Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Low Fat Lifestyle

Starting a low fat, low sodium diet wasn’t just a matter of changing the foods we ate. I discovered that it was also a change of lifestyle. I wasn’t just changing out red meat for white chicken breast, or adding extra vegetables to the dinner plate. Food was no longer just meals eaten at various times throughout the day; food was the stuff that could break us down and kill us, or keep us well, healthy and active for many years to come.

Once I started cooking without the fats and salts we had become so accustomed to I discovered that we had more energy, and we actually wanted to do things like go for a walk and exercise. We wanted to play basketball with the kids and putz around with the yard work.

Whoa. We were active adults. With this new-found source of energy, we found that our attitude toward food was changing. For the better.

The thought of eating a Grand Slam breakfast at Dennys or a sausage McMuffin now makes us queasy. A fast food burger would make me gag.

Where once dinner was a thick slab of meat with piles of mashed potatoes and gravy, it’s now a low fat, flavor packed pork and broccoli stir-fry. We eat smaller portions and taste the food. Really taste it. This new attitude toward food is a lifestyle change.

What makes some foods more heart friendly than others? Fat and salt content, and how the food is prepared. Red meat contains more saturated fat than chicken or pork. Shrimp contains more cholesterol than tilapia fish. Salmon has more omega-3 oils than cod.

Mashed potatoes made with 2 percent milk and salt free butter is better than mashed potatoes made with whole milk and salted butter. A baked potato topped with low fat sour cream and chives is a better side dish than fried potatoes.

Stir-fried vegetables seasoned with Chinese Five Spice are better than steamed vegetables smothered in butter. Sliced apples make a better side dish than bread rolls.

Eating low fat, low salt foods isn’t just a change of menu. It’s developing a sense of how food is meant to be eaten, how starting with fresh, raw ingredients means you control what kind of fat goes into your body, how much salt you take in and how the food is prepared.

How you eat makes a difference in how you live. Your diet shouldn’t just be about your weight or your cholesterol levels. It should be about how you connect to food and how it connects to you and your life.

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