Health Coaches, traditional food lovers, and rebels with a dietary cause, it's a beautiful (and historic!) time in Foodie Land. Finally, fat has been vindicated! Thanks, Time Magazine, for putting butter on the cover.
I wondered if I would ever see this day, although I worked for it, anxiously awaited it, and got many an eye rolled at me in the process. For years, undergrounders such as myself did our darndest to get the mainstream to believe that saturated fat was NOT the enemy, and certainly not to blame for the sharp rise in obesity and heart disease in America since the early 1980s.
After all, haven't cultures, including ours, been eating saturated fat for millennia, never seeing heart disease or obesity in the numbers we see today? You bet! Yet, sadly, in the late 70s and early 80s, the mainstream started a war on one of our most vital nutrients: fat. And who do we have to thank (or spank?) for that 30+ year war on fat that sparked a preventable disease epidemic? Your United States government and its Department of Agriculture (USDA).
So, now that the mainstream has finally realized (or admitted) that the USDA was very, very wrong, and after millions of school children were forced to eat USDA guided school lunches, what is actually to blame for the sharp rise in heart disease, obesity, and diabetes since the 80s? SUGAR!
Soon after the USDA began its "saturated fat is bad" campaign, food manufacturers jumped on the bandwagon and marketed low-fat processed foods to the public. These foods had lost much of the flavor that fat provided, so they were pumped with sugar to boost the flavor back up, with dire consequences for the public.
Scientists have known for a very long time that high sugar intake damages a healthy body in many ways, from raising cholesterol, to weight gain, to tooth decay, to premature aging, to diabetes. However, old habits die hard, especially in government and the mainstream media, and, very importantly, sugar is a BIG business. See my 2011 blog post: Sugar 101: Everything You Need to Know
So, now that the media is all abuzz with the news that fat is not the enemy, what now? Will food companies follow suit and stop marketing low-fat, high sugar foods? Will the sugar industry suffer? Will the USDA change its recommendations and save school children any more dietary abuse? Will the pendulum swing so far in the other direction so that people start consuming fat in record amounts?
I don't know, but the next few years should be pretty interesting! I, for one, can't wait to hear the USDA say, "We were wrong." I hate to say, "I told you so", but not this time!
So, even still, the question must be asked: Does fat make you fat? In larger amounts than your body can burn, absolutely yes. But moreso does a sedentary lifestyle full of processed foods and sugar. I recommend a simple approach: a lifestyle with daily activity, plenty of fresh water, and a whole foods diet rich in foods from nature, not from a laboratory or a factory. Learn to cook simple, colorful meals, take regular walks, and smile a lot.