The Skinny on Fats and Oils
Not all oils and fats are created equal.
What do the good fats do for us?
Promote weight loss It is a myth that we do not need fat in our diet. Eating healthy fats promotes healthy weight loss. We require fat in our diet in order to burn stored fat. When our diet is deficient in healthy fats, our body will seek to hold onto the fat stored for as long as possible, making weight loss very difficult.
Allow us to feel full and satisfied after a meal The feeling of satiety when we eat is directly linked to having some fat in our food because the taste of foods depends on the fat content. Fat molecules themselves have no taste, but they bind to the parts that do have a taste and allow them to linger and be registered on our tongues. When they are registered on our tongues, they are registered in our brains, which is essential to our feeling satisfied and full with a meal.
Essential for the health of many organs and systems in our body Healthy fats steady our metabolism, keep hormone levels even, nourish our skin, hair and nails, properly insulate our body and organs. (To name just a few!)
So…what are some good fats?
Whole Food Sources Healthy fats are found in whole nuts and seeds and in their butters, like almond butter or tahini. Whole foods such as avocados, olives and coconuts are great sources of healthy fat, along with wild salmon and omega-3 organic eggs. Experiment with these healthy fat sources and see which agree with you and leave you satisfied.
Good Old Butter Butter is a much better option than margarine because it is a real and whole food, not highly processed and altered under high heat and pressure. It is best to obtain butter from a farmer whose cows are allowed to graze on grass and roam outside…if the cow is exposed to the sun, then its resulting milk will have vitamin D, which is essential for human health.
Vegetable Oils Oils that are not extracted using high heat are the best choices. Use coconut oil and extra virgin olive oil when you use oil in cooking.
What makes a fat bad?
When a fat or oil is manufactured under extremely high heat, its chemical nature is altered. We call this hydrogenation, and the resultant fat is now considered hydrogenated, partially hydrogenated or a trans-fat. The problem is that these new fat molecules are completely incompatible with our body– they clog our arteries and produce a host of free radicals that poison us.
The benefit to the food industry is that these oils have a much longer shelf life. But this means they also are “protected” from breaking down and being properly digested in our bodies — and that is very bad news for our systems. We need foods that our body can effectively break down, utilize for nourishment and then get rid of.
Where are the bad fats found?
A good place to start looking is in any kind of processed food–Things like chips, cookies, crackers, snack foods, pie crusts, croissants, candy, etc are all prime suspects for hydrogenated or trans-fats. There are labeling loop holes that allow a small amount of trans-fat to get through and not be labeled, so always read the ingredients. If you see any kind of partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated fat listed- it’s bad.
In many restaurants, the frying oil, because of its high heat, has become trans-fat and so deep-fried food is also a concern.
Start to notice what your body needs
Too often as overworked Moms in a fast-paced lifestyle, we do not check in and “hear” the signs. And if the imbalance goes too long, the early symptoms (vague headaches, sore joints, dry/scaly skin, depressed or angry moods…just to name a few) grow louder voices, and we continue down the road of distress into disease.
Checking in with ourselves is just as vital as checking in with any other relationship we hold dear.
It doesn’t take long, but done consistently and with kindness for the messages our body gives us, we can learn to notice and correct imbalances before they progress to something more serious and debilitating.
Will you check in right now?
1. How is your energy level? Feeling of fulfillment in life? Ability to stay warm through the day?
These are all messages about the amount of high-quality fat you have in your diet. If you are low on energy, or have a depressed or unfulfilled outlook in life, or find yourself always cold….you may need to add more healthy fats.
2. Look at your hair and nails, are they brittle? Do you have dry skin? Are you left feeling hungry after meals?
It is essential for our hair, nails and skin to be hydrated with fat as well as water in order to stay healthy and working properly. We will not experience satiation from a meal if we do not feed our body the fat that it needs. This sets us up for overeating to satisfy the never-ending hunger.
3. Have you been gaining weight lately? Do you have skin breakouts? High blood pressure? An overall feeling of mental, physical or emotional heaviness?
If your body is gaining excess weight, your skin breaking out, or your blood pressure rising you may be eating too many harmful fats. Hydrogenated and trans-fats clog our systems and are very hard to process and flush out. They can create symptoms of excess and blockage.
A heaviness about your thoughts or moods may indicate that you are eating too many fats and oils overall. Look at your diet — if you can switch harmful fats to beneficial fats, do that first. If you are consuming high amounts of good fats, consider moderating them to see if your heaviness is lifted.
We are the experts on our own bodies and on our wellbeing. Taking time to ask ourselves these questions is a powerful way to maintain our health.
How often do you check in with yourself and consider what your body is telling you? What challenges do you face in hearing your body’s messages?