What To Do If You Hate Your Job

 

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It is SO important to wake up every day and look forward to how you will be spending it. For many people, at least eight hours of this will be at work. For the sake of health and happiness, you just gotta love it. It is non-negotiable. Stress hormones and negative thoughts can wreak havoc on your over all health.

Your current job is not your final destination, unless you want it to be. No matter your age. It may seem like you are stuck in a job because that is all you are trained to do, or because that is the only area that you have experience in. This is not true. This is an excuse, because action takes effort.

For most, quitting your job immediately is not an option. Gradually working towards a new career goal is. You have options that extend further than quitting or staying. They are not immediate. That’s OK. Here are a few:

  • Retrain in a totally new job. Studying does take time, but make it a priority and you will fit it in. There are unlimited study options out there, including part time study that you can complete from the comfort of your own couch. This is how I am studying nutritional science right now alongside a teaching job (note: I also love teaching!). Take out a student loan and see it as an investment in your health.
  • Transfer your skills to an entirely new role. Think outside the box about how to use the excellent skills you have learnt and developed in your current job, study, or during life in general, in a different job. Then, build up a super-convincing case that makes you irresistible to any employer. Have super-high confidence and believe in yourself, and go and sell yourself to employers face to face. Don’t give up at the first ‘no’ and keep going until you get a ‘yes!’ Good things take time. And effort. You will get a ‘yes.’
  • Get creative, develop your own dream occupation, and work for yourself. AKA, become an entrepreneur. It is totally possible. Broaden your perspective on what entails a job. We are in 2016. You can be so much more creative with your career now. Even half an hour a day dedicated to creating your empire will pay off eventually. Keep taking steps forward, celebrate the small wins, and don’t give up until you have created your own entrepreneurial small business. Then turn it into a large business if you want. Somewhere along the line you will have enough confidence in your own project to be able to quit your current job.
  • Move to a different department within the company that you currently work for. Unless, of course, your employer is the reason you hate your job. If your employer already values you and your contribution to their company, it is likely they would rather create a new role for you than see you go. Set up a meeting and pitch it to them. They are human too, and they probably want you to be happy!

Try not to let money influence your job choice. I am very convinced that money only brings empty, unsustainable happiness. Instead focus on what you love – you will become more successful that way anyway.

During your journey towards a better job, don’t waste negative feelings on your current job. Instead of complaining about the aspects you hate, try to find the parts of it that you love, and be grateful for these. Your work-mates, your clients, morning tea shouts, a cosy workspace, the pot plant on the window-sill, a good pay-rate, the fact that you have an income, and thinking about the difference you might be making to other people, could be some of these. Take comfort in the fact that you are taking little steps towards a more fulfilling job in the future. Do awesome stuff outside of your job. Find passion in a hobby. Appreciate the great things happening outside of your job. Appreciate the people around you. Stay happy and healthy, keep focussing on eating good food, getting exercise, and taking me-time.

So take those first steps now, and watch your life slowly fall into place. These are just some ideas to start with. You might have better ideas. Life is too short to wish you were doing something else! Go for it!

By Franklee Healthy

A little message at the end: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science, and I do my best to consult reliable research. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts, because I would love to know more.

A Gradual Transition Towards Health is O.K.

 

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Feelings of failure can sometimes creep to the surface when we do not stick to promises that we have made ourselves. They shouldn’t, because a gradual process is natural and OK.

Positive health and wellbeing is becoming a priority for more and more people as we realise that cancers and heart disease (for example) are not going to disappear by themselves. But too often, one will give up their quest for full health because they just cannot immediately stick to the mission.

Stop being so hard on yourself and realise that a full transition into a healthy lifestyle is not usually immediate. Here are some of the reasons:

  • Building new habits takes continuous repetition, until finally it sticks. Essentially you are training your mind. Training takes practice!
  • Successfully eating the right foods all of the time requires many of your hormones to rebalance once you’ve given up processed food and stress. Not until balance is reached will your body stop craving unhealthy foods and accept healthy food as its preference.
  • Acquiring accurate and up-to-date nutritional knowledge takes time… a lot of time! And you can’t DO until you KNOW. AKA, knowledge is power.

