By: Tamara Jacobi
As teenager my understanding was that if you eat fat, you get fat. Straight forward enough, right? Thus, it seemed logical that if I wanted to lose those extra pounds I should cut all the fat out of my diet, which I did, with a vengeance. In my mind, fat was the enemy. Luckily, through a nutritional epiphany and my studies of holistic nutrition, I now know that the fat debate is not quite as cut and dried as I once thought. In fact, by severely restricting my fat intake I was not only was I actually doing my body a great deal of harm (which has taken me many years to undo), I was actually also sabotaging my weight loss efforts! If you’re still part of the “fat free” hype that deems all fats as equally bad it might be time to take another look at this philosophy.
We live in a nation with the largest fat-free food industry and yet we are the most overweight. According to the fat equals fat theory does this make any sense? The problem here is the quality of the fats we consume, not all fats are created equally. It’s crucial to be aware that some fats can do a lot of harm to our bodies and some are actually essential to our health. There is a delicate balance here of healthy fats to unhealthy fats and everyone is unique. You need to find the balance that works best for your body (I can support you with this!)
It’s easy to get stuck in a place that I have come to call “fat phobia.” I have to admit that I have been slow to conquer this. It’s always scary to intentionally eat something that I know falls into the fat category, mainly just because the word is so strongly equated with weight gain! But it’s really important that we clear this up and begin rewiring our brains a bit, particularly if we’re ever going to win the weight loss battle.
Now is a good time to get an understanding of something called “starvation mode”. When you go on a fat free diet (or very low calorie diet, beware of extreme diets and extended juice detoxes!) your body may no longer be receiving the basic macronutrients it needs to function, and consequently it will begin preparing for a period of famine. Yes, you and I know that a famine isn’t likely to come, but the natural biology of your body doesn’t know this! Your body is thinking that if it’s not going to be getting these important nutrients anytime soon then it better begin to store some fat. Your body also starts to inhibit the building of muscle in order to conserve energy.
There are several problems with this situation.
- Your body begins storing fat instead of burning it.
- Your body tries to stop building muscle. Muscle in your body is key for burning calories. As you lose muscle, your metabolism drops.
- Your appetite hormones go crazy. You become ravenous and you will not be able to fight cravings with will power.
- You’re depriving your body of nutrition! Fat is actually fuel for your brain, so depriving yourself can tamper with memory, mental clarity, focus (ADD), and many other brain functions. For women, healthy fats also play important role in balancing hormones and menstrual cycles. A fat deficient diet often leads to dry hair, dry skin, brittle hair or skin, mood issues, digestive, redness around the eyes, deficiency in fat soluble vitamins A D E, and the already mentioned inability to lose weight.
I’m guessing you’re starting to get the picture on why not to deprive your body of fats, particularly if you’re intentionally on a diet. So what’s the next step here? I recommend taking some time to evaluate the fats in your diet and find the balance of healthy fats that work for you. There are many different kinds of wonderful fats available to us and we shouldn’t be afraid!
Everyone is unique in the fats that they require and I’m ready to support you with this. Particularly if you’re looking to lose weight, or you’re simply confused about the role that fats should play in your diet I have some great recommendations that will get you started. Be sure to check out this FREE guide to get you started with listening to your body.
For now I’m putting a spot light on one of my favorite fats, avocado! I am the jungle girl after all! We have a great avocado grove right near the Tailwind jungle lodge. Even my yellow lab Pancho loves avocados!
Also check out my favorite Guacamole Recipe here.
Tamara Jacobi, Certified Health Coach
Tamara Jacobi is a certified health and nutrition coach who received her training at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She is the founder of Jungle Girl Health, www.junglegirlhealth.com, offering health coaching over the phone to individuals who are ready to feel and look their best. By using whole foods for healing and lifestyle balancing techniques, Tamara helps people understand how to heal and nourish their bodies completely.
Tamara leads an adventurous and active lifestyle, dividing her time between the Colorado Rocky Mountains and the Mexican Pacific coastline. In Mexico, she is the owner and manager of the Tailwind jungle lodge, a certified sustainable jungle lodge and adventure tour company just north of Puerto Vallarta, www.tailwindjunglelodge.com. Tamara also guides adventure tours for the Tailwind jungle lodge including sea kayaking, stand up paddle boarding and hiking. In her free time she spends as much time as possible playing outside. She is a passionate skier, road biker, trail runner and stand up paddle boarder.