A common misconception in society today is that eating fats makes you fat.  For years now, everywhere you turn in the grocery store offers reduced-fat or fat-free options, especially for packaged snacks, which tricks buyers into thinking it’s healthier, and therefore, “guilt free.”

Not only are these products unhealthy, they perpetuate the idea that if you eat something sweet, salty, crunchy, etc., then you’re supposed to feel some sort of guilt or unhappiness after you consume it.  That promotes unhealthy thinking, and the flashy label reading “fat-free” makes the buyer think they’re making a better choice.

Our bodies need fat in order to function optimally. Fat alone doesn’t make you fat. It’s the type of fat you’re consuming, as well as calories, portion sizes, and processed sugars or ingredients (which are used abundantly to make up for the taste that’s lost when making something fat-free), that causes weight gain, fatigue, high cholesterol, and many other health problems.

The bad fats are the saturated and trans fats found in baked goods, whole-fat dairy, candy, butter and margarine, and fried foods, among other products, especially those that are packaged and processed.  Almost all pre-packaged foods have trans-fat in them.  If a package claims to have 0g of trans fat, the ingredients list still might include “partially hydrogenated oils,” which is the source of all trans-fat, since it is, most definitely, artificial.  Therefore, the labeling and advertising of reduced fat products can be deceiving and unhealthy.

The good fats are the monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, and omega-3 fatty acids.  These fats help you maintain or lose weight if needed, reduce cholesterol, and promote strong heart health.

Monounsaturated fats include fats found in olive oils, avocados, nuts, and peanut butter.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in walnuts specifically, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, and soymilk, among other things

Omega-3’s are particularly beneficial to your physical, emotional, and cognitive health.  A strong source of these benefits comes from fish, particularly salmon, mackerel, sardines, and tuna.

The key to maintaining weight or weight-loss is swapping out the unhealthy fats in your diet with the beneficial ones.

Here are some simple tips to help you achieve that:

-Cook with olive oil, rather than butter or margarine

-Reduce your intake of red meat

-Buy reduced fat milk (which in this case, is a healthier choice due to dairy’s high level of saturated fat; You still gain the same amount of vitamins in the lower fat option)

-Grill, bake, or broil lean cut meats and poultry instead of frying

-Have healthier nutrient-filled snacks like fruit, veggies with hummus, greek yogurt, and nuts, rather than packaged snacks like chips, crackers, doughnuts, and cookies

-Include avocados in your diet, whether they’re put on a sandwich or in a salad

-Buy natural peanut butter which doesn’t have hydrogenated oils, which is where the harmful trans-fat comes from

-Try to increase your intake of omega-3’s to promote a healthy heart

oil

The fats in your diet are what mainly contributes and affects your overall cholesterol health.  The good fats are known to affect your cholesterol in a positive way, and they also help your body fight against diseases, especially because having consistent healthy fats in your diet helps your body absorb more of the good nutrients that are in the foods you eat.  Saturated and trans fats however, do the exact opposite.

A healthy lifestyle is all about balance.

It’s impossible to never eat pizza, cake, cookies, etc., and there’s nothing wrong with that.  You should enjoy these things, but it’s important to have them in moderation and interspersed into your mainly healthy diet.  You shouldn’t feel guilty for eating a cupcake every now and then.  Portion control is key to maintaining and losing weight, and portions need to be controlled when consuming healthy fats as well.  Most importantly, eating and being healthy is a lifestyle choice.  It’s not a temporary regime you go through in order to lose weight.  In order for your goals to stick, it’s important to change your mindset from wanting to be skinny, to wanting to be healthy.  Once you commit to that mentality, you’ll overall feel better, more energized, and it’ll be easier for you to make consistent healthy choices.

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