DIETFREE Habit 5 -Find the Fat and Know The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

DIETFREE Habit 5 –Find the Fat and Know The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

We’re at the half-way point of the DIET FREE Program proposed by Zonya Foco, R.D.  Here’s what I’ve noticed: (1) I am seldom hungry;(2) I have no food cravings; (3) Fresh cantaloupe and pineapple taste every bit as sweet to me as sugary desserts used to taste; (4) I have not had one inkling to buy Halloween treats this year; (5) My formerly too-tight clothes are fitting me just fine, thank you very much!

So what does Zonya have in store for us this week?  Habit #5: Find the fat and know the good, the bad and the ugly.  Should we eat a fat-free diet?  No!  We need some good fats in our diets for our skin, hair, and complexion.  We need fat to fight arthritis by keeping our joints fluid.  We need fat to keep our veins and arteries pliable, and we need it for brain functioning.    What we need to know are which fats are good for us and which fats are bad for us.  We need to learn which fats to put into our bodies and which fats to avoid.

Learn to read food labels.  Labels list total grams of fat, grams of saturated fat, and grams of trans fat. Trans fats are produced when food manufacturers chemically alter the fats. Trans Fats are the “ugly fats.”  People have been trying to avoid trans fats for awhile now, but the manufacturers have caught on to the trend and will tout foods as “Trans Fat Free.”  Does that necessarily mean the food is good for you?  No, a junk food is still a junk food!  For example, have you ever read the label on a granola bar?  The label may list 0 g. of Trans fats, but when you read on you will find “partially hydrogenated soybean oil” as the 4th ingredient out of about 50 ingredients.  How can that be?!  If a food has less that 0.4 g. of trans fat, the manufacturer can round down to zero!  Take care!   If you have 2 granola bars, you’re starting to let trans fats sneak into your diet.  The same thing is true of margarine.  Get “partially hydrogenated fat” out of your household!  The Harvard School of Public Health states: “Replacement of partially hydrogenated fat in the U.S. diet with NATURAL UNHYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OILS would prevent approximately 30,000 premature coronary deaths per year.”  Other studies place that number closer to 100,000!  Wow.

What is saturated fat (AKA the “Bad Fat”)?  Saturated fat is the fat that is white and solid at room temperature. Think highly marbled steak, bacon, etc.  Whole milk has too much saturated fat for adults—even 2 % milk has too much.  And, sadly for me, cheese has too much saturated fat—and it has trans fat!.  Does that mean I have to give up cheese completely?  No, but I should aim for a small portion (a cube 1”x1”x 1”) of low-fat cheese and only occasionally, instead of eating that half-block of cheese in one sitting!  So, Zonya asks, which is better for you: butter or margarine?  The answer is neither!  Butter is a saturated (or Bad Fat) and margarine has trans fat (the Ugly Fat).  Olive oil is better.  Try acting Italian and dip your bread in olive oil instead of spreading on butter or margarine. 

All right.Enough of the bad news.  What are the “Good Fats”?  Think about monounsaturated fats like olive oil, canola oil, nuts and avocados.  Or,better yet, how about thepolyunsaturated Omega 3s, found in flax, soybean nuts, salmon and other fatty fish?  Studies show that increasing the good Omega 3 fats can: lower the risk of death from heart disease, reduce depression, protect against cognitive decline (dementia and Alzheimer’s), and may even prevent cancer and eye diseases.

In summary, this week:

  1. Increase the Good Fats(polyunsaturated Omega 3s and monounsaturated fats):
    1. Eat salmon or fish 2 twice a week. 
    2. Use olive oil instead of butter or margarine on your bread.
    3. Eat a few almonds.
    4. Add a bit of avocado to your salad.


  1. Reduce your Bad Fats (saturated fats):
    1. Cut out FRIED FOODS.
    2. Choose skim milk instead of whole or 2%.
    3. Limit highly marbled meat (e.g. steak) to no more than 4 oz. per week.
    4. Eat less cheese. 


  1. Eliminate the Ugly Fats (trans fats):
    1. Read food labels.
    2. Avoid foods with trans fats and partially hydrogenated oils.


Good luck!



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