I Don’t Eat Enough Fat

myron-olive-oil-2402853Fat isn’t a bad word anymore and it’s no longer shunned.

In fact, it has become a “functional food”, as more studies have shown how our bodies need it.

You probably know that eating a diet with a strong emphasis on healthy unsaturated fats offers protection from heart disease, lowers blood pressure, and improves cholesterol (decreasing the level of harmful LDL cholesterol and increasing protective HDL cholesterol). Plus a ton of other good things: like giving you good hair, good skin, strong nails, etc. Can’t beat that, right?

Well, ironically, I recently learned that it’s very likely that some of my weight gain has been related to a lack of said fat in my diet.

And I’m not alone.

After discussing what I eat on a typical day during my last session with Dr. G., she called me out on it: that I barely ingest any fat and that it could be hindering my ability to lose weight.

Though I don’t journal on Sparkpeople anymore, I do tend to eat a lot more carbs and protein than I do fat.

And though I know (from years of obsessing over nutrition, calories, Weight Watchers Points) what foods have good-for-me fat … even before our session, I knew I didn’t eat enough of them — especially during winter when I tend to crave starches.

Readers, I’m not just psuedo-concerned; I’m really concerned.

Lack of fat in their diets ( literal sense of the word) is a real problem many women face, especially women who have been watching their weight for a long time, or disordered eaters or people suffering with EDs.

The truth is, many of us fear eating fat. Even though we know it’s good for us. It just sounds counter-intuitive.

And then you take into account the Weight Watchers side of it. I mean, logically I know I should drizzle a teaspoon or two of olive oil on my veggies — it’s good for me, it’s nutritious — but the truth is, I hate spending my points on oil. Even on Core, I hated doing it.

(Yet will nosh on 1 or 2 pts of pretzels no problem … go figure!)

Though I’ve always been fortunate to have an hour-glass shape (even when heavy) I’ve noticeably gained weight around my middle the past year or so — not so much, but enough that I notice it.

Weight-gain around the middle is usually related, in a nutshell per Dr. G, to the body’s desire to store fat because it’s not getting enough fat. (She also gave me more scientific reasoning, which I don’t remember).

The point is, lack of fat in my diet isn’t going to help me lose weight. I need to eat some fat to lose some fat.

I eat some foods known for their “healthy fats” regularly (like peanut butter, eggs, walnuts in my oats sometimes) but I definitely don’t get enough.

Though I like the nutty flavor, I often forget to sprinkle flaxmeal on my oatmeal. And while I do like black olives and salmon, but don’t eat them both regularly.

But honestly, I don’t like some of the good sources like avocado, beans or sardines, and don’t think I ever will.

That said, going with my whole “soaring with my strengths” mentality, instead of forcing myself to like what I can’t stand, I ought to focus on what I like and what small changes I can easily make, today.

For example, I do eat a ton of veggies and ought to use them as a vehicle for olive oil, for example. And I can sautee my eggs with olive oil instead of fat-free Pam spray, make English muffin pizzas with a drizzle of olive oil. Cook with it, add it to pasta and whole grains.

When I choose meat products, she recommended choosing local (lean, of course) cuts that are grass-fed, not corn-fed, as grass-fed meat has a higher quantity of Omega 3s (apparently we already get plenty of Omega 6s in our diets, but not enough 3s).

When we go out to eat, I can make sure to get wild salmon (farm-raised apparently doesn’t have as many Omega 3s) — and maybe add some EVOO to it.

I can also keep ground flaxmeal in the office freezer so it’s accessible for my morning oats.

It pains me to spend points on fat, but isn’t it better to do that that spend empty calories on pretzels, mints, etc?

The things that add up … are just taking up space in my food journal, space that could be filled with healthy goodness.

I have to “get over it,” because not only have I gained weight, but also, my cholesterol could use improvement.

(Note: It was tested in April and was fantastic — both LDL and HDL were at good levels– and then again in October and um … Houston, we have a problem! Plus the weight gain. Both of which could be improved by eating better).

It’s truly about eating clean, and fueling my body. Making better choices — not always catering to the desire at hand but rather thinking, “Which will fuel me better?” Which is the better expenditure of Points? (This ties in with the new WW Momentum program quite well).