Right there are three reasons off the top of my head, that developing a healthy lifestyle takes time. In fact, because of the knowledge factor, I reckon the development never stops. Research is always being updated (thank the mystical higher powers, because otherwise we’d all be doomed).

I, for one, am one-hundred-percent still developing my healthy lifestyle. For example I am very sure in my decision to stop using chemicals in my life (think beauty and cleaning products for starters). I have definitely taken steps towards this goal, but am still very much in the process of finding the right, affordable products (or homemade recipes) for me. I am also definitive in the fact I will eat healthy, real food for the rest of my life, but am still in the process of learning exactly what micronutrients I receive from each food source, and which ones are missing in the South Island, New Zealand environment that I live in. I’m figuring out whether I need to supplement any of these, and if so how much and when?

So if you have made a health goal, try not to stress if you make a few mistakes here and there and be open to development along the way. I would even argue that a gradual transition is more effective than an immediate one (if an immediate one is even possible), because it becomes embedded in your day-to-day life and is therefore sustainable. It shows that you are committed for the long haul. So, I reckon keep reading, listening, watching, sharing and learning, and commit to health for life!

By Franklee Healthy

A little message at the end: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science, and I do my best to consult reliable research. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts, because I would love to know more.

Pimp Your Veggies – 10 ways to improve vegetable deliciousness

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Vegetables are the essence of life! Without those little beauties, we wouldn’t last very long on this Earth. But, some people really struggle to gobble them up at every meal. So here are five ways to pimp your veggies!

  1. Fry them in butter or olive oil and salt – I do this with broccoli, cabbage and zucchini.
  2. Make a mash or puree – boil a mixture of veggies, drain, add butter, cream and salt, and puree or mash until smooth. Combos that I use include kumara and parsnip (sometimes with leftover broccoli and cauliflower stems), cauliflower and kumara, parsnip and carrot, pumpkin and peas.
  3. Re-purpose leftovers into a new meal – for example, use them in a frittata or pie the next day.
  4. Add dried fruit – I got the idea of mixing a few dried cranberries to cabbage from Irena Macri http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/about/ from Eat Drink Paleo http://eatdrinkpaleo.com.au/ (hyperlink these!). Just be careful of the sugar content; keep the dried fruit portion small and use this trick infrequently.
  5. Add chopped bacon! We all know bacon makes everything better (but unfortunately it is tricky to find nasty-free and free-range bacon at the moment!! Sometimes farmers markets provide a win here). For example, fry some chopped up bacon until crispy, then add finely chopped veggies (cabbage is good) and cook together with the bacon and its fat.
  6. Make them into chippies! Slice as thin as possible (use a mandolin or slice setting on your food processor), coat in olive oil or butter, sprinkle on some salt a bake on a high heat for half an hour.
  7. Add seeds or crushed nuts – Broccoli is easily lifted when fried with pumpkin seeds (in butter or olive oil), for example.
  8. Disguise them within your dish – for example, grated carrots and zucchini are barely noticeable in a well-cooked cottage pie.
  9. Mix with bits of crispy fried haloumi – pretty self-explanatory I think.
  10. Spiralise them! Ok, so this doesn’t actually change the flavour but it is so much fun! Think zucchini noodles for your spag bowl, or curly kumara fries as a side.

Veggies are awesome, and I hope this helps a few people up their intake so they can live healthier, happier lives! Yay!

By Franklee Healthy

A little message at the end: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science, and I do my best to consult reliable research. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts, because I would love to know more.

 

Your Busy Life – It’s YOUR Choice

 

Red Skirt on Rocks copyHow are you? This is a common kiwi question when bumping into someone familiar. The answer is often ‘Busy but good, thanks’. Have you noticed this too?

Despite the word ‘good’ being in the reply, quite often the busy-ness has a negative undertone. It is like the person has been forced into it and left with no spare time to relax. A modern slave, you could say. Sometimes it becomes a competition between people. Warning signs include comparing personal to-do lists.

