Fat, like other food groups, has gotten a bad name. But just like carbohydrates and protein are essential to your diet, fats are too!
When nutrition first started getting popular, people were convinced that the cure to good health was cutting the fat out. Sure, fat should be eaten in moderation, but cutting it out completely is not the answer.
What resulted from this "no-fat craze" was turning all of our regular food into low fat or non-fat chemical bombs. Foods that used to have fat were stripped of it and instead replaced with sugar and chemicals to make the item more flavorful. When things don't have flavor or fat to keep us feeling full, we are left unsatisfied and craving more, which leads to more eating. Have you ever tried a 100 calorie pack and ended up eating 5 because you were still hungry and craving more? I know you've been there...
It can be hard to switch what years of "training" has taught us. Growing up we have learned that fat is bad and to reduce it as much as possible. The truth is that fat is good for you as long as you choose the right types and eat it in moderation.
- Eat more good fats. Mono & polyunsaturated fats come mostly from plant products and are beneficial to our health. Sources include avocado, olive oil, canola oil, seeds, nuts, nut butters and more.
- Eat Omega 3's. Omega-3's are another source of healthy fat that aids in reducing inflammation and improving brain function. You will find this healthy fat in fish, flax seed & walnuts.
- Limit intake of bad fats. Try to avoid trans and saturated fats, which can affect your heart. You will find these fats in fried foods, baked goods, and high fat meat and dairy products.
Be aware of portion sizes: the recommended amount of fat per serving is about 2 tbsp, which is around the size of a golf ball.
When looking at the plate method we see room for carbohydrates, protein, fruits, vegetables & dairy. This doesn't mean that fat should be excluded. Fat is necessary at each meal as part of a balanced diet. Here's a few ways to add it in.
- Top salads and sandwiches with avocado
- Use olive or canola oil when cooking
- Add olives to salad
- Have nuts paired with fruit for a snack
- Add a small amount of peanut butter to your oatmeal
- Add chia or flax seeds to yogurt, oatmeal and smoothies
- Try to eat fish 2-3x per week or take Omega 3 supplements
Fat is important for our body to function normally and also helps us feel full and satisfied. Without it we are more likely to overeat and be less satisfied with our meals. Research is coming out touting the health benefits of full fat dairy so stay tuned for the final verdict!