Dr. G told me she’s pretty sure that just by adding some/more fat to my diet, I’ll lose these stubborn pounds I’ve gained from my middle.

I hope she’s right. But even if I don’t lose weight, I know healthy fats are good for me and if I’m treating my body like a temple … I need to own up to it, and embrace it.

I’m up for the challenge: my health is on the line.

How do you get your Omega 3s and good fats? Do you struggle with this too, and has your ED/DE (if you suffer/have suffered) play into this struggle at all?


29 thoughts on “I Don’t Eat Enough Fat

  1. I think I get too many fats sometimes. I love peanutbutter, nuts, avocado, OLIVES, salmon…so i find that sometimes i get too much of it. i also get too much carbs. protein is where i usually lack!

    good luck on your challenge lissa!

  2. I get most of my Omega-3s from flaxseed… in oatmeal, salad, or smoothies. I hear you on the not wanting to “have the fat” though… I also do use olive oil regularly (but only at room temperature, I don’t cook with it).

  3. I have a problem balancing too… I tend to lean towards carbs too. I do cook just about everything in EVOO, and have gradually added peanut butter back into my diet, but PB is dangerous for me to have around.

  4. I quit dieting and added more healthy fats and exercise and lost 30# in the last 6 months with little effort. Dieting and deprevation end up in weight gain and/or craziness 😀

  5. I definitely have disordered eating!! I’ve been doing weight watchers for as long as i can remember.
    A short time ago my husband had a heart attack and we went for nutritional counseling as well and physical fitness etc..
    One of the first things the nutritionist said was you guys don’t eat enough fat11
    We now take omega 3 capsules, we eat flax, use olive oil, hubby loves sardines so he eats one a day as a snack, and we eat more fish!!
    And the results?? All his bad numbers, cholesterol, triglicerides etc have come down to normal levels!

  6. I LOVE to use a little olive oil/vinegar or Annie’s woodstock/goddess dressing on my salads, pb on my oatmeal, and nut butters w/ sliced fruit for snacks. I definitely look forward to all these foods and they add lots of healthy fat to my diet.

  7. I’ve found it’s often a lack of planning with why I end up not eating the healthy fats …. I have to plan for them, build them in — or I fall victim to the pretzels, etc. 🙂

    Thanks, Madison!

    Mara, PB used to be a problem for me but now that I buy the all-natural crunchy and keep it in the fridge, it’s not so tempting. I eat it every day — but measured and am usually ok with 1 T. (Usually)! Good for you incorporating it back in.

    Alexia, way to go!! That’s awesome!! 🙂 You’re an inspiration!

    Suzanne, what a story!! A total success story — thanks for sharing. I hope it can help me, too!

    Fitforfree –thanks for the ideas.

    Run4Change, it does add nice flavor — I need to use it more.

  8. You sounds just like me! First of all, I had a fear of oils for a while. I was scared to eat out in restaurants because even their “healthy” foods were probably doused with oil. Then I tried using a little to cook my vegetables, and it did taste much better. I guess a teaspoon can’t hurt, it’s not too bad, but I would always think, “I can have real food instead- one that involves chewing!”

  9. Exactly, Faye — I always order my food dry at restaurants, even when the waiters give me a look, Whatever – my body, my temple!! But that means I need to be more comfortable eating that stuff at home!!!

  10. I’ve got an insatiable love for sushi, which keeps my Omega 3’s up where they need to be, it’s also helped me fall in love with Avocados, which I also despised for years.

    I like the idea of ‘soaring with your strengths’. It sounds so much more pleasant than making myself eat foods I do not like.


  11. I used to barely eat any fat at all. I think it came from years and years of thinking that fat was bad. When I was a kid, my mom wouldn’t let me buy things with more than 3 grams of fat. Keeping up with her thinking, I would eat 2 bagels, plain, and a soda everyday with lunch, because hey, very little fat. Never did I realize that my lunch was probably 700 calories with no nutritional value.

    I actually lost a bunch of weight when I stopped looking at the fat grams and started measuring the nutritional value of what I ate instead.

