A little less than a year ago I switched to cooking (and baking) with coconut oil. My only motivation at the time was to help in managing my weight which has been a life-long struggle. I read a post about coconut oil and decided to give it a try. As it turned out, my husband and I both prefer cooking with coconut oil over olive oil and it seemed to be the extra push that I needed to steadily lose weight.
I was reading another list last night about all of the benefits of eating coconut oil and I can say that I ticked off at least ten different, noticeable changes in my health since making the switch to cooking (almost exclusively) with coconut oil.
No. 1 – Aids in weight management.
The number one benefit, and primary reason for switching, was to aid in working towards a healthy weight. I have been actively working on losing weight for a little more than a year, but progress has been slow. I have been eating a reformed diet that is well-balanced and on the mark for calorie content. But I still struggle, partly due to my unenthusiastic approach to working out, and partly due to stress. While I didn’t expect it to yield significant results, I thought it couldn’t hurt to put one more thing in the ‘working for me’ column.
At the start of 2015 I made some pretty significant lifestyle changes that I am proud to say I carried through the entire year. I completely cut starchy carbs from my diet (occurring mostly as sides to dinners) and replaced them with an extra serving of protein. I became the kind of person who eats salads instead of a burger and fries, and I carefully tracked all of my food to make sure that I wasn’t overeating. But, despite all of the effort I was putting into it, the scale did not budge by one single pound for the first three months. There was a time that I would have given up there, abandoned my plan, and ordered a pizza. But, alas, 2015 was the year of change for me. Instead, I started looking for other things that I could do to help (mainly trying to avoid the pharmaceuticals that my doctor was pushing on me at the time). I made the switch to cooking with coconut oil (not expecting much) and finally started to see some very slow progress. Over the next three months I shed 24 pounds. It’s not that the coconut oil was the magic solution, it just proved to be that little bit extra that I was missing among everything else that I was doing.
Fast forward to the recent holiday season, for which I was ill-prepared in the healthy eating department and I was sure that I had blew it and gained back the whole 24 pounds that I had worked so hard to lose. Amidst the many, many indulgences through the holiday season; we continued to cook our regular meals with coconut oil. When I finally worked up the courage to step on the scale after weeks of cookies, cakes, egg nog, and pie…i was in disbelief. Not only had I not gained the weight back, but I was down four more pounds!
No. 2 – Reduced Cravings for Junk Food
There was a time, prior to my diet reform, that if an opportunity presented itself for something sweet…I was going to eat. In not so many words, I L-O-V-E chocolate. But, gradually, over the last year I have been noticeably craving less and less in the sweets and other junk foods department. Initially I thought that it was just a by-product of eating healthy, and that might be true to some degree. But, today as I was standing in the checkout line at the grocery store and I was presented with $0.39 candy bars, the desire to have one was completely gone. And, today isn’t the only example. A few weeks ago the hubs brought home my all-time favorite Ice Cream and I allowed him to eat the entire carton (over the course of a week) and never felt the desire to have a single cup.
Undoubtedly, cutting the cravings for junk food is part of why coconut oil has been shown to aid in managing weight, but it has done so well for me that it is worth its own mention. I was skeptical that the coconut oil was really responsible (at first) so I came up with other explanations. I assumed that it was because I was doing good at eating less sweets and therefore craving them less. And, that is true, to an extent. But, I never completely quit craving them until I added the coconut oil. Before the coconut oil, the cravings were still there, they were just less powerful.
3. Helps reduce stress and symptoms of depression.
Stress is one of the main reasons that I started off with as the cause for my slow progress at losing weight. Additionally, I suffer from varying degrees of depression. I have not been clinically medicated for it for a long time, but it has still been there in varying degrees almost all of the time.
Over the last year, I have noticed that the swings of depression occur much less frequently and much less severely. I would even go as far as to say that I have been more motivated and productive than my depression has ever allowed me to be before. Again, to some extent, this change is from the positive effects of being able to shed some weight. But, I firmly believe that it is due in part to the coconut oil that I have been adding to my diet regularly.
4. Boosts the immune system.
This one was also recently proven for me. A couple of weeks ago the hubs brought home a terrible cold virus (and yes he does eat the coconut oil as well, but he also had direct contact with the source of the virus). Over the duration of two weeks, he suffered and I waited, knowing that it would soon be my fate as well. This particular virus was pretty rough (for him), he had terrible sinus pressure that manifested as severe jaw pain. He had the whole runny nose thing that prompts him to stuff Kleenex in his nostrils (much to my disliking). He had an ear infection, and he had a handful of other odd-ball symptoms. I did inevitably catch a bit of the cold virus, but as I was preparing for the worst of it, it abruptly disappeared. The extent of my “cold” was 12 hours of a slightly scratchy throat and light stuffiness when I would first wake up in the morning that would dissipate within an hour of being up.
5. Helps improve circulation, Good for people who naturally run a bit colder.
As long as I can remember, I have been the person who needs an extra layer, or five. I keep a blanket at my desk at work AND I have a space heater. And still, I drink warm beverages like coffee/tea all day long and often wear my coat while sitting at my desk. At least that is what I used to do. So far this year I haven’t felt the need.
I was curious why I was suddenly so much more comfortable spending all day sitting at my desk at work. I mean surely they didn’t turn the heat up just to keep me from wearing my coat around all day, right? I took my basal body temperature consistently for six weeks. Historically, my average basal body temperature has stuck around 95.3 degrees Fahrenheit. There is normal fluctuation throughout my feminine cycle, but 95.3 was the “normal” temperature for me. After my six week experiment, I found that not only has my basal body temperature raised by one full degree, now averaging 96.3. But, I also had far less fluctuation throughout my cycle. There were still the normal spikes with ovulation and during the second half of my cycle when hormone levels are rising, but my shifts were more like .3 degrees instead of jumping and dipping by full degrees.