“Let them Eat Fat!” Wisdom from an Un-Tainted Generation

 This past weekend we visited my grandpa in Michigan. Each morning the Wall Street Journal is perched on his doorstep and he has it read by early-afternoon. He noted an article that he thought I may be interested in, titled, “Let them Eat Fat”.  You see, the previous night we settled in after dinner and talked to him about his younger days growing up on a farm.  I never get tired of hearing these stories because I learn something new and gain insight into how our world is designed to function. He was born in 1930 and for the first 15 or 16 years of his life his parent’s owned a chicken farm. They grew all of their own vegetables, had fruit and nut trees, raised cows for beef, used real butter and cream, and drank raw, whole milk. 
While he may not see it this way, his family was lucky.  During the depression, urbanized people relied on refined flours and lacked fresh ingredients. Their self-sustaining farm, however, provided real, fresh foods that helped set them up to thrive in life. My grandfather says he has always eaten real foods and never followed the “trends” of nutrition, such as margarine and low-fat milk.  As a result of his upbringing, he has always eaten eggs, fresh bread, fresh fruits, drank whole milk, and not over-indulged in desserts.  He may think we are crazy for craving a life resembling his childhood, but little does he know how his first several years helped shape his health even today.

The article he tipped me off to was “Let Them Eat Fat!”, (click to read) a commentary on, well, FAT!  And we’re not talking about the fat you find in a bag of chips or a McDonald’s hamburger, we’re talking about real fats, the ones found in nature, like what my grandpa grew up on.  While this author spends most of his time salivating over various foods, the heart of the article is absolutely what I tell anyone who asks me for nutritional advice: don’t be afraid to eat natural fat.  Cutting out fat or going on a “low fat diet” will only cause you to crave sugars and carbs…why?  Because your body can make fat out of the excess sugars and carbs you eat.  If you don’t feed it fat, it will find a way to get it, pure and simple.  Fat is essential to life, and completely slashing it deprives you of fat soluble vitamins, leads to an inability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, depresses the immune system and fertility, and causes weight GAIN…yes, weight gain.  You should be cutting sugar and nutrient-depleted processed foods and processed cereal grains: these foods are just fillers.

But doesn’t fat make you fat?  Not necessarily.  The reason “high fat diets” have gotten a bad rap is because they do not differentiate between processed fats and natural, unprocessed fats.  Also, typically people who eat an unhealthy “high fat diet” are not only consuming large amounts of processed fats, but they are additionally consuming processed sugars and carbohydrates!

If you are eating the right kind of fat (natural fat) it will provide your body with the nutrients it needs and also satiety.  You don’t need as much of a “fatty” food to feel full.  Sure a plate full of vegetables is awesome, but if you don’t put some butter or olive oil on them you’ll be hungry in an hour and you’ll overeat throughout the day! 

Now this doesn’t mean eat a 10oz fatty steak, plus a loaded baked potato, bread and butter, vegetables with butter, and a cheesecake for dessert…that’s food overload.  What it does mean is that you can eat a good quality (grass-fed) 4-6 oz piece of meat, olive oil your large serving of mixed vegetables, and either skip the potato and bread or have a small serving of either…after a meal like that you shouldn’t need the dessert!  The foods you are eating provide satiety and nutrition, not just fillers.

What you have to understand is that people ate fat for thousands of years…it is our current culture of eating processed and fast foods which contain altered fats that we need to be concerned about.  Adding fat to your meal will help you eat less overall because you’re giving your body what it needs.

Primary Fat Sources:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Cold-Pressed
Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, Cold-Pressed, Unrefined
Organic, Grass-Fed Butter
Pastured Eggs
Grass-Fed Whole Milk Plain Yogurt or other Plain fermented dairy
Meats-Organic or Farm Raised is best: Beef, Lamb, Pork, Chicken, Duck, Goose, Turkey
Wild-Caught Fish: Salmon, Tuna, etc.
Homemade Bone-Stock Soups, fat not skimmed
Nut Butters and Nuts (in moderation): Don’t rely on nuts as your main fat source.  People who limit fat tend to be “nut abusers”…Your body is trying to tell you that you need fat, and not just from nuts.

Take note of the Quality, it makes a difference!  Low-quality fats contribute to chronic disease and have a different nutritional make up.  It’s not worth sacrificing your health.

With anything, balance is key.  Don’t binge on these because they are “good for you”, but eat them as a normal part of your diet and watch your health and weight stabilize.