Fatty Fat Fat Fat

As you may or may not know (or care, and I could hardly blame you), I had (shell)fish for dinner the night before last – salmon and scallops with a lovely green chile sauce, accompanied by some yellow summer squash, zucchini and onions sauteed in butter.  It was wonderful, and I couldn’t finish what was on my plate.  Nor did I wander around the house right before bedtime, grousing about how hungry I was – because, frankly, I wasn’t hungry.

Yesterday for lunch, I had fish, too, and chicken:  Beloved and I shared some sushi, chicken teriyaki and seaweed salad.  By mid-afternoon, we were both hungry; by the time we got home from work, we were ravenous.  What did our seafood dinner have that kept us from being hungry, but our lunch did not?

In a word:  Fat.

A lot of people are afraid of dietary fat – heaven knows I was for a very long time.  We’ve been conditioned, over the last 30 to 40 years, to be so…and it’s all been so wrong.  I won’t go into they whys and wherefores of how the American public was bilked into following a low-fat, high carbohydrate diet here (I suggest you read Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes for an in-depth explanation of that), but bilked we have been.  And while we’ve been made paranoid about dietary fat in general, we’ve been made absolutely terrified of saturated fat in particular.

Silly us.

My mother died from heart disease at the age of 51.  I believe two factors came into play there – Mom smoked like a chimney and she ate a low-fat diet for the last 25 or so years of her life, which means she consumed a lot of grains, starches and refined sugar – particularly high fructose corn syrup (Mom looooooved her Coca Cola).  Well, she was a yo-yo dieter, too – Mom’s entire adulthood was a roller coaster of losing a lot of weight, only to regain it (and more) afterwards – and there’s ample evidence that that kind of behavior is every bit as unhealthy, if not more so, than simply being overweight.  And unhealthy it was – she developed an aeortal aneurysm at 46 and had a fatal heart attack two months after her 51st birthday.

I’m the eldest of Mom’s four kids (by quite a bit; the next oldest is 5 1/2 years younger), so I’ve gotten to deal with facing the age she became ill before my sibs, and it has been a sobering experience, I have to tell you.  Determined not to drop dead as a relatively young woman, I quit smoking for the very last time the day after my 45th birthday – I’ll have been completely smoke-free for thee years this December.  This is the year I’ve gotten a handle on my diet, and thanks to the enthusiastic cooperation of Beloved and The Young One (who has not complained once about the fact that the candy bowl no longer holds a never-ending supply of chocolate or that Mt. Dew, frozen pizza and boxed mac ‘n’ cheese have become a thing of the past), it has been easier than I ever could have hoped for.

If you had to peg what kind of a “diet” we’re on (although, as Beloved frequently points out, it’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle), it’s somewhere between a paleo and a traditional foods diet.  It’s not a traditional foods diet because we’re not eating starches or grains at all (well, except for the ear of corn we had when the Ohio sweet corn came in this month), and it’s not a paleo diet because we’re still eating (full-fat) dairy – and it’s working really, really well for us.  Because we are losing weight, experiencing more energy, and are never hungry – which is nothing short of amazing, considering how much we both, but Beloved in particular, used to snack.

While we’ve cut starches, grains, refined sugars, soy and vegetable oils from our diet, the biggest change we’ve made is to increase the amount of fat we eat, particularly saturated fat.  Coconut and palm kernel oils, which are solid at room temperature (and an excellent, healthy source of medium chain fatty acids) have replaced shortening; lard and tallow have replaced vegetable oils for cooking; nut and avocado oils adorn our salads in the way of homemade salad dressings; and, of course, butter and olive oil remain favorites for sauteing and flavoring many of the foods we eat.  We are reveling in our diet of pastured dairy, chicken and eggs, grass-fed beef, wild-caught fish and ethically-raised pork – all full of wonderful fat.  Add in the seasonal, locally grown fruits and vegetables to the mix, and we are pretty happy campers.

