Category Archives: Fat

Butter

Have you guys seen this picture circulating the interwebs?

Clockwise from left: Reduced Fat Margarine, Regular Margarine, Butter

Not like I’m spending my time following ants around wondering what they will or won’t eat and following suit (by the way, when I was a kid, I saw ants KILL each other over drips of ice cream on a hot summer day, so they don’t always make smart decisions), but in this case, ANTS ARE REALLY SMART.

Did you know margarine started as a nasty tasteless product created to help make turkeys fat?  And then it became what you know it as today during the war when the government needed a butter-like substance that could be shipped overseas to feed to soldiers that wouldn’t spoil before it got there (why they didn’t go for local French butter, The Most Amazing Butter On Earth, I have no idea).  They obviously needed this stuff to taste like butter if they wanted the soldiers to eat it (the turkeys were clearly force-fed, so it didn’t need to taste good), so they deodorized it, bleached it, added in some food coloring, and artificial flavors, and BAM, you’ve got fake butter (aka trans fat), at a much cheaper price than the real stuff.

I find myself getting all evangelical whenever the topic of butter vs. margarine comes up in conversation (butter might as well be my religion.  Ask anyone who knows me.).  Much to my surprise, Danes have been bred to believe that margarine (and other vegetable oil butter blend lookalike spreads) is GOOD for you, and so, without fail, every Friday morning for “morgenmad” at work I see a tub of Arla’s Kærgården Fedtreduceret (ingredients: butter, water, unhardened vegetable oil, lactic culture, and less than 1% salt) purchased to accompany some bread and cheese (don’t worry, fellow Americans, I’ll write a whole other post about how bread and butter and cheese does NOT a breakfast make).  It’s not 100% margarine, sure, but I guarantee you that because it’s reduced fat (“fedtreduceret”) that means it’s at least 60% margarine.

The question I keep asking myself (and my coworkers) is: WHY MESS WITH THE REAL THING?  Not only is butter absolutely delicious (on everything), but it helps you absorb vitamins in other foods (yes, even from the bread and cheese you’re eating it with).  It improves the taste of anything you cook in it BECAUSE it makes those easier-to-absorb vitamins more bioavailable, and if you get it from grassfed cows (which you should), you’re getting an extra dose of the vitamins those cows are getting from eating grass that has been exposed to sunlight (hel-lo vitamins A & D, how you doin’?).  Do any of these amazing things happen when you eat vegetable oil?  No.  I’m pretty sure the only reason anyone buys Arlas Kærgården over Lurpak Smør (or some other brand) is because it spreads immediately out of the fridge, which means you don’t have to wait ten minutes for a stick of butter to soften before eating.  I guess I’m not really shocked that convenience has overshadowed quality.  In the case of Denmark, people may also go for the fake stuff in order to save themselves 2 kroner, because of the recently implemented Fat Tax (aka: the stupidest thing the Danish government has done in the past decade).

Lucky for you guys, you don’t just get to read my blog about why margarine (and other vegetable oils) are gross, you can read why it’s gross from a real doctor who just posted about it too: Canola Oil: The Blob That Ate Butter & Olive Oil.  In that article (and some of the follow-up comments), there is a breakdown of exactly why canola oil, and safflower oil, and rapeseed oil, and sunflower oil, and soybean oil, and corn oil, are all bad for you.  The only time they are not bad for you is if they have been pressed by hand, in which case you still shouldn’t use the oil to heat anything in it (because it oxidizes and mutates the cells when you do that, and then those cells get stuck in your arteries and make you a perfect case for a heart attack).

Rest assured that when I eventually start sharing recipes on this blog, none of them will include vegetable oil.  Please do yourself a favor and take after the ants: replace your margarine with butter.  Now.

Tagged

And So It Begins…

Back in 2007, I became a vegetarian.  This life-altering decision did not happen overnight, but was, rather, a process of unbiased elimination based on random things I had read at the time, and with a root goal of weightloss.

I guess we’ve all been there before.  College happened, and so did The Freshman Fifteen.  And if you’re me, a part-time job at Kentucky Fried Chicken ALSO happened, and with that, The Junior 40.  I liked to blame KFC for the weight gain, regaling my friends with stories of smelling like chicken fat when I got home from a work shift, and of how I actually didn’t even like the chicken, but instead, went for the biscuits, and the macaroni and cheese, and the mashed potatoes (and let’s not forget the bottomless soda I could drink while working).  {god if I only knew then what I know now!}  I thought I was doing myself a favor, avoiding potentially genetically modified chickens that were rumored to have been born with missing limbs and underdeveloped organs.  And I probably was, to be honest.  At least kind of.

Fast forward to my new and glamourous life in New York City post-grad.  Moving to New York slowly and subtly made me aware of my body mass.  Sardined like a heard of cows on the subway during rushhour, thighs rubbing together and chafing during those blisteringly hot summer nights, a wanton desire to wear clothes that didn’t come from the plus size department at Old Navy, and of course the less superficial things like wanting to feel good in my body, and worrying that I may someday end up with diabetes, or something worse…all these things and more provided me with the motivation to get my act together.

