Fat: You Want It Because You Need It
Ever wonder why you choose to eat the foods that you do? Why do you crave certain things at certain times?
It’s the greater power of the universe ensuring that you continue to be a part of it.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, we require protein, carbohydrates (vegetables) and fat in order to survive without illness. Take any of these three out of your diet for an extended period of time and you are going to get sick. Might be a cold, might be a disease. This is why any fad diet that tells you to take all the fat or all the carbs out of your diet is going to eventually backfire, even though it may give you short term results such as weight loss. This is also why your body craves each of these three macronutrients when you become deficient in them. Your body is ensuring your survival.
I want to speak specifically about fat here. Your brain is made up largely of fat. Every nerve in your body is covered with a protective layer of fat called the myelin sheath. Lose that sheath and you’ve got neurological disorder. Every cell in your body is surrounded by a double layer of fat that regulates the nutrients that get into your cells and the waste that gets out. This process is called metabolism. If you eat healthy fats these body parts (like the brain and every single cell) will be made of healthy fat. Eat bad fat and your body will be made of bad, non-functioning fat. Your metabolism will slow. You’ll feel bad.
I think we’ve had it ingrained into our minds that fat is bad. Fat makes you fat. Eliminate fat and you’ll lose weight. Right? Unfortunately not.
Or maybe fortunately. It’s the fat that makes food taste good. Agreed? Low fat foods aren’t as satisfying. The reason is because your body is expecting an amount of fat when you eat that food, but then it doesn’t get it. So it makes you crave more. Also, low-fat food manufacturers have to do something to make you eat them even though they don’t contain the best-tasting part (the fat). So they add sugar….which makes you gain fat.
So what’s the answer? Eat healthy fats. They taste good. Enjoy them!
What are healthy fats? They are the ones that come from actual foods. Avocado is something I talk about a lot. It’s good. Eat it. Butter? Yep, we can use the butyric acid in butter to keep our metabolic processes running well (that means higher metabolism). Just make sure it’s organic – it only costs another dollar or so. What about margarine? That’s not food. It’s a food product. It comes from a factory owned by a company that spends LOTS of $$$ convincing you that butter is bad. Ask yourself where margarine comes from. If you don’t know, don’t put it in your body. The results will be very satisfying.
Oils? Stick with the unrefined ones that come from foods. Flax oil. Olive oil. Coconut oil. These oils do not make you fat. They build your body’s organs and systems to run effectively. Here’s a tip. Keep flax and olive oil cool. Never heat them or you’ll lose the beneficial properties. Save olive oil for your salads to make them delicious. Make sure it’s extra virgin and, preferably, organic. Flax oil must be kept in the fridge. Put it in your shakes or on your salads. I put it in salsa. It makes these things taste better and results in a multitude of health problems dropping away. And for cooking? Coconut oil has a very high burn point. Use it in the frying pan. Or use butter. Just don’t burn the butter. Toss it if you’ve let the pan get too hot.
This isn’t hard. Choose oils that come from foods and your cells will thank you.
Canola oil. Corn oil. Vegetable oil? Where do they come from? Vegetables? When you squeeze a kernel of corn, does oil come out? These oils come from factories where they are refined. Your body will have great difficulty processing these oils, making you tired after you consume them. Who wants that? Food should energize you until your next meal, not make you want to lay down.
Again, simple rule of thumb: Is it food or a food product? Does it exist on the earth without a factory? If the oil comes from a food you’re familiar with, then it’s probably going to benefit your body because we’ve been eating these foods for thousands and thousands of years. We’ve only had factories for a century or so. The more manufactured fat you eat the more you’re going to feel bad.
So include a healthy fat in every meal. About a tablespoon or two. Seriously. This is how our body expects us to keep nourished. The more you keep this habit the better you’ll get at working it into your dishes without having to think about it.
Here’s to healthy fat and eating what we want. No need to suffer.
[Originally posted October 15, 2012)