The One Thing That Could Be Sabotaging Your "Healthy" Diet.
You might be surprised to hear what I’m going to tell you. Are you one of those women who thinks she eats a healthy, well-rounded diet, yet struggles with weight gain, fatigue and cravings? You are not alone! We have an epidemic of heathy eaters that are not feeling all that great.
I’ve been in practice for a year and half now and see many women who are struggling with a number of issues. The main health issues women come to me for help with are weight issues, fatigue, foggy thinking, hormonal imbalance and dealing with food sensitivities.
When a woman first comes to see me, I do a thorough assessment. This involves paperwork, a one hour intake interview where I ask in depth questions about diet, lifestyle, past health and eating habits. In addition, I require a five day food journal which tracks what and when a person eats, what their moods are throughout the day, and what their poop is like (yup… always a great indicator of how well digestion is working). So you can see that I get a very thorough picture of the person's diet and lifestyle before making any recommendations.
I’m always interested to see what the food diary, in particular, reveals. Although many people worry about being judged, I ensure my clients understand that I'm not judging them! No one is perfect, including me! That said, the diet diary is very revealing. Do you know what the number one issue is that I see when I look at food diaries? You might immediately think of what is commonly considered to be "bad nutrition", such as eating too much, eating too much sugar, or eating too many carbs and processed foods. Yes, for sure, those can be problems and I see these things a lot but no, that isn’t the biggest issue that I see.
The number one issue I see is that women do not eat enough fat or enough quality sources of fat. Surprised? Frankly, I was surprised by this when I started actually working with women. The truth is, I see this ALL THE TIME. My personal feeling is that this lack of fats has a lot to do with the low fat craze of the 80's and 90's, where we were told that "low fat" was the name of the game. Ever since then, women have been fearing fat and even now that there is a lot of talk about adding fat back into our diets in the media, women are skeptical. They don't really believe that fats are good for you or that they won't get fat by eating fat. Whenever I tell a woman that she isn't get enough healthy fat, I get an incredulous look and I can tell she's thinking that I might be crazy. For many women, fat is the opposite of what they consider to be healthy. Unfortunately, diet myths get entrenched and this is one of them.
So what? What’s the big deal about eating fat?
Lately there is a lot of buzz in mainstream media about high fat diets. The ketogenic diet is enjoying a lot of attention and you probably know someone or several people who are experimenting with going “keto” (ketogenic diets are made up of 75% or more of calories coming from fat). Maybe you have tried it yourself. I’m not going to go into the merits or problems with this style of eating in this post but I point it out because we are all hearing that there are benefits to adding more fat to our diets. In simple terms, yes, that is definitely true.
In basic terms, here’s why you need more fat in your diet:
Fat keeps you satisfied, curbs cravings, keeps insulin low and can reduce inflammation. All of these things are important for weight loss, energy, mood, mental clarity and hormone balance. So you see how much is riding on your intake of fat?
What Are Healthy Fats?
Generally, healthy fats are comprised of:
Cold pressed oils (Avocado, olive, coconut, sesame, flax and nut oils)
Raw Nuts (macadamia nuts, brazil nuts and walnuts pack the most fatty punch)
Raw Seeds (sesame, chia, flax, hemp, sunflower, pumpkin)
Meat from grass-fed animals
Wild fish (particularly fattier fish like Salmon, Mackerel and Sardines)
* Cream (especially if coming from grass-fed animals)
* Cheese in strict moderation (choose quality organic cheese where possible)
A Practical Example
Here’s an actual food diary entry from a woman I’ve worked with and trust me, this is actually quite typical. There are so many people eating what looks to be a nutritious diet but they are just missing some fine -tuning! Ok, so let’s call this client Patricia. Patricia is 53 years old, menopausal and complains of weight gain, low energy, and craves sugar and carbs. She feels that she is “good” during the day but when evening comes, she can’t stay away from sugar. She feels stressed that she can't control herself.
Here’s what she ate on Monday (and the others days were similar):
Note – all things are equal in this example – in real life, Patricia could have other health issues at play here such as thyroid and hormonal imbalances that affect how she feels.
On first glance what’s your initial reaction? I’m thinking that this looks fairly good! All whole and fresh foods for the most part and she’s not skipping meals. There looks to be ample veggies, a little fruit, animal protein and some treats worked in there (a few too many!). But when I take another look and consider what her health concerns are, I can see right away that there’s something missing from this picture. There are almost no healthy fats in here and that is why she is having trouble with cravings, energy and ultimately weight gain. Without completely changing what she is used to eating, I simply tweak what she already likes to eat by adding in fats at every meal/ snack. Here a comparison of before and after (with more fat added in)
Once Patricia implements these changes, she starts to feel more balanced, she feels satisfied by her meals, her cravings go away and she isn’t a slave to carbs and sugar at night. Patricia steadily loses weight as well and finds that she has way more energy than she did before!
So you see, fats are very important for health and wellbeing. If you are finding yourself always tired, mentally foggy, dealing with cravings for unhealthy carbs and sugar and gaining weight, take a look at your plate and make sure you add in some healthy fats! If you want to chat about your diet and see if perhaps you could benefit from some nutritional guidance, I’d love to hear from you so pop me a message on my social media or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I offer a free 30 minute initial consultation.