It is mid-January already!
How are you keeping up with your 2014 resolutions?
The gyms and yoga centers are starting to quiet down and people are falling off the resolution wagon left, right and center. It only becomes more challenging to maintain your healthy lifestyle commitments when your work fitness buddy has decided to indulge in a donut and coffee rather than join you for your scheduled lunch time power walk. Sigh.
You are not alone! Many New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within the first week. If you have made it this far you have actually done fantastically well for yourself! And if you haven’t, now is the perfect time to start over. One small change can make a make a huge impact for your health and well-being. So, do not despair if you haven’t succeeded in losing 20 pounds in the first two weeks of 2014 as you had hoped, or that your daily runs have turned into daily walks to the mailbox. Here is one relatively simple way to shrink your waist line and support your health – banish fat free foods from your diet!
Walk down any grocery aisle and you will notice an incredible variety of fat free and diet foods. The big food brands know what most people want – to lose weight without any effort. They respond with “guilt free” food items in tiny packages intended to control portion size and make consumers feel like they are treating themselves while still doing what is best for their bodies. There is a BIG problem with this: we have more fat free and diet foods on our shelves than ever before and yet the number of overweight and obese North Americans is still staggeringly high and on the rise! What gives?! Why are we eating less fat but continuing to gain weight?
The truth: fat free foods may actually promote fat storage and here is why. Fat makes our food taste good. We love the mouth feel and the flavour of a food that contains some fat. Most processed food items feature cheap, flavorless, nutrient void, and fragmented ingredients that need to be pumped up with flavor so that consumers will want to eat them. Take away the fat and what’s left to make these “foods” palatable? Sugar, sodium, chemical fillers and artificial sweeteners! While these foods may be fat free (According to Canada’s Guidelines for Healthy Living, fat free is a food that contains “less than 0.5 grams of fat per reference amount and per labeled serving of a food”) they most often contain close to or the same number of calories as the full fat version! Upon consumption your body will not differentiate between these different sources of calories and they are all, ultimately, stored as body fat.
And here is the real kicker. The human body requires healthy fat for absorption of essential vitamins, for the production of important hormones, and to keep us feeling satisfied so that we don’t overeat! In fact, regular consumption of fat free foods causes people to eat approximately 28% more calories a day! *
So, what is the bottom line when it comes to fat in food? Don’t choose no fat, choose good fat. Avoid trans-fats, limit saturated fats and emphasize healthy fats such as cold water fish, flax seed, walnuts, shelled hempseed and chia seed. Also, keep moderation and portion control in mind. While the right type and quantity of fat can be healthy, polishing off a huge bag of shelled walnut halves will definitely jeopardize your new year’s weight loss resolutions!!!
*Kotsopoulos, Peggy. (2011) Must Have Been Something I Ate. Port Coquitlam, BC : Oceanside Publishing Ink