Friday, September 26, 2008

Don't fear the fat


The amount of fat to consume in one's daily diet is generally misunderstood. The crazed, societal fear of fat is seen everywhere in low-fat, low-sugar drinks, bars and cereals. I think it grew out of the over-aerobicized, spandexed 1980s and persists even today. This craze absolutely misses the point of a balanced diet, in which beneficial fats and oils play a key role in reaching optimal weight, health and wellbeing. Fat is not to be feared.

There is a big difference between raw, plant-based fats and cooked, animal-based fats. The latter are high in saturated fat and cholesterol. Plant-based fats include healthy, cold-pressed unheated oils such as olive and hemp, avocados, nuts and seeds, coconut and bee pollen. It's also important to know whether they are from a live, whole-food source or in synthetic form. Particularly as the weather changes, I believe that adding more nourishing, high-quality fats to the diet is extremely beneficial to help oneself feel satiated, increase metabolism and bring one's body to vibrant health.

According to Dr. Gabriel Cousens, "Cutting out all fats may create an omega-3 deficiency, associated with depression, metabolic imbalances, anxiety, nervous system and skin disorders. Obviously excess fat has been associated with societal problems such as obesity, the epidemic of type-II diabetes, and heart disease."

There must be balance. First we always must take into account each individual constitutional type. The more vata, fast-oxidizing type will actually benefit from a diet with a greater percentage of these fats, while the slower-oxidizing, more kapha constitution will actually have more energy from a diet with less fat and lighter foods in general.

A person getting the majority of his or her fats from plant-based sources will most likely feel more satisfied and energetic and have better general health than a person getting most fats from cooked junk food. When you eat a whole-food diet, everything seems to naturally fall into balance and the percentages, numbers and craziness of counting calories and looking at grams of fat should simply fall away.

The imbalance seems to occur when people are trying to lose weight and cut fat out of their diets. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies and anxiety. Research done on following more of a live-food, plant-based diet with the healthy fats mentioned above shows that a very high percentage of people do extremely well in terms of weight loss and coming to their optimal weight. In a survey of 525 people, data showed that those reporting that they "never overeat" rose from 7 to 34 percent while on a live-food diet. In terms of weight loss and weight changes, 83 percent of people interviewed lost weight after switching to a live-food diet.

The point is that adding more live, plant-based beneficial fats to the diet satiates the appetite, upregulates the metabolism and brings people to their optimal weight. It creates a more success-oriented and balanced approach to feeling good and eating well. It most importantly promotes balanced eating, the start of bringing order to your life and body in such an imbalanced world.

Peppo opened Glow live-food café in Ketchum this summer and has an individualized nutrition practice called whole person nutrition. Glow offers monthly food prep classes, catering and school lunches on Wednesdays, and will sponsor Dr. Gabriel Cousens in the Wood River Valley for a talk on spiritual nutrition, the environment and the culture of awakened living on Monday, Oct. 6. To sign up for Glow's bi-weekly e-newsletter, e-mail mollypeppo@mac.com.




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