Do you remember all the fat-free/low-fat hype from the 1980s and ‘90s? I sure do!!
I vividly remember it because it impacted me tremendously! I was a teenager in the ‘90s, and I distinctly remember beginning to have questions about my transforming body and how to best nourish it for optimal performance.
The problem was, I didn’t have anyone to ask about nutrition!
So, like all the other female athletes around me at the time, I was a prime target for the food marketing industry.
I began believing commercials about food and listening to my teammates’ ideas about nutrition.
During my teenage years, I saw my teammates chase any fad there was to stay fit.
Several developed eating disorders.
One drank only a SlimFast shake for dinner every night (after 3 hours of training).
Others told me that eating fat-free would keep me in shape.
The options seemed bleak, and I knew the first two weren’t for me, so avoiding fat won out.
I was on a mission to eat all things fat free – fat was enemy #1
I was on a mission to find all things fat-free to satisfy my insatiable appetite. After all, I was training 3 hours a day at a minimum.
Fat-free cookies, low-fat milk, fat-free yogurt, fat-free ice cream, low-fat margarine…. Who knows what else I found and ate during that time period!
But why, even after eating all that, did I still always feel so hungry!?
History & Primer on Fats in the U.S.
First of all, fats help us feel satiated.
They give us the feeling of being full and satisfied with our meals. It’s no wonder that, when I cut it out of my diet, I never felt full and then overate a ton of carbohydrates to try to make up for the missing piece.
Here is a quick history of fats in the US. You see, we launched an all-out war on all fats during the late ‘70s because somehow fats got mistakenly linked to coronary heart disease. I say “mistakenly” because there was no science to actually back this information up.
We were told by the “experts” to increase our carbohydrate intake instead.
Here’s the thing: Once you remove an important macronutrient from the diet (like fat), you must replace it with something… typically sugar!
While some Americans understood that the carbohydrates being suggested were those that are found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, most Americans assumed any carbohydrates were fine, including the refined and processed carbohydrates.
Let the sugar addiction begin!
Because sugar is a carb, the high-carb, low-fat phase was a surefire recipe for sugar addiction. When the bulk of a person’s food intake comes from carbohydrates – in particular, refined and processed carbohydrates, not veggies and whole grain – sugar addiction is sure to follow.
I know all about this because I lived it, and anyone else who lived it with me knows how hard it can be to banish a sugar addiction. Swedish Fish, sugary cereals, cinnamon raisin bagels, gummy worms, and fruit juice were my go-tos.
You see, we need fat… and lots of it. The good fat, that is. Besides helping us feel full and satisfied, healthy fats boost immunity (Aha! That could’ve been why I was sick so much!), aid brain function (as in, memory and cognition), improve skin health, and reduce inflammation. Omega-3 fats, a well-known healthy fat, are even proven to aid longevity.
Maybe you happen to be dealing with a sugar addiction of your own.
If so, one tried-and-true way to kick the habit is to increase your intake of healthy fats.
Increase these Healthy Fats:
- Nut Butters (Cashew, Almond, Walnut, etc.)
- Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil
- Grass Fed Butter
- Nuts & Seeds
- Whole Eggs
- Wild Caught Fish (such as Salmon)
Eliminate these toxic fats:
Hydrogenated Oils of any kind (i.e. Crisco, Canola, Soy, Corn, Safflower, Sunflower Oil).
Most consumers are still confused about fats.
Good Lord… We haven’t come very far since the ‘80s and ‘90s.
The 2008 Food & Health Survey conducted by the International Food Information Council Foundation found that 70% of those surveyed were concerned about the amount of fat they consume.
This tells me that the average consumer is still all twisted with antiquated information about healthy fats and their important role in our food plans.
Please, if you only take one thing from this blog… EAT MORE HEALTHY FATS and eliminate the processed, refined foods from your diet. Your body, mind, and spirit will thank you!