Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Why is ice cream and chocolate so irresistible?

Not one of life's great philosophical questions but I think an important one for a lot of us and one that needs answering!

It actually came to mind when reading an invite for a full day conference on fats. Fats are so important for good health that it's common in nutrition to have entire seminars dedicated them. These are more and more focussed on the importance of eating the healthy 'essential fats' rather than on just the downsides of eating saturated or processed fats such as transfats.

The fact is that the functioning of every cell in our body is reliant on the presence of flexible unsaturated fats in the cell walls, so it's not surprising that they're on the body's checklist when it comes to food. This is why following a strict low-fat diet is so unsatisfying and leaves most people feeling hungry all the time.

Unfortunately the body isn't so good at differentiating between sources of healthy and unhealthy fats, so if you don't eat enough healthy fats your likely to experience indiscriminate fat cravings leaving you yearning for crisps, chips, cheese, butter and fatty cuts of meat.

And once you combine fats with sugar, which has well-proven addictive and drug like qualities, then you have a truly irresistible combination ... chocolate, ice cream, cookies ... Mmmm!

I digress! The point is that if you eat healthy fats every day your desire for the unhealthy types can be dramatically reduced.

It's good to start early in the day - with a couple of tablespoons of chopped nuts and seeds in your muesli or with your fruit salad or yoghurt. If you don't like either then take a good omega3+omega6 supplement with your breakfast or stir some ground flax seeds into your porridge.

Having some oily fish at lunchtime is another great way to keep afternoon crisp pangs away ... Mackerel, fresh tuna and salmon are all filling and satisfying because of their fat content. Just limit them to 3-4 times a week due to pollutant content.

Otherwise add some vegetarian healthy fats to your lunchtime salad - have some avocado or olives in your salad, add an olive or flax seed oil dressing and make sure you choose a seeded roll to go with your soup.

By dinner time your body should be fat happy and not craving steak and chips, followed by cookies and cream haagan daas. But if you are then start your dinner with a vinaigrette dressed salad or half a wholemeal roll from the bread basket dipped in olive oil. Fats also slow down stomach emptying so can help you feel more full ... by the time you get to dessert you'll feel too full to order!


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