Those that are millennials like me remember one of their main childhood tastes being skim milk. We also spread margarine on rolls, had low fat yogurt and granola for snacks, and ate chicken and turkey for dinner.
By golly, we were only doing what we were told was healthy. In 1980, the USDA issued its first dietary guidelines with one of it’s primary directives being to avoid cholesterol and fat; specifically urging Americans to eat less high-fat red meat, eggs and dairy and replace them with more calories from fruits, vegetables and especially carbohydrates. With fat being the most vilified nutrient in the U.S., we avoided it like the plague.
We all did it this way, but the removal of fat in our diets has lead to an increase of consumption of carbohydrates in the form of low-fat, processed alternatives.
Perhaps, when you consider that most low-fat products are laden with salts, sugars, and preservatives, continuing to eat these foods could be doing you more harm than good.
In June of 2014, TIME magazine published with butter on their cover and this scary statement:
TIME: Eat Butter. Why Scientists Labelled Fat the Enemy. Why They Were Wrong.
and this video…
Beyond all the science and politics, this issue has hit home for many in drastic and small ways. If all you did was attempt the dietary guidelines and came out discouraged and hungry, I’m sure you are the minority. Like said in the video, sadly, many have suffered great illness from this unintentional science experiment.
In college I felt hungry all. the. time. Ugh!
I have my story too… I do.
When I was in college, about my second year in, my body started to store my energy deposits a little differently than it used to.
Naturally, I’m a fighter. I wasn’t going to let that happen. So from what I knew, I followed those government dietary guidelines.
Skim milk. No fat. Steamed veggies. Whole grains. Fruit.
Shouldn’t be too hard.
It’s in my personality; I do well at routine and commitment. I exercise; now I just gotta eat “right” all the time. So I did it. For about 6 months…
I was down to the lowest weight I’d ever been. I downloaded this app on my smartphone called MyFitnessPal. I monitored my calorie intake to the T – eating the app’s suggested calorie amount based on my age, gender, weight, height, and activity. Depending on how active I was it ranged from 1300 – 1700 calories a day.
I also watched my nutrition like I should – making sure I didn’t live off sugar or fats. I ate, like suggested, skim milk, no fat, steamed veggies, whole grains and fruit.
Ho-hum, good for me…
Actually, no. NOT AT ALL.
I was starving!
Naturally, I thought, “Okay, I need to up my caloric intake.” So, I did. I ate more.
Not it! I was eating so much of the “right food” that my tummy was bloated and I was still hungry. Plus, now, I was constantly craving so much sugar!
Then the crazy cycle began..
Like I mentioned, I maintained this lifestyle for about 6 months, and then for another year after my body went nuttso.
I was so hungry. I was craving sugars all the time. I’d go about a week with eating “right” and then go nuts one evening and eat all the carbs and sugars I could think of.
I’d seriously make cookies and eat the entire batch myself. Now, looking back, this seems funny. But, take a moment and realize how that affects a 20 something’s self-image and confidence.
After eating so much food in one sitting, I’d be extremely bloated, crampy, and shaky from all the sugars. I’d wake up weighing 3-4 pounds more than I did the day before not because of the weight of the extra food I ate, but the water my body retained from the sugar in it.
This happened for months and months.
Although I was beginning to gain weight by now, my biggest fear was not that I’d be fat from this cycle of eating, but that I was stuck being hungry. I would think about food non-stop! I remember times where I was at gatherings with friends and all I could think of was, “what else could I eat?”.
I couldn’t find a balance. I’d try eating a mix of both “right” food with some deserts so that my mind and body would be satisfied.
Even after trying that, I was never satisfied.
I felt like my only way to escape this unsatisfying hunger was to let myself eat mostly sugars all the time. I’d tell myself I wouldn’t feel hungry then. I’d be sad because I knew that wasn’t best for the health of my body, and I didn’t want that, but I was so utterly tired of being hungry and thinking about food all the time.
On a pure physical level, my body was missing an essential element to function as it should.
*Note from the husband now: In the midst of this time, we got married. I watched this vicious cycle first hand, day after day, and to be frank, she’s not being as descriptive of the misery as she could be – it was miserable for her! She was owned by it. Her entire schedule revolved around trying to figure out how, what, and when to eat, then eating, then working out, then binging, then getting it out of the system – be it working out or forcing it out the back end and/or front end (you know the ways), and then trying it all over again.
As we all know, this sense of being “owned” by something never affects only you, and it eventually made it miserable for me too. It was a highly volatile subject. For the first few months of marriage it was, “Don’t eat that crap for dinner!” or “You can’t live off of just chips and salsa, Margo!” or “You have to eat more than that, there’s no way you’re full!” (because that’s what made sense to me when she’s soon be eating again)!
So then she started cooking meals and getting scientific with her intake as she explained above. I then wasn’t able to say, “You can’t be full from just that”, cause she was for the moment, but she would just come right back around and eat junk soon later (and feel shameful for it). So we’d then talk (or fuss) about nutrients and what are bodies need!
There was never a fix though. Never a correct amount of anything. Never a correct thing to say or do! It was so confusing! I couldn’t really say or do anything to help. If I said, “You know you shouldn’t eat [more of] that” then I was “policing” her and “shaming” her. She was constantly frustrated and feeling shame, and I was constantly frustrated and feeling powerless too, so anger and fighting were always present anywhere even close to the subject of food, health, and body. Plus, she was still gaining weight… despite all efforts.
