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Taking the Fear Out of Eating Fat PDF Print E-mail
Written by Lori Lipinski   
Wednesday, 30 April 2003 02:01

Taking the Fear Out of Eating Fat Cartoon

For many years we have been told over and over again that fat is unhealthy, and most people actually do believe it. Therefore, in an attempt to be "healthy," many people avoid eating fat.

When I work with clients who claim they eat "healthy" I always ask them to explain what that means. The typical responses I hear are:

  • "I never eat fatty red meats, only chicken or fish once or twice a week."
  • "I don't use butter or eggs because I'm watching my cholesterol."
  • "My doctor told me to use margarine to avoid the heart disease that runs in my family."
  • "I'm trying to lose weight so I count fat grams, and buy everything fat-free."

I have to give my clients some credit because they are simply doing what they have been told to do. The only problem is that what they have been told to do just doesn't work. In fact, the clients I see who eat lowfat diets are usually the most unhealthy people that I work with. They typically suffer from symptoms of depression, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, constant and insatiable hunger, gall bladder problems (gas, bloating, "acid-reflux," loose stools), hormonal imbalances, and even lack of menstruation in young women. Women on lowfat diets especially complain that their hair is dry and brittle and falls out easily and their skin is dry and wrinkly. And, as crazy as it sounds, they almost always want to lose weight!

Even though most people on lowfat diets don't feel healthy, they still believe that somehow avoiding fat will make them healthier. The medical community, junk food industry and the media have done an incredible job convincing the American public that fats are bad for us. Fats have been blamed for everything from clogging our arteries to causing cancer. And fats are definitely the most popular scapegoat for our national health obsession—obesity!

But is fat really to blame?

Is Fat Fattening?

Despite the fact that tasteless, fat-free foods are being shoved down the throats of the American public, our country keeps getting fatter and fatter. Yet the TV keeps trying to convince us that fat-free foods make us thin and healthy. So in the futile attempt to do the "right" thing, most people are cutting all the fat out of their diet and wondering why they aren't losing weight. There are a few reasons for this.

Lowfat Diets Make You Hungry

Have you ever tried a lowfat diet and felt like you were starving to death? Fat actually sends a signal to your brain to tell you when to stop eating. So, if you don't get enough fat in a meal, you will never feel completely satisfied and will usually end up overeating. I've had clients admit to eating a whole box of fat-free cookies, and then say it was OK because the cookies were fat-free! This type of binge eating is very common for people on lowfat diets, and can essentially lead to more weight gain. Including good fats when you eat helps to control and regulate your appetite so you don't have to eat as much to feel satisfied.

Low Fat=High Carb

Another problem with lowfat diets is that lowfat means high-carb. And high-carb eventually leads to low blood sugar. When your blood sugar drops, your body goes into a storage mode and your metabolism slows down. Also, when you eat high-carb foods you trigger the release of insulin, which tells your body to store fat. Not to mention that your energy level drops with your blood sugar, so if you eat a high carb diet you will most likely lack the energy you need to exercise. Including good fats with every meal helps to keep your blood sugar stable. This maximizes your metabolism by providing your body with a steady supply of fuel to burn throughout the day.

Low Fat=Low Protein

People on lowfat diets typically avoid protein foods from animal sources because they contain saturated fats. This is not a very wise choice for most people because the only complete source of protein found in nature comes from animals. Not getting enough protein in your diet can lead to symptoms like weakness, fatigue, dry and brittle hair and nails, slow wound healing, chronic infections and sugar handling problems.

Another sign of protein deficiency is poor muscle tone. Often people on lowfat diets find it nearly impossible to lose weight or build muscle, no matter what they do. Even though they work out two hours a day four times per week, many dieters complain that they still fail to see the results of all their hard work when they look in the mirror. The reason for this is that they simply lack the protein they need to build strong muscles.

Also, the amino acids that we derive from protein are used to make neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) that actually help to control our appetite, reduce cravings and balance mood swings. The best way to overcome intense cravings for sweets and starches is to eat three balanced meals at regular intervals throughout the day. A balanced meal is protein-based and includes natural sources of carbohydrates and plenty of good fats!

So you've probably figured out by now that avoiding fat in your diet doesn't make it magically melt off your body. The truth is that eating fat does not make you fat. In fact, you don't even have to feel guilty when you eat fat because fat is essential to our health. The human brain is over 65 percent fat, our hormones are made from fat, and so is the outer layer of every single cell in the body. Fat keeps our skin healthy, enhances our immune system, stabilizes our blood sugar and prevents diabetes. Good fats benefit our heart, normalize our blood fats and cholesterol, and even prevent cancer! Here are a few steps to help you add good fats to your diet:

1. Avoid Reduced-Fat Products

Our media-induced fear of fat in this country has created a market for over 15,000 reduced-fat products! These products completely fail to live up to their claims, not to mention that they don't even taste good. Have you ever had a fat-free product that tasted better than the original? The fact is that when they remove the fat, they have to put something back in, and that "something" is usually more sugar, sodium, artificial flavorings, binding agents and other chemicals.

