Why eating fat could be the secret to sustainable weight loss.
No fat, no flavour—we have been told it is a worthy sacrifice, but could our low-fat obsession actually be making us fat?
The low-fat idea is fairly new, and has only taken hold in the last 30 or 40 years. The low-fat era was supposed to make us slim and healthy. But how did it go? The diet industry is booming; we keep coming back for more, time and time again, as diets keep failing us.
Interestingly, we haven’t always struggled with our weight. Obesity and weight problems were rare in the 1800s. Heart disease was also practically non-existent. So what changed?
In the early 1800s, depending on location, the American diet was based on food that was grown or hunted locally; pork, beef, or game meat, milk, butter, cream, corn and beans. Vegetables had to be kept in a root cellar or pickled, so fresh vegetables were not often in abundance.
Australian diets were similar. We had to eat what was available locally; mutton, bush turkey, kangaroo, quail, pigeon, duck, wombat, even parrots. Parrot pie was a popular dish for decades. Offal was deep fried in emu oil. Wild turkey was cooked with bacon to make it tender. Seafood was also plentiful in many locations. In many parts, the land was described as barren, but they had access to some vegetation, including some seeds, fruits and greens. Meat was considered to be the main part of each meal. And a fresh egg was said to contain “about the same amount of nourishment as one and a half ounces of fresh meat.”
The animal fat that rose to the top of a stew or broth (pot-top) was considered the best fat for frying. The fat used to fry meat was not wasted, but made into gravy. Butter was described as not only “wholesome, but extremely nutritious.” And milking was done at certain times of the day to optimise the amount of fat in the milk, as demonstrated in the English and Australian Cookery Book, “Let us suppose a kilogramme of milk to yield only the sixth part of its weight of butter; then the milk of the evening may yield double that quantity.” Puff paste (pastry) was made with equal parts butter and flour (1 lb butter, 1 lb flour).
Fat was not avoided or feared, in fact, it was used liberally, and we were not overweight. In fact, generally only the rich were plump (it was seen as a sign of wealth). But not because they ate more fat. Sugar was a luxury only afforded by the wealthy. In fact, fruit, sugar, and flour were all used as a way to fatten the rich. “In the moist state, as imported, the fig will go considerably further in feeding and fattening than an equal quantity of wheaten flour.”
Around the 1830s, sugar became cheaper and more readily available to the general public, and the average consumption (including natural sugar) was around 4 tsp a day. Now, the cheapest food available is sugar and white flour, and as a result, obesity tends to be even more prevalent among the poor.
Currently, Australians consume anywhere between 20 and 50 tsp of sugar daily. In addition, our diet is no longer based on protein and fat, but rather on carbohydrates and sugars. Does this matter?
Absolutely. It all comes back to basic biochemistry. As humans, we can only use or store a small amount of glucose (from sugar and carbohydrate) at any one time. If we consume more than we can use or store, we generally have to store the remainder as fat. In the 1800s, we did eat carbohydrate, but our diet was based on protein and fat. The fact that we now base our diet on carbohydrate means that most people will likely struggle with their weight at some point in their life. More than half of all Australians are now overweight or obese.
This is just one reason I say that the vilification of fat was the biggest health mistake in history. Natural fats were never the culprits behind obesity or heart disease. And vilifying fat meant eating more of the foods that were the issue all along.
I grew up low-fat. As part of a family of 9, we could barely afford to put quality food on the table, but when we were lucky enough to have eggs, we threw away our egg yolks! That is the absurdity of the low-fat era; small malnourished children throwing away the most nutrient dense part of the egg.
My mother dieted most of her life, and we learned to do the same. But I ended up overweight in my late teens and early twenties.
Fifteen years ago, I radically changed my diet to what I call low carb, high fat (LCHF). I started eating real food with real fats. Butter, bacon, eggs, chicken with the crispy skin, roast pork with the crackling. And I haven’t looked back. In fifteen years, I haven’t had to think about how much I eat, I am never deprived or hungry, I don’t have to count calories…and I finally have permission to eat! It is definitely time to Bring Back the Fat!
About the Author
Christine Cronau is a Nutritionist, bestselling Author, and Speaker who has just launched her latest book, Bring Back The Fat.
After struggling with her own weight and health, Christine transformed her body and her health and spent over ten years researching the facts about food and fats. The results are evident in her engaging, ground-breaking books about dietary truths that have been ignored by conventional health authorities. Christine’s revolutionary work is captivating and easy to read; a fascinating look at how we have reached such a mistaken consensus about health. Find out more at: http://christinecronau.com