For Healthy Eating & Healthy Weights, Eat Fat

By Marsha Hudnall
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I just finished a breakfast of a bagel and sausage. Okay, it was half a small bagel and sausage made from a pig grown down the road from me, but still, it was sausage in all its high-fat goodness. Yes, goodness.

We’ve long encouraged women who come to Green Mountain at Fox Run to give up the fear of fat. Yet we see it continue among the calorie-conscious — fat does have more than twice the calories of protein or carbohydrate. And too much of it probably has a negative effect on health independent of the calories it contains, especially saturated fat, an excess of which is linked to heart disease and maybe other diseases.

But many of us went to the extreme many years ago in reducing fat — jumping on the fat-free bandwagon that many experts now suspect created more healthy eating problems than it solved (if it solved any at all). One thing that I am sure of is that going fat-free took much of the joy out of eating. A fat-free version of a yummy food just isn’t yummy anymore. In many cases, too, the lowfat version isn’t any good either. My solution is to eat the real thing, but be conscious of how much we eat of it.

In particular, many of us have become very turned off to animal fat, such as that in the yummy sausage breakfast I just enjoyed. When we’re looking for healthy weight loss, or to keep our weight at a healthy level, animal fat is often the last thing we’ll really consider putting in our mouths. In a recent article on salon.com, Monica Bhide, who has written for the Washington Post and New York Times among other publications, interviewed Jennifer McLagan on in her new book, "Fat: An Appreciation of a Misunderstood Ingredient, With Recipes." Jennifer says, and I agree [except with the blanket 'blame' about obesity; sometimes it not a question of blame; some of us are genetically destined to be larger, and we don't suffer any negative health effects from it],

It’s difficult to blame obesity on one thing. But it is definitely not consumption of animal fats. I think there are many causes — the way we eat, alone, in the car, walking down the street, the constant snacking. Increased consumption of low-fat, fat-free "foods" results in us eating more sugars and carbohydrates. These products don’t satisfy our hunger and leave us wanting to eat more. Eating good animal fat does, so you eat less.

I haven’t read Jennifer’s book so can’t vouch for the veracity of any claims made in it or about it. But I do appreciate her vote for moderation, one of the three basic principles of healthy eating, whether it’s to lose weight or just stay healthy and feel good. What are the other two principles? Variety and balance. Key principles for mindful eating, and words to live by, indeed.

2 Responses (Add Yours)

  • Just_Kelly says:

    Do you know anything about fats effect on people with PCOS? Is it noticably different than on individuals without PCOS?

  • Marsha says:

    Hi, Kelly,

    Assuming the presence of insulin resistance, it depends on how a person responds to a reduction in carbohydrates. If by dropping carb intake to 40 – 50% (40 for weight loss, 50% for maintenance) they get the response they want in insulin levels and hormone levels, then they could stay at 30% fat and have the remaining 20 to 30% from protein. If they are not getting the response they want and want to experiment with less protein since that stimulates insulin production, they might want to increase the fat to 35 to 45% from fat, with most of that coming from unsaturated fats. It’s hard to increase fat while lowering protein, although nut butters, nuts, and seeds become good options. However some people might benefit from this shift in balance.

    Does that help?

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