Some fats in the diet are essential for good health, and a moderate amount of body fat does not necessarily compromise your health. However, excess fat around the abdomen does increase your risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, stroke, sleep apnea, arthritis and some forms of cancer. Waist size associated with a higher health risk would be over 40 inches for men, and over 35 inches for women.
Fat is contained in just about everything we eat, and this is especially true with prepared and fast foods. There are some things you can do to cut down on the amount of fat you take into your system.
Meats, Poultry and Fish. When shopping for meats choose lean cuts with as little marbling of fat as possible. Also select extra lean ground beef. When cooking trim all fat from the meat and remove the skin from poultry. Also, avoid high fat meat products such as salami, bacon, sausage and franks. Broil or bake all meat rather than frying in oil. When selecting fish avoid fried fish, frozen fish in batter, and canned fish in oil.
Fats and Oils. Use a minimal amount of oil when cooking and select light or reduced fat spreads. No stick sprays are also a better choice.
Salad Dressings and Sauces. When selecting sauces avoid cheese, alfredo, and creamy sauces. It is best to use light, reduced-fat, or fat-free brands, and try substituting mayonnaise with fat-free yogurt. It is also healthier if you make your own dressings with olive oil and cider vinegar.
Dairy Products. Dairy products can be high in fat. For this reason, choose low-fat or non-fat milk, yogurts, and cheese.
Snacks. Avoid high-fat snacks such as potato chips, corn/tortilla chips, cheese puffs, buttered popcorn, and chocolate bars.
Desserts and Sweets. High-fat desserts include cake, pie, pastries, cheesecake, puddings and most cookies. Learn to enjoy fresh fruit, canned fruit in lite syrup, low-fat ice cream and frozen yogurt instead.
Fast Foods. Just about all fast food is high in fat and calories, especially deep-fried food such as chicken, French fries, and onion rings. If you like pizzas try to avoid sausage and pepperoni with moderate amounts of cheese. Hamburgers and bacon are the worst when it comes to high fat, calories and sodium - all bad for your health. If you must eat out switch to delis that offer sandwiches or pitas with fillings, as long as you don't pile on the ham or heavy meats. Limit your meat and cheese to smaller portions.
Coffees. Coffee on the whole is not full of fat or calories - it's what we add to the coffee that matters. Lattes and frappuccinos topped with whipped cream is definitely out!
Eating a healthier diet does not have to be painful. With a few minor adjustments you can begin to see the results without having to avoid the foods you enjoy. Begin by paying close attention to the labels of foods and compare regular products to the low-fat version to see how much fat you will be cutting from your diet. If you have children begin by teaching them healthy eating habits early in life so they can grow to become healthy adults.