Hello dear friends!
One of the greatest things about the Paleo diet is how well-rounded it is- lots of fresh produce, a good amount of clean protein, and plenty of healthy fat to keep you satisfied and filled with energy. But there is still a pervasive fear of fat that is rampant in our culture, which keeps many people from eating enough to keep their bodies healthy. Our cells, especially in our nervous system, need fat to survive; so placing too many restrictions on this valuable nutrient can lead to a variety of symptoms and a general feeling of fatigue.
Some people try to switch to a primal-style diet, but neglect to include enough fat to be sustainable, and end up going back to their old eating habits within a few weeks. But there’s no need to write off the amazing benefits of the Paleo diet- you just need to start nourishing your body with more fat! There is a reason why this lifestyle is so popular right now- after decades of fat restriction, we are finally encouraged to eat more (from natural sources, of course) and we’re feeling better because of it.
If you are new to the Paleo way, or if you feel like your current nutrition is missing something, check out your fat intake. And if you have any of these symptoms, your body may be trying to tell you to gobble up some more avocados and coconut oil!
1. You’re feeling blue
One of the most serious symptoms of too little fat in the diet is depression, which can sometimes be severe, depending on the level of fat restriction. Your brain needs fat molecules to regulate levels of neurotransmitters and other hormones that control your moods, and since your brain is made entirely of fat itself, dietary intake of this nutrient is key in keeping your emotions and thoughts running smoothly. Pay attention too, if you’re feeling consistently irritable or moody, as this is another symptom of neurotransmitter dysfunction.
2. You’re having trouble conceiving
Fats play a crucial role in the creation of sex hormones, and women of childbearing age especially need to have enough to support pregnancy. If your dietary fat intake is too low, it sends a signal to your body that you don’t have the nutrients needed to sustain a healthy 9 months and create a healthy baby, so it will become much harder to become pregnant (and will probably alter your menstrual cycle as well). And if you do manage to conceive, a low-fat diet will increase your risk of complications. Luckily, this is easily reversible with a few nutritional tweaks!
3. You can’t concentrate at work
When you starve your nervous system of fats, all the electrical impulses slow down, resulting in something called brain fog. This can range from minor fuzziness to more serious lapses in memory, concentration, and motor coordination. Our neurons are coated with myelin, a type of fat that acts as an insulator and allows quick communication between nerves, and if you don’t have enough fat to replace and nourish those cells, you can feel slow and spacey. And this of course, can interfere with your job, household responsibilities, hobbies, and relationships.
4. You have uncontrollable cravings
Those powerful yearnings for high-fat, high-carb foods may be a sign that something is seriously off in your nutritional intake. Healthy fats are naturally satiating, and leave you feeling full and focused, not wanting to go on a three-day donut bender. But when your dietary fat is insufficient, you may experience severe cravings, especially for things that are high in sugar, fat, and carbohydrates. This combination creates a quick hit of pleasure chemicals in the brain, which may create a negative spiral effect, and sabotage your efforts to adhere to the Paleo lifestyle!
5. Your skin is always cold and dry
Fats play an important role in both our temperature regulation and maintenance of skin moisture, so if both of these things are off, you may need to rethink your diet. When you are always the one shivering in your coat on a warm day, or are having to constantly slather on lotion to combat your dry, itchy skin, it’s a good indication that your body wants more fat. When your fat intake is adequate, your hormones and temperature are more regular, and your skin should be warmer, softer, and more rosy.
If you have been experiencing any of these five warning signs, it’s a good idea to sit down and really assess what you are eating every day. A truly balanced and healthy Paleo diet has plenty of fat from natural sources, so go out and stock up on things like:
- coconut oil
- pastured eggs
- grass-fed steak
- grass-fed butter
Keep in mind that it make take a little time to adjust to the idea that fat is not the enemy. Trust me, we've all been guilted by the food industry long enough, that it may feel strange and even rebellious, to choose snacks that are rich in fat. But when you start to notice better sleep, clearer thinking, more elevated moods, and softer skin, you'll be glad you made the switch. Helping people overcome their fear of fat and create nutritional strategies that are sustainable and delicious are two things I love to do, so if you need some guidance, check out my health coaching services!
So friends, what's for dinner?
~ Hoping you feel as well as possible ~