Fat-free foods & Calories
The low-fat craze has gone too far. In my practice as a nutrition therapist, my clients are not only confused, they feel betrayed: “I’m eating fat-free foods, “they say. “Why am I not losing weight?” “I’m counting fat grams instead of calories, but I’m still fat!” “Aren’t fat-free products healthier?”
Let’s clear up something right away: most of us aren’t gaining weight because we’re eating too much fat. In fact, we’re eating less fat than ever. Since the 1970s, the proportion of calories Americans get from fat has decreased from an average of 37 percent to 34 percent. Yet we’ve increased our collective girth: according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 50 percent of adults are overweight. What are we doing wrong?
The focus on fat content seems to have backfired: we’ve forgotten all about calories. According to a government study, we’re taking in nearly 250 more calories a day now than we were 30 years ago. Meanwhile, Americans are spending over $30 billion a year on weight control, a large chunk of that on diet and low-fat foods.
I can’t tell you how many of my clients have made the (mistaken) assumption that because a food is labeled fat-free, they could eat as much of it as they wanted. So instead of replacing high-fat foods with low-calorie fruits and vegetables, they’ve been bulking up on highly processed foods loaded with added sugars and refined starches, which offer little nutrition other than calories.
SOURCE: Redbook Magazine, 2002
It’s certainly true that fat-free foods can be high in calories. In fact, they can be even higher in calories than full fat foods.
However, statistics showing reduced fat consumption need to be treated with caution. Nearly 50 cents out of every dollar spent on food is spent OUTSIDE the home. On reduced fat restaurants? I don’t think so!