Fat: do I really need to eat more and how much?

FAT:  Since the 80’s or even slightly before then, it’s been something many people have feared.  However, over the past few years, we’re slowly becoming less afraid of it and more afraid of sugar.  I’m glad to see fewer people fearing fat, though I don’t like that we’ve replaced it with yet another fear food.  Fearing food of any kind generally leads to deprivation followed by binge eating.  With diets, such as Paleo, Atkins, and Whole 30, more people have begun to eat more fat.  But the truth is, you don’t have to avoid another food group just because you’re eating more fat.  You don’t have to cut out carbohydrates because you’ve started to accept that you need to eat fat sources again, which is what many diets tell us to do.

Okay, so you hear you need more fat in your diet, but why?  Why are low-fat diets bad for us?  Fat is needed for so many reasons:

  • It’s a form of energy
  • It’s needed to absorb nutrients, including vitamins A, D, E, and K
  • It helps to maintain body temperature
  • It’s essential in creating body cells
  • Hormone function and thyroid function.  Everyone seems to have hypothyroidism these days, which can be a result of a low-calorie/low-fat diet.
  • Fat helps satiety (feeling full and satisfied!)
  • Brain health, mood stabilization
  • Heart health
  • Digestive regularity
  • Skin-too little fat can cause dry, flaky skin
  • It’s a protective cushion to your vital organs

I think two of the most important functions of dietary fat are mood/brain function and satiety.  It’s essential to have enough fat in your diet to actually feel full and satisfied.  If you don’t eat enough fat, your hormones are likely imbalanced, creating a feeling of ultimate deprivation, which often leads to binge eating patterns.  Ever eat a salad with chicken breast and a drizzle of light dressing for dinner only to find yourself snacking all evening long?  You may have been physically full after eating-from the vegetables, water content, and protein-but this fullness will not satisfy you for very long.  Additionally, without the mouth-feel of fat, our brains are left searching for something else to bring that same sense of satisfaction.  No matter how much you fight this on an intellectual level, the desire and need for fat will remain.  Hence, DIETS DON’T WORK.

So maybe you need more fat in your diet, and you accept this (even if you only sort of accept it to begin with), but how much fat should you really be eating?  The government recommends that a woman in her 30’s consume 5 teaspoons of fat per day.  Do I agree with this recommendation?  LOL NO.  That’s 22.5 grams of fat for the day.  That’s called starvation and will lead to numerous health problems, one of them possibly even being amenorrhea (loss of menstruation) and eventual infertility.  The government also recommends that 30% of total calories come from fat.  So, If a woman needs 2,300 calories (just for example), then she would need 77 grams of fat per day, which is much more than the previously recommended 22.5 grams.  77 grams of fat is the equivalent of 17 teaspoons of oil (much more than 5 teaspoons!)  Or, it’s 9.6 tablespoons of peanut butter 🙂  Now, the government may be assuming that we are consuming other foods that also contain fat, but with their other messages about the obesity epidemic, every thing you eat and drink matters, and portion control, many people really aren’t getting much fat from other foods.  Maybe a gram here and there, but often, very little.

The truth is, we’re all different and we all require a different amount of fat intake.  And our needs will change based on our age, gender, activity, stress, and several other factors (including your past medical history).  I’m not going to sit here and tell you the exact amount of fat you should eat because there’s no way I could know that without getting to know you.  And the best person to tell you this information is YOU, not me.  This is why intuitive eating is the gold standard for hepling you learn your needs.  But that’s a long process to learn-a long but necessary one for most people.

The bottom line is, don’t fear fat…or any food 🙂

Snack time while playing peek-a-boo with my babies.  Greek yogurt, banana, and almond butter 😀

In other news around here, the weekend went by pretty fast.  It was spent with the family (husband and twin infants.)  Saturday was nice because my husband was home from work, so we got in a really lovely family walk by a lake.  Sunday was me and the boys-cuddles, tummy-time, working on handgrip, story time, and lots of giggles and peek-a-boo…the usual stuff.  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend with friends and family, relaxing and laughing!

family walk

Happy eating, happy living, ya’ll 🙂

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