Are you afraid of fat?

a plate of healthy fat rich food

You might be surprised to hear what I’m going to tell you. Are you one of those women who thinks she eats a healthy, well-rounded diet yet struggles with fatigue, cravings, and brain fog? You are not alone! We have an epidemic of healthy eaters that are not feeling all that great. 

As part of my intake assessment, my 1:1 private coaching clients complete a 5-day food diary that tracks what and when they eat, their mood throughout the day, and their digestion. We do this so I can get a very thorough picture of their diet and lifestyle before making any recommendations.

I’m always interested to see what the food diary, in particular, reveals. Although many people worry about being judged, I ensure my clients understand that I’m not judging them! No one is perfect, including me!

Do you know what one of the major issues I see when I look at food diaries is? You might immediately think of what is commonly considered “bad nutrition,” such as overeating sugar or eating too many carbs and processed foods. Yes, those can be problems, and I see these things a lot, but that isn’t the biggest issue I see. 

I often see that women do not eat enough fat or quality sources of fat. Surprised? Frankly, I was surprised by this when I started working with women. The truth is, I see this ALL THE TIME. I feel that this lack of fats has a lot to do with the low-fat craze of the 80s and 90s, where we were told that “low fat” was the game’s name. Ever since then, women have been fearing fat and even now that there is a lot of talk about adding fat back into our diets in the media, women are skeptical. They don’t really believe that fats are good. Whenever I tell a woman that she isn’t getting enough healthy fat, I get an incredulous look, and I can tell she’s thinking that I might be crazy. For many women, fat is the opposite of what they consider healthy. Unfortunately, diet myths get entrenched, and this is one of them.

So what? What’s the big deal about eating fat? 

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz in mainstream media about high-fat diets. The ketogenic diet is still enjoying a lot of attention, and you probably know someone or several people who are experimenting with going “keto” (ketogenic diets are made up of 75% or more of calories coming from fat). Maybe you have tried it yourself. I’m not going to go into the merits or problems with this style of eating in this post, but I point it out because we are all hearing that there are benefits to adding more fat to our diets. In simple terms, yes, that is true.

In basic terms, here’s why you need more fat in your diet:

Fat is needed to balance blood sugar, keep you satisfied, curbs cravings, keep insulin low, and the right type can reduce inflammation. These things are important for weight loss, energy, mood, and mental clarity and just feeling good. As well, all of your hormones are made from fat (cholesterol), so without it, your body can’t create hormones – like estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, cortisol, and DHEA. So you see how much is riding on your intake of fat? 

What Are Healthy Fats?

Here’s the deal, though – all fats are not created equal. There are good fats and, quite honestly, bad fats. Any fat that is as close to its natural form (least processed) will be healthy. These are the healthy ones:

  • Cold-pressed oils  (Avocado, olive, coconut, sesame, flax, and nut oils)
  • Raw Nuts (macadamia nuts, brazil nuts, and walnuts pack the fattiest punch)
  • Raw Seeds (sesame, chia, flax, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin)
  • Meat from grass-fed animals
  • Wild fish (particularly fattier fish like Salmon, Mackerel, and Sardines)
  • Avocado
  • Butter
  • Ghee

* Cream (especially if coming from grass-fed animals)

Unhealthy fats:

These are fats that have been highly processed, often using high heat and chemical solvents such as hexane. They are oils such as Canola, Corn, Safflower, Sunflower, Vegetable, Soybean, and Cottonseed. They cause inflammation in the body and put stress on your body due to high levels of free radicals.

Case Study Example:

Here’s an actual food diary entry from a woman I’ve worked with and trust me, this is quite typical. So many people eat what looks to be a nutritious diet, but they are just missing some fine-tuning! Ok, so let’s call this client Patricia. Patricia is 53 years old, menopausal, complains of weight gain, low energy, and craves sugar and carbs. She feels “good” during the day, but she can’t stay away from sugar when the evening comes. She feels stressed that she can’t control herself.

 Here’s what she ate on Monday (and the other days were similar):

Patricia's breakfast

Note – all things are equal in this example – in real life, Patricia could have other health issues at play here such as thyroid and hormonal imbalances that affect how she feels.

At first glance, what’s your initial reaction? I think that this looks fairly good! All whole and fresh foods for the most part, and she’s not skipping meals. There look to be ample veggies, a little fruit, animal protein, and some treats worked in there (a few too many!). But when I take another look and consider her health concerns, I can see right away that there’s something missing from this picture. There are almost no healthy fats in here, which is why she is having trouble with cravings, energy, and, ultimately, weight gain. Without completely changing what she is used to eating, I simply tweak what she already likes by adding fats to every meal/ snack. Here is a comparison of before and after (with more fat added in)

Once Patricia implements these changes, she starts to feel more balanced (we balance her blood sugar), she feels satisfied with her meals, her cravings go away, and she isn’t a slave to carbs and sugar at night. Patricia also steadily loses weight and finds that she has way more energy than she did before!

So you see, fats are very important for health and wellness. If you are always tired, mentally foggy, dealing with cravings for unhealthy carbs and sugar, and gaining weight, take a look at your plate and make sure you add some healthy fats! If you want to chat about your diet and see if you could benefit from some nutritional guidance, book a Discovery Call with me, and we can discuss options for working together.

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