Saturday, 16 October 2010 17:20

A Shift in Perspective: Perhaps Oil Isn’t So UnHealthy After All...

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A few months ago I was determined to cut oil out of my diet entirely, and while many people I trusted were supportive and in agreement with my reasons for doing so, there were many others who...well, thought I was crazy. Mainly because I had just cut gluten, soy, and refined sugars out of my diet - oil on top of all that seemed a little extreme. Sure, it is extreme in terms of the standard American diet - if I don’t eat meat, dairy, eggs, honey, gluten, soy, oil, or refined foods then what the heck do I eat? Truth be told, I eat a ton - from grains to beans to nuts to seeds to fruits to vegetables (check out What Whitney Ate Today for specifics). 

However, I realized that cutting out oil all together was extreme, so I decided to have it in moderation. I recently started using organic cold pressed extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and coconut oil again, and my taste buds are thrilled! Yesterday I went a little nuts with oil - I made hummus with freshly cooked chickpeas and EVOO, lentils and rice with onions caramelized in coconut oil, and organic popcorn with coconut oil and nutritional yeast - my mouth was quite happy (I promise I'll share the recipes soon). Yes, I went a little overboard, but I was quite thrilled when I removed the oil restraints, so I decided to let loose. 
In general, I believe that most things should be had in moderation. While I’ve cut gluten, soy, and refined sugar out of my diet, occasionally I’ll make exceptions, but my body will suffer the repercussions (bloating and mood swings). I tend to feel OK when I consume high quality oils, but I realize that they can be detrimental. I need to do some more research on the downsides of consuming oils, but have found influence from T. Colin Campbell and Dr. McDougall.
I should point out that my journey to take oil out of my diet led me to discover that it really isn’t all that necessary to include it in meals, and I realized how poorly educated most of us are when it comes to cooking. A great example is sautéing vegetables - most cookbooks instruct us to fry veggies in butter or olive oils, when using water or vegetable broth is just as effective. Once I made the no-oil rule I found lots of creative ways to work around it in the kitchen. Check out these oil-free recipes.

How do you feel about oils? Do you think they’re healthy? Is it OK to have them all the time, in moderation, or not at all? Please back up your opinion with references if possible - would love to see who has influenced you and why. : )
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