The thing is, we all have choice! Every action that you take in this life is totally up to you. I personally do not see being busy as a bad thing. I often measure the success of my day based on how many awesome things I got to do. But I do not force myself into doing things that I don’t want to do. You are only busy if you choose to be busy! I know it is my choice, and I like to do lots of things, so I choose to fill my schedule with activities that make me feel good. Here are some tips from my own life that might help you to enjoy yours.

  1. I do not rush in the morning. I feel that the pace of my morning routine sets the mood for the day. I get up an hour before I need to leave for work and really enjoy the start of my day. I take my time to make a yummy, healthy breakfast, and often eat it while browsing a book. I methodically prepare all of the things I need for the day and make sure I am organised, so that there is (usually) no rushing around like a mad chook to get things done.
  2. I go to a job that I enjoy. I chose to train in areas that I loved rather than areas that would make me money. And I am so glad that I did. I look forward to going to work each day and often take time to reflect on the reasons that I love my job. If you are in a job that you do not love, then it is never to late to change that! Tae a step towards a job you have a passion for.
  3. I am passionate about my evening activities. My after-work activities are ones that I love. These include exercising in ways I enjoy (usually yoga, weights sessions, dancing or a running adventure with friends), cooking a real food dinner, reading (novels and nutrition books), blogging, recipe experimenting, and catching up with friends. Sometime, I just don’t feel like doing anything. So I don’t. Because it is my choice!
  4. I have goals that I am working towards. I feel like goals add a sense of purpose and fulfilment to life. I work on them foe at least a few minutes each day.
  5. I reflect. I consciously acknowledge what I have achieved over the day and consider how my daily activities have enriched my life. And if they haven’t, I make a little mental note of how I can change that. Often you can change a task that you don’t enjoy into one that you do, just by tweaking a little something… often this little something is attitude.

So start to notice how you live your own life, and make those changes so you can enjoy every minute of it. If you are sick of being so busy, then just don’t be. Make some changes. Think about your priorities. If you don’t like it, then don’t do it. Find a new approach. Make the most of every minute. Live your best possible life!

A little message at the end: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science, and I do my best to consult reliable research. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts, because I would love to know more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attitude and Perspective – Achieving Your Health Goals

Riverton Coast Run Pano

An awesome running adventure along the coast of Riverton, Southland with Rosanna

Lose fat, get shinier hair, achieve clear skin, get fitter, get energised, eat cleaner – almost everyone has a health goal on his or her radar. Are you achieving yours?

Tracking progress can be an important part of achieving your personal health goals. BUT, there are so many different ways to track progress that it can become overwhelming. I reckon that if you have your attitude and perspective in order, then there is NOTHING stopping you! Here is some advice should you wish to use it (but remember it is also important to think for yourself):

10 little suggestions that you can implement RIGHT NOW!

  1. Make overall wellbeing your goal. A goal to become healthier and happier is a more positive and sustainable than setting an aesthetic bar to reach (think bikini body and get shredded programmes). Weight loss and positive visual changes will often become an added bonus.
  2. Keep a positive attitude: I believe that slow progress is good progress, because it is sustainable! If you make positive changes every day, then eventually you will eliminate bad habits and continue to thrive in your health well into the future.
  3. Be open-minded: Your perception of ‘healthy’ today, can change with time. Be open to change and tweak your lifestyle choices to keep up with your values (and science). Remember how fat used to be the bad guy, and now it’s sugar?
  4. Have realistic steps in place to reach your goal. Planning your food for the week, removing all crap food from your house, and finding like-minded friends can help.
  5. Monitor your progress on how you feel: yes the scales, BMI measurements, skin-folds (for example) can give you a tangible progress report, but of what? The numbers splurted out by these tests are only telling you isolated results and cannot tell you about your overall health and wellbeing. You already know how you feel… that is why you made health goals in the first place.
  6. Be honest with yourself. If you have been falling back into your old lifestyle habits then take a mental check-in, admit that you have been a bit side-tracked, get over it and keep moving forward with your new lifestyle. Sometimes you just need to give yourself an honest kick up the bum.
  7. Remember why you are doing it: to live the healthiest, happiest, most energetic life that you possibly can! To me, it is all about the quality of life right now and hopefully, all the way into old age. I lead an honestly healthy lifestyle because I want to be active, mobile and independent for the rest of my life. I want to stay out of hospital and always do the things that I love to do and be around the people I love!
  8. Stick to your guns: often when you are in the process of positively changing your lifestyle choices, others try to stop you…. Without even realising it! ‘Oh come on have a biscuit, treat yourself,’ sound familiar? A simple ‘no thanks’ should do the trick, and remind yourself that you want to be healthy, not sick.
  9. It’s your journey: the only person you should compare yourself to is yourself! You have no idea what that glowing goddess that runs the health food store (a totally imaginary example) has going on in her life. Just worry about yourself and that will do.
  10. Think for yourself! Decide yourself (based on a mixture of personal anecdotal evidence and science-based research) the way that you want to eat and live. It is important to question information that you see (especially on TV and in magazines), because you don’t know how reliable it might be. Taking up every diet that pops up is not often effective.

