I am a nurse. I have worked in healthcare since I was 17. I was in a health occupations program in high school. In middle school I loved health class. Pretty much, I am a medical geek. Understanding the human body is and has always been my thing. So one would expect that I would be pretty confident in my understanding of nutrition. I can explain the four food groups of elementary school, the food pyramid and the “USDA My Plate”. Yet, about a year ago, I started to question what I have always believed about healthy eating.
For full disclosure, I have never eaten they way I thought I should. I have a sweet tooth and have always liked rich and delicious food. At the first sign of stress the cravings would hit. Ice cream is and has always been my biggest weakness. Ice cream was a cure for whatever sad or anxious or lonely feeling happened to be bothering me at that time. I was convinced that I lacked will power or was just basically a bad person when it came to eating. But, I digress. Back to what I believed was healthy eating.
I grew up in the era of LOW FAT EVERYTHING! The theory was simple. Fat makes you fat. Fat has 9 calories per gram, more than twice the 4 calories in a gram of carbohydrate or a gram of protein. And everyone knows that weight management is a simple calculation calorie in = calorie out. If you want to lose weight just burn more calories than you eat. Simple. Right?
Wrong… Since the low fat revolution of the early 1990’s American’s have gotten fatter and fatter and fatter… How is that possible? That’s a complex question and one I cannot fully answer in a short paragraph. Here are a couple reasons to consider. First, humans like food that tastes good. Fat makes food taste good, it also satiates us, that is, it makes us feel full. So we stop eating. When we take the fat out of our food suddenly it’s not quite so satisfying. Going back to that taste thing… If we take out the fat to make for example fat free chocolate devils food cookies… something else must go in to make them taste good. That something is sugar. Which it turns out causes a lot of problems. The simplest being sugar causes a release of insulin and insulin helps our body to store fat. We American’s love sugar. We also love bread and pasta which our body promptly turns to sugar. So making Mac and cheese following those helpful low fat directions just encourages us to eat more white pasta which becomes sugar.
Bringing us back to me… With a little experimenting I discovered that when I eat sugar and simple carbs I crave more sugar and more carbs. On the other hand, when I severely limit sugar and flour something amazing happens. My body starts to work, the craving improve and I start to be in control of my body. Without a complex diet plan, without obsessing over what I’m supposed to eat. Somehow by eating fat l start losing weight…
That of course, does not mean eating a tub of bacon fat for breakfast. I advocate a healthy, balanced diet and will discuss nutrition more in future posts.