umans have evolved to crave sugery foods because they pack the most calorific bang for the buck.As our species advanced, and have now become almost entirely sedentary in lifestyle, this sweet tooth has been accused of playing a large part in our obesity epidemic. Enter: The Low Fat Trap.
The Food Industry has exploited the demonizing of Fat as a way to entice those looking to shed some weight into purchasing their ‘Low Fat’ products. On the surface it makes sense - lesser fat means lesser calories and less calories leads to weight loss. Unfortunately, the smaller calorific toll comes at a price. Something has to take the place of the missing fat and most often it is impossible-to-pronounce chemicals and artificial sweeteners.
Aspartame is one of the most popular and controversial additives commonly found in low fat/low sugar foods. While research has indicated aspartame is a carcinogen (meaning it causes cancer) and a neurotoxin, it continues to be used in products. When I speak to people about avoiding this product their usual defense for continuing to consume it is “If it was that bad they wouldn’t be allowed to use it.” I wished.
Pretending for a moment that Low Fat foods were actually ‘healthy’ for you, why is it that the rates of obesity continue to rise yearly even though the Low Fat phase has been in full force since the 1990’s? High Fructose Corn Syrup, another artificial sweetener, was the focus of a Princeton study that found rats, when fed identical amounts of calories, gained more weight eating foods with High Fructose Corn Syrup than with unprocessed sugar. The body does not digest it as properly as traditional sugar because it’s not natural.
Getting past the adverse health effects caused by consuming artificial sweeteners and you still have another big drawback to Low Fat foods – they taste like Low Fat food. Cheese shouldn’t taste like plastic and chocolate cake without fat should be considered a sin against humanity. When you ignore what your body is craving and reach for a fat free ice cream bar versus a serving of ‘real’ ice cream your likely to be left unsatisfied and still crave the good stuff. Fat molecules help deliver the taste of food, without them food tastes, rather tasteless.
Finally, fat is essential to the human diet. For someone consuming 1800 calories a day the ideal amount of fat would be 40-70 grams (or 20-40% of your total daily consumption). Without the proper amount of fat your physical and emotional wellbeing will start to deteriorate. Vitamins A, D, E, & K are fat-soluble which means they can only be absorbed using fat. Depression and anxiety can sink in if insufficient Omega-3’s are being consumed (chia seeds are a wonderful source for vegetarians!) and certain cancers such as colon, breast and prostate, have been correlated with low fat diets.
There are some incredible sources of natural, healthy fats that should be included in your diet. Nuts, salmon, olive oil, avocados and my personal favorite, peanut butter, are all excellent sources of ‘good’ fats. Since I do my best to eat as healthy as possible most of my diet involves a tremendous amount of vegetables, fruits and whole wheat and even I find myself not consuming enough fats at times. If the end of the day is drawing near and I look back over my food journal and see a defect in fat I’ll go grab the jar of Peanut Butter out of the cupboard and sit and savor a few tablespoons. Fat will never taste sweeter than when it’s consumed because you know it’s what’s healthiest for your body.
A sweet problem: Princeton researchers find that high-fructose corn syrup prompts considerably more weight gain
6 Risks of Eating a Low Fat Diet
Top 10 Food Additives to Avoid
Erica House has her Masters in Psychology and has been teaching at the University level since 2007. She is certified as a Personal Trainer through the American College of Sports Medicine and a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. After maintaining her own 50 pound weight loss, and quitting her 10 year nicotine habit in June 2011, she is passionate about helping others on their journey to lifelong happiness and wellness.