I don’t count calories anymore. I used to ride the low fat bandwagon and stressed over every little morsel that touched my lips. I felt trapped. I couldn’t enjoy food, obsessed over how much weight I might gain. Then I learned about eating whole foods, and especially the benefits of healthy saturated fats. I learned that as you eat, your body will tell you when to stop. Really.
First it’s important to understand that there isn’t a single study which proves that healthy saturated fat causes heart disease. Really. Here’s a clip that skims the surface of this heavy topic.
After I realized what I had believed for years was a myth, I got rid of all of the processed oils (vegetable oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and margarine). I slowly began eating saturated fats from healthy sources such as: coconut oil, organic butter, ghee (also known as clarified butter), palm oil, and lard. I also moved away from processed foods like pasteurized and homogenized milk, half and half (yes, this is processed), low-fat anything that came in a container. I replaced them with whole milk, whole creams, and whole fat yogurts.
I ate these new foods and felt full and satiated in a way I’d never felt before. My body responded quickly and let me know when it was time to stop.
I also learned that different fats are made of different fatty acid chains. Butter is a short-chain fatty acid which is used quickly for energy, is rarely stored as fat, and contributes to the health of the immune system. Coconut oil and other tropical oils are medium-chain fatty acids, also used quickly for energy, are not stored as fat, and contribute to the health of the immune system. Then there are the long-chain fatty acids which are usually stored as fat in the body. Vegetable oils (such as canola and corn) fall into this category. When I reduced my intake of long-chain fatty acids and consumed more omega-3 fatty acids than omega-6 fatty acids, my body slowly began shedding the cellulite and my body shape drastically changed.
I also always believed it was “calories in, calories out” but I’ve learned that doesn’t seem to be true, either. The kind of foods we eat make the difference.
Recently, I gave up eating grains. Now that my body doesn’t continually experience spikes in blood sugar (from whole grains), I’ve realized I don’t need to watch my calories at all. My cravings disappeared and there are many times when meal time comes but I’m not hungry yet, so I wait. My mind is clear, I don’t have the “afternoon slump”, (I’ve lost 20 pounds) and I’m free to eat and enjoy! No more stressing about how much I might gain, or how bloated I might be. That’s all gone. It’s a sweet taste of freedom.
Have you experienced a drastic shift since switching to whole foods? What about trying to go grain free? Is it hard to wrap your brain around the idea that (good) fats are good for you, or that it’s not necessarily “calories in, calories out”? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
For further reading/viewing:
What if Fat isn’t so Bad? No one’s ever proved that saturated fat clogs arteries, causes heart disease (MSNBC)
The Skinny on Fats (Dr. Mary Enig)
Meta-analysis of prospective cohort studies evaluating the association of saturated fat with cardiovascular disease (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition)
Fat Heat (Documentary) – Can also be viewed on Hulu and Netflix
Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig
Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It – Gary Taubes
Wheat Belly – Dr. William Davis
Deep Nutrition – Catherine Shanahan
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee
- 1/2 bunch kale, washed, patted dry, and chopped
- 1 large leek, washed, and chopped
- 1/4 cup heavy cream or coconut milk
- 1/4 teaspoon Celtic sea salt
- 4 large eggs
- Preheat oven to 350ºF and adjust rack to middle position. Melt butter in a large oven-proof skillet over medium heat and swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Add leeks and cook until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add kale and salt. Stir occasionally and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in cream and cook for about 1 minute until hot. Crack eggs over kale mixture and place skillet in the oven. Bake for about 8 minutes, until whites are cooked and yolks are still runny. Serve immediately.