My mom recently mentioned that to a lot of people trying to be healthy can be really confusing and overwhelming. I remember when it was for me too. Not that long ago I was a vegetarian, eating low-fat, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, eating WAY too much sugar, and nuking dinner. I thought I was about average health wise. I had acne, irritable bowel, lactose intolerance, very screwed up hormones, hair loss, dry skin, extremely dry eyes, cavities, 4-5 sinus infections a year, hay fever, arthritis in my knees, fingers and wrists, constant sugar cravings, brain fog, depression and constant fatigue. Sounds pretty much like the average American to me right?
When I first started trying to improve my health, I had absolutely no idea where to start! What does healthy even mean? At the time I thought that eating an extremely low-fat vegetarian diet was the healthiest possible way to eat. But why was I feeling so miserable and sick all the time? That is where I ultimately started my research, and how I ended up reading hundreds of books about health and wellness. I made a list of over 100 health goals for myself. And then I got stuck!
I was very overwhelmed. Everything about my lifestyle was wrong and needed to be changed. What should I change first? How would I possibly make it through this big long list of goals? I stood looking around the house, at all the boxed and packaged and frozen foods, all the chemical cleaners, all the garbage that we had been eating and I wanted to throw it all away. But what would we eat?
I ended up starting with fats. And I think that is a very wise choice for anyone who is first starting out. Most people are eating WAY too much Omega 6 fatty acids and not enough Omega 3’s, leading to all sorts of health problems. This is a great place to start!
Your Health Journey Step #1
Look at the sources of Omega 6’s that you eat most often and reduce them. Increase foods containing Omega 3 fatty acids. Just this one step alone will make you part of the label reading family 🙂
FATS & FOODS TO ELIMINATE:
- Soybean Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Canola Oil
- Cottonseed Oil
- Vegetable Shortening
- Salad Dressing
- Safflower Oil
- Any food with the word “hydrogenated”
- Any food with the word ” trans-fat”
- Any food with the word “partially hydrogenated”
- Any food with the word “poly-unsaturated”
SOURCES OF HEALTHY FAT:
- Free-range eggs
- Grass-fed meat (including the organs)
- Winter Squash
- Kidney Beans
- Coconut Oil
- Lard from a pastured pig
- Beef Tallow from a grass-fed cow
- Chicken Fat- from a free-range chicken
- Fat from Geese, Ducks and other game birds
- Dear, Elk and other wild game
- Raw whole milk and all products made with it (yogurt, sour cream etc)
- Butter from a grass-fed cow
- Red Palm Oil
Your goal here is to transition from new fats, to fats that people have been eating for hundreds of years. Keep in your mind that heart disease and diabetes and all these new-fangled conditions were extremely rare. We started eating vegetable oils as our main source of fat (and huge quantities of sugar), and now these diseases are rampant. Makes sense to me….
For me step #1 looked like this:
I was buying country crock margarine in large tubs. I had no idea that is was poisonous. So I immediately started purchasing real butter. At first I didn’t worry about whether it was grass-fed butter, or organic butter. I just bought butter. Don’t get too caught up on the details or you’ll get stuck. That can come later.
Because I was a vegetarian at the time, I was eating a whole lot of salads, with store-bought salad dressings. I started learning how to make my own homemade salad dressings. They were delicious, and much cheaper than the ones from the store. So that step was easy.
I was using a lot of canola oil and vegetable shortening. I replaced both of those with coconut oil. I started frying and baking with it. (read about how coconut oil can help you lose weight here)
I was eating a very low-fat diet, and started increasing the amount of fat that I used. For instance when I made muffins I was previously using applesauce in place of the fat, so they were almost completely fat-free. I started making the muffins with 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil, and then eating the muffin slathered with butter. It took me a really long time to stop feeling guilty about that!
And guess what? Every single one of the health problems that I listed above have disappeared one by one. My health journey started many years ago, and I can honestly say that today I am the healthiest that I have ever been. My journey continues every day, and I still have a list of things that I am working on.
Your health journey will probably look completely different from mine (and it should). We all have to start somewhere!
So what are you working on? What is the next thing on your list? What does your journey to health look like today? Do you have specific questions about a fat you’re eating, or what to replace it with?