Stop the Low-Fat Mantra, Already!

By Marcie Barnes

I’ve heard an advertisement on my local radio station a few times lately that can be described easily as corporate-marketing-fatwashing at best (I made that up, but I think #fatwashing is a term we should be talking about). It’s a skim milk product that I won’t name. In the ad, they are touting the benefits of a low-fat beverage that has lots of calcium, etc. etc. you’ve heard it before.

choices, what to do?

Photo credit goes to earl on Flickr:

Although fat is the highest in terms of calorie count by weight, I don’t believe the body stores fat as fat. Instead, it uses fats for cell repair/regeneration, in particular in relation to our vital organs. That’s pretty important stuff. This is also why I think there is an epidemic of psychological disorders in Westernized nations (to include depression) – because of the “low fat” diets that have been so popular for years. To clarify: I said I don’t believe the body stores the fat you eat, it stores the unused carbohydrates you eat as fat. Why do you think farmers feed their pigs and cows grain in order to fatten them up as quickly as possible for slaughter? If the fat we consume turns to fat, why aren’t farmers feeding their livestock‚Ķ.fat? If you’re overweight, there’s a very good chance your diet consists of too much sugar and other refined white carbs like flour. Think about it.

I am a vegetarian [meatless greenetarian] (I do eat high-quality dairy – meaning milk products from organic, grass fed cows and eggs from local farms that let their chickens run wild and eat organic stuff) so I feel compelled to say that while I am essentially promoting a low-carb diet here, that doesn’t have to mean eating a lot of meat to compensate for the lack of carbs, either. My diet largely consists of vegetables, beans, nuts and whole grains. I always choose the full-fat version of dressing (or sour cream or whatnot) and use healthy oils such as olive and coconut liberally (yes, coconut oil is saturated – not all saturated fats are bad, either. Typically plant-based, non-processed fats and fats that come from animals that ate plants, or grass-fed, are healthy for you, and as discussed in my previous post, healthy for the planet as well). Plus, fats and oils help make you feel full in the same way meats and fiber do. And by the way, once you start eating this way on a regular basis, you won’t miss the other stuff after awhile, at least that’s been my experience. Try going cold turkey on the sugar, too – it can be as addictive as cocaine.

I’d like to also include a post by Tim Ferriss from a few years ago that gets into more backed-up detail about this important topic, mostly because I spent a long time looking for some nice, well-written links to include in this post (I found a few, and I hope you will take the time to enjoy them) however they were few and far-between. The proliferation of the “low-fat mantra” is widespread, and it was hard to find health articles that didn’t use the term “low-fat” or otherwise talk about fat with differentiating between the kinds that are good for you and the kinds that are not. What is annoying about this is that it is too easy to take that term at it’s base level (eat less fat) instead of considering that there are essential forms of fat that we need in our diet, and other more damaging ones that should be avoided.

So I’ll say it one more time (so I don’t become another one of those articles that leaves out the important part about which fats are good): plant-based, non-processed fats and fats that come from animals that ate plants, or grass-fed, are healthy for you, and the planet.

Corporate food marketing in America is currently fueled (literally) by government subsidies that make cheap carbs (mostly corn) way more attractive for them as profit-seeking machines. Conversely, high-quality ingredients such as un-processed plant-based fats are, well, too expensive for a society that is well-versed in spending their money on the cheapest food available along with the most expensive cars, houses, purses, shoes, etc, that they can find. Is junk food really cheaper? Please think about it, especially if you live in the nation with the highest health care costs in the world, and the highest proliferation of cheap food.

I am proud to be taking part in Blog Action Day OCT 16 2011

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