For my second healthy eating series post I thought I’d do another topic that I have lots of personal experience with. FAT. Have I ever been “fat”? No. Did I spend way too many years of my life obsessing over fat? Yes! And now that I know how important fat is in your diet I wish I hadn’t been so fat-phobic. It has had a serious impact on my health.
I’ll start with my story. Around 9th grade I started to become much more conscious of my body…and comparing myself to everyone else. I didn’t like how I looked. So I decided to stop eating fat. Almost completely. Seriously. I ate about as low fat as humanly possible. If something was available in a fat free version, I ate it. If I had to I’d tolerate some low fat stuff. I was literally scared of fat. I wouldn’t touch anything with oil or butter. I lost weight…too much weight. And was not healthy at all. I was getting zero nutrition, just empty, fat free calories. But I didn’t see that. I saw someone that was “skinny.” So I liked it. Once I got into that mode it was a long road for me to get out of it. That’s when my OCD really picked up. What I ate…how much, how little, how much fat became an obsession. I was very unhealthy for many years. My weight went up and down as I was more or less strict about things. But I was always very obsessed with weight and what I ate. It really wasn’t until about a year ago that I truly started to change my mindset. And seeing food as nourishing. I wish I had understood sooner how much damage I was doing to my body. I believe that my low fat eating and eating of bad fats (when I did eat fat) were some of the biggest contributors to my digestive and fertility problems. And I am working hard to heal both now by eating plenty (and I mean plenty) of real, healthy fat. The funny thing about it is that I was always so scared to eat fat. I was afraid I would get fat. But I eat a substantial amount of fat now every day. And I exercise less than ever. And I haven’t gained an ounce 🙂 In fact I’ve actually lost a couple pounds from adding real fat to my diet. Not that I need to. It’s just how it works…real fat doesn’t make you fat.
Now on to the details about fat. First and foremost…YOU NEED FAT. Yes, you need plenty of fat in your diet. Many of the vitamins in our food are fat soluble. Which means that in order to absorb and use them you need to eat fat. Like if you eat a vegetable plain you can’t absorb some of the nutrients. So all those years that I cringed at the idea of putting butter on my vegetables and thinking I was eating “healthy” I was really robbing my body of half of the nutrients in my food. I now put a very generous amount of butter (real butter) on all of my cooked vegetables. Aside from absorbing nutrients, your body needs fat to function. Your brain is made up mostly of fat. Even your immune systems suffers when you don’t eat enough fat.
So, what kind of fat should you eat? Probably not what you think. You should eat plenty of saturated fat. And eliminate as much polyunsaturated fat as possible from your diet. What does that mean?
Say YES to:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Fatty Animal Products
Say NO to:
imitation butter/butter sprays/butter spreads
low fat milk/dairy
extra lean animal products
I know it sounds contrary to what you hear these days. But it’s true. No, saturated fat does not give you heart disease/high cholesterol. It actually makes your body function the way it should.
What does cause major health problems is polyunsaturated fats. And the problem is they are in EVERYTHING. Which is a great reason to not buy any packaged food and to not eat out often. If something comes in a box or bag, chances are it’s filled with polyunsaturated fat. And most restaurants cook with it. I mean, why not? It’s cheap. People are told it’s healthy. Big food and drug companies profit from it. But sadly it’s what’s killing Americans and causing obesity, cancer and so many other health problems.
I know I’m just scratching the surface here. My goal is just to make people aware (I wish someone had explained to me sooner how critical healthy fat was). Please research and learn as much as you can. It could save your life. For some more detailed information about healthy fats Elizabeth at The Nourished Life has done some wonderful posts:
There are many other Real Food bloggers that have great info as well.
I’m so happy that I am now free to eat fat 🙂 It has truly changed my life…both my mental state and my physical. It was a big factor in the success of our latest IVF cycle. And the healing I have already experienced on my digestive system, my reproductive system and my OCD is amazing. Please say YES to fat. Just make sure it’s the good kind. And don’t make the same mistake I made by eating a low fat diet. That is not the way to lose weight, lower cholesterol, “be healthy.” You’ll just be filling your body with empty calories, preventing your body from absorbing the nutrients it needs and increasing your chances of serious illness.