ARE YOU A "FAT FREE" FOOD EATER?
”Fat-free”, “low-fat” and “light”, more weasel words from the marketing men. We have had years of worrying about the fat content in our foods and have seen the ever increasing rise of the “low fat”, “light” and “fat-free” foods.......and yet average waistbands have also kept growing at an alarming rate. Here are five reasons why the fat-free option is not necessarily the best choice:
When the fat comes out other junk goes in: to make up for the reduced fat, manufacturers put a whole load of other junk into the product to try to make it taste as good. Often the product will end up being full of chemicals and flavour enhancers making the product less natural than it originally was. Take a good look at the nutrition label of the “light” product - if you can’t pronounce it or don’t know what it is - don’t eat it!
Comparisons are meaningless: under EU rules the word light can only be used where there has been a reduction of at least 30%, in for example the fat content of a product. However, manufacturers often use their own products as a benchmark - depending on the fat content of the original product the final “light” product could still be high in fat. For example a Philadelphia Light cream cheese still has 7.6g of saturated fat per 100g, which is classified as high fat.
Low fat diets are spectacularly bad at helping us to lose weight: the key hormone that dictates how much fat is stored in the body is the hormone insulin. This is triggered primarily by eating carbohydrates not fat. Therefore sugars and white carbohydrates are the biggest culprits in weight gain. Research shows us that avoiding the fat doesn’t help us avoid getting fat.
Fat is satisfying: there is a certain satisfying ‘mouth feel’ to a food that contains some fat. Fat, along with protein also generally makes us feel fuller for longer than simple carbohydrates. If we feel more satisfied we will be less likely to over eat, make poor food choices and snack on the bad stuff.
We need the “good” fats: if we become completely fat phobic then it is easy to ignore the “good” fats - the omega 3, 6 and 9 fats - these are called essential fats as they are essential for health and the body can’t make them, so you have to get these important fats from the food that you eat. Primary food sources for these ‘good’ fats are: nuts, seeds, oily fish, olive oil, avocado, etc.
So, realise that the words “low-fat” or “light” do not necessarily help you to make a good food choice. Read the nutrition label and the ingredients list to figure it out for yourself. Does it have a whole load of ingredients in that you don’t recognise? Is it loaded with sugar to make up for the lack of fat?
Realise that we have moved on from the "low fat" era. Foods like olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds and coconut oil are all great examples of high fat foods that are good for us.