Monday, March 19, 2012

Healthy Fried Foods?

When I first started the weight loss thing, I carefully inventoried the range and types of foods I was eating to see what needed to be "modified".  As I've said many times before, I knew I wouldn't be successful if I gave up everything I liked and was fully focused on the fact that whatever path I chose in regards to food I would have to maintain for the rest of my life.  Thus, I had to seek balance between, the good, the bad and the ugly.  Plus, I  decided to look beyond just losing weight and also focus on being healthy.

Well, right there on the top of my "everyday" food list was something quite obvious - a bunch of fried foods.  Being from the South, it was a normal staple of life - fried chicken, bacon, sausage, french fries, fried fish, fried seafood, even fried vegetables...  But everything I was reading said frying was bad.  So how do you give it all up - cold turkey?  You don't! 

Step one is moderation.  Cut back on those things that are obviously unhealthy, but don't toss them aside, or the cravings will be so strong that you will probably give in and fail on your mission to lose weight and/or improve your health. And you can gradually decrease consumption over time.  For example, I eat very little in the way of fried foods anymore (several years later) but still can't eliminate french fries completely... (TIP: Eat slow like the website says - you will fill up quicker!)

Step two is alternative cooking.  As it turns out, with frying its not so much the cooking process as it is the ingredients used in the process.  Proven fact: using olive oil or sunflower oil for frying foods is a healthier alternative than using standard vegetable oils and such wonders as "lard".  This is a huge key for supporting your weight loss efforts - alternative cooking solutions.  Though it's kinda hard to make a bad thing good, you can certainly make not so good things better... with a bit of culinary creativity.

A study published in the British Medical Journal supports the concept of preparing fried foods using healthier alternatives.  In the study, 40,000 Spanish adults (I love Spain - didn't see many fat people there either...) age 29 to 69 were followed for an average of 11 years and interviewed about their cooking habits.  Long story short, it was found that eating fried foods cooked in olive, sunflower or alternative oils was not associated with incident coronary heart disease, or coronary heart disease events, even after adjusting for factors such as calorie intake, sex, age, body mass index and high blood pressure.

So two key factors for modifying how you eat - moderation and preparation.  But don't lose sight of the fact, that you still may be eating unhealthy, even with alternative cooking methods, so always pay attention to the big picture.  I'm not sure that bacon will ever fall into the category of healthy eating...

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