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Your Registered Dietitian Nutritionist & Nutritionist Team
Oil-free seems to be all the rage at the moment. But is this just another fad diet or is there some substance behind the claim that oil isn’t great for your health? Even the plant-based community is indecisive about this one.
Within the WFPB-SOS-community, which stands for whole food, plant-based, salt, oil and sugar-free, some doctors don’t recommend using oil because it’s not a whole food. According to them, it’s a processed food that doesn’t fall under the guise of WFPB. And while they are technically correct, does that make it automatically unhealthy?
Even medical professionals debate on this topic – and studies aren’t conclusive, either. Does oil have benefits after all or is it “bad” for you on the whole run? It’s hard to say for certain at this point and the recommendation for or against is highly individualized.
As a registered dietitian, I look at oil-free diets almost as if they were a prescription. If you are being recommended an oil-free diet, I suggest that you first speak to a dietitian or doctor about it and evaluate whether it’s appropriate for you personally and your medical condition.
I also fear that oil-free diets can feel restrictive or create thoughts around food that aren’t helpful. Perhaps it’s just that tablespoon of oil that gives your meal a really indulgent texture or flavor.
Why do we sometimes recommend an oil-free diet?
In my practice, I’ve put clients on whole food plant-based oil-free diets for the purpose of putting their type 2 diabetes into remission or helping them reduce significantly elevated cholesterol or triglycerides – with great success! But this isn’t something I do often.
Why is that?
Because following really strict rules can result in some sort of disordered eating or disordered thoughts around food. And that doesn’t really align with intuitive eating. But if you have a strong why and reason behind going oil-free, then give it a try. There is no harm in getting your fat from whole food sources, as long as it doesn’t harm your relationship with food or your nutrient profile.
I find it most important, however, that you listen to your body and see if an oil-free diet feels right in your body. And you’re the only one that knows the answer to that.
Personally, I was oil-free for a few years early on in my plant-based journey because a lot of doctors I respect talked about the benefits. However, I noticed increasing disordered thoughts and fear around oil, so I started incorporating it back in. As I’ve added oil back into my diet, I’m much more mindful of how I use oil, I have a much better relationship with it, and I still prefer to use a lot of the creative oil substitutes.
Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be one or the other.
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