Don't be afraid to eat real food. The closer to nature, the better it is for you. Choose foods in their whole state. Do your best to avoid processed, prepackaged foods, especially those that are reduced-fat products.

2. Replace Margarine with Butter

We have been told to eat margarine because butter raises our cholesterol and is bad for our heart. The truth is that margarine eaters have twice the rate of heart disease as butter eaters (Nutrition Week 3/22/91 21:12).

We've also been told that saturated fats, the kind that are in butter, clog the arteries. But according to a study published in The Lancet (1994 344:1195), the fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated, not saturated, as we have been led to believe.

Butter is a natural fat, made from cream. Margarine is an artificial concoction of chemicals. Not only does butter taste better, but it's good for you. Butter is a source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and important trace minerals magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium and iodine. Purchase organic butter produced without the use of hormones, steroids and antibiotics. Raw butter from pasture-fed cows is even better.

3. Replace Processed Vegetables Oils with Traditional Fats

For many years the media have told us to replace saturated fats with unsaturated fats, like those from vegetable oils. This advice does more harm than good. In the process of producing vegetable oils, toxic chemicals and high temperatures are used to extract the oil from the seed or bean. In this process virtually all of the nutritional value has been destroyed, not to mention that the high temperatures turn the oil rancid before you even bring it home.

Even worse, most of the vegetable oils that end up in packaged foods have been partially hydrogenated, a process that rearranges the fatty acid molecules, turning them from the natural cis configuration into trans fats, most of which do not exist in nature. Not only are trans fats difficult to digest, they have been implicated as a cause of both cancer and heart disease.

According to Dr. John Lee, MD, of California, "Trans fatty acids enter our metabolic processes but are defective for our bodily uses. Our cell membranes, our hormone synthesis, our immune system, our ability to deal with inflammation and to heal, and many, many, other vital systems all become defective when trans fatty acids substitute for the health-giving cis fatty acids. Unknowingly we are poisoning ourselves."

The best fats for us to eat are those that generations thrived on before Quaker and Nabisco became household names. These tra ditional fats include butter, lard, tallow, olive oil, coconut and palm oils—fats that you don't hear about too often on TV! 

Butter

Butter is a rich source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. The saturated fat in butter actually enhances our immune function, protects the liver from toxins, provides nourishment for the heart in times of stress, gives stiffness and integrity to our cell membranes, and aids in the proper utilization of omega-3 essential fatty acids. Butter will add extra nutrients and flavor to your vegetables, whole grain breads, and sautéed dishes.

Lard

Lard is a traditional fat, the mention of which causes us moderns to cringe. Yet lard is a healthy, natural fat. Lard is rendered fat from pork and is mostly monounsaturated. Lard can be a wonderful source of vitamin D. Traditionally, lard has been used and enjoyed for pastries and frying potatoes—until the vegetable oil industry took over. Don't be afraid to experiment with lard in your kitchen, it will add lots of flavor to your food.

On a side note, I worked with a client from Mexico who was here visiting her daughter over the summer. The mother was 85 years old, very strong and healthy, and had not one wrinkle on her beautiful face. Her skin was incredible! It was so soft and silky, not at all dry, scaly or wrinkly like the skin I'm so used to seeing with most of my clients. I just had to ask her what kind of fats she eats. Her daughter translated my question to her mother and then replied, "She said she eats mostly lard. I can't believe it! I keep telling her that's not good for her, but she just won't listen!" Us silly Americans!

Tallow

Tallow is used in traditional cultures for its health benefits. Tallow is rendered beef fat and is a very stable fat for frying.

Olive Oil

Olive oil has been used for thousands of years for its many health benefits. Olive oil is a rich source of antioxidants, relieves the pain and inflammation of arthritis, normalizes blood fats and cholesterol, stimulates strong gallbladder contractions and is known for increasing longevity. Olive oil can be used for sautéing at moderate temperatures and is a perfect base for salad dressings. However, it is important not to use olive oil as your only fat—you need the nutrients found exclusively in animal fats and too much monounsaturated fat without a balance of saturated fats can cause problems.

Coconut and Palm Oils

These tropical oils are rich sources of saturated fat, especially lauric acid, which has strong antifungal and antimicrobial properties. They are extremely stable and can be used in baking, frying, sautéing and especially for making popcorn!