I hope this helps someone to achieve his or her health goals; it has certainly reminded me of mine! Here’s to healthy, happy, energetic, fun-filled lives!

Riverton Coast Run Selfie

A little message at the end: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science, and I do my best to consult reliable research. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts, because I would love to know more.

 

 

 

 

Choose Your Own Curry Adventure: make a real-food curry from scratch

 

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Curries are delicious first and foremost. When made from real ingredients, they’re also super good for you. They are easy to make. They are cheap to make. And, they are easy to vary depending on what’s in the cupboard. So let’s get started.

I begin all of my curries by sizzling some sliced onions and chopped up garlic in a generous (like, really generous) amount of oil or fat. (I use a good cast-iron pan and a wooden spoon). Think ghee, butter, coconut oil or olive oil. I do this on a medium to low heat until they are nice and soft. Yeah, this is an enjoy-the-process kind of meal; the longer it takes, the better the flavours. Put on some music and get into it.

 Next, I add an array of dried and ground spices and salt. You can mix it up here, choosing from any combination of cumin, turmeric, ground ginger, garam masala, ras el hanout, curry powder, chilli flakes, ground coriander and paprika. Or, use a quality curry paste that contains only good things (my favourite is massaman). Fresh ginger and lemongrass can be welcome additions here, too. Stir your selection (as many as you like – a cumin, paprika, turmeric, ginger combo is a starting point – TBSP of each) through the oil, onions and garlic until it starts to smell amazing.

Some creamy goodness and some stock come next for me; about a cup of each. Pour in a can of coconut cream (my favourite), some yoghurt, or full fat cream, and some homemade stock if you have any made up; chicken or veggie stock for white meats and beef/lamb stock for red meats. Or just ignore that rule. Alternatively use water and a little extra salt. Add it to your pan and let it simmer for a wee bit.

Now add some chopped meat (or not – veggie curries are great too. Try chickpeas, lentils or paneer cheese! If using paneer then add it at the end). My favourite has got to be white fish – but add it at the end instead. Let the meat cook through in the creamy curry goodness until half cooked.

Time for the veggies – add any that you like, chopped up small, and continue to simmer away for another 20 minutes or so.

Taste your curry regularly until it has the perfect flavour and consistency for you!

Remember if you are using fish or paneer, add it towards the end as they take a lot less time to cook.

You can add some fresh coriander at the end too.

*Tip: Baby spinach stirred through at the end adds a nutrient boost!

*Tip: You can just throw it all in the slow cooker, give it a stir and cook on low for about 8 hours. Easy!

Enjoy your curry adventure!

 

A little message at the end: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science, and I do my best to consult reliable research. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts, because I would love to know more.

 

5 Simple and Affordable Healthy Meals

 

PORK AND FENNEL SAUSAGES

Pork, Fennel and Apple ‘Sausages’

A good home comfort meal – almost bangers and mash.

Serves: About 4   Time: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients: A kilo of pork mince, chopped spring onion, a tablespoon of fennel seeds, a grated apple, a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (optional), a teaspoon of tamari (or soy sauce or liquid aminos),  salt and pepper. Depending on your quality of pork mince, you might need an egg to bring it together. See what you think.

Steps: Mix it all together in a bowl. Shape into sausages and lay on a baking tray. Bake for about 20 mins. We served ours with cauliflower mash and kumara/coconut cream mash. Yummy! Or, just serve it with your favourite veggies.

