FAT…why would you even use that word?

I am constantly learning and tweaking nutrition and tactics to support the healthy lifestyle my husband and I enjoy. It takes effort and time, but it is worth it. One of the reasons I work part time is to be able to do this for our family. Lifestyle decisions. My husband and I decided that a healthy lifestyle was a priority for us. We make choices to ensure we can keep it a reality. Weight management has much more to do with nutrition than activity level, and if you read my most recent post about the green cast, you will understand why I’m focused on nutrition again…

I’ve been intrigued by the potential health benefits a higher fat diet may support. After some research, I have come to believe increasing healthy fats in my diet may be key for keeping my weight under control as I age. But, there are many benefits from increasing the healthy fat intake.

Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know that I am not about extremes. Carbohydrates are important and must be included in a healthy and balanced diet. I am advocating swapping out some carbohydrates for healthy fats day to day. An important key is to swap and not just add healthy fats, here’s why. Fat has more calories per gram and while good for us, will = increased weight if not monitored. Just keeping it real, peeps! Daily caloric intake is like a bank account…choose how you spend it wisely.

Adding Fat on Purpose

Healthy-FatThere is always a “new” diet surfacing in the media. Foods have phases it seems and research about our nutrition needs continues to evolve. A healthy lifestyle includes tweaking and changing daily nutrition to best meet the needs of our body for that day. We don’t do the same thing each day, our activity varies, our hormones vacillate, our circumstances change, it makes sense then that our body’s needs will be different. When we know better, we do better, right?

Recently I’ve added more healthy fats into my diet. The initial draw was to add a new tool to the weight management toolbox. I am drawn to carbohydrates and love sweets, so the idea of swapping out some of that to curb cravings seemed like a wise move. Not easy, but wise none the less. I did the Ketogenic (Keto) Diet for 12 days to jump-start my new normal (and let’s be real, lose a few pounds). My nutrition goals, while trying the Keto Diet,  were to stay below 50 grams of carbs daily and have 70-75% of my diet come from fat. Maybe you’re asking, why 12 days? The answer is because that is all I could stand! I’m afraid I may have ruined myself on avocados for life. Not really, but I did take a break from them for several days after this experiment. The change was so big that I felt stifled & trapped which is not a good place for me in my head. These types of drastic changes can lead to binges and epic failure…noted. I knew I needed a new plan.

I learned a lot, though, and I’m very glad I did it. I learned that healthy fats really do minimize cravings and increase satiety. I learned that I can do hard things…for 12 days. I learned that there are carbs hiding in all sorts of places! For instance, sugar-free mints. Seriously? I learned that the low-fat way of eating is deeply ingrained in my mind. I was raised in the low-fat/carbs are good generation (Misguided mentality included “eat all the bagels you want, they are low-fat!”). The importance of accurate information, continued education, and adaptation cannot be overstated. All of this discovery led to conversations with my husband about what we wanted our diet to look like. We agreed that a more Mediterranean diet is best for us. This includes a larger portion of our calories coming from healthy fats. I shoot for a break down of about 45% Carbohydrates, 25% healthy fats, and 30% Protein. I use the MyFitnessPal app on my phone for easy food tracking. Carbohydrates from mainly fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Protein from lean meat, dairy,  and vegetables sources. Fats that are healthy for my body and without *trans fats. Oh…and wine. All things in moderation, right?

Quick lesson on dietary fat: *Trans fat is the fat that increases our bad cholesterol and decreases our good cholesterol. A diet high in trans fats leads to increased risk of heart attack, stroke, and diabetes. Trans fats are usually found in foods that are processed and have a good shelf life. When reading labels, look for “partially hydrogenated oil”. Baked goods, ready-to-grab snacks, chips, fried foods, refrigerated dough (think canned biscuits, pizza dough, etc) , non-dairy coffee creamers and stick margarine are common places that trans fats will be lurking. Monounsaturated fat is your friend. Look to increase this type of fat when adding fats to a healthy lifestyle.

We need healthy fats in our diet. Fat aids us in keeping healthy skin and hair, absorbing vitamins, reducing inflammation, supporting brain function, and blood clotting, just to highlight a few things. Our body uses fat for energy when carbohydrates, it’s #1 pick for energy, are limited. Therefore, by swapping out some of our carbohydrates for healthy fats, we can increase our fat burning on a day-to-day basis. Fats are a more concentrated source of energy with 9 calories/gram. Carbohydrates and Proteins have 4 calories/gram. This is an important fact to keep forefront in your mind as you add fats into your diet. Portion size should be noted so that you don’t shoot yourself in the foot trying to do the right thing for your body, but instead pile on more pounds for it to carry around (track it, peeps, MyFitnessPal). It takes awareness and effort to live a healthy lifestyle. But here’s the deal: you get one life. One body. It is important to develop habits that promote health, not just weight loss. We are not just numbers on a scale, we are complex and valuable creations.

A recent joy in my life has been my grown children returning to more healthy nutrition by their own choices. We text and visit about easy menus and the importance of planning and my heart is so full. As I’ve grown, recovered from eating disorders, and learned about healthy living, while being their mom, they have been watching. The ripple effect of our eating habits is larger than we might believe. It is challenging to create healthy habits. It takes time and trial and error and a lot of getting up after falling down, but it is worth it. No one that you see that is fit and healthy woke up that way one day! It is a process for everyone and it begins with one choice. Adding choices up day after day leads to changes and results in feeling better emotionally, physically, and mentally.

“I am who I am today because of the choices I made yesterday” Eleanor Roosevelt

 

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One Response

  1. WOW, you have certainly done your homework! I have seen you progress in this area for a long time and love the challenge you give here……I need to imporve!!!

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