My favorite way to eat popcorn is the following: Melt 1 tablespoon coconut oil in large pot over high heat, add 1 cup organic popcorn and cover. Once popcorn starts to pop, shake pan over flame until all the kernels have popped. Melt 1 stick of organic butter in small pan, crush 2 cloves garlic into the butter, add ¼ cup naturally fermented soy sauce and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Pour evenly over popcorn. Then sprinkle ½ cup of grated "stinky" cheese (asiago, romano, or parmesan) and Celtic sea salt (to taste) on popcorn. Serve with chunks of salami or sausage from the farm.


Sidebar

Priming Your Gallbladder for Fats

Is your gallbladder ready for fat? If you're an American, chances are you've experienced problems with your gall bladder at one time or another. Typical gallbladder symptoms include: gas (especially burping after meals), a full or heavy feeling after meals, bloating, "acid reflux" (after meals and at night when lying down), pain in right side radiating into right shoulder blade, loose or light colored stools that float.

Two things that the gallbladder doesn't like are bad fats and no fats. Bad fats, like processed vegetable oils, are difficult to digest and put a lot of stress on the gallbladder. The gallbladder is a little sac that sits along side your liver. The liver produces bile, a substance made from cholesterol that emulsifies fat and makes it easier to digest. The gallbladder stores and concentrates bile, then secretes it into the small intestines when fats are present. If you don't eat fat, the gallbladder won't get any exercise and can begin to atrophy.

If you've eaten mostly bad fats in your life or have spent many years on a lowfat diet, chances are your gallbladder will need a little work before you will be able to completely digest generous amounts of good fats in your diet. Start by practicing good digestive habits (discussed in the Spring 2002 issue) and enhance your digestion with raw apple cider vinegar. Mix 1 teaspoon with 2-4 ounces water and drink with meals. A nice acid environment in the stomach stimulates the gallbladder to do its job. For additional support, I recommend Dr. Schulze's formula to cleanse the liver and gallbladder. It's called the L/GB-AP formula, call 800-HERBDOC to order.

Other helpful remedies include Swedish Bitters, 1 teaspoon in water taken just after meals, and lacto-fermented foods such as saurkraut and beet kvass.

Coconut oil is very easy on the gall bladder because the preponderance of short- and medium-chain fatty acids it contains do not require bile salts for digestion. If you are just beginning to add fats to your diet after many years of lowfat foods, your best choice in the start is coconut oil.


This article appeared in Wise Traditions in Food, Farming and the Healing Arts, the quarterly magazine of the Weston A. Price Foundation, Winter 2002.

About the Author

[authorbio:lipinski-lori]

Comments (19)Add Comment
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written by Nadine Hemy, Mar 13 2014
Whatever fats you decide to use, please please do NOT use palm oil. Endangered orangutans are being burned alive, and beaten to death while their habitat is being bulldozed by Procter & Gamble… for what? To obtain palm oil.
Please do not use it, and boycott any Procter and Gamble products. Click the link to for more information. Pass this along too, since the media will never carry this important story. Thank you.
Nobody should eat popcorn ever! It's strictly pig feed, fattening & GMO contaminated!
written by Lithe, Feb 19 2014
NEWSFLASH: corn ain't fit for human consumption. That's why you never saw any obese French (until GMOs & US fast foods invaded our nation), we simply reserve it to feed the swine. Yanks turn into swine themselves when they eat that garbage! smilies/cheesy.gif
Weston A. Price is FULL OF IT! Avoid this dangerous org, they killed my chiro!, Low-rated comment [Show]
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written by Angel Andrews, Feb 03 2013
one natural fat you haven't mentioned is schmaltz and/or duck fat. It is easy to make and use, traditionally flavored with onions, I like adding garlic also, gives it a nice savoriness for sauteeing veggies, or added to mashed cauliflower or potatoes. Duck-fat fried potatoes are delightful smilies/smiley.gif
Lose weight benefits of coconut oil
written by Ms. Immortal, Jan 13 2013
Coconut oil has thermogenic properties (raises body temperature) which raises our metabolism. Coconut oil nourishes our thyroid, gives us energy and makes us thin. If you have a sluggish thyroid and have a hard time losing weight, you will love what coconut oil does for you.
The Fat Myth
written by Steve @ thriveful.com, Nov 24 2012
Thanks so much for putting together such a well informed and compelling article. I am a low carb, high fat eater, as well as a health professional. I am struggling, like many others to make some headway into the minds of people who have been told for decades that fat is the enemy.

