Facing the Fats

Fats tend to get a bad rap. Not quite as much in the blog world, where almost everyone enjoys nut butters and avocado on the daily but they’re still viewed as somewhat scary. And I’m one of those people who used to be scared to death of fats. Because I thought they’d make me fat. I mean, duh, that’s their name, why wouldn’t they do that? Boy was I wrong!

My eating disorder days were when I feared fats the most. Can you blame me–I was a kid of the 90s, when low-fat was everything, and I was brainwashed by school nutrition programs to seek out lower fat options. Just before I was at my worst ED-wise, I replaced my old favorite snacks with fat-free pudding and those Snackwell cookies. What I didn’t realize was that low-fat is another name for more sugar, or more sodium. Without some fats, food doesn’t have much flavors (besides fruits and veggies, of course!) But I didn’t care, I felt like I was superior because I was eating little to no fat, unlike most people my age. In my worst days, I subsisted on black beans and rice, “light” toast, sugar-free Jell-O and fruit. The only real fat I was eating was maybe 1 teaspoon of almond butter per day. What a sad, flavorless life! At that point, I was not only afraid of fat but also carbs and my health and appearance were really suffering because of it. I took a nap almost every day after school because I had no energy–not something a normal 16 year old does. My skin was dry, my hair had tons of split ends and was falling out, I was super pale and just didn’t look happy and healthy. Little did I know that it was due to the lack of nutrients.

This is how the food pyramid should look!

During my early recovery, I started to eat more fats again, like larger servings of almond butter and guacamole, but I still shied away from them, especially saturated fats. I wasn’t so afraid of the total fat count, but I always looked at the saturated fat content on every food I bought. I tried my hardest to stay under 2 grams of sat fat total per day, which is damn hard to do. I looked longingly at Clif and Luna bars but always passed them up because most of them had just a little over my total saturated fat “allowance” for the day.

The Luna Bar I always wanted to try (but didn’t) because of the 2.5 grams of sat fat.

Unfortunately, this fear of saturated fat continued for almost three more years. I rejected foods I used to love, like dark chocolate, because they had too much of this scary fat. It didn’t help that most nutrition articles I read supported my fear. I continued to keep my saturated fat levels low…that is, until I transitioned to veganism almost one year ago.

As I embraced vegan foods and tried new things, I realized a lot of them had saturated fat–some more than the measly 2 grams I’d been allowing myself per day. Things like tempeh, nuts and dark chocolate all looked so good, but they were chock-full of fats, mostly the supposed healthy kind (aka unsaturated fats) but they also had a decent amount of saturated. Wanting to be a healthy, fats-embracing vegan, I decided to dip my toe into the world of plant-based saturated fats. And now I can proudly say that I’m never going back to the low-fat lifestyle again!

I would have never let myself eat this much guacamole a year ago!

I eat plant based fats on a daily basis and I love them. Nuts, seeds, tempeh, avocado, olives, dark chocolate and nut butters are my favorite sources and I don’t even want to try living without them. But coconut…that was a different story. I’ve feared coconut for at least 5 years, because it’s extremely high in fat, especially saturated. I wouldn’t touch the stuff with a ten foot pole, even though I kinda liked it pre-ED. Until a week or so ago, I hadn’t eaten it in any form since I was probably 13 or 14. Turns out, it’s not as scary as I thought, and I actually like it. Coconut milk ice cream is so much creamier than other vegan ice creams, and maybe even more than regular ice cream (from what I can remember). Coconut milk adds a really nice taste to curry sauces, and it works really well in Larabars. I’m even considering investing in some coconut oil for baking and cooking, since so many people love it and it’s a healthy fat. Yep, I said it, it’s healthy! Now I know that pretty much all plant-based fats are totally healthy, and offer so many benefits. And they taste so amazing!

How did I ever live without this deliciousness?

Basically what I’m saying here is if you’re like me and you are wary of fats, don’t be. Don’t fear the fats–they taste awesome and they’ll give you so much health and energy. I eat about 30 to 35% of my daily calories from fat, and I’ve never felt better! Stick with the plant based fats–nuts and seeds, avocado, coconut–and I think you’ll see the benefits too.

Have you ever feared fats? What’s your favorite fat source?