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Wholesome, satiating beef patties with a touch of earthiness from the beetroot. And quick and easy too!

Feeds: About a family of 4   Time: 30-40 minutes

Ingredients: Beef mince (I used 1kg to feed a few plus leftovers for lunch), 1 grated beetroot – no need to peel, 2 eggs, chives, crushed or chopped fresh garlic, a few pinches of cinnamon, salt and pepper.

Steps: Thoroughly mix the ingredients together in a bowl. Make into patties with your hands. Either heat a pan with butter or coconut oil and fry on both sides until cooked through, or bake in the oven on about 180 degrees celsius for 20-30 minutes or until cooked through.

You can serve these however you like! I ate mine with brussels sprouts fried in butter, parsnip chippies, and a big dollop of homemade hummus. YUMMMM!

Enjoy. Experiment. Make it your own! 

 

IMG_4281Ginger Chicken 

I had Ginger Chicken countless times while travelling South-East Asia, and needed it when we got home. Ginger is one of those foods that I hated with a passion as a kid (ah, mum… did you put ginger in this?!), and can’t get enough of now.

Serves: 4ish      Time: About 30 mins

Ingredients: Coconut oil, a chopped onion, a fair bit of grated fresh ginger – about 5cms or more maybe, a crushed garlic clove or two, a finely chopped fresh chilli, a tablespoon of fish sauce, about a kilogram of chopped chicken breast (or whatever cut you prefer), finely grated zucchini and some baby spinach, salt and pepper.

Steps: Heat a generous amount of coconut oil on a low-medium heat in a frying pan or wok. Add onion, garlic, ginger, chilli and fish sauce, and saute (stirring) for a good 10 minutes at least. It will become soft and aromatic, but shouldn’t be browning. If it is, turn down the heat. Add your chicken and continue to stir until the chicken is almost cooked through. At this point, add grated zucchini and spinach, salt and pepper, and continue to stir until the chicken is just cooked and still juicy. I served mine with oven-baked kumara chips and steamed broccoli. Mmmm mmm.

Chicken and Bacon Mash Up 

Time: 25 minutes Serves: How long is a piece of string? Just up your amounts for bigger crowds!

Ingredients: Diced chicken breasts, thighs or leftover roast chook, any veggies from the fridge chopped into little bits, baby spinach, eggs, butter, salt and pepper.

Steps: Fry your chicken in a pan heated with butter until half cooked through. Add chopped veggies and continue to fry. Towards the end, add spinach, salt and pepper and then crack one or two eggs into the mix and stir until just cooked through. Serve!

*If you want a creamy consistency then add a dollop of cream cheese or crème fraiche and stir through at the end! A sprinkle of cinnamon goes nicely too.

*I shall add a photo of this once I get one!

Honey-Soy Chicken with Kumara Mash and Broccoli

Time: 25 minutes Serves: Again, make as much or as little as you want.

Ingredients: Whole chicken thighs – or chop them in half if they’re big ones, soy sauce, a touch of honey or rice malt syrup if you use it (fructose free), a half a teaspoon of Chinese five-spice olive oil or butter for cooking. Broccoli in flourets and diced kumara (sweet potato) – or your favourite veggies! Butter and a smidgen of milk, salt and pepper.

Steps: Half-fill two medium pots with water that you have already boiled in the kettle, and set them on the stove on a medium heat. Add your kumara to one and let it bubble away. Leave the other one for the broccoli in the last five minutes.

Mix the soy sauce, honey or rice malt syrup and Chinese five-spice together in a bowl. Add the chicken thighs and coat them in the mix. Heat a pan with butter or olive oil to a medium heat and add the chicken. Cook on both sides until cooked through. Don’t overcook it!

Five minutes before it is all cooked add broccoli to the boiling water and simmer for a few minutes until nicely softened. Drain your kumara, mash it up in the pot with some butter and splash of milk, salt and pepper. Serve your chicken with the kumara mash and broccoli on a plate and enjoy!

*Coconut cream is also a beautiful addition to kumara mash.

 *I shall add a photo of this once I get one too!

