Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Maybe I Should Clarify This High Fat Diet Thing...

Don't be fooled, I did all my back tracking on Monday. But I have been thinking alot about the 7 pounds I have gained, and about some books that I have been reading, which we'll talk about next week, and I decided that I needed to address the whole fat thing.

We are as a nation obsessed with fat. We are obsessed with fat on our plates, in our animals and in our own bodies. We have gotten to the point that fat is so frightening that our conception of female beauty is actually an underweight woman. And that is a travesty, both for my gender as well as the future of our culture. But there have been whole books written about that topic, and I don't have the strength to tackle it here. But Fat, I will deal with you now.

In the 80s, people became obsessed with fat. The first USDA food pyramid came out in the late 80s after a long time of categorizing food by the much more appropriate Basic 7 and later the more simplistic Basic 4. The first USDA food pyramid emphasized a low fat diet. Later that same decade then Surgeon General C. Everett Koop declared that Ice Cream should be considered as dangerous as cigarettes. He was sure that fatty diets were causing most of the country's heart disease. Here is a fascinating article from 2007 about dietary fat and nutrition. What is astounding to me is that obesity rates spiked drastically after about 1980, right around the time that fat became a demon and HFCS because a standard issue ingredient in processed foods.

In my November post about How I Beat the Sugar Monster, I talked about how I eat fat. I embrace fat. I am not afraid of fat. But I have taken special care to reduce the amount of overly processed fats I eat, like corn and soybean oil. And eating grass fed or pastured meat is important too, because those animals, overall, are healthier. So the animals fats I eat are cleaner too. I have even started to add fats to my daily diet, like coconut oil to my breakfast and more olive oil to my salads for lunch. Good right?

Absolutely. Except...I probably didn't need to add too much fat to my diet in the form of added fats. I drink whole milk, I eat whole yogurt, I have 2-3 avocados throughout the course of a week. I also eat a full array of meat and other animal products, like raw cheese. My diet is rich with healthy fats. But when I found out for sure that I had gained the weight, I started thinking about my energy levels. I have been feeling more sluggish recently. I have been favoring higher calorie foods recently. Maybe there is a connection.

As I pondered my 'situation' I thought about how I used to eat in the past. Even just a few years ago I saw fat as baaaaaaad for you. It was sure to make you fat. I never liked the low fat versions of anything because they were so processed and lousy tasting and full of chemicals that I didn't want to eat. My way of eating low fat was to eat foods that were naturally low in fat and to cook with relatively little added fat. And I did lose weight that way, because I was eating less. Recently since I have been eating more fat, I have noticed that my skin has looked better, plumper, brighter. I believe that is because my body is balanced overall. Healthy skin really does come from within.

But As the weather has cooled, I might have embraced fats too much. In the summer months raw veggies are all around us. The winter gives us harder veggies that must be peeled or boiled or roasted in order to be eaten. They are more time consuming. I have really wanted to remain true to the seasons. So I have eschewed imported tomatoes for pumpkins, trucked in green beans for turnips and high mileage corn for kale. But overall I have simply had more meals that didn't include fresh veggies. My breakfast of late would be just granola, no fruit. Whereas in the summer, berries would be so cheap and plentiful I would eat as much fruit as granola, making me fuller faster! The same thing has been happening at dinner. I have fewer seasonal veggie options that I can make quickly, so I am more apt to serve potatoes (or rice) with a meat, sans veg. Is anyone else going through this? There were even several weeks where my grocery store did not have organic broccoli and green beans, so I didn't even have a choice. All in all, the process has been more difficult, so I have been eating less fresh veggies. And all the while I have been pouring extra fat on my diet telling myself that it was important to my diet.

I have been pissed for a while by nutritionists that write articles on Yahoo or The Huffington Post and say that fat should be eaten in moderation because it can lead to the over consumption of calories. I mean, what kind of nonsense is that? Fat makes you full. I have never been so full as when I transitioned back to eating foods that had natural fat in them. But I am starting to understand the thinking. We should be eating foods that are rich in natural fats like whole milk and meat and avocados. And added fats will be added to cold salads and cooking. But...we don't need to lose our minds. Just as we cannot be afraid of fat itself, neither can we be afraid that we are not getting enough. I should not be adding more olive oil to my salad every day than I always did. Because I always added enough. Now that I know how important fat is, I don't really need MORE. My old diet was not fat deficient. I admit it. I was a bit like a kid that learned a new word and wanted to try it out in every sentence. I have gone a bit too far with fat. I gained 7 pounds (I am sure that Christmas office treats played a role in that too), so now I have a bit more respect for fat.

My whole 'thing' is about self discovery and pushing the limits. I am pleased that I did just that. I am pleased that I went too far and added too much fat to my diet because now I know the limit. I know that I will sensibly lose my 7 pounds and I won't have to buy a gym membership or hot pink leg warmers or some $600 laser-something at Bliss to work on my cellulite. I promise that in 2011 I will not lose my mind. I will add oils to my salads, but I won't drink from the bottle (I never actually did that). I will cook with coconut oil, but not spoon it like a supplement (I never actually did that either). I mean--I just don't need to, I know some people love doing just that. But I get enough through cooking. And when I am cooking, I will use enough butter or oil to make my food delicious, not overly greasy. Fat is good for you, but she is a bitch if you don't treat her right. Take it from me.


  1. If you want to slim done you should not only reduce portions but also limit or eliminate dairy. Don't worry about fat.

  2. "I have been pissed for a while by nutritionists that write articles on Yahoo or The Huffington Post and say that fat should be eaten in moderation because it can lead to the over consumption of calories. I mean, what kind of nonsense is that? Fat makes you full."

    I love it! How interesting to read another person's re-education about food. I've been doing the same thing since I read "In Defense of Food" 2 years ago. At first there was this mad liberating feeling about the realization that I just needed to eat real food to be healthy. (Nothing but bacon and chocolate every day!!!!). Obviously that wasn't going to work. But the most valuable lesson I learned was that I needed to listen to my body. When I feel good, I know I'm eating good. It's been a process, and it's still going on. Thanks for the post!