Are you eating enough fat?

When I tell clients they are not eating enough fat, they often respond with one of the following remarks:

“But I’ve been trying to eat fat-free!”

“But I don’t want to gain weight!”

‘But I thoughts fats were BAD for you!”

That’s when I say, not ALL fats are bad for you,  In fact, unsaturated fats and omega-3 fatty acids can be beneficial to your health.

Here’s a list of foods containing healthy unsaturated fats I encourage you to include in your diet:

  • Flaxseeds and flaxseed oil
  • Walnuts
  • Almonds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp hearts or hempseed oil
  • Chia seeds
  • Small fatty fish like sardines, anchovies, mackerel
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado

Why should you include these foods into your diet?

  • They lower cholesterol, helpful for preventing heart attack and stroke
  • They are anti-inflammatory, therefore beneficial for health conditions associated with excess inflammation such as asthma, allergies, eczema, arthritis, etc.
  • They help with blood sugar regulation and prevent sugar crashes and sweet cravings
  • They keep you feeling full for longer, thus assisting with appetite regulation
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, a specific type of unsaturated fatty acid found in high concentrations in fish, support nervous system function and benefit mood disorders like depression, anxiety, attention deficit disorder, etc.

What foods contain the BAD fats? (Saturated and trans fat)

  • Beef
  • Pork
  • Processed meat
  • Milk
  • Cheese
  • Butter
  • Margarine
  • Fast food items
  • Deep fried foods
  • Packaged snack items
  • Chocolate bars
  • Commercially baked goods like donuts, muffins and cakes

Excessive consumption of the above saturated and trans fat containing foods lead to more inflammation in your body, thus negatively impacting your health.  Inflammation in your blood vessels raises cholesterol. Inflammation in your muscles and joints aggravate pain.  Inflammation causes cell damage and is associated with immune system disorders.

Of course, it is impossible to avoid all the bad saturated/trans fats! Therefore, adding in the good unsaturated fats provides balance in your body by offsetting the negative health effects of the saturated/trans fats.

For those of you trying to avoid fat at all cost, I encourage you to try adding some of the unsaturated fats into your diet to obtain their positive health benefits.  Your body uses fat for fuel, to support your nervous system, and for hormone production.  Also, many ‘fat-free’ items are filled with higher amounts of sugar and simple carbohydrates leading to higher calorie content so these ‘fat-free’ foods may not be a healthier choice after all.

Here’s a great link providing more detail on ‘How to Make Sense of Dietary Fat”

Comments? Feel free to share, as this is a complex and controversial health topic!

3 natural ways to prevent the winter blues

Are the shorter days and colder weather leaving you feeling blue? Winter is coming and with the lack of sunlight comes the winter blues, also known as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).

Common symptoms of SAD include: sadness, irritability, lack of interest in work and social activities, increased appetite, weight gain, increased sleep and decreased energy.

Here’s 3 natural ways to boost your mood this winter and prevent feeling SAD:

1. Supplement with vitamin D: Less sunlight means less vitamin D production in your body.  Vitamin D is required for a positive mood and supplementation has been shown to improve symptoms of depression.  Speak to your naturopathic doctor for the appropriate dose of vitamin D required for your individual health situation.  Increased vitamin D can also be obtained from eggs and vitamin D enriched foods like milk products and orange juice.

2. Supplement with an omega-3 fatty acid supplement:  Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for your nervous system and mood regulation benefiting symptoms of depression.  They are commonly found in fish, seafood, and flaxseeds.  Therefore including these foods in your diet can be helpful to prevent a deficiency.  However, if you do suffer from SAD and other mood disorders a much higher therapeutic dose is required to produce an improvement in your symptoms.  Speak to your naturopathic doctor for the appropriate dose of omega-3 fatty acid supplementation.

3. Get out there and exercise!  Exercise boosts your mood and increases the amount of endorphins (the happiness hormones) in your body.  There are many fun outdoor winter activities to take advantage of such as skating, snowshoeing, cross country or downhill skiing and snowboarding.  If these don’t interest you, investigate options for continuing your favourite summer activities indoors. Of course, there is always the gym and an unlimited amount of other exercise options available so figure out what you enjoy doing, get out there and move!

It is important to remember that the symptoms of SAD overlap with the symptoms of other health conditions such as major depressive disorder and hypothyroidism so it is always important to see your primary healthcare provider to have your symptoms investigated thoroughly.  It is also best to see them before starting any new supplements to make sure there are no interactions with medications you may be on.

Hopefully these tips leave you feeling happier this winter season!

Feel free to share your thoughts and other tips for preventing the winter blues 🙂