Are you fat-phobic?

Sunflower-oil-free-license-CC0I’m talking about food here. If so, you’re not alone. The majority of us have been raised on the message that fat is bad. There is a prevalence of low-fat versions of all foods, particularly dairy.  The margarine vs butter debate has been argued for decades, each time adding more confusion.  We have our tea or coffee with low-fat or ‘skinny’ milk. We believe that low-fat yogurt is the best option. We choose meat that has little or no fat in it. We’re told that eating fat will make us fat or lead to heart disease or worse. We check food packets for information about the fat content. We feel guilty eating fat. Have you ever considered where these messages about fat originated and how much is true? Are we benefitting from this message and our feelings towards fat? If not, who is?

Recently, I have been thinking about these questions. I’m a huge believer in just eating real food. Food in its most natural form, just what our grandparents and great grandparents ate. There are so many ways of eating these days that value this. Our ancestors ate fat in its most natural form, think lard, butter, olive oil, whole milk, animal fat etc. However, it is only in recent times that obesity and the interest in dieting have become significant. If you’ve seen That Sugar Film, you would understand that it’s sugar, not fat, that will add centimetres to your waistline. So do we need to re-think our idea of fat? Can fat actually improve our health? Let’s start with the basics:

  1. All fats are not equal. There is good and bad.
  2. Nutrient rich traditional fats can nourish your body. They allow our cells to work properly and strengthen the immune system. Saturated fats are necessary for our lungs, kidney function and hormone production. It also helps to aid our digestion. Read more about the benefits here and here.
  3. Trans fats are the worst fats. Think polyunsaturated and hydrogenated vegetable oils and fried foods. These increase the likelihood of disease. Find out more here.

I know this is just scratching the surface of a huge topic which I will keep exploring. I hope it has sparked some of your own questions. It’s time to change our relationship with fat. We need to get to know fat a little better. You never know, fat could become your body’s best friend!

How do you feel about fat? Please leave a comment below.

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That Sugar Film – Review

TSFAs someone who has significantly reduced the amount of processed foods and particularly sugar from my diet, I can’t imagine taking on this crazy experiment myself. For 60 days, Damon Gameau, sacrifices his healthy body and consumes a high sugar diet, documenting the effects this has on his body, emotions and health.

The scariest part is that he doesn’t seek out junk food for this experiment. Instead he only eats foods which are commonly perceived as healthy. Think low fat yogurt, ‘healthy’ cereal, muesli bars, juice, sandwiches etc.

Earlier this year the World Health Organisation published draft guidelines recommending the average daily intake of sugar for an average adult should be 6 teaspoons. However, the average Australian is having up to 40 teaspoons of sugar a day. This is the magic number that Damon went with to increase his sugar intake to each day.

On the first day of his experiment his breakfast included cereal, low fat yogurt and a glass of apple juice. A common breakfast for many people, including children before a day of learning at school. The sugar content was 20 teaspoons. This left us thinking about how easy it is for people to be consuming 40 teaspoons a day and also, what is the consequence of all of this sugar on our health and wellbeing?

Along with following Damon on his sugar laden journey, the film is punctuated with facts about how sugar affects our brain, our hormonal system, our organs and our emotions. We take a look at how the brain responds to sugar, the ‘sugar high’ and how we become addicted. We learn about the history of sugar and how it came to be included in 80% of foods we see on supermarket shelves.  We also hear how marketing and big business has impacted the availability and inclusion of sugar in most food products.

During the experiment, Damon travels to the USA. This portion of the film was incredibly fascinating to me as it was at this point that he found it very difficult to find ‘healthy’ foods. The majority of foods were straight up junk food. It was also during this part of the film that we were introduced to the negative effects of soft drink on people’s health and appearance. I was horrified to hear that some parents put soft drink in their baby’s bottle. I was also horrified to hear that it is ‘normal’ in some areas to drink 12 cans of Mountain Dew a day. I was even more shocked to see the effects of this on a 17 year olds’ teeth, or lack of.

In just a week he had put on 2kgs. By the end of the 60 days he had added 10cm to his waist and was in danger of a variety of illnesses if he continued the diet. His appearance had changed significantly, not only was he bigger but he had dark circles under his eyes and his complexion was dull.

Damon’s story is fascinating and the facts behind it are compelling.  It is all presented in a highly entertaining and engaging format. He obviously has a sense of humour and this really succeeds in keeping the audience involved the whole way through.

The main take away from the Q&A session was that this is something each one of us has power over. We may watch a film about global warming and think, “What can I do about it?” But with this film, the message is that each of us is empowered to make our own choices that positively impact our own health right now. On your next supermarket visit, put less packaged food into your trolley and only shop from around the aisles. Eat real food!

In my cinema there were a variety of age groups enjoying this film, from young kids to old folk. I encourage everyone of every age to go and see this film. Take your kids, your parents, your grandparents. You can make a change to the way you eat at any age!

The final question after the movie was from a young girl around the age of 8. She asked how she could get That Sugar Film into schools. She got it. At 8 years old she got the message that there needs to be a change with the way we eat. Isn’t that encouraging?

Have you seen That Sugar Film? What was your key take away? What surprised or inspired you?

Find out more about That Sugar Film here.