I was at a health fair a few weeks ago and came across this RIDICULOUS poster. As always, I thought it could be fun to clear up some nutrition confusion and health halos.
In case you can’t read the sign, here are some of the Redonkulous (as Leslie says) comparisons:
- the fat in a gallon of fat free milk= the fat of 1 tsp cream, 2 TBSP half & half, 1/3 cup whole milk, or 1 cup LF milk
- the fat in 1 chocolate donuts = the fat of 133 oranges
- the fat in 1 caramel nut candy bar = the fat of 28 licorices (because more sugar is way better for you than more fat??? Hint: sarcasm)
- the fat in 1/8 a bagel with 1 tsp of cream cheese = the fat of 1 whole bagel with jelly
- the fat of 2 french fries = the fat of 2 baked potatoes
Yes, if you are just comparing fat grams, the pictures and comparisons are true. But, this is precisely why looking at a food or meal as a whole is way more important than looking at 1 nutrient.
Let’s just look at 1 of the comparisons. For example, the fat grams in 1 donut may be equivalent to the fat grams of 133 oranges BUT:
- 133 oranges have 400 times (approximately 8000 calories) the calories of 1 donut
- Eating 133 oranges would cause serious GI issues: a.k.a. the runs
- Eating 133 oranges seems pretty impossible to me— fluid overload, acid overload, stomachache, fiber overload… whereas 1 donut would not be overfilling
You get the picture… it is RIDICULOUS to even make this comparison or any of the other food comparisons because the only thing we are comparing is fat grams.
*Disclaimer: I am not saying that 1 donut is a better choice than 1 orange (but every once and a while, a girl needs a donut). I think we all understand that an orange has lots of vitamins, minerals, fiber, and antioxidents. I am saying that choosing a low-fat option because it is “lighter” can be a health halo decision, distracting you from listening to your hunger and fullness cues. It could also cause you to overeat the “healthier” food.
Secondly, fat is not your enemy. Fat is your friend… so don’t be scared of it!
—Eating foods that contain some fat may increase satiety and decrease a person’s appetite. Think avocados, nuts/seeds, peanut butter, salmon, olive oil, dark chocolate, cheese, pesto, whole eggs, and more. Adding these foods into your meals will satisfy your taste buds as well as signal satiety to your brain.
—Our bodies need fat for health! Fat is an important nutrient for your brain and neural health, cell membranes, healthy skin, hormones, and energy!
—It’s important to reiterate that Eating fat does not=fat on our bodies. This is a common misperception. Fat isn’t the culprit for weight gain. Overeating any food (like the example of oranges above) can cause weight gain.
So, the next time you make a food decision, don’t base it off of fat grams and don’t let the “low-fat” health halo get you. Make decisions to balance your plate with whole foods that will satisfy! Fat is your friend… chew on that!
This post is by Janet Zimmerman, a University of Memphis Nutrition Student and Schilling Nutrition Therapy, LLC Intern. You can follow Janet on Twitter as well at