Fat doesn’t make you fat. Sugar, stress, processed food, not enough good fats and sitting on your backside do.
You Need Fats. Good Ones.
For years we were fed the ‘low fat’ mantra of losing weight – there was something so simple about it: fat makes you fat. Simple, But it’s really not that simple unfortunately because if you want to stay looking young and gorgeous Lady, you need fats, but they have to be the good ones.
Good fats are found in nuts and seeds, fish (especially oily fish like mackerel or salmon), avocados, eggs and good olive oil.
How to eat your good fats
Fish: Salmon, mackerel herring, sardines, and tuna – all are a great source of Omega 3 essential fats. But if you don’t think you’re going to manage to get 4 portions of oily fish down you every week, take a good quality fish oil supplement, or good old cod liver oil! You’re looking for ‘Omega 3’s’ – Most of us have more than enough Omega 6’s in our diet (found in sunflower oil, sesame oil, dairy and eggs), so it’s the 3’s you need more of.
Seeds: The easiest way to get the good fats from seeds is to grind them up. Otherwise unless you do some serious chewing, those good fats will just pass right on through… The best ones for Omega 3 are Flax (also known as linseed), hemp, pumpkin and walnut. Add in a few sunflower or sesame seeds and use a coffee grinder to churn them up. Keep them in a sealed jar in the fridge, and add a tablespoon a day to your breakfast or a salad.
Other good fats:
Olive oil: Look for the words ‘cold pressed’ and ideally your oil should be in a dark coloured bottle (to protect it from light damage). Buy the best you can afford and never cook with good olive oil – it’s a total waste as it ruins both the goodness and the taste! Cook with coconut oil instead and be generous with your olive oil in salads, poured over warm pasta + in soups.
All of the above are fats and they are good for you! They will make you look younger and help keep you lean and healthy as well as help you regulate a host of other helpful processes in your body.
Sugar however, will make you look neither young nor lean and will definitely not make you healthy.
There’s the obvious sugar, in cakes, fizzy drinks and desserts and if you eat too much of this it’ll make you fat, unhealthy + make you look old before your time… But there’s also a lot of hidden sugar you may not even know you’re eating.
How Sugar Makes You Fat: Sugar increases the levels of insulin in your body and that makes your body store fat, especially around your middle. It makes your body really, really good at storing fat. Not something you want your body to be really really good at ;(
Of course other effects are increased blood pressure, higher cholesterol, increased risk of diabetes and heart disease and premature aging.
On the other hand when insulin levels fall within your body, you use fat for fuel. (Something you do want your body to be good at).
How to Eat Less Sugar
The obvious sugar is easy to identify and cut out (or down, then out), but the hidden sugar in our diets is much harder. There is hidden sugar in everything from packaged meats like ham or sausage, to crisps, ketchup and cheese spread.
So you have to get a little more attentive to the labels on your food: anything that ending ‘ose’ is sugar. Dextrose, fructose, glucose, it’s all sugar. And if you see HFC (High Fructose Corn syrup) then run a mile in the opposite direction – this stuff is the most evil form of processed sugar you can consume.
Don’t Fruit and Fruit Juice Contain Lots of Sugar? Should I Avoid Them Too?
Fruit does contain natural sugar, in the form of fructose, BUT in whole fruit and vegetables (note ‘whole’ – if you consume just the juice then you’re missing out) it is mixed with vitamins, enzymes, phytonutrtients, minerals and fibre. All this goodness offsets most downsides of eating whole fruit in moderation.
It’s not fructose itself which is a problem, but rather the massive doses of added fructose we consume in other, unnatural, processed foods – soft and fizzy drinks are the worst culprit here – they are packed with added fructose and this is what you need to avoid at all costs.
Go easy on fruit juice too (pure water should be your thirst quencher of choice) and if it says ‘fruit drink’ or ‘contains real fruit juice’ then it probably has as much, or more, added sugar / fructose than the fizzy soft drinks!
What About ‘Diet’ Drinks and Foods?
Diet drinks obviously contain artificial sweeteners in place of sugar or fructose, but very often those additives can have a similar effect on your insulin levels, producing the same fat storing effects as real sugar. Sweeteners (artificial or otherwise) stimulate appetite and place strain on your kidneys and liver that have to process them. Very often the psychological effect of consuming large amounts of diet drinks seems to be that we ‘make up’ the calories elsewhere and consumption has less effect on weight control that you might imagine.
Processed foods are not only devoid of fibre and nutrients, but – and often the ‘diet’ processed foods are the worst! – they are also packed full of added fructose.
In summary, two of the very best dietary things you can do for both your waistline and your skin are to increase your intake of good fats, and dramatically decrease your intake of sugar. There’s more, but this where you should start!
Try to get away from counting calories or worrying about fat: processed foods and sugar will do more damage than anything else to your body and your face!