  12. Hey Missy, maybe I ought to take some supplements … I really just need to do it!!

    Inmytummy, I used to eat bagels all the time too — and then I realized 1) they made me hungry 2 hours later and 2) there’s so little nutrition in them!! Good for you and your success at weight loss just through healthier eating and less focus on fat.

  13. Have you tried flavoured olive oils? Lemon and garlic olive oil have a really lovely taste, which may incentivise you to use them. It definitely worked for me. Also, nut oils like walnut and hazelnut (although you can’t cook with them). What about swapping your pretzels for ten almonds? 60 cals, lots of good fat and vitamin E? I usually snack on nuts and find they are much better for satiety than carbs.

  14. Hmmm…this is a good point! My question for Lissa or anyone else who knows – how much are we supposed to be getting?? I don’t really know how much I get a day. I often have peanut butter on my toast in the morning, 1/4 avocado in my lunch salad, and fish such as salmon, but daily? I’m not so sure!!

    Maybe I should start putting olive oil on my salads to make sure I get at least 1 tsp a day? Nuts are also a good idea – I may just get some for a snack this afternoon!!

    Thanks for bringing this up, Liss – I am going to really pay attention and see where I am at!

  15. Good idea Rachel — I just tend to reach for pretzels, but nuts are a better snack for sure.

    Yas, Sparkpeople recommends fat intake based on weight so for me it was 38-66 grams a day. I am lucky to get 30. I eat plenty of calories — but not enough (healthy) fat from them. I don’t track anymore there, but my eating hasn’t changed much. I think it sounds like a great balance so far and WW recommends 2 tsp healthy oil but really the govt says 1 T. So it’s a gamble!

  16. I dont eat fat at all. I mean… no sauce, no mayonnaise, no oil, nothing. I hate spending calories on it, because it doesnt give me more satisfaction. I like my food without fat. Sometimes, i indulge and put a little of butter or cheese on bread, but its very rare.

    Everything i eat is low fat or no fat at all. I dont see a difference on my weight, i’ve been eating like this for the past 10 years and i never gained weight because i dont eat enough fat. I eat a lot of sugar though… 😛 maybe the sugar my body doesnt use goes into fat.

    I thought of trying to eat more of good fat, but can’t decide to make the move, it scares me to death.

  17. None at all, Nikita? See, I’m learning that FF/lowfat isn’t always the best, healthiest option … but it’s hard to retrain our brains and it sounds like you’re doing just fine.

    There are recommended amounts of healthy fats — we just have to do it.

  18. From what I’ve read, if we don’t eat fat, we tend to store more fat because fat is the delivery system for nutrients to our cells. So, many bad things happen to our body when we avoid fat. Our hair and skin dry out, and then our body begins to use carbs to synthesize fat in order to utilize that as a nutrient delivery system. In fact, there is a diet called the shangri la diet (http://www.sethroberts.net) that has people actually drink straight olive oil before meals to lose weight. Most people report losing large amounts of weight.

  19. I’m hoping to see good results adding more into my diet (literal sense of the word). I still stick to FF froyo vs ice cream but I was also never a big ice cream fan. But chocolate — good dark chocolate … bring it ON.

  20. My husband always says we would view fats completely differently if they were called something else. I think people simply fear the word, fat. I mean, what if we referred to them as lipids? Would you still fear them as much? I don’t know – I think it’s an interesting theory.

    I went to college when everything was low-fat. Bagels, cereals, and pasta with tomato sauce were king. Girls were all those green fat-free boxes of crackers, cookies, etc. Problem is when they take out fat, they have to add something, and it’s usually sugar and salt.

    Our bodies need good fats to function. I notice when I do add them to my meals or snacks, I’m definitely satiated for much longer. So eat that almond butter girl…it’s good for ya! 🙂

    I eat all kinds of good fats – nut butters, avocados, salmon, etc…oh, and I take 2 fish oil supplements every day. Have a good weekend!

  21. Heather I totally think it’s the name that gets to people. I think we’re about the same age and we always heard “go for low-fat!” Like someone said, they’d eat bagels and stuff and be hungry two hours later; sure they’re low-fat but calorically a waste of space, often!!

    I feel good with two days now of deliberately added fat. Since it’s almost that lovely time of the month, I’m hoping the extra healthy fat will help with cramps, too.

    Have a great night!

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