If you are trying to loose weight you may think that fat free foods are “healthier” and will aid in weight loss. Not according to the latest research. This article from Women’s Day suggests fat free foods are often loaded with chemicals and may cause sugar cravings and weight gain. When fat is removed from foods something must be added to give the foods a nice flavor and texture, usually sugar, salt and in the case of fat free chips fat-mimicking chemicals that can cause intestinal cramps, gas and diarrhea. Yuck.
I suggest you avoid the fat free versions of the following: salad dressing, peanut butter, dairy (milk, yogurt, ice cream), packaged cookies and chips and frozen meals.
Let’s look at salad dressings. Researchers from Purdue University found that while fat-free dressings are lower in calories than fat-based dressings, they block absorption of fruits’ and veggies’ nutrients, while dressings made with monounsaturated fats (from olive oil for instance) boosted the absorption of the veggies’ nutrients.
To make a quick and easy dressing at home whip together one crushed garlic clove, a few tablespoons of olive oil, one tablespoon of vinegar or lemon juice, a teaspoon of dijon mustard, salt and pepper and a small handful of fresh herbs (I am a fan of thyme).
When shopping for nut butters, look for natural versions with no added sugar.
I like this raw almond butter from Trader Joe’s. The ingredient list – almonds.
How about fat free dairy? Again fat helps your body absorb nutrients and by taking out the fat something has to be added to keep the creamy consistency, usually sugars and stabilizers. I like full fat Greek yogurt because it is high in protein and low in sugar.
When it comes to snack foods like cookies, chips, frozen meals you are better off avoiding them altogether. If you are hit with a cookie craving look for ones with the least amount of ingredients (and you should be able to pronounce them). You will feel more satisfied with one or two cookies made from real ingredients than the dry tasteless fat free versions. When it comes to chips again look for a short ingredient list – corn and salt – and portion the amount you plan on eating in a bowl instead of snacking straight from the bag. Frozen meals can be useful in a pinch however they are loaded with salt. You are much better off preparing a large batch of food on the weekends and freezing individual serving sizes for later in the week. I do this with brown rice, beans, soups, meats, etc…
What are your favorite healthy eating tips?