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Is Low-Fat/No-Fat The Way To Go?

Not a chance!  You need fat so you can utilize important vitamins and minerals, stay warm, protect your cells and organs and have nice hair and skin.  Fats are in foods for another reason: they help the food taste better.  No question that whole milk yogurt has a richer, creamier, more satisfying flavor than it's non-fat counterpart.  Yet we've been led to believe that we are being "good" by choosing the container with less fat.  Not necessarily so.  You'll eat less and be more satisfied with the food that hasn't had its natural fat removed by manufacturing.

Healthful v. unhealthful fats

The trick is, you want to eat healthful fats.  How do you tell a healthful fat from a non-healthful fat?  You have to be a bit of a detective.  Some experts believe that chemically manipulated fats and fats that have been exposed to extreme heat, light, and air (causing rancidity) are at fault for causing a myriad of disease problems in the body.  Most processed foods contain these undesirable fats and oils.  Avoid products whose labels include terms like "partially hydrogenated," "hydrogenated," "trans-fat," or "refined oils."  Healthy fats come from minimally processed whole foods such as unroasted nuts and seeds, fish, avocados, butter, and extra-virgin olive oil.

Although healthful fats are excellent for your body, loading up on fatty foods right before a game won't serve your child well.  His body can't transform the fat into usable energy quickly and the fatty meal will send all his bodily forces towards a long slow digestion rather than to the muscles he needs to perform at his best.  So its okay for your kid to have a little butter on his bagel or pancake for his pre-game meal, but not the double cheeseburger!

Cynthia Lair is a blogger, author (with Scott Murdoch, PhD, RD) of Feeding the Young Athlete: Sports Nutrition Made Easy for Players and Parents (available on her website and from which this article has been adapted) and the newly revised 3rd edition of Feeding the Whole Family: Recipes for Babies, Young Children and Parents.  She is also the host of Cookus Interuptus, a web-based organic cooking show.

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