Have I mentioned we’re losing weight?  Or that we have not changed our basic lifestyle at all?  We have not taken up jogging, or Pilates, or yoga, or, indeed, any exercise program at all.  We have not given up alcohol (although we’ve realized we are drinking less than we used to – we just don’t feel like it any more).  We haven’t given up coffee, and Beloved still drinks diet Coke (although a lot less than he used to). We still work long hours.  And in 3 months he’s lost 25 pounds, and I’ve lost 17.  I have a friend who is on a low-fat diet and is jogging miles and miles several times a week and is completely frustrated with her inability to lose any weight at all.

Are we killing ourselves by consuming all of this “artery-clogging” fat?  I’m sure I will get comments that say, “Yes!” but I’m afraid I must disagree – there are more and more studies coming out all the time that find dietary fat is not only not bad for you, but actually good for you and implicates sugar, grains, starches (especially of the refined variety) and vegetable oils as the culprits behind what many experts are calling an “epidemic” of obesity and diabetes.  Now, think about that:  since the 70s, when the government took a stand and started recommending diets low in fat and high in carbohydrates (thank you, George McGovern), obesity, diabetes and heart disease have reached epidemic proportions. Exactly the opposite of what that kind of diet is supposed to do.

Makes you kinda stop and think, doesn’t it?  At least, it’s made me stop and think – mostly about the lovely steak and salad with lots of fat-laden dressing I’m going to have for dinner.

Posted in participation of Food Renegade’s Fight Back Friday

15 thoughts on “Fatty Fat Fat Fat”

  1. Hubby and I are doing the same thing..except I did give up my beloved diet coke…all sodas. I’ve lost 26 pounds and hubby has lost 23. I changed my eating habits before he did is why I have lost more. The only exercise I am doing is water aerobic. One because it is fun…and two it has pretty much healed my knee pain(had surgery last January.) When it gets a little cooler out…I will start walking in the evenings.
    Anyway…I wasn’t completely sure if the low carb diet was healthy so I wasn’t sure whether or not to stay on it long term. Until I listened to Dr. Gupta. He reported on Headline news that “Over the long term, a low-carb diet works just as well as a low-fat diet at taking off the pounds — and it might be better for your heart, new research suggests.” It’s working for us.

  2. I really don’t believe ANY studies regarding food/diet because every few years “they” discover whatever they’re telling us is wrong and new, contradictory, studies come forth. I think common sense and BALANCE and (I’m sorry) exercise, are key for a long term healthy life. It makes sense that refined foods, artificial foods, chemicals in disguise of foods aren’t good for us. It makes sense that are bodies were designed to move and not be sedentary. I can’t even tell you how much better I feel since I changed my eating habits. My skin looks so much better, I continue to lose weight (albeit slower now than when I first made the change). Swimming has been helping me with my disabled arm SO much. It’s moving better and I’m able to move it more. An unexpected surprise from the swimming (more like dog paddlng because of my arm) is that I keep dropping clothing sizes. It’s changed the shape of my body dramatically – in a GOOD way. I feel good. Now, if I can just resist baking in the fall/winter or find healthier recipes TO bake!

  3. My sense is that the high fat piece has most value in addressing hunger. Because hunger makes us eat too much. And I have been eating as unprocessed as possible for years and years and years. If nothing else, all the required chewing is good for us:).

  4. Hi! I found your blog through the Food Renegade. I have to say I 100% absolutely agree with you!! I have one question ~ how do you use coconut oil? I have a large tub of it, but I can’t figure out where/how to use it. Any advice would be sssoooo appreciated. Thanks!

  5. I’m glad this is working for you. As we all know what works for one doesn’t work for everyone. I limit my calories but eat whatever I want. Haven’t really felt hungry either. Mostly, I have cut out snacking. I go high protein when I do eat. I eat no high high fructose corn syrup. OMG! That stuff will kill you. I’m really glad to hear that you are eating local and sustainable. I’m not sure that people understand how important that is. I agree with Beloved, it’s a lifestyle. And as Ben Franklin once said; “everything in moderation. Even moderation.”