Tip: I often do not include exact measurements in my recipes, because I think it is so important (and enjoyable!) to feel your way and make it yours. This is how you learn to cook yummy real food with whatever you have on hand. Enjoy the process!

Next week’s blog post will show you how to make an easy and delicious curry from scratch, using the ingredients in your cupboard. Home-made curries are a fab go-to affordable healthy meal!

 

 

3 Questions You Need to Ask Yourself if you ‘Can’t Afford Healthy Food’

IMG_7195 (2)‘I can’t afford healthy food,’ and ‘I don’t have time to cook’ are common first world statements. I get it – life can be busy and challenging – but if you are someone who makes these claims, then ask yourself these questions.

What are your priorities? – Modern daily pressures combined with family commitments and squeezing in some leisure time means that a lot of people do not have time to cook with real food. Ask yourself; ‘what are my priorities?’ I urge you to make your health and wellbeing one of them. Make time to do it. You don’t need to get fancy – whipping up a nutritious stir-fry takes twenty minutes. Can you shuffle around your priorities and put aside a half-hour to cook you and your family a nutritious meal?

Am I over-complicating it? Healthy food has been glorified to include all sorts of exotic tid-bits from around the world, and so people develop a perception that they cannot possibly afford healthy food. Think chia seeds, raw cacao powder, almond meal, coconut flour, apple cider vinegar, acai berries, goji berries, bone broth, coconut oil… and loads more. Yepp, that stuff can get expensive. The beauty? You don’t need these super foods to be healthy! Just keep it basic; eat fruit, vegetables and meat cooked in some good fat with some modest herbs and spices, and you’re away laughing. Try it. Oh, and your palate will come to love the flavours of real food in time… trust me.

What do I actually spend my money on? A lot of people fill their trolley with processed foods because it is cheap. To reference food journalist, Mark Bittman, you are filling your trolley with calories, not nutrition. You starve your body of essential nutrients. You get hungrier and eat more, because your body cannot get truly full by eating processed crap. Your inclination to buy unhealthy snacks and takeaways increases, because you suffer from sudden extreme starvation while you’re out and about. It’s an addiction. You can tell by the way your kids beg you to buy every treat that drifts past their eye-level. You spend more money on vitamin supplements, immune support, medical supplies and bills because your body and mind struggle to stay healthy on your processed food diet. You spend more money on beauty products because your skin, hair and nails just ain’t glowin’ on that processed food diet. Just find a way to fit basic healthy food into your weekly budget and I bet you will reap the benefits financially, physically and mentally.

So, you can’t afford a healthy diet? Can you afford increased medical bills? Can you afford to suffer from cancers, heart diseases and diabetes? Can you afford to lose family members to illness? I acknowledge that I write this post from a position of comfort; I have a semi-constant income stream. I do not have children. I am already healthy. I have a supportive family. I live in the first world (although, this post is written for a first-world audience). I live in a comfortable house. I understand that circumstances are different for everyone.

Next week I will post five dinner recipes that are quick, easy and affordable. I encourage you to do a real food grocery shop, cook the recipes each night, and see how you go. Get into it, and feel great!

A little message at the end: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science, and I do my best to consult reliable research. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts, because I would love to know more.

Are all Fats Created Equal?

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#don’tfearfat #fatisyourfriend, #eatyourgoodfats … I’m sure by now you have heard the trendy catch-phrases on health-food blogs and social media pages. Eating dietary fat is indeed becoming popular in the foodie world. What many food scientists have known all along is finally reaching the public ear, and actually being heard above the racket of the food industry’s apparently detrimental ‘eat low-fat’ messages. Science is proving to us that our bodies actually need dietary fat, and even favour saturated fat. So, this gives us a license to stuff our faces with all those fatty foods we dream of, right? Fat is fat? Well… sorry, but not quite. Let’s take a look at three different types of fats; saturated fats, monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats, and how they can affect our bodies.

Saturated fats are found in foods like meat, fish, yoghurt, butter, cheese, cream, coconut and some other nuts, for example. They’re the fats that become solid at room temperature. At a very basic level of understanding, saturated fats are made up of carbon atoms that are joined to each other with single bonds. Each of these carbon atoms connects with two hydrogen atoms. This makes them saturated with hydrogen, which is why they are called saturated fats. Saturated fats are stable, and unchanged when exposed to heat.

