The Fat Free Phenomenon has got to stop.
Seriously. As a nation, we have not gotten more svelte and lithe with the advent of Snackwell’s have we?
Instead, by consuming fat-free, sugar-free manufactured food, we have grown larger and larger. We are hungrier and hungrier. Why is this?
Simply put: fat has a place in the human diet.
Get used to it.
I have to relearn this every once in awhile. My formative years were in the fat-free 90’s and as a body-conscious adolescent, I sucked up the fat-free mantra like a thick milkshake. I ripped the cheese off my pizza, consumed fat-free, sugar-free Breyers by the gallon, and only had fat-free snacks like red licorice and pretzels. Because it was healthier, and it wouldn’t make me fat.
Lies. I gained weight eating a fat free diet. I also began suffering severe depression in my teens. Lack of essential fats play a HUGE role in mood instability. While there is no way to tell how much of my personal history was related to nutrition or environment, I can certainly say that staying on a fat-free diet for the entirety of my teen years was not in my best interest. But few people knew any better at the time.
I slowly began introducing fat back in my 20’s, when I found research that contradicted the fat free phenom and was aware that my phobia of avocados was seriously reducing my capacity for joy. The connection between low omega-3 fats and depression was surfacing. In college I learned about how difficult it is for the body to get omega-3s from flax and how much more effective fish oil is and I began to seriously consider my vegetarian diet (this was before algae-sourced DHA came on the market).
So I began, carefully, adding flax oil to salad dressings instead of making only fat-free ones. I started eating (and loving) avocados again and learned the joy of crunchy nuts on salad. I found the smooth creaminess of cashew butter to be a true delight to my palate. I also found that my weight did not increase because of it.
More recently, I branched out and tried whole milk yogurt. (I play with dairy on occasion with a few side effects, but I cannot make it a regular habit.) What have I noticed? I feel fuller longer. I feel satisfied on less.
And that is what led me to write this post. As yourself this: What if we have grown larger because we have been eating more mass of fat free, sugar-free, reality free foods? What if, in the narrow-mindedness of calorie control, we have neglected portion control and this has led to an increase in the amount our stomach can hold? If I can be satisfied on ½ cup of whole milk yogurt instead of 1 cup of fat free yogurt, what does that do to the capacity of what my stomach can contain? In the long haul, what would that mean for my body size?
What if real food was not just a composition of calories, fats, and proteins, but potent medicine to heal depression and heart disease? What if the answer to our health problems in this country was not more “nutriceutical” products with fancy endorsements from the American Heart Association and the USDA, but going back to real foods – real grains, real vegetables, real fruit and real protein sources? Can you imagine what would happen if we started eating like our great-great grandparents did?
Just a thought.