Confessions of a Former Lipid-Phobe

Sara here. Are you a lipid-phobe? I used to be one, too. Here’s why every woman needs to lose the fear of fat!

Every friendship has That Conversation. You know, that one thing you debate ad infinitum. My best friend and I have had many a tendentious tiff over the issue of dietary fat. Like any self-respecting woman in the prime of her dieting years (translation: life span), lipids and I have had a rocky relationship. In high school and college I was firmly convinced, like most people, that fat was bad. I scarfed bagels and pasta and low-fat cookies with impunity. So did all my girlfriends. Fat was the enemy, and we were slavishly mindful of every hidden gram. I can still tell you the grammage of just about any food (and I bet you can, too).

Strangely, despite my assertive fat avoidance, I kept getting … fatter. By the time graduate school rolled around, intense migraines, mood swings, and perma-bloat were my constant companions. My friends all seemed to suffer from similar “girl” problems: IBS, bloating, migraines, mood swings, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Was this really just a girl thing? To add insult to injury, I was 24 and had the complexion of a hormonal 14-year-old. I might as well have had braces to complete my chubby, pimply style. This would not do.

I worked as a health researcher and writer for Mark (this irony is not lost on me). So, I started taking a personal interest in all the health theories and studies Mark made me read anyway. Like Mark, I began to question the reigning undesirability of fat. Where did the fat loathing come from? Why, precisely, were we women so terrified of fat? Was a nibble of cheese or a splash of cream — or heaven forbid, a slab of butter — really the source of all my health woes? And, more importantly, of my frumpalump figure? The research indicated otherwise. Not only is fat perfectly healthy, it doesn’t make you fat. Thanks, Susan Powter. Thanks a lot.

I immediately made sweeping changes to my diet. I began living on a deliciously greasy menu of green vegetables, salads and fish — greasy because these vittles were smothered in all the eggs, butter, cream, nuts, and cheese I could possibly want. After working out, I drank half-and-half from the carton. I soaked my veggies in walnut oil. I dunked figs in mascarpone and ate criminal amounts of avocados. To my utter glee, I began to feel wonderful. I also cut out refined carbohydrates and grains, save for brown rice, legumes and yams. This wasn’t Atkins (I’m all about the greens), but it was certainly flying in the face of conventional nutritional wisdom.

Very strange things happened. Within a few months I had dropped 20 pounds. It happened so fast, I actually got sick of buying new clothes. I wish I could say this was all just a matter of a grown woman losing her baby fat, but I had been skinny as a girl. Rather, I lost my fear-of-fat fat.

My girlfriends were skeptical until…

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And this is my fridge, right now. (Apologies to the 99% of the world that can take better pictures than I can.)

Today being Friday my resources are running a bit low because I go to the farmer’s market on Saturdays and the local organic grocer for meats and fish on Tuesdays. But as you can see, there’s Kerrygold butter (great stuff that reader Crystal got me hooked on), herbed goat cheese, wild smoked salmon, assorted dark chocolates, berries, celery, grapes, Omega-3 eggs, half-and-half, miniature bell peppers, and greens. I also have a cabinet full of all kinds of exotic oils, nuts, vinegars and fun stuff like my neighbor’s canned homegrown jalapenos (they’re either fire-hot, or realllly mild, and you never know which ’til you bite!).

I usually eat eggs with veggies, or buffalo mozzarella with tomatoes and fresh herbs, for breakfast. And for lunch, I enjoy a gigantic salad with fish or tempeh (sometimes chicken). Dinner is usually a big vegetable affair drowning in tasty, fattening sauces made with butter or oil, plus the occasional portion of fish or my now-famous seared lamb chops. (I also like to bake a whole batch of chicken with different veggies at the beginning of the week if I know I’m going to be pressed for time.) I snack daily on either half an avocado or several ounces of nuts, and cheese really doesn’t stand a chance around me. Another favorite snack is to lop the tops off those mini bells and use them to scoop the goat cheese. My “vices” are dark chocolate, the aforementioned cheese, and imported beer, but I don’t think those are really so bad in small quantities. If I’m out and about and there isn’t an “ideal” food available, I choose the smartest thing possible – e.g. a small serving of chicken wings instead of nachos or pizza if I’m out with pals. While I’m not militant – if I’m over to someone’s house and they’ve taken the time to make a meal, I’m not about to be picky, and ditto for the occasional chic restaurant – I generally avoid all carbs and I eat fat like it’s going out of business. All told, I usually end up consuming between 600 and 700 of my daily calories from fat. I sure suffer on this 40 to 50% fat “diet”. Yep, some days I just really miss those 20 pounds and weekly migraines. Oh, well. 😉

What’s in your fridge?

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