The amount of misinformation out there around health and nutrition is FOR REAL one of my biggest triggers. If you want to get me really amped up, start talking about how you want to lose weight, so you only eat low-fat ice cream, only buy reduced-fat crackers and fat-free yogurt, and always get the “lite” version of salad dressings. IT WILL SERIOUSLY GET ME GOING.
What’s the big deal, you ask? Aren’t low-fat products better for you? They’re lower in calories, right? Doesn’t the American Heart Association reccomend a low-fat diet?
CAN. WE. NOT.
Food manufacturers and the diet industry have been pushing fat-free and “lite” products as healthier options for decades, but I’m gonna give it to you straight: it’s total B.S.
Before your eyes bug out at the thought of using full-fat salad dressing and eating full-fat yogurt, give me a chance to explain. I’ve wrapped up my (very solid) argument into three concise reasons that you should opt for the full-fat version of EVERYTHING over reduced-fat or fat-free:
THE FAT IS REPLACED WITH GARBAGE
When the fat is removed from a product (like milk or salad dressing), it is replaced with with sugar or chemicals like MSG (mono-sodium glutamate) to make up for the loss in taste. Processed sugars and MSG are things that totally mess with your body- and not in a good way (if you’re interested in learning more about MSG and it’s very negative effects on our bodies, Real Food Whole Health does a great job describing it here
). You’re basically substituting sugar and chemicals for fat, which is not in your body’s best interest. This leads me to point #2.
FATS ARE GOOD FOR YOUR BODY AND YOUR APPETITE
We have been led to believe that fat in food is the enemy, when actually, the exact opposite is true. Our bodies need healthy fats to function at tip-top condition, and the fats like those found in nuts and nut butters, avocados, and olive oil are PROS at helping us keep our appetites in check, reduce blood sugar levels, and reduce cholesterol. Basically all things that sugar does NOT do for us. When you buy reduced-fat peanut butter, you’re actually getting a product that has had the good-for-your-body ingredients taken out and replaced with bad-for-your-body ingredients- crazy, right?
NATURE DOES IT BEST
Try as we might, we are never going to create better food than the stuff that mother nature has given us. I stick to whole foods whenever possible (but not exclusively, because let’s be realistic) and I encourage you to do the same. There are things like bread and granola bars which are staples in my daily diet and buying the packaged versions (over fresh made) is the only option for me. As much as I love fresh baked bread, I don’t have the time to make my own, and I’m sure most of you don’t either. It’s about finding a balance and making realistic changes that you can stick with long-term.
So I have my protein shake (protein powder + almond milk) in the morning with breakfast, a KIND bar before I workout, peanut butter on my (processed bread) toast, and it’s nothing to stress about. But when you have the choice between fat-free cheese and full-fat cheese, or reduced-fat salad dressing and the full-fat stuff, do yourself a favor and go for the full-fat. Your body will thank you.
**Disclaimer: Anyone with a condition like heart disease, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure should always consult their doctor before making changes to their diet.