low fat meals and posts them on Facebook. She always puts in her description that it is low fat. You're missing the point ladies! They don't realize that their extreme focus on decreasing fats can hinder their bodies' ability to absorb fat soluble vitamins that we need. In addition, restricting fats to very low amounts can lead to dry skin.

Please don't get me wrong. Looking out for our daily total fat intake is important. Consuming many foods high in fat can rack up the calories quickly. There are nine calories for each gram of fat, so that is quite a lot. What is really important is making sure that we keep our saturated fat intake to a lesser degree, because that is the culprit that elevates our bad cholesterol. Elevated bad cholesterol can lead to cardiovascular disease and eventually a heart attack. Although we cannot avoid saturated fat completely, don't worry. Consuming foods that are high in saturated fat in smaller portions will not kill you. The problem comes in when foods that are high in saturated fat are eaten all the time and in large amounts.

We must have a reasonable amount of fat in our meals and snacks. It is imperative we do not restrict our monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat intake unreasonably, because they are our heart healthy fats. We need these fats.  These fats are found avocados, olives, nuts, peanuts, flaxseed, olive oil, and canola oil. Of course, they will help us absorb the fat soluble vitamins are bodies need such as A, D, E, and K.

To keep ourselves healthy does not mean taking anything to the extreme. Taking any part of nutrition to the extreme down to nil or zero results in deprivation. Deprivation can possibly lead to binging for many. Deprivation can lead to nutrient deficiencies resulting in medical problems. Bottom line, moderation is the key!  However, I'll just add here that maximizing plant-based food sources is not a bad idea.

It is best not to fry everything we eat, so what are your favorite methods of preparing your meals?

No comments: