Many horrible trends came out of the 80’s such as legwarmers, fluorescent everything, those weird little plastic round discs you’d loop your shirt through (yes I owned all of these things)… But I would have to say the worst of all was the war on fat leading to the low-fat diet craze. Suddenly it was all about suffering through dry salads, steamed veggies, and skinless chicken breast (a form of torture in some countries). Everyone was miserable sipping on their Slimfast shakes whilst dancing to Tiffany’s, “I Think We’re Alone Now” and dreaming of the day when they could fit into their shiny leotards without shame. Ok maybe that was just me…
Anyhooooo… check out this chart that shows how drastically the percentage of obese Americans increased right around the horrific 80’s…HOLY COW.
I learned a valuable lesson the other day, which could add to the many theories as to why the increase of illness and obesity occurred right around the time when low-fat diets were being pushed harder than cocaine at Studio 54:
- We need vitamins and minerals to keep us healthy, fight disease, boost our immune system, keep us alive, etc. Duh, right?
- However, some of the most important vitamins we consume require FAT to perform their basic functions. What the what???
Let me explains its to you’s…
Because your body requires vitamins to perform essential chemical reactions in your body and can’t create vitamins on its own, you need to find a source to add these vitamins into your body, a.k.a. food or supplements (for those of you who love to pee your money down the drain).
But here’s where it gets confusing!
There are two types of vitamins:
Water Soluble – All the B’s and C
- They need water to perform chemical reactions in your body.
- They aren’t stored in your body.
The good: You basically can never overdose on these vitamins because your body will excrete any excess it doesn’t need. For you “savvy” supplement takers, this is why your urine can be florescent yellow after taking a multivitamin. You should wave to it as you flush the toilet saying, “bye bye money!”
The bad: You need to replenish water soluble vitamins daily since your body doesn’t store them.
Fat Soluble – A, E, K, and D
- They need fat to perform their chemical reactions.
- They can be stored in the body.
The good: You don’t need to constantly replenish the body with fat soluble vitamins since they are stored. Woohoo!
The bad: You can totally overdose since your body holds onto them. You should not take large doses of fat soluble vitamin supplements unless recommended by your doctor and you’re being closely monitored!
Finally, the whole point of this article.
Most of the veggies you’ve been eating raw, steamed, and with nonfat salad dressing like a wascally wabbit are the HIGHEST in the fat soluble vitamins. For example, most leafy greens (romaine, green/red leaf, arugula, spinach, collard greens, kale), broccoli, sweet potatoes, cabbages, squashes (zucchini, yellow, acorn) are all extremely high in Vitamins A and K, and sometimes E and D. All…fat…soluble.
Which means, when you’re eating those veggies sans-fat, constantly eating a low-fat diet, and/or are taking drugs/supplements that inhibit the body from absorbing fat (I’m looking at you Alli and Orlistat!), you are impeding your body’s ability to absorb important vitamins. So cut it out already.
I think it’s analogy fun-time!!! Think of a slip n’ slide where your body is a fat soluble vitamin and the water on the slip n’ slide is actually fat. If there’s no fat on the slip n’ slide, you’re not going to slide very far and end up looking like an idiot. You might move a little but you’ll most likely tear off some skin on the dry rubbery surface. Party…ruined.
So what does this all mean?
No it does not mean you can eat a donut with your salad and tell people “Lana told me I’m doing my body good!” And no, your body doesn’t use your fat reserves to facilitate in the absorption of vitamins. The breakdown and absorption of vitamins occurs during the process of digestion, and, contrary to what some of us might wish, we cannot digest our fat cells.
So, if you really want to amp up your vitamin intake, pair healthy fat with every serving of veggies. Not only will your body absorb the vitamins more efficiently, but you’ll feel full for longer periods of time! Ever eat the largest salad in the world only to feel hungry an hour later? This is because you didn’t have enough fat my friends…
Some examples of healthy fat additions:
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Coconut Oil (Note: There’s no official classification or difference between “Extra Virgin” or regular Coconut Oil, but look for raw, cold-pressed and unrefined!)
- Nuts or nut butters such as Almonds, Pecans, or Cashews (No, peanuts are NOT a nut! They’re a bean a.k.a. a leguuuuume)
- Seeds such as sunflower, flax, pumpkin, or hemp
- Meats and oily fishies
- 1 oz cheese. Not as “healthy” as the other choices, but it’s tasty and full of calcium and protein. So eat in moderation at around an ounce per serving. Note: People who have issues with dairy from cows usually respond better to dairy from goats (Chèvre), sheep (Manchego), or even dry/hard versions of cow cheese (parmesean, feta).
- Greek yogurt (Thanks Mandy and Elle!): Stick to plain, low-fat/whole fat yogurt. I would argue that you should use the whole fat version, but for those of you still skerred of fat, at least get the low-fat version as opposed to the non-fat version. Also stay away from added sugars and flavorings. Note: There are goat milk yogurt options available that are extremely tasty!
A couple examples of healthy combos:
- Instead of eating a salad with a disgusting low-fat dressing or a squirt of vinegar, drizzle that sucker with some delicious olive oil and a squirt of lemon juice (You can also use greek yogurt as a replacement for creamy salad dressings). Or, add a handful (that usually equates to an ounce) of tasty hemp, sunflower, or pumpkin seeds. Orrr, crumble in an ounce of goat cheese/feta.
- Sauté your veggies lightly in some Ghee or olive oil, then drizzle with some unheated olive oil to finish. Or, sprinkle some ground flax seed or any of the other seeds on top. Orrr… if you’re still hell-bent on steaming, make sure you drizzle with some olive oil or other healthy fat after steaming.
- Snack on raw veggies dipped in almond butter or add a handful of nuts.
- Add a TB of almond butter, 1/4 cup of coconut milk, or half an avocado to your smoothies.
- Replace sour cream/mayo usage with greek yogurt. Slap that stuff in a baked potato with some chives or drop a dollop into tasty tacos! Use in place of mayo in a chicken salad. Or, create a quick and healthy yogurt veggie dip by stirring in some minced onion, garlic, a pinch of salt, dried parsley, chives (or any other seasonings you’d like) and poof! Healthy dip + a dose of probiotics! Wheeee!
- Eat a stick of butter whilst watching The Housewives of Orange County. I KID!!!
So if you want to get the biggest healthy bang for your buck, actually enjoy your food instead of suffering through it, AND stay fuller for longer, pour some fat on it!