Good morning! Well it seems like the weather predictions are going to come true and we are going to get at least six inches of SNOW! But I’m sure it will melt quite quickly 🙂
I feel like this post about fats is long overdue and something I have been wanting to write about for a long time. I wrote about my fear of cereal a few weeks ago, but fats are in a category all on their own. This is long but it’s something I want to express and is very important to me.
Even if you are not an expert in nutrition, I am sure you have heard that fats are necessary in the diet, ones from fried foods and processed items should be limited and fat grams from nuts, olive/canola oils, avocados, etc are much better for your body. There are several different kinds, mono and polyunsaturated, and the more “scary kinds” saturated and trans.
As a Public Health major with a focus in community nutrition, I have taken several nutrition classes and have learned about the three necessary macronutrients for our bodies, carbohydrates, proteins and FATS. These are the sources that we as living creatures need to consume in large quantities for proper organ function and are necessary sources of energy. These macronutrients are found in every food we eat, but the trick is balancing the amounts you consume for optimum function of your body.
These are the healthy ranges that a person should be getting from foods along with sufficient amount of other essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. The recommendations are:
- 45% to 65% of calories eaten should come from carbohydrates.
- 20% to 35% of calories eaten should come from fat.
- 10% to 35% of calories eaten should come from protein
Why do we need fat in our diet?
- Fat provides needed energy. It is difficult to eat the large amounts of food in a very low fat diet to get all the energy you need.
- Fat is needed to prevent essential fatty acid deficiency.
- Fat is needed so your body can absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, S, E, K, and prevent deficiencies of these vitamins.
- Fat provides flavor and texture to help prevent food from being bland and dry.
- Fat helps food to stay in the stomach longer, giving a greater sense of satisfaction and preventing hunger soon after meals.
- Fat may help your body produce endorphins (natural substances in the brain that produce pleasurable feelings).
What does fat do for our body?
- Provides insulation under the skin from the cold and the heat.
- Protects organs and bones from shock and provides support for organs.
- Fat surrounds and insulates nerve fibers to help transmit nerve impulses.
- Fat is part of every cell membrane in the body. It helps transport nutrients and metabolites across cell membranes.
- Your body uses fat to make a variety of other building blocks needed for everything from hormones to immune function.
Source of the above information.
So it seems like fat is pretty necessary right? You wold think after knowing this sort of information that I would have no problem eating foods with fat in it….WRONG!
When my disordered eating took a turn for the worst, I began to restrict pretty much everything, but especially FATS. In my mind anything with fat= instant weight gain. Anything with fats in it was off-limits; cakes, cookies, pastries of course, but also anything that had been cooked in oil, meats, vegetables, ANYTHING. If I saw a food had that “sheen” of oil on it, I would absolutely not eat it. Eating out at restaurants was the most terrifying thing ever because I would never know how much oil or butter the chef had used to cook the meal, and I usually would not eat it, or would order a salad, because it was “safe.”
It so bad last summer that any food that had more than 2 grams of fat in it, i would simply not eat. When I first began reading Healthy Living Blogs and saw the amazing foods bloggers were eating such as almond/peanut butter, Lara Bars (12 grams of fat per bar! scary at that time), kale chips/sweet potato fries drizzled with (gasp!) olive oil, a piece of salmon?! I was so jealous they were able to and comfortable eating all of these great sources of fat and not gaining weight- must be nice for them. *I truly believed everyone else could eat things and not gain weight but there was no way I could, because I was different in some way.
As someone who has a pretty good understanding of basic nutrition, it’s scary that I was able to convince myself that I didn’t need fats. I knew it was necessary, for everyone else, I didn’t need it and by cutting it out I would lose weight= the goal!
I didn’t like the idea of “wasting” calories that were high in fat and (I believed) wouldn’t fill me up. For example, a piece of pizza was simply not worth all of the fat and calories I would get from it and then be hungry about 10 minutes later which would lead me to eating more, which would lead to weight gain! What a lovely cycle I believed in. I liked the idea of eating an entire salad, plenty of low cal veggies, watery fruits to fill me up for much less calories.
And let me tell you something else, it worked. I did lose weight last summer, but so many other health affects came right along with me cutting out this vital nutrient. A few unpleasant examples:
- My skin became dry even with lathering with lotion everyday and it was summer!
- I used to have very thick hair. I lost a lot of hair last summer and now it’s very thin 😦
- Low body weight= duh.
- My nails were brittle and would not grow
- Loss of my period- this has been an on-going issue since starting Weight Watchers in 2008- a very personal post which I will soon be discussing!
There was a point before being really making an effort to change my eating habits that was evidence of how irrational I had become. During Thanksgiving I had made a “safe” side-dish of Ratatouille for myself so I would at least have something to eat with my family. It was made WITHOUT OIL and actually is quite tasty for the record. There was a point I was not in the room and my mom drizzled olive oil over the vegetables as a way to “sneak in” fat for me. Although this was not the best tactic (as doing this in secret wasn’t nice) I understand why she did it; my mom was so concerned for my health and didn’t exactly know how to approach the situation. When the dish was being served, I noticed that familiar look of oil over the vegetables, realized what happened and refused to eat it. Yeah, think I need an intervention much?
During this past winter break, I really made the effort to change my diet. It was uncomfortable and scary but I ate a whole lot more when I was home. Something that prompted me to do this was how thin my hair had become, it used to be “thick as a horse’s tail” not so much anymore. Anyway, one of the first things I ate as a fat source was almond butter. That first state was pure heaven in my mouth. I took a big ole spoonful, and savored the thick, creamy, sweet taste. Every day now I have some kind of almond butter on apples, carrots, oatmeal or just on its own!
Ever since then I have been incorporating fats into my diet slowly but surely. For example, I always put walnuts, almonds, or sesame seeds on a salad, I cook with olive oil, and nut butter= true love. Foods with fat in it, such as granola bars, other prepared foods are finally “allowed” in my mind. I finally tried a Lara Bar after practically hyperventilating before eating it! 🙂
Not going to lie though, I am still struggling with eating foods with sources of fat I consider bad–> baked goods, ice cream, pizza, and so many others. It is my next step to try some of these things, in moderation of course! These still to me= instant weight gain.
I realized I wanted to write this post when I noticed all of the fat sources I had in my room:
Now that I have proper amounts of fat in it, I have noticed changes in my body! I am not losing hair at the same terrifying rate I was, my nails are growing and thick, my skin is less dry and clearer and overall I feel less “brittle” if that makes any sense. Also, I have gained weight, and you know what, it’s okay. Besides fat being great for your body, it also tastes really freakin good 🙂
It may seem like I have perfectly comfortable eating fats now, and I am to a certain extent. However, I am still very aware of how much fat I am getting from foods and I am limiting the number of nuts I eat a day, tablespoons of almond butter and if I deem a food has too much oil on it, I still am not comfortable eating it. That’s why I don’t eat several of the prepared meats and veggies in the dining hall, they are always shining with the scary oily substance.
Phew that was long, and I feel like I am going to think of more things to add as the day goes on. I might add something later if it seems important for me to mention.
If you read all of this, thank you, if not that’s okay too haha. It was long and wordy and kind of all over the place= word vomit :p
*Has anyone fear or feared fat? Any other irrationalities surrounding food? -> I have so many more but I think this is enough for today 🙂