20 thoughts on “Facing the Fats

  1. What a wonderful post,my lovely Ashley! You’re making such great and noticeable progress recently,it really blows my mind and makes me feel so happy for you!
    Fats are honestly nothing to be afraid of,I’ve always eaten pretty much fat,even during my worser ED-phases,because for me,carbs were the scariest stuff ever,and let me tell you it didn’t hinder my weight loss in any way.
    My favorite fat sources are nuts,nut butters and salmon. Oh,and guacamole,but I don’t have it often because I actually never buy avocadoes for myself… They’re still a fear food of mine because I never know how to store them and don’t want to eat an entire avocado in one sitting.

    • Thanks Kat! I actually could never eat an entire avocado at once either so I almost never make my own guacamole. I usually just buy it premade from the store and it’s so good and fresh with just a few ingredients! I don’t know if the stores near you sell anything like that but it’s a lot easier than making a huge batch of guac at once.

  2. I was the same way in my early disorder years. I feared all fats. Even later in it, I still strayed away from it. However, in recovery I found this love of fats, realizing that fats were not scary. I think for so long it was more the calories that scared me but in reality I was eating loads of crap of the same calories for something I could get from a healthy fat that tasted way better. I have to say, butter is one of my favorites and olive oil mayo. Bring on the fats!

  3. caloricandcrazy says:

    Oh yes, I’ve feared fats, and it’s only recently that I’ve realized that the fear is stupid. I’ll admit, in the days leading up to my disordered eating habits, I thought fats did make you fat. It’s unfortunate how we were taught as children to always go for the low fat options…no one ever told us about avocados, nuts, etc.!

    While I still struggle to not fear some fats (butter, coconut, etc.) Even though it’s easier said than done, I am aware that if all things are taken in moderation, it’s okay to indulge!

  4. Great post again Ashley, and one so many people can both relate to and are probably nodding to as we speak, just as I am! I have always feared the fats… well always meaning the worst of the ED days.. that is what was first cut out, and I went down to maybe TWO grams of fat per day. Guess what happened… my hair started to fall out, that was the main thing, and my nails, skin also suffered. So glad to be over that, and now I have about 80 + grams per day! Bring em on πŸ™‚ Glad you are voicing all of this lady, keep up the amazing work please!

    • You are so awesome, girl! I love hearing how you embrace the fats now too, I can’t believe I tried to live on so little fat. Not only was it unhealthy but it wasn’t too tasty either–fats are so yummy!

  5. I definitely agree with that photo up there on how the food pyramid should be. Don’t fear the HEALTHY fats people. Oh and avocado would definitely be my favorite fat! πŸ™‚

  6. Emily says:

    This is another lovely post! I’m so proud of you for facing your fears and discovering that fat isn’t the enemy. I think we’ve all gone through the ‘low-fat’ and ‘fat-free’ obsession. Hey, society told us it was bad! But, there’s definitely a BIG difference between the good and bad fats. Not to mention, our bodies need it to function!
    I totally agree that coconut milk ice cream trumps any other vegan variety. It’s so creamy and delicious! I’m glad you’ve discovered how amazing it is!

    • I agree, it’s really sad how so many people think fats are a bad thing when there are actually lots of fats that are beneficial!

      I’m so glad I discovered coconut milk ice cream too, I’m never going back to the soy varieties again!

  7. I don’t even look at fat amounts (not even saturated). Even saturated fats are necessary and we’re finding that they’re good for us, too! The only thing that I try to keep minimal in my diet is trans fats – because those aren’t usually natural and natural foods tend to be better!

    • Oh yeah, I only do natural fats–it’s hard to really eat trans fats in a healthy plant-based diet anyway! Saturated fats are still a scary thing but I’m working on it because what’s life without dark chocolate and coconut milk ice cream?

  8. Once you go fat – you never go back. LOL.
    fave fat HAS to be nut butter. I mean…

    However recently I cannot get enough of Veganaiise. I have always and still do HATE mayo but veganaisse doesn’t taste like mayo. It’s so good.

    Also tofutti vegan cream cheese. On like — most things. LOL. So good.

  9. sarah says:

    The fat in coconut has actually been tested and proven to be metabolised differently by the body , compared to other fats- its been shown to actually boost metabolism!
    Coconut flour and oil are really awesome in baking, and I bet coconut butter would be right up your alley- its used in a lot of raw dessert recipes:).

  10. What an amazing post! Ever since I have been loving “fat” I have lost weight without even trying. I am sad the word FAT is associated with ALL FATS even the good kind because it strays many away Great article!

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