Thursday, February 10, 2011

no fat. low fat. stop fat. go fat.

If only Dr. Seuss had written a book on fats, maybe it would have saved us all some confusion.

Fat phobia. This is probably the longest food phase I had in my life. Haha I say that like I am 80.

It started out when we were first married--I had learned that I couldn't zip my pants if I didn't eat right, (uh, no kidding), and I didn't want it to happen again. I needed to make some changes, and really, it was pretty easy--every commercial, magazine ad, and label on any store product shouted "low fat this" and "no fat that", I assumed that was my answer.

Low Fat=Good/Healthy
Fat=Bad. This was my new motto.

So in my mind, it was ok that I ate an entire family sized pack of Twizzlers with my lunch, because hey....fat free! Never mind that they are 100% sugar. And Slim Fast snack bars--I'd eat three at a time.....but they are low fat, so of course it was ok--who cares what unidentified ingredients were lurking in them.

I substituted applesauce in all of my baking--which don't get me wrong....I'll still add a little applesauce in some of my banana breads, or muffins--but I was putting applesauce in EVERYTHING--chocolate chip cookies! That's just not right. And it's definitely not a cookie.

After I had my first baby and was determined to quickly loose the extra 35 pounds I had acquired, so my low fat obsession only grew. And lucky for me, every other box of whatever I needed at the grocery store, boasted it's no fat/low fat nutrition label.

I would stock my freezer with low fat ice cream sandwiches--which did absolutely no good, because in my head low fat = healthy = I would eat two or three.

I didn't even buy butter, and forget cooking in any kind of oil......oil=fat=bad. That's how I was programmed. I ate scrambled egg whites only. I bought reduced fat peanut butter--which if you actually read the label of reduced fat peanut butter, it's called peanut "spread"....ha! Even science can't suck the fat out of peanuts, so they just throw a few peanuts in, and add a bunch of other.......stuff. 

Low fat crackers.
Low fat cereal.
Low fat cheese....or just no cheese.
Low fat turkey bacon. Seriously the thought of that right now makes me gag. It's like chewing on a dry piece of canvas.
Low fat. No fat. Fat free......

But then come to find out (shock!), that while these products are all low fat......they aren't necessarily healthy for you. If a food has been processed to a point that they have taken out the fat, chances are they're adding, refining, and tinkering with other parts of the food as well. The "food" becomes more of a science experiment, rather than a food that was placed on the earth to be eaten.

I'm guessing there are a few of you who have taken a trip to this same low-fat-land I am talking about....right?
(Courtney I am totally calling you out on this one.....I think you added applesauce to mac-n-cheese:)

I don't really know how I got off that was a slow process to retrain my brain.

Maybe it was when I realized  that vegetables taste 1000x better sauteed in heart healthy olive oil.
Or that real peanut butter, with nothing in it but peanuts and salt, is just about the best thing ever invented.
Sure, a piece of salmon may contain more fat than a skinless chicken breast, but that piece of salmon also contains Omega-3 fatty acids (these aren't found in chicken) that are essential for heart health, brain and nerve function, and improving our immune systems as well.

So it turns out that some fats aren't that bad (shock!).....and it took me a year or two to start believing in good fats, and ignoring every low fat/no fat claim that jumped in my face every time I went down a grocery store aisle. 

Now don't get me's not a fat-eating-free-for-all over here. I still buy low fat milk, I only use cream for special occasions, and butter is used sparingly (except in baking.....THERE ISN'T A SUBSTITUTE IN THE WORLD FOR BUTTER IN BAKING. DON'T TRY IT. EW.) We're not eating bacon and eggs for breakfast every morning (I like to think of bacon as more of a garnish, rather than a main part of a meal), so I do try and keep the saturated fats at a minimum.

But there is nothing that will get between me and an avocado.
I refuse to eat pizza without cheese.
Or anything without cheese for that matter.
We eat endless amounts of peanut butter and almonds. 
I use olive oil every time I cook.

For some reason, fat has become a bad word in most people's vocabulary, and I think once a person takes just a little bit of time to research fats--the good and bad fats in foods, that's where the fat phobias will begin to fade away. 
If you are truly interested in your health, and not just your image (two totally different things), you'll realize that fats play an important roll in nutrition.

The challenge for you this week:
 Figure out what your relationship is with fat.
Are you afraid of it? Do you know what the good fats are? Are you eating bacon wrapped everything fried in butter?

