Living in my little world of Hormonal Health Coaching and Yoga, it always staggers me when I meet yet another overweight client who is on a low-fat diet! In the world of Health Coaching, we have known for a long time that low-fat diets can be harmful to health, and assist you in keeping and gaining more fat! Whilst everybody requires varying ways to eat (and this changes with where you are in your monthly cycle too!), I personally end up eating about 40% fat and don’t get any problems with over fatness unless I have some emotional stress and eat lots of sugar!! How could this possibly be so and how do you make the ‘mind switch’ to a higher fat diet?
What you need to know!:
- All of your cellular membranes are made up of fat.
- Your brain is 60% fat and your nerve impulses (the ones that carry messages to/from body/brain and make everything happen!) are carried through fat insulated cells (kids with epilepsy are given a high fat diet to help smoothly conduct nerve impulses).
- Vitamins A,D,E and K are only soluble in fat (the rest are soluble in water)
- If you eat low-fat your body gets stressed and inflamed, making more stress hormones and even less womanly hormones! Result is sick, tired, sore, depressed.
- Most importantly for your female health……ALL OF YOUR HORMONES ORIGINATE AS FAT!!
That’s right! Your hormones are made of fat and if you aren’t getting enough then how will you make all these vital components of a VITAL body that is pulsing with life?!
The Ravage’s of Fat Club
I was introduced to diets at a very young age, I think most girls are. Your Mum is on a diet, or your Big Sis, and magazines (EVEN TODAY!!) are full of “7 Day Diet Plans” that will change your life! Yea, you’ll feel varying degrees of exhilaration and deprivation until you put back on the 2kg of water you lost! How’s that for change?
Up until I was about 26 I was on the ‘low fat’, high-carb products. And have I mentioned that during this time I was dealt severe manifestations of PMS mood swings, anxiety and water retention (that shouldn’t have been present considering the amount of exercise I loved to get!)
If you’re from the UK you’ll be familiar with Gold margarine (erm actually its chemical plastic in the look of butter), and every Sister knows: skimmed milk, trim milk, non-fat milk (add yogurt and cheese to that as well!), low-fat crackers, biscuits, ice cream, cakes, meat, cereals, salad dressings, hummus, mayo and not to mention the naturally low-fat properties of pasta, rice, bread and such. I had it all and I was completely engrossed by it. It took until I was 26 to really enjoy a nut, avocados and olive oil spilled all over my salad!
What the diet clubs don’t tell you in the true science! They love low-fat because it keeps you fat and coming back for more! As insane as it sounds they prey on the insecurities of women about their weight, age and looks. Of course you keep going back because ‘this time it will work’ right? And ‘this time I’ll be 100% good!”. Well I got news for you lady:
You already are 100% GOOD! In fact you are 2000% Excellent and GREAT!
However, what has happened, is that even an intelligent woman like you can get suckered by the marketing because you just want to feel attractive, loveable and acceptable, don’t you? Don’t you?! And we are not blaming your slimming club group leader here…chance is she’s the same as you! I used to go to those clubs with family members when I was a teenager and I did notice that the same people shrunk and expanded over and over again – even the group leaders!
It may be a leap for you to trust me here and try something that you’ve always been pitched against. But let me ask you this:
How many times has your diet club/low-fat diet worked out for you on a PERMANENT sustainable basis that nourished and energised you, made you feel happy and gave you a regular painless moon cycle (periods)?
I know the answer because I know you! NEVER!
If you eat more fat:
- You feel more full and more satisfied with your meal
- You end up eating less “fatten-you-up” sugars that are loaded into the low-fat products
- You think more clearly as your brain and nerve cells get the nutrients they need for whizzy function
- Because you get Vitamins A, D, E and K, your skin and vision get better, you protect yourself from cancer, your bones get stronger AND you feel happy!
- You will lose weight – as long as you don’t simultaneously load up on carbs everyday.
How To Up Your Fats Wisely: Types of Fat:
Now then my dear, don’t go and start eating some crazy Atkins diet with nothing but meat and cheese for a month. Why? It’s not sustainable AND it is harmful for health. The sweet spot recommended is about 25-35% fat (a 10% low fat diet is dangerous!).
