Fear of a Fat Planet

If you grew up in the 80’s like we did, it’s pretty likely you grew up on a low-fat diet. We were bombarded with the message that fat is the root of all evil and will surely kill us all! We heard the research, we listened to the experts and we switched to a ‘healthy’ low-fat lifestyle. We swapped butter for margarine, full fat cheese for a low- fat, tasteless, rubbery version of cheese, whole milk to watery skim milk and full cream yoghurt to low-fat, sugar-laden varieties. All meat had to be lean and any excess fat was discarded. We cooked our food in vegetable oil and wouldn’t dream of cooking in saturated fat – that stuff will block your arteries and make you fat! Low fat crackers, breads, pasta and cereals were all considered healthy and eaten to excess – they form the base of the food pyramid so they must be good!

Well you can imagine our confusion when we started to stack on the weight when we were cutting all the fat out of our diet. How could this be? We ate low fat cereal with skim milk for breakfast, we had sandwiches, muesli bars and fruit in our school lunch box and pasta or rice for dinner. We did also consume a lot of vegetables and other good things but the main part of our diet was refined carbohydrates. I remember thinking that it was OK to eat lollies because they didn’t contain fat – crazy right?!

After many years on this highly-refined carbohydrate diet I became a pretty sickly kid too and consumed way too many antibiotics.  I feel quite sure that all this contributed strongly to me developing leaky gut and then full blown autoimmune disease with type 1 diabetes in my mid twenties. Sadly, the advice I was given as a newly diagnosed diabetic was to be even more militant with eating low fat.

It wasn’t until a few months later that my sister put me onto the book ‘Nourishing Traditions’ by Sally Fallon that I got a whole new perspective on fats, particularly saturated fats. to sum up, fats are critical for good health and your health will suffer without them. Yes, some fats are bad, we’re looking directly at you margarine with your fancy hydrogenated, trans fats, making us all hate butter! But most of the fats that we thought were really bad are actually pretty darn good. (Now I’m not saying that you should go out and eat a bucket of lard but isn’t moderation the key to eating most things? Heck – even overdoing it on something as healthful as kale can have negative consequences on our thyroid function and nutrient absorption!)

So when I switched to a low-carb higher fat diet I started to see some really positive changes. I switched vegetable oil for coconut oil, I snacked on high fat nuts, I poured olive oil on my salad,  I put coconut cream in my chai and best of all – butter was back on the table and margarine got kicked to the curb (take that you poor, evil substitute)! Not only did I not get fat from all the fat I was now eating, I actually lost weight! My skin was clearer and my blood sugar control was far more stable. Go fat!

Although I was reaping the rewards of my new diet, I was really missing the foods I grew up with, mainly bread and baked treats. It’s really tough to break a habit of a lifetime no matter how bad it is. These foods had been a part of my diet for so long and it was really tough to stop eating them altogether. So I found a new way to moderately include these old foods in my diet and discovered the joys of baking with low-carb almond and coconut flour. What I found was that I could still enjoy these old favourites without it affecting my blood sugars or my weight. By adopting this more moderate approach, I was far more able to enjoy life as well as good health. Whilst some people are able to deny themselves things and cope well with it, for everyone else there’s No Grainer bread. That’s what we hope anyway!

So you have our blessing to cut a slice of our bread and enjoy it with some eggs cooked in coconut oil, ghee or grass-fed butter. It beats a tasteless low fat cracker smeared with low fat cottage cheese any day!

For a really great article on healthy fats check out this article by Dr Natalie Bird from Coconut My Body. She’s a woman after our own hearts!