This is something that can't be changed all at once. It has seriously taken me a few years to establish a healthy relationship with fat. But YOU need to figure out that healthy relationship for yourself. Research. Read. Google. Talk to your friends. 
Just educate yourself.

Just like everything else I've found, 
it all comes down to eating a balance of real, whole foods
as close to their original state as possible (example real peanut butter vs. reduced fat peanut "spread".
 Peanut butter = peanuts, while peanut spread = ?)

Try not to gorge yourself on saturated fats like those found in animal products (but you don't have to totally eliminate them), or trans fats found in packaged foods (you should eliminate those), and try to get enough of the good fats, like those that are found in salmon, avocados, walnuts, almonds, and olive oil.

And before you reach for something labeled "low fat" read the label and see what's been added/taken away to magically replace the fat, you may be surprised to find it's not as healthy as you think.

So that was really long....probably too much for Dr. Seuss to put into rhyme, I would guess. 

I'm curious to know if you've been through a "fat phobia" really is funny looking back at some of the things I thought were healthy because they were low fat.

as always I'll be posting favorite comments/tips on my FB page.

disclaimer: I have never said "fat" so many times in my life. It has lost all meaning.
disclaimer: I LOATHE that dress. You know what I mean if you've been pregnant. It was the only dress that fit at the end, and I wore it over and over for the last two months. Just looking at it reminds me how uncomfortable and swollen I was.
disclaimer: look at my baby!!! why is he so big now? boo.


AllAmericanGrl said...

I think everyone (well to some extent), goes thru fat phobia! i think the key to eating is, eating in moderation and small portions.

oh and great photos btw! :)

Unknown said...

Love Love Love this post! I use to worry so much about only eating low fat this, low fat that and also worrying so much about what was on the label. How much fat, protein, carbs, etc…there were in the food. But really, if the food we eat has labels on it it probably, for the most part, isn’t real food but a food-like substance. I feel like when I worry about how much of each macronutrient I’m supposed to be eating I end up just getting overwhelmed…which leads to giving up and eating horribly. But, I’ve realized that it’s really a lot simpler than I thought….by eating a variety of whole foods (usually stuff w/out a label that’s not processed), healthy fats, whole grains, fresh fruits and veg’s you’ll be healthier. No matter how much a processed food claims to have protein, fiber, vitamins, or be fat free, scientist can’t ever produce something that is as healthy as fresh whole foods themselves. Wow, that is the longest comment I have ever written!! Oh and those pictures are super cute! Jonah is so tiny!!

Krystal Celeste said...

Great blog! I can so relate! I've been on both sides of the spectrum. I've gone through phases when I just didn't care and let myself eat way too much fat, then I've also gone over board making sure everything I ate said fat free or low fat...which never really works. I remember I used to buy these low fat mini chocolate chip cookies...they were so good, I would always finish the box within a day or two, therefore defeating the whole purpose lol. Lately I've really been trying to eat healthier and just figure out a balance. I think you're definitely right, we need to learn the difference between the good fats and the bad fats. And how to incorporate the good fats into our diet. :)

Lesley said...

i love those pictures of you guys! so sweet. i used to have a fear of fat too. i think we all have given fat a bad name. i have this discussion with people a lot. i lost 40 lbs eating good fat: nuts, whole milk (it has all of the nutrients in it, otherwise you don't really get what you need from milk), coconut oil, olive oil, etc. i still eat as much cheese as i want (although i'm trying to cut down on dairy). healthy oils actually help speed up your metabolism. i'm learning so much and realizing that i knew NOTHING before:) loved this post girl. you keep on keepin on!

ieatmodestmouse said...

i love how you are doing these food posts. i have been vegan for 4 years and gluten free/sugar free for almost 2. you always post recipes that even i can make (sometimes with a little tweeking) and you have the right idea when it comes to all this stuff! because you have so many followers i hope you inspire people to change their eating habits or at least LOOK into changing them. thank you!!

Shiloh said...

been through the fat phobia phase. it was rough. but now I am in the "eat it as close to the natural state as possible phase" so if that means that we buy something full fat so that it doesn't contain additives, we do just that, and just eat in moderation. thanks for your food phobia posts. I feel like we have taken similar evolutions in our food relationships.

Mama A said...

ok, ok, I have to comment now! ha ha
Applsauce in macaroni now come on, I'm not THAT bad. It was soymilk in mac n cheese and applesauce and wheat flour in cookies. DISGUSTING! They didn't turn out like cookies they turned out like health muffins. Worse, really.
Love u. Love ur health posts. Love ur preggo dress that you hate.

Courtney said...