  6. Jessica- you can use coconut oil ANYWHERE. And I do mean anywhere, since it’s supposedly a good moisturizer… I use it to sautee veggies, sometimes for cooking meats (though bacon fat or butter usually works better there), and for making french fries. You can also use it in recipes that call for shortening, or to replace butter. About the only thing that you don’t want it for is anything that should be liquid when chilled (like mayonnaise, unless you’re good about remembering to set it out early enough to warm up before use). It makes really good fried chicken, too. 🙂

  7. I agree with every bit of this. I had stopped eating breads for awhile but got back eating them again a few months ago…but plan on stopping again…it’s so hard because breads are my thing. We do eat much the same way and you are wise to not call it a diet but a lifestyle. My kids are so healthy eating this way and while I do make sweets once in a great while due to a birthday or party, the kids don’t really notice because they love eating this way. The do love thier peanut butter and jelly sandwiches though(made with the good peanut butter and home made jelly)…:)

    I really do think the general public has been brainwashed and have no clue. My naturepathe doctor and my medical doctor have both talked about eating like this which I know it’s rare to find a medical doctor that believes this. I still need to order some coconut oil…where do you get yours from? I did find a place online but now can’t find it. Anyways, thanks for speaking the truth! Have a good weekend!

  8. Hooray! While I still likey me noodles, I now can enjoy by BLT (with generous B) with no worries, mate!

    I’m good to go on a lot of the other stuff. Drink almost no sodas, eat very little candy. I’ve even started biking on a regular basis, and now that I have a bigger yard, I get a lot of exercise cutting grass and pulling weeds. Whee!

  9. I Love this post and am enjoying the comments. Lori, one of the things our “lifestyle” permits is “moments of excess” – Jan has a great “life view” – hence occasional over-indulgence is a badge we are proud to wear (ask G. Michaels two nights in a row last weekend). Then we fed my Grand baby “poison from a box” for his birthday cake and even helped scrap it out of his ears. A young Family like yours can surely have PB&J (especially with GOOD PB)! A nice bread at every meal is certainly an affordable “excess” if balanced. This is not going “off the hook” with processed grains like the fast food crowd does every day. The point is, “All in Moderation – even moderation”.

    BTW – a fascinating science: nutrition.

  10. My mother, like yours, was terrified of fat. But she really was a life-long avoider of fat. She was skinny for most of her life, almost emaciated in her youth. She lived to be 100. I like fat, and I eat it, but I try to eat it in moderation, and I try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. And fish. I also enjoy steak and Jerry and I drink a lot of wine — probably more than we should. My mother had 2 sisters. Her older sister died when she was about 94. She ate a lot of carbs. Her younger sister is 90 and is still alive. She is fat. I don’t know what she eats, but I’m sure it isn’t low fat like my mother. All this makes me think that it’s just dumb luck. I am 78 and seem to be healthy, but you never know what lurks around the corner. That’s why I seize the day and enjoy steak and wine. Tomorrow I may be dead — but I hope not. Now Jerry and I have to go for our evening walk. We walk 1 1/2 miles every day.

  11. This is all really interesting. Are you writing a book? With the recipes? I sincerely hope so, I really think you have something here. The no-grains thing is curious to me. Did you write a post about this and i missed it? I thought grains were supposed to be the big, strong bottom of the food pyramid? Are you cutting out all grains? Or eating only whole grains? Very interesting.

  12. Good for both you and Beloved! I think changing lifestyle choices is big. Diets can only work in the short run otherwise. I really don’t eat processed foods but other than that, I like a little of everything…

  13. I love fat. Lamb, steak and pork fat. Chicken skin (not to mention the Parson’s nose). Cheese, butter, olive oil. I have recently discovered goat butter. Unresistable! But I could live my whole life and never eat another piece of cake. So I mostly eat the way you do now — low carbohydrate and high protein. I never touch margarine or buy anything labelled “low fat” (because it is usually cranked full of sugar instead). I eat avocado most days (for breakfast). But I do have to be a little careful about fat to maintain a good weight. That’s probably partly because I like fat way more than is reasonable, but also because I like my wine and I have a weakness for bread (though rarely indulged after one piece of wholewheat pitta at breakfast).

    When I don’t eat the pitta and don’t drink the wine I get thinner.

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