Monounsaturated fats are found in foods like extra virgin olive oil. Like saturated fats, monounsaturated fats have single carbon bonds, but they also have one double bond. The carbon atoms with single bonds have two hydrogen atoms connected to them, but the carbon atom with the double bond has only one hydrogen. So, monounsaturated fats are missing one hydrogen atom, meaning they are not saturated with hydrogen (mono = one, and unsaturated = not saturated with hydrogen). We can call monounsaturated fats semi-stable; they are unchanged on low heats, but change (and become rancid, or oxidated) when exposed to high heats.

Polyunsaturated fats are found in most seed and nut oils, vegetable oils, margarine, and almost all processed foods. Polyunsaturated fats have multiple (two or more) double-bonded carbon atoms, each of which joins with only one hydrogen atom. Again, this means that polyunsaturated fats are missing multiple hydrogen atoms, so are not saturated with hydrogen (poly = many, and unsaturated = not saturated with hydrogen). These fats are unstable, and become rancid (or oxidated) when exposed to even low heats. So, do not use them for cooking (or better, not at all).

So there you go, a very basic run down on the chemical makeup of saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. But why does this matter? How do they affect our precious bodies? Basically, we do not want highly reactive fats cruising around in our bodies. Particularly when oxygen is the very thing they are reactive with; something that we humans need a lot of, to, you know…. breathe. This means a big tick for saturated fats. Their hydrogen saturation means they are non-reactive with oxygen. Monounsaturated fats are okay too; just don’t heat them up too high. But polyunsaturated fats… they are extremely reactive with oxygen, which can cause a lot of damage to the body’s cells and to our natural cell reproduction processes. This interruption can lead to a lot of problems. In one of my absolute favourite books, Eat Real Food, David Gillespie explains (in a very readable manner) seven main ways that polyunsaturated fats can hurt your body. It causes cancer, contributes (with its good friend fructose) to heart disease, causes blindness, causes Parkinson’s disease, causes autoimmune diseases, gives you osteoporosis and causes allergies and asthma. He also explains a handful of ways in which it can harm your unborn baby, but we won’t go into that.

Yes, our bodies do need some polyunsaturated fat (or Omega 3 and 6), but only an extremely minimal amount… and more than that can be harmful. We need to eat it, as our bodies cannot produce it. The good news is, we will easily consume enough of it if we are eating real foods. The bad news is that almost all packaged foods now use polyunsaturated fats in favour of saturated and monounsaturated fats. It is cheap for ‘food’ (if you can call it that) producers to use. The food industry and significant health associations have been drumming it into us to avoid saturated fats and instead eat seed oils, vegetable oils, and margarine, because it is healthier and it will help prevent disease. I’m really not too sure why, and quite frankly it seems they can’t back it up either; at least not with science. Of course I have a little inkling that it is profit driven, and they really don’t have our health in mind at all.

So when you are choosing your fats at the supermarket, choose virgin olive oils, avocado oils, macadamia oils, full fat butters, unrefined coconut oils, and even animal fats like lard and tallow. They are not going to cause all of that oxidation at a cellular level. The solid ones are going to be better for cooking (because they are more stable), and the liquid ones may be better for drizzling on salads etc. Do not choose (most) nut and seed oils, or fake ‘low fat’ products like margarine. Canola oil, cottonseed oil, vegetable oil of any sort, sesame oil, soybean oil are all out of the question if you care about your health. The cheap ones, basically. If you think about it, it would have been very difficult to extract large amounts of oils from many of those products. It is just not meant to be. Saturated fats naturally occur in their sources in higher quantities, which means we are probably meant to eat them in higher quantities. sense? If it all gets too confusing, then eating real food is a simple and cost effective solution.

A little message at the end: These blog posts are simply to help me process my own learning. I have no medical, health-science-y background… although I am studying towards a diploma of nutritional science, and I do my best to consult reliable research. If you see any info that doesn’t quite look right, then great! Comment away with your thoughts, because I would love to know more.