It is going to take many years to put right this wrong, but we have to keep going and changing a few minds at a time
...
written by chey , Nov 08 2012
that being said I do eat alot of fat from whole sources
whole fats helped gall bledder
written by chey , Nov 08 2012
cutting out oils and eating only less dense fat like cream instead of butter really helped relive gallbladder problems!
Avocados
written by Carolina, Oct 16 2012
Hi there! I just want to know what do you think about avocados. I eat (and love) butter but I also eat a lot of avocado (and also love it). I also want to add that my health improved sooooo much when I started eating more saturated fat, and I didn't reduce carbs. With carbs I mean white rice, bread and potatoes (I avoid whole grains because of the phytic acid, I have osteopenia after years of drinking skim milk). Eating these carbs makes me feel good, in fact, I feel so tired and depressed when I avoid them. I just say these because I believe every body in different and what's bad for you, can be good for me!
Sorry if there are grammar mistakes, I speak spanish mostly. smilies/smiley.gif
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written by Florentina Marcu, Aug 17 2012
Hello,

I am trying to follow your guide and introduce more quality high fats into my family's diet. However, my husband had his gallbladder removed about 10 years ago. He also has elevated cholesterol (which he didn't have when he still had his gallbladder). I was wondering if he would be able to digest all the fat and if it's safe for him to eat a high fat diet.

Thank you!
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written by Kristina Gillinghm, Feb 26 2011
Hi my husband has no gallbladder should he be eatting the extra fat on meats. What amount of fat should he consume. His stomach sticks out from a hernia and his intestines are bound up possibly. Is there any relief or curing techniques?
palm oil
written by Ronny, Nov 22 2010
Do you have any suggestions about how to use palm oil?
So True
written by Joanne, Mar 15 2010
Thank you so much for posting this crucial article. It is my mission and hope that our culture will move away from the idea that fat makes you fat, and begin to embrace the health benefits of this wonderful nutrient. For years I ate a diet low in fat, thinking I was healthy, until I lived in Crete for 2 years. There I began eating loads of olive oil along with more local meats, fish and cheese. I had never eaten so much 'fat', nor had I ever felt as great! I went from weighing 150 pounds to 130 in those 2 years by merely changing what I ate and am living proof that fat does not make you fat. I realized the myth and now try to get others to do the same - although it's a tough sell. So here's to getting the word out!
lard
written by shaun, Mar 11 2010
in relation to lard is this fat safe if the pigs have been fed a largely gm feed diet?
Fat terminology
written by Rene, Feb 27 2010
Does anyone know why the term "fat" in food was associated with becoming fat? It seems like the term fat as it appears on nutritional information is a really stupid choice of wording. If apples were called lovehandles, I'd imagine people would stop eating those as well to get their bellies down. I mean ask the average person on the street how they learned that eating fat makes you fat, and the simple truth is they never did learn it, it's like a common hypnosis.
Thank you!
written by DG, Feb 05 2010
I've had stomach problems all my life. They come and go and although I do suffer from lactose-intolerance, sometimes I have stomach symptoms that can't be attributed to dairy consumption. I recently began moving towards a whole food/ real food diet and have been mostly eating only foods prepared from simple ingredients and cooking everything myself. I threw out the margarine and store-bought salad dressings and started eating pasture butter. I use only butter and olive oil now. I must say, my stomach issues have improved significantly. However, I have noticed on a couple of occasions now that when I indulge myself in something fried in vegetable oil (organic potato chips, breaded chicken pieces from a restaurant), I ended up having significant stomach pains for hours afterwards. It usually takes a few hours to come on, but then it takes a long time to go away. I don't know if this is an allergy or an intolerance (or if it's my gallbladder, as the pains are more on my upper left side). I don't know if it's one type of oil or all of them. But now I wonder if this has been a problem all along!
Gall Bladder
written by Louise, Jan 17 2010
Hi, I am new to the WAP diet and am finding the info on the gall bladder very interesting.
In my early 20s I had an extremely bad episode of gall bladder pain that lasted for several days and was so severe I was unable to leave the house. In the intervening 20 years I have had the occassional bout of gallbladder pain and during the last bad episode had a scan and visited a surgeon. He told me my gall bladder was probably nearly dead as it appeared to be quite atrophied and I had a 5cm gall stone. He advised that the next time I had a bad episode he would remove it.
I am so lucky that I have only had mild episodes so not been for the surgery.
Am looking forward to enlivening my gall bladder again.
Thanks for all the information.
The most important nutrient that we eat is fat
written by Mary Titus, Jan 11 2010
I encourage my family and friends that fats especially saturated fats are the most important nutrient to comsume. Our bodies cannot function without them. I feel that the more fats that I consume in concert with other nutrients such as vitamin D, the healthier I am. If you are coonsuming too many fats, your body will be the first to know.I will be using this information to begin my low carb support group which meets for the first time this Sunday.
Gall Bladder Pain
written by Geo Stanfield, Jan 10 2010
That's very informative stuff, Lori! I've been on a healing diet as of late and one healing reaction I am getting was pain in my gall bladder. I'm glad, with the introduction of healthy fats, my gall bladder is waking up again!

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Last Updated on Monday, 18 July 2011 14:50