Health Advice from My Dad: Fat Free DOES NOT Equal Fat Free

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Fat free DOES NOT equal fat free.  Let me just say my dad saved me from believing this lie.  I am hoping to save someone else from believing this lie as well.  It surprises me all the time to hear people today say they only drink milk that’s fat free or 2%, or that they drink diet sodas, or buy snacks that are fat free.  I know they are dieting, but all of the diet foods are crap! They are normally prepackaged (no substantial nutrition) and full of sugar (which is one cause of obesity). They’re crap! (I had to say it again.) Please stop thinking fat free is better.  Fat free is not better.

Let’s take even a healthy low calorie food, like carrots or celery.  Neither one is a bad snack and they are even considered vegetables (right?). BUT your body cannot live on carrots and celery!   I wouldn’t consider them full of the nutrition to keep your body from a nutritional starvation, especially if they are the only nutritious snack you are getting (no, jello is not better). Don’t you feel hungrier after you eat something like carrots or jello? I can say this because I used to eat carrots as a snack thinking I would lose weight (you know, cause I turned down the fries). Just thinking about eating carrots I would feel hungry, during eating them I felt hungry, and before even finishing them I would be thinking about my next meal. If you are going to eat carrots at least eat them with something filling, like peanut butter or cream cheese, and for the love of Pete not the fat free kind!

Let your body get some good fat in it.  You won’t go hungry all the time, I promise, and you won’t become fat by eating peanut butter or cream cheese. Keep the fat, lose the sugar. If you add tons of sugar, you will pack on the pounds. Sugar is your #1 problem, not the fat.  If you can allow some good fat into your diet, your body will possibly get the nutrition it needs and will thank you by letting go of some of that extra fat it’s been hanging on to for dear life, thinking it’s keeping you alive.

I know it’s hard.  My parent’s generation grew up thinking fat free was better. My mom always bought 2% milk. I remember in high school my dad would consistently read health journals. After reading one on milk,  he insisted on whole milk. Why? Because unlike fat free milk (which is not really milk at all), whole milk has nutrients, and the ability to help you feel full (because you are actually putting something into your body that it can then turn to energy). When he explained it, it made sense to me.  So I went with it.

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I had been dieting all through college trying to lose weight and never achieved my goal until after college. After graduating I moved home (still not my ideal weight). His advice and example finally started sinking in. I am so glad too.  I had to change my dieting mind set (which never worked anyway).  I started eating small meals (my snacks like carrots turned into carrots and hummus dip or celery and peanut butter and/or apples and peanut butter). I ate burgers without guilt. (Dad insisted I needed fat in my diet). I stopped stressing. I stopped counting calories.  Because my small meals changed from sugary snacks or low calorie snacks (fat free chocolate pudding anyone?! Ugh!), I stopped eating huge meals.  In fact a snack in a way was a meal.  Soon I was eating small meals throughout the day.  I am still my ideal weight now.  I don’t work out that much, or as much as I would like.  But if I do work out my diet has enough nutrition (and fat) in it, that my body has energy to go for a jog, or do an hour of yoga.

Another good mindset is quality over quantity.  The quality of fuel you put in your body is going to be better for you verses the quantity.  The idea of low calorie diets is that you can eat more of low calorie food (I mean isn’t it? That was always my number one concern when dieting, I wanted to figure out how I could eat more. Oh you’ve done it, remember jello? I would think “hey! I can eat all the jello I want! It’s fat free!!”  Who wants to eat four containers of jello? (I can’t imagine wanting just one container of jello at this point in my life). On a fat free diet it’s sad how many calories you will consume that will do absolutely nothing for you. So how in the world can you think it is better?

When you go on fat free low calorie diets it tends to starve your body of nutrients and up your intake of sugar.  One more little thought and I’ll be through. Don’t eat a store bought cake, you know, like the ones from walmart or walgreens.  If you are going to eat cake make it from scratch, or buy it from a bakery.  I know, it would be better not to eat the cake at all.  But would it?  Maybe if you’ve eaten enough good fat and nutrition all day, when it comes to cake, you won’t want a cheap piece from walmart sitting in the lounge at work. You won’t eat it just because you are starving.  But the next time someone brings that home made double chocolate death cake you’ve been dying to try, you will try it without guilt. You will eat a slice and savor every bite, and that glass of whole milk you drink with it, will keep you from wanting to get that second slice.

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