Stick between 25-40% (some days more, some days less, be flexible) and a tracker like Chron-o-meter or myfitnesspal can help you figure it out (but really you get used to eating what your body asks for and you get it right without needing to monitor! Plus beware of using apps and becoming calorie obsessed. It’s nutrients that matter!).
It’s worth knowing that some people follow a low-carb, high-fat way of eating (called HFLC, Paleo or Bulletproof). Others use a very-low-carb, very-high-fat way (called Ketogenic). There are many reasons to follow a HFLC or Paleo way of eating, but you must know why you are doing it, and ensure that you eat enough nutrients and energy, whichever you choose. Whether any particular way of eating suits you will depend on your genetics, and if you have any diseases already in motion. Get some expert help.
Fats come as hydrogenated, trans, saturated, and unsaturated (polyunsaturated and monounsaturated)! Hydrogenated and trans are the only ones you want to be avoiding completely. You can learn more about polyunsaturated fats including Omega 3 here.
Whilst not anywhere near an exhaustive list of healthy fat sources, here are my favourite healthy and nourishing ways to eat fat:
- Raw nuts – yum my faves are pecans but don’t stop there! Almonds, Brazil, walnuts, pistachio, macademia and more!
- Raw Seeds – pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, chia, flax – great with breakfast, snacks, on your dinner! Go for raw if you can find them! Get your nuts and seeds whole, ground or as butters (butters without additives like sugar!) If you’re like me and know you may demolish the whole jar of nut butter then don’t get it …or share it with a friend. Out of control portions are a sure sign of unhappiness, stress, tiredness, nutrient depletion, habit or loneliness.
- Avocado – I use this in salads, with veggies, on a piece of gluten-free toast and even better is to mash it with cocoa powder and raw honey for a delicious chocolate mousse!
- Olive Oil – Get a cold-pressed virgin olive oil to use for dressings. On its own, with a little salt and pepper, or mix with lemon juice, garlic, paprika, thyme…any number of delicious dressing combinations!
- Coconut Oil –your one stop kitchen AND beauty product. Not only the most surprising eye make remover ever discovered, but also the best oil for cooking as its harder to smoke and won’t turn into hydrogenated fats that are associated with cancers. PS, great night cream, body lotion, massage butter and intimate lube too! Just make sure you find an organic unrefined one for the most benefits to you.
- Eggs – yum. Enough said. Unless you have an allergy, do enjoy!
Reacting to a food with gut problems, headaches, sore joints, sore throat, swollen glands, fatigue, mucus, blocked nose, watery eyes or skin rashes? Learn more about the top 17 food intolerance here, and how to conquer IBS here.
- Full Fat dairy products – the matter of dairy another conversation entirely, but if you’re used to having dairy then start with the full fat (yikes, can we go all the way to ORGANIC full fat or raw?!!) Full fat milk doesn’t require an extra heaps of sugar in your tea to make it taste good! Have butter instead of marg (YES BUTTER IS BACK!). Full fat yogurt (organic?) are way tastier and can be frozen instead of having yukky sugar laden ice cream (hint: stir some dried fruit/nuts/dark chocolate into yogurt before you freeze for a home-made Ben and Jerry’s experience!).
- Oily Fish – Wild caught salmon, mackerel, tuna, and sardines. Get ‘em down you unless you’re a vegetarian/vegan!
- Meat and Poultry – Sometimes, in the beginning, we are nutrient depleted, so allow yourself to stock up on meats that can be an especially rich source of Iron and B12. (And don’t be shy or organ meats that your Mumma made you eat….she was really onto something!). Meat that is organic will have less pharmaceutical residues in it – that’s good for you!
CROWDING OUT FOR BEST G(R)AINS!
If you want to know the only secret I can think of that maybe no one told you, it’s that crowding out grains like pasta, bread and rice, with salads, vegetables, avocados, and protein will give you an additional energy boost!
