Fat-free and getting fatter: the fat-free craze

Oh, the "fat-free" craze. 

It all began in the 1980s and 90s. Fat became our #1 enemy and the fat-free craze (or "low-fat"  craze) began. And truthfully, I find that many still buy into this today. It is still ingrained into the minds of many. 

Everyone threw out their butter, bacon, and eggs and replaced them with margarine, "low-fat" turkey bacon and cartons of egg whites. They bought the "fat-free" salad dressings and baked goods and felt great knowing they weren't consuming fat. So, of course, everyone started losing weight and becoming healthier...right?

But here's the thing. We didn't get any healthier. Or slimmer. Or fitter. 

What the fat-free craze caused

What was really happening was this: 

  • People ended up eating more processed foods. They began to snack on fat-free Snackwells in their cars or eat a second helping of fat-free ice cream for dessert because the first portion didn't do the job. 
  • People focused on the "badness" of one nutrient instead of eating high-quality food mindfully.
  • People ended up eating more {i.e. that second helping of ice cream!}. Fat releases satiety hormones causing us to be satisfied and full from our meals. The fat-free alternative doesn't offer this.
  • People ate more processed sugars and salt to make up for the missing fat. "Fat-free" products have a much higher sugar content to make up for the lack of fat and to ensure products taste good.
  • People focused on the nutrient itself, instead of considering their whole diet. 

Look at the BIG picture

This last point is really important. Always look at the big picture. 

Don't just look at some small part of what you eat. Look at how you eat, why you eat, and with whom you eat. 

Fats are so important for our overall nutrition. Fats provide us with energy and are in fact, the most energy dense macronutrient. So away with the "fat-free' craze already! Let's begin to be more mindful of our portions and choose healthy fats like grass fed butter, coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, nuts and seeds and wild caught salmon.

Embrace the {healthy} fats. Your body will thank you for it. 

Let me ask you:

Do you struggle with eating things that don't say "low-fat" or "fat-free"? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.