...and Mama A is actually me! I was in my mom's account looking at some pictures she had on an online album. oops!

Unknown said...

I've read several books lately on healthy fats and how important eating fat is to our health. The most recent book, Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary G. Enig, stressed the importance of coconut fat. I appreciate you posting this because I know many people are confused about fats.

whitneyingram said...

This is all reminicent of Michael Pollan. Food shouldn't have to claim it's nutrition. Are the bunches of collards bragging about their lack of fat? Nope. If it has a label and it's not dairy, you should be curious.

Kaitlyn Luce said...

I still live at home, so I don't do the grocery shopping or most of the cooking, but we eat pretty healthy in my family and always have. A year and a half ago I lost about 10 lbs in a little over a month. I ate all wholesome foods. Fruit, veggies, nuts, peanut butter, etc. I cut down on my portion size and all that. I don't really know what happened, but I fell off the wagon a little bit, but have stayed pretty consistently at the same weight.

The biggest thing that I've noticed when I do eat processed foods is that I just don't feel well afterward. It's like my body just doesn't know what to do with all this junk in it and it revolts against me. That's when I realize that I ate something that I definitely shouldn't have.

I am loving this series. Keep it up!

melissa said...

well i just have to say MY baby boy is never going to get big.

ps i used to eat entire bags of peachie-os because they were fat free.

Hannah said...

I think the problem with dietary "fat" is that we also use the word , the thinking is often "if you eat fat, you are fat." Sad. I totally agree with you.

I also agree with you about applesauce in cookies. Eww.

A Beautiful Life said...

i luv seeing all these past photos of your cute family!
i tooooootally, did the "low-fat" "no-fat" thing. I would buy cookies that tasted weird but said "low-fat" so hey, they were better for you!!! or "no-fat" salad dressing, hello, gross i can only imagine what they put in it instead.
I usually only use butter for cooking as well, i'm still wary of putting it on toast or sumthin, so there is that stigma still, but like you i've come to realize that there are good fats, like olive oil and avocado you mentioned.
I make your red wine vinegarette for my salad dressings, it's my absolute favorite EVER!!!

team cowan said...

This was great! My husband and I have had heated arguments over "real food" and "fake food". This post said everything I've been trying to say for years. And I went through an applesauce in everything phase, but then I had kids that the doctors swear need to gain weight (I just make shrimpy kids!) so we changed to butter in everything! If I can get them to eat something with lots of good healthy fats, I consider it a job well done. :)

Anonymous said...

"If you are truly interested in your health, and not just your image (two totally different things), you'll realize that fats play an important roll in nutrition."
- you nailed it! what a really really great post! as my dad would say, don't starve yourself if you wanna be beautiful, eat healthy instead (that way, you hit two birds in one stone - you get to be healthy and beautiful!)! :)

Jackie Norris said...

As always, wonderful posts. I went through a tiny "fat phobia" phase myself, luckily it was short lived. I don't feel bad about real fats anymore because they are REAL and our bodies were designed to digest them and use them. Now, I'm no scientist but it makes sense to me that part of the obesity epidemic is partly due to stuffing our bodies full of "healthy" things that our bodies weren't made to digest.

banananutmeg said...

I can't stop thinking about the seinfeld episode where the gang sets out to see if the nonfat yogurt is actually non fat.

"Well, we have a verdict...Faaaaaat!" hahahhaa

fat free peanut butter tastes like cardboard. Maybe that's what is in it.

teresa-bug said...

Several years ago I did a very famous, popular diet. I ate a lot of low fat foods. Since sugar is my weakness...I LIVED on non-fat C00l Whip because it was non-fat and 'free'. While I did lose the weight, I know it wasn't the most nutritious way to do it. I now try to focus on quality foods in lower quantities. If I want something sweet, I will have small homemade cookie or some dark chocolate. I love these posts!

Nellie and Jason said...

Love this. I just ate scrambled eggs on whole grain toast...eggs fresh from my parents' chickens mind you! :)
I went through this phase too, just after high school, trying to avoid the "freshman 15." Didn't work. It was more like 12, but still. So after I got married, we both re-evaluated our diet...and now try to eat as naturally as possible. And my absolute favorite snack of ALL TIME is natural PB on apple slices. I could eat that morning noon and night!

Rachael said...

