Add Fat?-excerpt from Life Without Ed

Life is not static,especially the life of the creative individual. I had spent all week on an entry and then just now realized I didn’t want to publish it. Maybe it wasn’t ready or maybe I don’t want to write about that, I don’t know. Maybe I will proofread it again for the hundredth time and finally publish it or it may never see the light of the blog universe. Who knows….Instead I am sharing with you an excerpt from the book, Life Without Ed by Jenni Schafer and then following it up with a little bit of my own experience on dietary fat/dietary fat fear/my dietary fat status…

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Add Fat?

Add more fat to my diet? Why didn’t Susan just tell me to jump off a cliff, spread my wings, and fly? Add fat? Why didn’t she say, “Jenni, you need to go out, buy a gun, and rob the nearest convenient store?” Add fat? She might as well have told me to print all of my best friend’s deepest secrets in the New York Times. Add fat? It goes against my core values–against everything I am…no mayo, no butter, and no regular soda.

That is how I initially felt when Susan told me that I needed to add more fat to my diet. Then I really thought about it, and I realized that adding fat does not go against my core values, but it goes against everything Ed believes in. Ed’s value system is the one that says, “A person’s worth is dependent upon the amount of fat in her or his diet.” My core beliefs focus on more important things like how much I value life, respect other people, and honor my friends’ secrets.So, even though adding fat shakes Ed’s entire sense of being, it doesn’t have to disrupt my world.

I will admit that I practically have a second B. S (and I do mean B.S) degree in how to avoid fat in my diet. But I also have a real degree in biochemistry, which tells me that my body actually needs fat in order to function properly. For instance, fat is an essential component in the walls of every single cell in my body. Also, not getting enough fat tend to set me up for bingeing. After going a long period of time without eating fat, I usually end up bingeing on lots of high-fat items–because my body needs it.

So, today, I am taking a step into the unknown world of fat. The next time I go into a restaurant I might actually get to use my butter knife! And maybe I will choose real ice cream over frozen yogurt on occasion. I might even toss my I Can’t It’s Not Butter spray and buy something that I really can believe is butter. Adding fat is an adventure into a new world. It actually might be fun.

Whether it is fun or not, it is definitely terrifying. As I write this, Ed is painting a horrible portrait in my mind of what I will look like after I add more fat to my diet. I actually kind of agree with Ed at this point. But I am still going to disobey  him. In my years of experience in agreeing with Ed, he usually ends up being wrong when all is said and done. So, I am sure that he is wrong about this, too.

Add fat? Yes, I am going to do it. In fact, I am about to go to the grocery store to stock up on those items that I have never purchased. I will get to explore grocery aisles that I have never walked down before. Of course, Ed will be kicking and screaming the entire way. I’ll just distract him by encouraging him to play his favorite grocery store game–analyzing the items in every other person’s grocery cart. While he stares at the woman in aisle three putting a bag of microwave popcorn into her cart, I will choose 2 percent of skim. While determines whether the man in aisle four will buy corn flakes or Froot Loops, I will buy cheese and peanut butter. While Ed tries to count the exact number of regular soda’s in the young boy’s cart in aisle seven, I will live my life.

I remember sitting in my dietitian’s office one day. I said, “Susan, I don’t understand why I need to add more fat to my diet. I think I could live another fifty years without adding more fat.” Susan replied, “Maybe. Maybe not. But even so, it’s not about surviving. It’s about living.”

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 Adding fat into a recovery diet is not easy. Just like Jenni, this was one of the hardest parts of restoring my relationship with food. Looking to food as nourishment and sustenance, not something that I had to partake in. When I was deep into my eating disorder my fat sources compiled of the following: nut/seed butters, and eggs. When I ate meat that fat would count but I would make sure to eat less fat in other dishes throughout the day. If I did not eat the large amounts of nut/seed butters during that time I would have had no fat in my diet and been in worse shape than I was. I would look at nutrition labels and look at the fat to fiber ratio or the fat:fiber:protein. Having a degree in Exercise Science I could easily manipulate what I know to fuel Melvin. At the same time though, Melvin would manipulate me and even though I knew via my major what I was doing was wrong, I couldn’t do it because Melvin controlled me. I was not able to separate.

I began my “fat phobia” (of the dietary kind) probably around the age of eight. I grew up eating the Southern staples of butter rice, butter pasta, buttered peas. Then I stopped. No butter rice,  no butter pasta, no butter on my peas. No butter on toast. No butter on my grits. If I was eating a dish and could see oil separation I would not eat it (I am still that way, there is just something about seeing fat/oil separation on a dish that makes me sick).

Just like Jenni, if my eating disorder allowed fat, for example in a binge, I would eat all the fat I want. Usually in the form of cupcakes or nut/seed butters. Then I would have to exercise it off and begin the whole cycle again.  My body would never catch up to the needs it craved. My body would be tired and weak from this cycle of bingeing and purging and not getting the nutrition I needed.

After much discussion with others and using my knowledge of nutrition I am getting more comfortable with fat. Fat keeps hunger at bay. It aids in fullness and helps regulate your blood sugar. I look at my cabinet and can’t believe all the variety of oils in my pantry, or healthy fatty foods in my fridge. One would not be able to guess I had a “fat phobia”. I have coconut oil, sunflower oil, olive oil, canola oil, vegan butter, avocados, sunflower seeds, sunflower/pumpkin seed/soynut butter, eggs, coconut yogurt. I will admit I still struggle with dietary fat. There are days I am preoccupied with how much I ingested or the saturated fat content. I will have thoughts of no fat, or limited fat, or I am getting fat because of my oils and avocados. It is then I have to separate and revisit my nutritional knowledge. That I am doing my body a favor not a dis service. And maybe one day I will relive my childhood and eat butter rice or pasta-all with vegan butter of course.

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3 comments

  1. in an email i received from my intake nurse she cautioned me that if I should choose recovery and treatment that it “WOULD mean eating fats and carbs”…LoL…yeah, I know, still doesn’t sound fun! Keep us posted…maybe it isn’t all that bad!

    1. Thank you for your comment. It isn’t bad at all. It gets better and easier. Especially when the end result is a really yummy dish! Good luck with your recovery and feel free to check out previous posts of mine. I did this blog to help others and share my story. Your blog is nice too.

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