For a long time we were told that fat was the enemy.
Those of us who grew up in the 80s and 90s remember the proliferation of low-fat products on the shelves.
Surprisingly, there are still a lot of products that label themselves “low fat”.
If your parents aren’t up-to-date on nutrition (few are), you’ll probably find that most Baby Boomers will still try to steer you and your offspring away from fat in the hopes of making you healthy.
In the 90s and early 2000s, the low carb craze started.
Fat wasn’t the enemy and now carbs were the big problem.
We’ve seen that trend continue with the popularity of the ketogenic diet (a very low carb and high fat diet) and with various versions of the Paleo Diet.
And now several notable “experts” point to sugar (and not all carbs) as the issue.
What’s the truth?
Fat is NOT the enemy.
Carbs are NOT the enemy.
Sugar is NOT the enemy.
I really wish we could get away from searching for the enemy because good nutrition really shouldn’t be about that unnecessary process.
Weight loss comes down to how many calories you eat and how those calories break down into carbs, protein, and fat.
Sure, better quality food will have more micronutrients to support your health and hormonal balance long-term.
Certain foods are more likely to produce cravings that cause you to eat more (and poorly!) later on.
We need to be aware of those things as we plan our daily nutrition.
Most people could do with reducing their sugar intake, because sugar is in so many foods and we don’t have the active lifestyles to support that type of carb consumption that most people have.
Still, neither fat nor sugar is the real problem.
Many people claim to be “addicted” to sugar, but would they really pour pure white sugar in their mouths or inject it into their veins to get their “fix”?
We just like tasty processed food that has an appealing texture.
It’s the COMBINATION of sugar and fat – and sometimes natural or artificial flavouring – that really gets you salivating.
Hyperpalatable is the term that scientists use to describe these foods.
An ice cream cone with chocolate chips or chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream (my personal fave!).
A pepperoni pizza.
A Snickers bar with it’s peanutty combination of sweetness and salt.
Boy, do they taste good!
We all have our personal favourites, whether they’re more sweet, fatty, or salty.
Comfort foods are almost always a combination of fat and sugar (and sometimes salt) mixed in a delicious form.
They taste good and encourage us to eat a lot of them.
Then the excess calories put us into a calorie surplus and we start to gain weight.
Yes, it makes sense to cut down on sugar, and even carbs in general if you’re not very active (most of us aren’t).
You also want to reduce your intake of trans fats (found in fried and processed foods), if lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease is something that matters to you.
But try not to think of any food as “the enemy”.
Because a healthy relationship with food means that you’re able to have food without guilt.
You don’t have to be perfect.
If you make your peace with food, you’re much more likely to lose weight and be able to keep it off.
As a bonus, you get to enjoy the foods you love (in appropriate quantities) without feeling like you’ve done something wrong.
That’s a gift that will keep you healthy for a lifetime.