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Just now, I glimpsed over at the wax paper that just 5 minutes ago wrapped around half of a turkey on rosemary foccacia sandwich from Whole Foods. All that remains now is a sliver of avocado and some lone sprouts. I think I’ll eat it … OK, I just did. Mmmm. That was delicious.
I’m a little bit obsessed with avocados right now — more than I think I’ve ever been in my whole life. I refused to eat guacamole as kid. (I called it “Green Slime,” after the gunk that kids would get doused in on Nickelodeon’s You Can’t Do That On Television.) Although I love it now, I’ve always kept it — and its plain counterpart — at an arm’s length.
Why? It has been pounded into my brain since I started “dieting” at the ripe old age of say, 10 or 11 years old, that it’s a big, fat no-no. You want to fit into your jeans? Pass on that nutty trail mix. Not a fan of cellulite? Skip the avocado in your salad. When you’re playing the straight-up, old-school diet numbers game — fat equals fat.
But I’m not playing that game anymore. I’ve learned that I have to focus now on eating healthy foods that mainly promote satiety. The best way to do this is by focusing on eating lean proteins, good fats and complex carbs with all of my meals and snacks.
Unsaturated fats do a particularly good job at increasing satiety, reducing hunger and minimally impacting blood sugar. In turn, eating them will stave off an awful feeling I know all too well: the blood sugar crash. It turns me into a wild-eyed, sugar-craving, brain foggy, eventually overeating and incredibly fatigued freak.
While it doesn’t mean that I’m slathering goat cheese and mayo on all my noshes now, I’ve had to quickly get over some of my fat fears. For instance, I’ve started to become less afraid of that avocado I love so much. Less afraid of a shmear of organic peanut butter on my super-duper healthy wheat and flaxseed toast in the morning. Or the handful of almonds as a snack.
Bonus: These once “scary” foods are actually dense in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats can actually lower your cholesterol and risk of heart disease.
I’ve also tended to steer clear of full-fat cheese until now. (Not that I would substitute it for the flavorless, un-meltable fat free kind. Yuck.) That left me in cheese-less limbo … until I realized that a little full-fat or slightly reduced fat cheese in my diet could help my health overall. The truth is, full-fat dairy goes a long way in keeping hunger at bay and even helping with muscle building, thanks to casein protein. Awesome. So, while I won’t be ordering Panera’s Signature Mac ‘n’ Cheese anytime soon (as tempting as it looks), I will throw a slice of sharp cheddar on my turkey sandwich.
Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this diet change feels foreign to me for awhile. A little piece of me wonders if I’m going to regret pairing my apple with a slice of cheese. I’m trying not to wince when I see 17 grams of fat in 2 Tbsp. of almond butter. I know — crazy, right? But I’m also learning to trust myself more and know that I can handle these foods in small, waistline-friendly portions that can speed up my metabolism while keeping me satisfied. For those reasons — and not to mention the taste bud-related benefits — I’m slowly, but gladly devoted to getting over my fear of fat.
What about you — are you afraid of fat?
By Carey Purcell, Special Guest Blogger to The Body Logic
In our culture of instant gratification and crash diets, it’s not surprising that reality TV star Bethany Frankel’s post-baby diet secret is to “Taste everything, eat nothing.”
My response can be summed up quite concisely: Ugh.
First, I’d like to address how ridiculous these “post-baby body” stories are. They’re everywhere, and they’re infuriating. Average women shouldn’t hold themselves to these insane standards. They’re just not realistic. And what’s more, they’re not healthy. These movie stars who drop 30 pounds in three weeks have personal chefs, personal trainers, and hours of free time every day to exercise. Who in real life has that luxury? I am not married, have no children and yet, I struggle work an hour of exercise into my life every day. If you don’t have the same resources as these wealthy celebrities, don’t have the same expectations as them.
Second, is it just me, or does Frankel’s advise sound, um, awful, to anyone else? The idea of eating nothing is not my idea of an enjoyable, healthy life, even if it would mean I’d be photographed in a “teeny turquoise two-piece” bathing suit for a trashy tabloid magazine. Why do celebrities, if you consider Frankel to be one, consider food the enemy? Why is it something that has to be avoided at all costs?
Food is not the enemy. As a former Weight Watcher, I struggled with my relationship with food for years and maybe I would have tried Frankel’s method myself. But now, after achieving a healthy weight and maintaining it for six years, I find Frankel’s mantra to be disturbing and dangerous. Food should not avoided and feared. The sensual and nutritional benefits of food should not be hampered by the PhotoShopped covers of grocery store shopping lane tabloids. (Another reason why I love Trader Joe’s! No magazines there!)
One of the crucial lessons I learned while losing weight was that food should be a pleasurable part of life. Food should be enjoyed. Food should be savored. If you want a treat, you can have a treat. You don’t have to run screaming from a piece of chocolate cake. Just work it into your healthy eating plan for the day or even the week by eating a healthy, vegetable-filled meal or add a bit of extra cardio to your workout the next morning. And if you’re going to have that treat, enjoy every bite of it! Don’t feel guilty. Don’t think, “I shouldn’t be eating this.” Take small bites, chew slowly. Savor it. These are “Naturally Thin” rules to live by. It makes me think … if she really wanted to stay true to her healthy living agenda, Bethenny would have been better off saying, “Don’t eat EVERYTHING; just enjoy everything you eat.”
Carey Purcell is self-confessed health junkie with an intense sweet tooth that she satisfies with small pieces of organic dark chocolate and large amounts of fresh fruit. Her workouts vary between yoga, Cuerpaso and simply commuting from the Upper East Side to Tribeca every day. She is the editor of MindBodySanctuary.com and a frequent contributor to the Health and Wellness section of Alternet.org. You can read her writing or contact her at CareyPurcell.com.