I thought it was about control.  I thought if I could just eat less, the extra fat would drop like flies, and I would magically become healthy.  I had Bikram Yoga to help me with that last part, because upon discovering that new obsession, I learned very quickly to not eat within three hours of class, because I didn’t want to puke.   And so began the weightloss.  I figured out that if I practiced Bikram Yoga six times a week (with an occasional double for good measure), and ate less than 1,000 calories a day, I’d inevitably lose weight.

And you know what?  I did.  After about eight months of regular practice, 30 pounds of Kentucky Fried Chicken Weight were finally behind me.

Encouraged by the weightloss, but frustrated by how terrible and unenergetic I always felt, I decided to follow in Beyoncé’s footsteps and do The Master Cleanse.  I figured I could probably use a severe detox after spending college and the two years afterward living off of fast food.  And detox, I did.  Admittedly, I turned grey after about 5 days, but mind over power, I made it to 13.

After completing the Master Cleanse, 20 pounds lighter and determined to keep off the lost weight, I took Stanley Burroughs advice seriously.  He urges in his book that people by heritage are hunter-gatherers, and lived off of nuts, simple grains, vegetables, and berries.  He suggests a lifestyle following this diet to the T.  And I tried to make it happen.  And that’s when I became a vegan.

After one month living off the vegan version of the real thing, I caved.  I gorged on cheese, and butter, and eggs and everything else I could get my hands on that wasn’t meat.  Not shockingly, I got constipated.  I thought it was because of the animal products.

Three years and three annual spring cleaning Master Cleanses later, I was sort of maintaining my weight (ie: gaining 15 pounds over the course of the year, and losing it with another Master Cleanse).  However, I began to notice that with each cleanse, I was seemingly becoming more and more resistant to weightloss.  Strangely, my cholesterol and blood pressure levels had also increased.  And my vitamin levels were decreasing.  I had developed a sort of eczema in my ears that never would go away.  And my PMS was getting worse.  And I began spotting between periods.  And then in the fall of 2010, I had an 8 day long so-heavy-I-bled-through-a-super-plus-tampon-every-hour period.

Clearly something was wrong.  Thanks in part to WebMD (I should be banned from that website, btw), I was certain I was developing an incurable hormonal disease.  I went to my natural leaning doctors and they confirmed that nothing was seriously wrong with me.  It must be stress.  Try to do some more yoga.  Make sure you get enough sleep at night.  Try cutting out gluten and see if that helps.

You know how sometimes even the people you hope can give you answers can’t give you the answers that solve the problem?  Yeah, it’s a major bummer.

So I moved to Denmark last March.  During all of this navigation of my health and vegetarianism, I had travelled to Mexico and met my current boyfriend on a train.  We fell in love, and I relocated.  It’s a beautiful story that I’ll save for another time.  And so starting last March, I started to eat like a Dane.  That meant pork was now commonplace in my diet.  Buh-bye vegetarianism, hel-lo omnivorism.  And with the pork, came cakes and pastries.  Before I knew it, I looked five months pregnant.  Only I wasn’t.  Again, I thought it was all the meat.

Conveniently, I stumbled upon a book right around the same time I diagnosed myself pregnant with a Food Baby, called “Why We Get Fat, and What to Do About It” by Gary Taubes.  Considering that I could feel myself getting fatter by the day and couldn’t figure out why, the title was obviously appealing.  I burned through it in about 4 days.  The resources I got from the book prompted a drastic change in my diet which started with cutting sugar out of my coffee last November.  I figured if I could live without sugar in my coffee, I could maybe live without all sugar.  So then I cut out regular sugar.  And fruit.  And fruit juice.  And potatoes.  And rice.  And corn.  And wheat.  And low-fat milk.  I essentially started replacing all those things with fat and vegetables.

As you can imagine, my body was NOT happy about this change.  I felt like I was going through a drug detox.  I went from having hardly any energy, to having no energy.  And I don’t think I have ever been so severely constipated in my life.

In a moment of extreme weakness, I sent a long email detailing all of these symptoms to my very dear friend and naturopathic doctor, Emma Andre, begging for advice.  And bless her, she gave me a TON.  She also suggested I pick up a book called “Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food” by Catherine Shanahan to read as continued learning and support for my new lifestyle change.

Deep Nutrition blew my mind.  I won’t summarize it here.  Just read it.  ESPECIALLY if you think you might like to have kids someday, this book contains probably one of the most valuable bodies of information you could possess yourself with.

So now that the long story is officially not short (you’d be shocked at how much I actually left out), this blog is about this new path, and what’s been going on since November.  I’ll start by backtracking, and then once I’m caught up, I’ll move forward with stories of the adventures of carnivorism, share recipes I’m cooking, and offer up any sources I can find for making a traditionally fed lifestyle as stress-free as possible.  I live in Copenhagen, so I’ll start with the local stuff and expand from there.

Happy Reading!