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Myth: Eating Low fat and fat free foods means you can eat more of them

Fill your plate with foods you can identify just by looking.

TRUTH:  Ok.  I’m going to be straight with you.  I’m someone who chooses volume over quality almost every time.  I like to stuff my face with low calorie foods and feel like I’m going to burst rather than eating a handful of potato chips.  No, I do not promote this eating pattern.  However, I try not to choose processed foods that labeled as ‘low calorie’ or ‘fat free’.  There are a couple issues here:

  1. Reducing the calories or fat in a food that naturally has lots of calories or fat (i.e. nuts) means you’re increasing the amount of processing.  For foods like avocado or nuts, it’s better to just control your portions.  But for foods with a lot of saturated fat, like dairy, choose lower fat versions.
  2.  There’s a lot of stuff added to foods that try to make them like the full fat or full calorie version, like sodium, sugar/artificial sweeteners, or other fillers (that make fat free cheese melt like real cheese or taste more robust).

So, sure  – you could eat more volume and get the same amount of calories but then you’d be having many more fillers, additives, and food dyes that make the low calorie version of foods more like the real thing.

Just choose foods that are naturally low in fat or calories, like fruits or vegetables and munch away!  Of course, calories still add up – but you can still eat more veggies and hummus than pretzels and ranch dressing.  That’s how I like to eat a voluminous diet – lots of tasty foods with tons of fiber so I feel full all day long.

BOTTOM LINE:   It’s good to choose lower fat dairy and meats to reduce your saturated fat consumption.  However, low calorie or low fat processed foods (i.e. baked goods) will have a lot of added stuff.  Crappy stuff.  Stuff you don’t need.  Choose whole or minimally processed foods, which will have minimal stuff added.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:

  1. NIH Article: Good low fat products to choose: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/lose_wt/lcal_fat.htm
  2. Food and Beverage Industry piece on Food Processing (keep in mind, they want to minimize the negative backlash from health care professionals about processing): http://www.foodprocessing.com/articles/2005/277.html

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