The arguments rage on across the Internet and beyond about whether we should be eating more fat, and cutting out or vastly reducing the amount of sugar we eat.
The thing is, we all love a treat. For decades now, fat has been the nutritional enemy, and food manufacturers have been stripping our foods of fat and packaging them up as ‘healthy’ alternatives. What have they replaced the fat with? Sugar. Or even worse, artificial sweeteners. Just remember, If it’s labelled low-fat or fat-free then its generally high sugar. Mark Hyman MD studied more than 40,000 people and found that those with the highest sugar intake were 4x more likely to increase their risk of heart attacks compared to those with lowest intakes. Sugar is far more detrimental to our health than fat! The biggest culprit affecting our waistlines is sugar-sweetened beverages and foods filled with processed sugars- a fact that has been ignored by the healthcare system and government for decades.
Humans are programmed to look for fatty and sweet foods; they have traditionally been good sources of calories that kept us going in times when food was hard to come by. I don’t think any of us would say that food is hard to come by these days, but nobody told our biology that, and we carry on looking for that fatty mouth feel and sugary sweet taste.
Experts are waking up to the idea that actually, fat isn’t the enemy. After being told for longer than a lot of us can remember that we should opt for low fat everything, more people have been thinking that perhaps we’ve been sold a lie by the food and diet industries, and that the huge amounts of sugar we’re eating could be one of the reasons so many people are obese, ill and diabetic. We’re simply not designed to eat sugar in such massive quantities and we don’t have the active lifestyles that demand the instant energy sugar gives us.
On the other hand, fat can be positively good for us. Admittedly, when it’s wrapped up in a big bag of Kettle Chips or a greasy doughnut, it’s probably not ideal. On the plus side, healthy fats, like the fats you find in oily fish, nuts, coconut oil or avocado, will do more to keep you healthy than a whole shopping aisle of low-fat high-sugar ‘treats’ ever could.
Healthy Omega 3 fats are processed differently by the body to other fats, which tend to be quickly stored. Your body is self-healing and will use the essential fatty acids (EFAs) in oily fish for example to make hormones and build the lipid layer of cells. There’s also a train of thought that says they don’t lead to weight gain, even if they are high in calories. Studies have shown that even eating nuts with abandon has very little effect on your body fat, which is a good thing given that they are so delicious!
Even animal fats aren’t the no-no we’ve been brought up to think they are. More people are choosing good quality butter, organic meats and full-fat dairy over synthetic ‘spreads’ and nasty skimmed milk. It’s so much better tasting, and evidence suggests that taking the fat out of dairy products like yoghurt and cheese also strips out fat-soluble vitamins. Fat free yoghurt tends to be laced with horrid artificial flavours and sweeteners too, and often tastes pretty disgusting.
But what about your sweet tooth? Thankfully there’s now a lot of interest in naturally healthy treats and sweets and you can still have your Paleo cake and eat it…. Just like there are healthier forms of fat, there are healthier alternatives to sugar too! You can experiment with ,making your own, or order some from me at Naturally Guilt Free. Limit sugar and stick to natural sweetness wherever possible. Some great paleo/ clean eating alternatives (in moderation!) include raw honey, coconut sugar, maple syrup and fruit sugars/ fruit puree. Cut down on the sugar, increase your good fats, and see the benefit to your waistline and your health.
The more recent recognition of the dangers of high sugar diets (and the move towards low sugar/ sugar free options) has led to a new rise of champions against sugar. Have you heard about the new Sugarwise certification? The Founder of Sugarwise, Rend Platings, has become a champion for low sugar labelling after discovering her daughter is expected to live a shorter life than her due to obesity, diabetes and other diseases linked to sugar.
The mission of Sugarwise is to use their certification to open up more choices in food and drink low in free sugar
1) Increase the amount of low free sugar choices that people have available to them
2) Raise awareness of and generate greater demand for low free sugar
3) Facilitate clarity and transparency in labelling so people know what they are buying
4) Make it easier for people to make low free sugar choices by improving their environment
Keep a look out for their symbol when buying healthier products for yourselves and your family!
Hope this has helped shed some light on the Fat vs Sugar debate for you!
Love Natasha x