Do you know what makes food delicious and nutritious?
Today we are going to breech a taboo subject. Today we are talking about fat!
Did you know that fat is good for you? That’s right, good ol’ fashioned animal fat–butter, lard, cream, bacon grease–yum!!!
I know I know, I just opened up a can of worms… well, since it’s open, let’s do a little fishing!
How can I possibly say fat is healthy? Low-fat diets are preached everywhere–school, friends, doctors, television! Isn’t it a know fact that fat is clogging our arteries and causing heart attacks and strokes? Everyone knows that low-fat is the healthy way to go.
But what if fat is not bad for us?
In my family, we tell the story of my great-grandmother, who lived into her nineties DESPITE the fact that she would eat the gristle off everyone’s plates. But maybe she lived so long BECAUSE she ate that gristle? How can I say that? Because we NEED fat!
It is an important building block in every one of our cells, and is necessary for many body systems to even function.
What if fat is good for us?
How can I say that? Let’s look at that together.
It is important to eat fat with any food that we eat–let’s talk about why.
CARBS AND SUGARS:
When we eat simple carbs and sugars (even natural ones), the sugar is quickly absorbed, causing the blood sugar to spike. The body then releases lots of insulin to bring the blood sugar back down. Often, the blood sugar drops back down too quickly and triggers hunger a couple hours later. Then this whole cycle repeats. When eaten with these foods, fat slows the absorption of sugar, leading to a slow and gentle rise in blood sugar, and avoiding the insulin drop and the “blood sugar roller coaster.”
We are told to eat a lot of vegetables because they are full of vitamins and minerals that we need. This is true, but those great vitamins and minerals are not very easily absorbed by us because we lack something cows have-extra stomachs. We need help to extract even a little of the nutrition available in a vegetable. Enter fat! When eaten with vegetables, fat provides carriers for many vitamins and minerals, allowing us to reap the benefit of plants beyond the fiber.
Protein, too, needs to be eaten with fat. When protein is absorbed from our intestines, the body needs to pair it with vitamin A (a fat-soluble vitamin) before using it. When we don’t eat fat along with our protein (think boneless, skinless chicken breasts), the body steals vitamin A from its storage place in the liver. If this happens regularly, we can become vitamin A deficient. Aside from causing vitamin A deficiency symptoms (night-blindness and immune suppression), it can lead to vitamin D deficiency. And because these two are linked, you will not be able to correct a vitamin D deficiency (no matter how much you supplement) unless you correct the vitamin A deficiency as well. Fortunately, both are present in animal fat!
So when do we eat fat? All the time! With everything!
Fat makes our food taste good! Low fat=low taste. In processed food, the taste void is often made up by increasing sugar or non-food substances like MSG. Adding fat back into your diet adds back natural flavor. Hello, delicious food!
ABOUT EATING FAT:
If you have been following a low-fat diet for a while, you can’t just start eating tons of fat–you will likely feel nauseous and may get loose stools. Instead, gradually increase your fat. Eating fermented foods or raw apple cider vinegar can help too. I recommend trying to add just ½ cup of added animal fat a day at first. Once your body is used to fat, try increasing the amount to 3-4 TBS of fat with each meal, or 1 ½ cups of added animal fat per day. After a while, your daily intake will likely settle between these amounts, varying based on your body’s needs. Listen to your body and eat as much as you are wanting. Once your body knows it has the option to eat fat when needed, it will be able to tell you how much it needs.
HERE ARE SOME IDEAS TO INCREASING YOUR DIETARY FAT:
- add a couple TBS of butter to your steamed vegetables (per serving)!
- add creme fraiche (sour cream) to everything!
- fry up your vegetables, meat or eggs in several TBS of butter, lard (learn to make your own) or bacon grease!
- have a little bread with your butter!
- eat your gristle!
What creative and delicious ideas do you have about how to eat more fat? Share them here!