Let’s get clear! I’m not saying don’t eat grains! I’m not even telling you to cut down. It’s just another idea that you may like to try! The worst thing that could happen here is that you mistake for me the new diet guru! I am not and I do not want to be! Instead what I am introducing you to are new ideas and the invitation to allow yourself to turn away from what has never worked!
All of my clients know that this is a step by step process; a lifetime of refinement is available if you want to! All of my clients journal to help manage their emotions, and get to know their monthly cycles by tracking things like sleep, cravings, energy levels, thoughts and moods. And all of my clients know at which part of their cycle they will crave more carbs (think beneficial grains such as quinoa which is actually a seed, gluten-free organic breads, sweet potatoes, brown rice, amaranth, millet, buckwheat and on. So it’s REALLY no big deal to smash through gluten-free cereals and sandwiches and the odd packet of crisps at certain times!
A Day of Eating for Vitality and Calm
WITHOUT the destabilising sugar spikes of low-fat products, and WITHOUT the anxiety causing effects of sugars and artificial ingredients, and WITH brain regenerating fats and nutrient overload…You will feel calmer, more energised, less achy, less worried and anxious. Good things take time my friend and there are always blips so no worries if you eat cereal for a whole day (I do that too sometimes! Only its gluten-free and with blueberries, nuts, cinnamon, whole fat yoghurt and some barley grass!).
Let go of the idea of getting it perfect and to plan.
Reflect now on how many things in life ever do go according to plan..? Yup that’s right, about 5% (if that?)! Life isn’t here for perfection, life is here for enjoyment and community – whether it be local or global!
Speaking of community, it’s so important that you have some supportive Sista’s around you for this. It’s very obvious to all coaches….whether sports, health, academic etc. …that people who ask for extra expert help tend to get the best and longer lasting benefits! However, not everyone will want personal coaching and either way…..a web of support is now your true best ally! Connect with supportive and interested friends. If you have one that has already moved past the diet club thinking then ask for support. Get your Partner onside and maybe he will want to join in too. Come along to a workshop or women’s circle at The Sistahood, Norwich.
Rapid, Easy Eats!
With enough on your metaphorical plate already, you may not love cooking, and compulsively recoil at the sight of complicated recipes. I get it; completely! Here’s just a few ways I eat higher fat, high nutrient, in 5 minute cooking times.
Organic berries, full fat coconut yogurt, cooked organic quinoa, raw pecans and organic barley grass powder with a sprinkling of cinnamon. Add some raw honey if it’s not sweet enough for you! Barley grass is an acquired taste….don’t force it!
Omelette cooked in coconut oil, made with free range or organic eggs, spinach or other fresh/frozen veggies, a bit of cheese, garlic, thyme, cumin (if you’re like me and not knowledgeable with complimentary herbs, then get just add anything in – you cannot go wrong!). If you are carb-craving then add some cooked brown rice or organic toast with avocado and olive oil on it! Personally, I have to eat gluten-free toast, but that’s your choice (Vernedi Organic Gluten Free Six Seed is my fave).
A huge salad of lettuce, tomatoes, and peppers (or steamed broccoli and red cabbage) with hard-boiled egg(s) or cheese. Edam has a good amount of Vitamin K2. Add a piece of organic gluten-free toast smothered in butter or avo. Dress salad with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and garlic.
HINT one of the easiest ways to crowd out grains is to half your normal portion and add extra vegetables and salad!
Heaps of steamed courgette, carrots, broccoli and cauliflower, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper. Add seed mix, avocado and some protein such as eggs, a salmon steak, more nuts or a bean mix. Whatever your body would love today
HINT: Every day is different so don’t be surprised if you go all out for salmon for a day or two and then go off meat completely for a few).
Apple with nuts
Vegetable sticks with hummus or lentil dip
Yogurt and seeds
HOT TIP!: Did I mention that if you’re low in nutrients (love and connection are nutrients too) or dehydrated that your body will always want to keep eating?! It’s just looking for what it needs, and it will look anywhere! Including at the bottom of the biscuit barrel!!!!
Tuck in Sista’s, eating mindfully of course!
If you have some meal ideas to share, or would like to see some more, then leave a comment! Don’t forget to tell us your fave ingredient to radicalise into a healthy meal!