I guess I was just naive in thinking that if people made, for example, peanut butter; with peanut butter and lots of other ingredients I can't pronounce, they must have a good reason, and it must be good for you because it's in the product!....No so! You've helped me learn that. You're really good at giving advice about food!
As for fat...well, read the labels. That's all people really need to do. Although I do need to be more educated in the fat products, because I don't think I would know if an ingredient is good or not! I guess it's a safe bet that if you can't pronounce it, it's a bad ingredient!

Memoirs of Me & Mine said...

I have definitely been there! This is a great post. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

so true! I use to stay away from fat too....until I went and lived in Spain!! My Spanish family would cook a huge (we're talking 3-4 course) absolutely wonderful lunch for us everyday at 2pm full of good (and bad) fats, then we'd eat a late dinner of tapas, and in 2 months I lost 10 pounds (we also walked everywhere). Living in Europe taught me a lot about good food and good eating :) PS-I'm LOVING that photo of your baby bump :)

Bridget said...

preach it girlfriend!!! i hate the way fat gets such a bad rap. i am ALL about whole fats... whole milk, whole yogurt, grass-fed, free range beef, fish oils, nuts, coconut oil, olive oil....

i love this post. fat free doesn't mean healthy, amen!!

Bridget said...

oh and butter? i love butter.

Casey said...

I love this post! I definitely used to be all about the low-fat/non-fat foods, but that changed about a year ago when I moved to Florence, Italy for 4 months to study abroad. Not only was I eating most of my meals with a host family, but even when I ate on my own, it was very difficult to find low-fat products. Not surprising that everything I ate there tasted a million times better than at home! Living in Florence, I got really into the Mediterranean Diet and overcame my fat phobia.
I think sugar is another misunderstood nutrient. People are so afraid of fat that they completely ignore the amount of sugar in a product.
For anyone who hasn't read Michael Pollan's book Food Rules, it's a great resource on this topic.
Again, great post!

Valley Girl said...

Oh heavens to betsy!!!! I mentioned my love for Snackwell products before...hello fat free or low fat. And yes, that meant I would eat the ENTIRE box!! Cause I could. Cause it was fat free!! Oh, and they tasted like cardboard, but they were fat free. I think at this phase in my life my biggest health habit that I am dealing with is portion control. I come from a long line of awesome eaters...and by that I mean we can! We own a grocery store for pete's sake. I operate under the rule that if it is good food, then I should eat as much of it as I can possibly fit into my stomach. Not a good idea. To EVERYTHING there should be moderation. Ever ate too many cherries at one time. See what I mean. Good for you fruit, but you will PAY for it later. Loving this good healthy food talk. I'm just "eating" it up...tee hee hee hee.

summer said...

i was nodding along THE WHOLE TIME. amen, sheena! amen to avocados, cheesy pizza, REAL pb being the best invention ever, and olive oil in every pan i ever cook in. oh, and omega-3. love, love, love. hooray for good fats and no fear!! (fat-free gummy worms used to really blow my mind.)

ps. love the dr. seuss reference.
pps. you know i freaked out (excitedly) when i saw a pregnant sheena. ahhh! you are so cute!! do you still have the dress?

Megan J. Miller said...

read Nourishing Traditions lady! seriously. Do it!!! :)

nicole said...

i once was a low fat believer but now i say...bring on the full fat...fill me up with less and let my taste buds sing....use moderation of course.

Laci said...

Ok. Help the girl clueless about all this. I vote you tell me the exact kind of peanut butter you love. Then I can go by it with no confusion :)
It sounds yum

Kate said...

you are so right about fats. we've had similar things going on in our house lately, as i try to shed these last 10lbs from baby numero tres. however, i would add that lables are important to look at. i love the chocolate special k protein drinks in the morning with my whole wheat peanut butter bread with sliced bananas. i mean, the packaging says, 10 grams of protein. it wasn't until my self-proclaimed food expert (husband) pointed out the sugar content. from that point on everytime i reached for my beloved shake he would say, "getting your liquid candy bar?" needless to say i've stopped drinking them.

thanks for all your wisdom, i love it!

Anonymous said...

i love love loved this. i have been through that phase where i think fat free or low fat=healthier. but i've been learning that reading labels is important! thanks for sharing your wisdom! the dr. seuss bit cracked me up. haha. i love reading your blog.

Heather said...

AMEN to everything you just wrote.

Bianca said...

love all your "food" posts. keep 'em coming.

Anonymous said...

Love this! Just found your blog, and it's great. I just posted a rant about fat myself last week... I love fat nowadays. I don't think I've ever stayed away from fat entirely, because I don't sub butter, always use oil to cook, etc., but I've become a full-fledged fat lover as of late :) Great post!