That’s Right – No More Fat-Free and Lite Diet Foods
Today, I’m channeling Nancy Reagan and encouraging you to JUST SAY NO! No to what, you may ask? No to anything labeled ‘diet’, ‘fat-free’ or ‘low-fat’. Most of these diet foods remove good for us fats that help us absorb nutrients and provide our cells with nourishment and replace them with sugar or artificial sweeteners (both of which lead to weight gain and health issues), table salt, refined flours and overly processed ingredients, and things we can’t pronounce that came out of a vat somewhere, to make them taste better.
But Doesn’t Fat Make me Fat?
But won’t fat make me fat, you may be asking? Not when it’s eaten from whole foods like grass-fed meats and dairy, seafood, avocados, olives, coconuts, nuts, and seeds.
But why does everyone say fat will make us fat? Because the fat in a typical American diet is found in processed foods that contain hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated, or industrial seed oils like soybean, canola, sunflower/safflower that our bodies don’t respond well to and disrupt our gut health (and therefore our overall health).
To make matters worse, these processed foods often contain those added sugars (syrups, nectars, sugars, “-oses”) and artificial sweeteners that are another nasty culprit in the weight gain and inflammation game.
So that’s the kicker, fat in commercially processed foods DOES make us fat because of everything that gets delivered along with them.
I know it can be hard to break our way of thinking and getting away from a low- or no-fat way of eating. But think about all the times you may have tried it to lose a few pounds and you loaded up on diet foods – did it work? Did it work long term? Were you happy? Satisfied? I know I wasn’t.
When I look back at my college years, when I was 20 pounds heavier than I am now, I realized I was ‘dieting’ a good chunk of that time by essentially restricting my fat intake and carb loading on refined flours and processed foods. I’d have plain pasta with lemon juice for dinner and bagels with mustard for lunch. Every morning I doused my gigantic bowl of cereal with skim milk.
I was miserably hungry and gaining weight! But I didn’t realize it at the time – I attributed it to stress and not playing sports any more (and beer – but that’s low fat, too!). That processed carb, low-fat diet is not a plan that works for most people.
The no-fat, lite, and diet foods craze has resulted in a nation of adults struggling with their weight and sub-optimal health.
Just Say No to Fat-Free, Lite, and Diet Food Tastelessness!
So what’s the fix? First, dumping all that processed no-fat, lite, diet foods nonsense they try to pass off as healthy for you food. It’s not wholesome goodness if it’s made in a factory and not made from whole foods. The more whole foods you eat, the better you’ll feel and the easier a time you’ll have meeting your health and happiness goals.
Now, I know that not everyone has a gazillion hours to buy and prepare whole foods and that sometimes packaged foods are a necessity, but there are better options out there in the packaged food realm.
Generally, the fewer ingredients the better, they should all be things you can pronounce, and there shouldn’t be much in the way of added sugars (even if they’re the purported “healthy” sugars like agave nectar!) or hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated seed oils.
Eat (the right) Fats and Be Happy :)
Here are what I think are the biggest ‘diet’ culprits and the switches that I have made that work for me (hopefully they’ll work for you, too!):
No more non-fat dairy for me. If you do dairy, I recommend eating and drinking the real stuff! It tastes better, will keep you full longer and more satisfied, and has nutrients the low fat versions remove. I myself prefer raw dairy but I know it ‘s hard to get outside of California.
No more low fat string cheese. Opt for small amounts of full fat hard cheeses (again I prefer raw, such as raw sharp cheddar, from goat’s or cow’s milk) and fermented soft cheeses (like blue cheese, feta, or gorgonzola). are yummy and portable.
Full fat cottage cheese (may say 4%) is creamier and tastier, look at the ingredient label for cream and salt and live and active cultures. Try to avoid lots of fillers and other ingredients (like carageenan).
Whole milk (I prefer raw and get Organic Pastures whole milk) is more filling and better for cooking and baking and making homemade yogurt and kefir.
For yogurt, opt for full fat, plain Greek or Bulgarian or for lower fat Icelandic (Skyrr). Milk from grass fed cows has the best nutritional profiles. I make my own yogurt from raw milk.
No margarine, smart balance, or fake butters – use real butter or ghee, preferably from grass-fed cows. Or use fats like coconut or olive oils.
No fake coffee creamers – use real cream instead! Who wouldn’t love a dollop of heavy whipping cream on their morning coffee :)
No diet sodas. I know this is a really tough one for a lot of people but could be one of the greatest boons to your health. I opt for water with lemon or tea (get unsweetened, if you want a little sweetness add a touch of honey, pure cane sugar, or fruit juice). Kefir water or kombucha teas (watch the sugar amounts on the labels) can give you some carbonation if you miss your fizz!
No more tasteless diet frozen foods! No more Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones or Weight Watchers! These things are loaded with scary sounding chemistry experiments. If you regularly eat frozen meals, really look at the ingredient labels and opt for brands that use whole foods and pronounceable ingredients. At our house we typically have brands like Amy’s, Eden Foods, Nature’s Path, or Cedarlane and any that have real foods listed on the label. Trader Joe’s makes some decent frozen food options, too. Same goes for soups.
No more fat free dressing. If you eat veggies with no fat, your body can’t optimally absorb all the good-for-youness you’re trying to get out of them, especially fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, and K. So you NEED healthy fats to get the most out of those salads. Opt for vinaigrettes made with olive oil. Or better yet, make your own! Throw some olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, and some seasonings in a magic bullet and your fancy, or just dress salads with olive oil and vinegar for a not quite as fancy version :) Or blend up some avocado or mix up some Greek yogurt and some blue cheese (or feta!) for some creamy goodness.
No low-fat chips. Now, I don’t recommend eating chips. But if you do indulge on occasion, try olive oil kettle cooked chips or tortilla chips (made with just non-GMO corn, olive oil and salt).
No diet desserts. That’s an oxymoron if I ever saw one. First, they taste like crap. Second, they’re usually full of crap! Opt for handmade ice cream with no fillers, a bit of dark chocolate, or home baked goods using real ingredients like your gramma used to make . And remember, these are treats, not daily staples! (Well, maybe a small bit of chocolate as a daily staple. A SMALL bit of DARK chocolate).
And of course meats! It doesn’t have to be lean chicken breasts all the time. Throw in some pastured pork every now and then (even bacon!) And grass-fed beef is delicious and nutritious so have some burgers, steak or, ribs (keep in mind that with conventional beef your better off with leaner cuts or cutting off the fat, though. A lot of what the animal eats is stored in its fat so if it eats a factory farm diet, the fat is no bueno. If it eats grass, bugs, and plants, it is muy bueno.). US Wellness Meats is a good source of meat that delivers across the country.
Go forth and eat fat from real food! It’s ok! But remember, just because quality fats are nutritious and good for us, it’s not a free-for-all and doesn’t mean we can binge on them. Eating sensibly is still sensible!
Remember, I’m sharing with all of you what works for me. We’re all unique individuals and there is no one-size-fits all solution. So tinker with what what you eat every day and see what makes you feel your best, healthiest, happiest self.
As always – if you have any questions, hit me up in the comments or on facebook or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!
Thanks for reading me post :)