Sugar is everywhere. In fact there are so many words for sugar I’ve had trouble fitting them on a US letter size page in a size 6 font.
One of the reasons perhaps for so many sugars in our foods is that we’ve deliberately processed the fat out: low fat food products are big business and for the last thirty years, we’ve actually been lead to believe that that’s the key to health. Our heart foundations have actually gotten behind these products with their tick of approval and media have convinced us that buying these products is all we need now to ensure health.
But knowing now why fat doesn’t make you fat, perhaps we can see that a lot of the roles of fat that we’ve replaced with weird trans-fats and sugar have actually contributed to the very diseases we were trying to avoid thinking we were being healthy?!
One of the best things you can do for your health is to learn how to transition your diet to nutrient-rich foods (coming is next article). And in its definition, nutrient rich means more bang for your buck. And you probably guessed, that means a good proportion of healthy fats are essential for our bodies and that comes from our foods, their enjoyment in our meals, and even our moods through satisfaction.
The first step: get off sugar
“When sugar is your primary energy source, you’re depending on something that’s extremely volatile.” Nora Gedgaudas
The first step to getting off sugar is to intervene: well done, you’re already there by starting this season’s Sugar Intervention. While a seasonal sugar detox, it’s really a real-food eating plan in disguise. That means that instead of eating addictive, crave-causing, unsatisfying, carb-laden meals, we begin by replacing our go tos with real foods, like vegetables at every meal, which is hard particularly at breakfast where we’ve been convinced cereal is the perfectly healthy way to start our day.
What you might notice:
- Our blood sugar roller coaster begins at breakfast: cereal, toast, coffee and orange juice is a meal full of insulin provoking foods, and insulin is our fat storage hormone. Instead the old bacon and eggs, maybe with a side of sautéed kale and garlic in butter (all of the best quality of course) will have you satiated inside and out, without the fat storage.
- So you’ve different choices to make now that cereal is no longer on the menu: plan ahead, make extras for leftovers, make your own breaky bars with good fats and proteins and even some veggies, and mix up what you do because eating the same thing each day is the same as sugar to your brain (link).’
Chances are you’re nutrient not calorie deficient
So you’re probably aware that fats contain 9 calories per gram as opposed to under half that amount (4 calories) in proteins and carbs. But avoiding calories and fats over the last few decades has done very little for our health: for just as long as we’ve been lead to believe that low fat foods are the key to health, calorie control is not the answer to weight loss. Chances are that we’re low on nutrition, not calories. By their caloric nature, healthy fats, as part of a balanced amount of the macronutrients for you, means you can focus on nutrient density and the good news is, your overall calorie intake will naturally decrease.
What you might notice:
- A lot of sugar-laden foods are fillers rather than fuelers; they actually make you hungry by eating them rather than satisfied. We’ve even changed our feeling for fullness as a sense of a good meal over the needs we should be getting from it. Nutrient density is easier to get without the fillers
- People often fear the lack of sweet in their diet, and the pleasure it brings. But the more cortisol (our emergency insulin lowering hormone now that all other systems are too far out of whack) you have circulating in your system, the less pleasure you will feel. So technically by removing and lowering sugars from your diet you will taste more pleasure.
- Lastly, we always talk about a balance of macronutrients: fats, proteins and carbs. Won’t lowering sugars lower carbs too much? But ‘low carb’ assumes you are currently eating a normal amount of carbs, and it’s pretty safe to say we’re all eating too many, and that mostly comes from sugar. Instead your carbs should come primarily from green leafy veggies (not starches or legumes or fruits).
Next: choose the best quality
The quality of the fats you choose as with all your food choices is about whole-ness. You are what you eat eats, so the fats you choose should come from a good whole-quality source: did you know chickens are not vegetarians; they’re meant to eat bugs. Pasture-raised is not just preferable for our health choice, but there’s too. And lamb, the cleverest of our ruminants, is the only one that will not eat grain; cows fatten on it making them worth far more at sale, but that fast gained weight is full of toxins and bad fats we’re not gonna get any health benefits from either.
In ‘12 Tips to transitioning to eating healthy fats’ (coming next article), we saw that there are fats and then there are fats: the good, the bad and the ugly. Not all fats are created equal. Processed rancid fats are definitely off the list, always. Then there are fats for cooking, for dressing and for just plain eating, and they’re all dependent on how they cope with temperature: we are what we eat and when that comes to fats, we don’t want to change them before they come into our body; our body will only treat them as invaders instead of nutrients to regenerate ourselves through.
The other thing about fats and quality is about their balance in your body. Nutrition science is a big one for demonizing one macronutrient over another, high protein diets, low fats, low carbs. But the truth is that nothing is either good or bad just in or out of balance. We need all macronutrients, and each of us needs different amounts. But we all need to rotate our fats so that we get the best of all of them. Special hormones in our body are responsible for inflammation and anti-inflammation and with an imbalance in on over the other it’s really no wonder we’ve such a ‘need’ for things like aspirin to anti-inflame, or runaway inflammation in the form of autoimmune issues: wellness might be as simple as balancing your fat intake from difference quality sources (and women, that differs at different times of the month).
What you might notice:
- There’s a sweetness in most foods when you remove sugar from your diet.
- Fats slow food absorption, which helps with energy regulation as well: nice even keeled energy which is pretty much what we all long for right?
- Fats make foods taste better, meaning we’re satisfied at the end of a meal with balanced healthy fats. And satisfaction in the belly means in the mind too: eating healthier fats leads to better moods too
Lastly: digest your fats
So it’s not just going to be a case of going out there and eating more healthy fats at each meal. A lot of us have been on a low fat diet pretty much most of our life and simply replacing that with fat now is going to seem pretty strange to our bodies. And why is that? Simply, your body needs fat to digest fat.
Bile, the sludgy stuff our livers make and gall bladders stall is a wondrous substance despite appearances: it breaks down our fats. Except it’s made of the very fats it digests. So for most of us that means, low-fats fats. We need to start small and gradually ensure our bile can work with the new load and replace the quality of it’s own abilities. We can enhance that through the magic of beetroots by the way, which we’ll be looking into in the Intervention.
Also if you think then of the liver’s role in making that bile, having been overloaded with sugar processing duties, it’s focus too has not been on bile production and fat digestion aid. But by intervening our sugar we can enhance its ability to do all that and the 500 other roles it can now get on with.
What you might notice:
- Not surprisingly with a name like fat-soluble vitamins – A, D, E and K – these nutrients need digested fats to be soluble. Conveniently, many foods containing these vitamins also come with the fat required to digest them: egg yolks allows the body to access the vitamins A and D within the egg.
- Fats are required for the use of protein. So all the egg whites in the world won’t help you out if you’re not eating them with the fats in the yolk to access that protein properly.
In a nutshell:
- First eat nutrient dense, properly prepared whole foods.
- Then sugar detox.
- Now heal your gut.
- Next up, digest it, esp your fats
- Add foods to your diet. Fill up on the new things; you mightn’t have room or need for the old.
- Oh, and most importantly, enjoy your food. It’s delicious and one of life’s many great pleasures.