People who have worked with me know my gentle ways with anything related to nutrition, with the exception of TRANS FATS. I get a little worked up about it and rightly so! I urge the clients I work with to eliminate Trans Fats from all non-essential food souces (mostly processed, snacky foods). This is a big hairy deal coming from a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. Learning Intuitive Eating takes the chaos out of feeding ourselves, our families, helps people recover from eating disorders, helps dieters never diet or restrict again. Learning how to eat without binging, restricting and dieting involves de-emphasizing and eliminating terms ‘good’ and ‘bad’ related to foods. Removing labels and the thoughts and feelings related to such labels/foods allows the free will to choose foods to eat without guilt. This process is essential in becoming and intuitive eater. Balance is emphasized. Learning Intuitive Eating with a Registered Dietitian is important because it is also about good, sound nutrition for optimal health. There is so much nutrition information in the media it is difficult to sort out what to pay attention to and what to ignore. Don’t ignore this: TRANS FATS ARE FLAT OUT HAZARDOUS TO YOUR HEALTH! SO HARMFUL THAT THE FDA FINALLY BANNED THEM JUNE 16, 2015. HALLELUJIAH! I REJOICE.
Food companies have the next 3 years to reformulate their products so you will have to be diligent about your trans fat intake until then.
What is a trans fat?
Trans fat is PARTIALLY HYDROGENATED VEGETABLE OIL on the label. It is a liquid oil that is modified (hydrogens added) to become a solid fat. It is added to foods to increase shelf life. It is cheap to produce and use and has been added to our foods since after World War II.
The RDA for trans fat is 2g/d or less.
WHERE ARE TRANS FATS FOUND?
Trans fats are added to foods to increase SHELF LIFE. Remember that because you will look for them in pies, cookies, crackers, refrigerated dough products, pizzas – think BAKED GOODS! Also found in stick margarines, cake frostings, microwave popcorns, coffee creamers, some soft tortillas, donuts.
There are naturally occurring trans fats. These are found in animal products such as meat, milk and milk products. The higher the fat content the greater the amount of trans fat.
There is a direct correlation between trans fat intake and an increase in LDL, the ‘bad’ cholesterol that increases risk of heart disease. Epidemiologists estimated that trans fats are responsible for 50,000+ deaths annually. Woah. This stuff is crazy bad! If your LDL is high…start looking at the labels of common foods you eat.
What I recommend:
- READ LABELS!!! If it is in a box or package, READ THE LABEL…if it is in the freezer or refrigerated section, read the label. Look for partially hydrogenated vegetable oil. IF the package claims, “0 GRAMS OF TRANS FAT” it can still contain .5g of trans fat per serving. So, READ THE LABEL. Claims on packages are confusing and misleading. Plus, seriously? Who eats just 1 serving? Do not buy those products anymore. Find an acceptable alternative for a snack food. If you’d like help, contact me.
- To decrease intake of naturally occurring trans fats choose skinless and lean meats, low or non fat dairy products, cook with olive oil, canola versus lard.
- Choose more whole, less processed foods for snacks when possible. So cliché, but fruits and vegetables are great snack foods and with a little preparation, can also be a convenient snack.
EQUALLY IMPORTANT – WHAT IS GOING TO REPLACE TRANS FATS?
Since 2000s companies have been decreasing trans fat use in products and for deep frying. PALM OIL, a saturated fat, has quickly been taking over our food and hygiene products. (Big Sigh.) Rainforests, tropical forests and their ecosystems are being destroyed and cleared to farm palm oil. I add this to bring an awareness to not only products that impact our health, but the health of our planet and cultures/systems supported by the ecosystems that are being destroyed.
Other replacements may be butter and coconut oil. Some companies are attempting to develop new oils. Considering what the development of trans fat has done for the health of our population makes me wary of newly designed ones.
Long story short. Choosing less processed, more whole, basic foods take much mystery out of what all those ingredients are on the label. We can always strive to improve how we eat and live. I can help you improve how you eat and feed yourself by empowering you with sound nutrition advice coupled with sustainable methods for your health and weight goals. I look forward to hearing from you.