What is wrong with me? How many times have we each asked ourselves this question? Am I coming down with a cold? Was it something I ate—or didn’t eat? We keep trying to figure out what makes us sick so we’ll know what to do or refrain from doing for best health and happiness. If you’ve been damaged by psychiatric medications then the answers are harder to come by because your systems no longer work normally.
The best diagnostician I’ve ever known was Dr. Paul M. Cohen. He was a psychologist, not a medical doctor, but what I learned from him was that most diagnoses come from noticing things and making connections. Your M.D. is wholly reliant on invasive and expensive tests—everything from basic lab work that shows you’ve got a raging infection to thousand-dollar MRIs that show absolutely nothing—but he pays no attention to the personal incidents in your life that trigger illness.
Paul paid attention; psychologists usually do. On one occasion I showed up in his office with what he called “black mania”—pressured speech, constant motion and so forth, but morbid instead of euphoric. Paul asked a bunch of questions and figured it out: the previous day I had had an excruciating attack of sciatic of pain. I called a physician—who had only seen me once—and he phoned in a prescription without asking about any other drugs I was taking. In fact, the interaction between the pain medication and the antidepressant I was taking was about to become fatal.
On another occasion, I had become deeply depressed. Paul began to explore the possible precipitants and came up with this: I had joined Weight Watchers and had cut my fat intake so severely that it was causing depression. Did you know that you need fat to feel happy?
I had first learned this from Dr. Charles Gant, a psychiatrist who had become a nutritional therapy expert. His small office was overflowing with books, magazines and papers, and the walls were covered with mind-boggling charts that traced the flow of this-or-that as substances entered the body and went from here-to-there, being broken down into this-or-that as they went. I forget the science but the end result was that you have to consume a certain amount of fat in order to break it down and get the right stuff to the right place in your brain so that you’ll be happy.
I had forgotten this, but Paul reminded me of it after I joined Weight Watchers so I went home and checked my kitchen: it contained virtually no fat. Some peanuts in their shells and low-fat cheese were all I had in the way of fat, so I went out and bought ice cream and bacon and other good stuff and started feeling a whole lot better. That was about eight years ago. (And, by the way, Weight Watchers could not tell me what the minimum daily requirement of fat is.)
About six months ago, I went on a whole food, plant-based diet, i.e., I went vegan: no meat or dairy products. Last month something catastrophic happened and there was no one to turn to for comfort so I did what anybody would do: I turned to a restaurant. In fact, I went to Sliders and had a grilled cheese sandwich—one large dose of butter on the bread and another large dose of animal fat on the grill—and Belgian fries, which are French fries that are fried twice—another awesome load of animal fat. The next day I woke up feeling happier than I had in months.
So at this point I went on-line, did a bunch of research (aren’t there times when the Internet is a total blessing and absolutely irreplaceable?) and learned—once again—that fat is essential to happiness. But how much fat? That took some time and some sorting but what I learned is that I should be getting 50 grams of fat per day. That is based on a daily intake of 1500 calories; it will vary from person to person, but that’s my optimum target.
Then I sent Awesome Amelia, my home health aide, out to the kitchen to see what I had in the way of fat. Breakfast of juice, black coffee, granola, raspberries and milk gets me only 2 grams of fat because I use soy milk. A lunch of salad and a peanut butter sandwich on seven-grain bread gets me 8 grams of fat in a tablespoon of peanut butter and 7 grams in the olive oil in the salad dressing.
1 cup of soy milk = 2 grams of fat
1 tablespoon of margarine = 11 grams
1 egg = 4.5 g.
½ c. garbanzo beans = 1 g.
2 tablespoons of peanut butter = 2 g.
1 tablespoon of olive oil = 14 g.
In other words, if I ate one serving of everything in my kitchen, it only would add up to 24 grams of fat—half of what I need each day.
If you eat a typical American diet of bagel w/cream cheese and coffee w/cream for breakfast, a cheeseburger w/mayonnaise and more coffee for lunch, potato chips in the afternoon, and meat, potatoes w/gravy, green beans w/sauce, rolls w/butter, and ice cream for supper, then you don’t need to be reading this: you need to be getting the fat out of your diet.
But if you’re unhappy and can’t find any good reason for it then you should go read the labels in your kitchen: maybe you’re fat deprived.
(And don’t wail that you’ll gain weight; go exercise!)
P.S. [4/11/12] Good fats are canola, almond, walnut, olive and peanut oil, and avocados, olives and peanut butter. For a good article on good and bad fats, go to http://www.webmd.com/diet/features/skinny-fat-good-fats-bad-fats
Which is heart healthier, butter or margarine? Butter is slightly less bad because of the trans fats in margarine but olive oil is better than either. See the article at www.health.harvard.edu/healthbeat/HEALTHbeat_062106.htm#art1