So for nearly two full years there was lots of fussing and frustration, crying, fighting, and really, depression, over the matter. It was “slavery” to the T. It affected everything physically, emotionally, spiritually, and relationally. Everything.
To Margo’s credit (I married a good one! hehe) she knew it had become an identity issue and was no longer just physical but deeply spiritual and emotional as well. So she began doing some major spiritual searching and seeking God on the matter. By the time we moved to Lawrence, she was rightly calling it an identity issue she was a slave to, and knew some major things were wrong, missing, and had to change. So, we were primed for what came next…
When Riley and I moved to Lawrence, I wanted to join a gym. A very specific gym: Crossfit Lawrence (CFL). As a gift to his wifey, Riley did a trade with his business so I could have a lifetime membership at CFL. Bah… love him!
Rocked. My. World.
Savanna, a CFL coach, lover of nature, and eater of saturated fats, shared with me all her knowledge on health and food. She has a degree in nutrition, but if you’d just look at her you’d follow her advice too. She changed my view on fat.
You can read her view yourself. She blogged all about saturated fats and why your body needs them. Click here to see her post.
How eating saturated fats changed my physical health :
- I’m not hungry anymore! I’m physically satisfied! Oh I could hug Savanna forever. I could shed a tear over this issue. I never feel like I’m starving. I eat so much less food and I never crave sugar as a replacement for the saturated fat my body needed.
- I’m not puffy – aka: retaining water. This is because I don’t eat sugar anymore. I could, but I don’t crave it because I’m satisfied with eating fatty meats, cream, whole milk, raw cheese, etc., with my meals.
- I’m not bloated. One reason being that I don’t eat as much. Have I not said it: fats satisfy! When you eat too much food, your stomach has to digest that food with a lot of digestive juices which cause bloating.
- I have a lot less body fat. I can be more wise about what I eat when I’m not starving for food. I let my mind judge my type of intake verses my cravings. When you’re satisfied from fats, you choose food you know your body needs. Also, fats work as a fast energy like sugar but keep your blood sugar low which keeps your insulin low, resulting in less body fat storage!
- My mind is free to think about other things! I was obsessed with food. Funny thing is, it never felt like a choice – I was forced to because my body was starving. I’m no longer obsessed. I think about so much more than food now. For a long time, I just forgot about food after I started eating fats. I’ve come around now and found that I really enjoy food by choice… now that it has no yoke on me.
- Not all fats are equal. Hydrogenated oils are actually trans fat (aka: vegetable oils) AVOID THEM LIKE YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT! Read labels. The majority of processed foods have hydrogenated oils such as safflower oil, cotton seed oil, canola oil, etc. These fats do not process the same as saturated fats! I don’t eat out because everything is fried in hydrogenated oils. When you’ve given up trans fats for awhile and eat them, you’ll hear me. Your body screams through unpleasant flatulence and bloating.
- You will be surprised at how much saturated fat your body needs. I either drink 3-4 tbsp of cream or eat 2-3 tbsp of butter throughout a day. Beware of nausea. Eat your fats with other foods. Your liver produces a good amount of bile to digest fat which can make you feel sick if you eat too much. You’ll learn what is too much for your body. Your body is a genius alchemist. It’ll tell you when something is wrong like it did to me with hunger when I was lacking fat in my diet.
- Not all calories are equal. Remember I was eating 1300-1700 calories a day. I have less body fat than I did then and I eat 2500-3500 calories a day. I focus on what I eat not how much. I let my full stomach make that judgement call. Also, the more you workout the more food your body will need. Let it have it.
My Most Important Note To Add
My food journey was in great part physical, but in also part, very spiritual. It’s tempting to find my personal value in my body image.
While I felt a real yoke of slavery from my physical aliments caused by my lack of correct nutrition, I also often had a spiritual yoke of slavery by wanting to look a certain way.
While eating correctly will help my physical body be free of cravings, my mind had to be free of cravings too.
I had to think about the end of finding my value in my body image. In the end, my body is 80 to 90 years old. Age doesn’t help physical beauty – as testified by everyone, ever. I had to realize my value has to come from something that will never end or change, which I believe is the grace and mercy and love from our creator and God, Jesus Christ.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
P.S. *Like all my posts, please do your research! Don’t trust everything you read on the internet. Find what works naturally and best for you and your family – I encourage you.
P.P.S. *Another note from the husband: Now I’m the one who hears, “You know you shouldn’t eat that crap” while I stare longingly at places like Panda Express. Yet, when I do make it through those doors, my body agrees with her afterwards. I feel lethargic for a day or so after, and honestly, it doesn’t even taste as good as it used to. My mind and body know the difference now. I used to live off of multiple peanut butter and jelly sandwiches per day to make it through a day, and now every few months it occurs to me I haven’t had one and I have to pretty much put it on my task app to remember to make one!
Also, I have a hott, healthy, and happy wife. That’s awesome! Also, I maybe got a tad teary-eyed reading her last paragraph when editing this because, well, that’s the only ownership that gives true freedom. That’s what life is about, and that’s most awesome!