Fat = Happiness

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


About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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9 Responses to Fat = Happiness

  1. Sally Burton says:

    Amazing things here. I am very satisfied to see your article. Thank you so much and I am having a look ahead to contact you. Will you please drop me a e-mail?

  2. Cathi Carol says:

    YES, YOU ARE RIGHT – eating fat is good for the brain (and the body). The brain is mostly water and fat. Fat shields the neurons so electrical impulses can pass through them without grounding out, or so I hear.

    I should go post my own post, now (eventually, maybe), instead of lecturing to you. Don’t we always just pick out the things we want to talk about.

  3. Cathi Carol says:

    Re: “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.”

    (This was probably your only actual question. Sorry! I do go on.)

    Butter is healthier than margarine, hands down, but it is best from non-toxic cows. Butter has natural and healthy nutrients; margarine doesn’t and is made from chemicals, solely. Before margarine is government fake-colored chemical yellow, it’s a grey mush.

    Any “controversy” over butter v. margarine is due to corporate interest, not reality. Medical interests often correspond to corporate interests, so you can’t trust your doctor on this. Trust common sense, instead. Cows make food, factories don’t.

    Sure, eat olive oil instead, if it’s real, but choose butter over margarine, I believe. (There are few brands of olive oil that are real and healthy, and it’s hard to tell from the label. If I can find that article I’ll forward it).

  4. annecwoodlen says:

    Thanks for your response. Your facts make sense to me, even if I don’t agree with some of your editorial conclusions. Reporting the fact that “1 egg = 4.5 [grams of fat]” hardly constitutes “promoting” eggs. I switched from butter to margarine in a misguided attempt to reduce fat calories. I started to research which fats are the good fats, but haven’t finished that yet.

    A calf is born weighing about fifty pounds. By the time it’s a year old, it weighs about a thousand pounds–and that’s all mother’s milk. Cow’s milk is meant for cows, not for people,for a variety of reasons. Certainly any effort to gain weight should include milk but who among us needs to gain weight? What information do you have about which are the “good” forms of fat?

    • Cathi Carol says:

      Anne, doll, a caveat. Forgive me.

      You (and others) may feel offended by what I write here, but it’s what I believe and what I live by. My intentions are good. I write freely about what I believe as you do; I am not swayed from what I believe intellectually from very good science and very good logic without very convincing proof.

      You’re right that the oils from fruits and nuts are healthy (except canola, aka rapeseed, which is not), although of course fruits and nuts are better eaten whole rather than as oils. But, so is butter good for you (at least, it’s not as bad as people think.) French people eat tons of it, and they’re skinny, right? But I don’t mean to depend on stereotype for my arguments, as you will see further down.

      I’ve studied nutrition (on my own) for years (among many other things). My recommendations are grounded in biology rather than the idiocy about food that comes out of the government based on bad science and what gets into the press (and what is believed by vegans, for instance, who are biased in their disparagement of natural foods for our species on this planet due to emotion rather than biology. Not that there’s anything wrong with emotion, unless it makes you and your kids miserable due to a truly miserable diet of rice, beans, and greens).

      There’s a lot of hype about food out there that should be taken with a huge grain of salt (and yes, salt is good for you, not bad).

      You can do what you want, make your own decisions based on your own logic, but I hate to see people sacrifice their happiness and comfort and even their health for the sake of bad science. I don’t listen to stupidity and I don’t change my behavior based on fads or suspect opinion, even scientific opinion. I do try to get some logic about food out there when I can, because people are sheep (have I said that before?) and do whatever Katie or Brian tells them to do without any critical reflection.

      (Well, Brian can tell me what to do, sometimes, but never Katie.)

      I didn’t mean “promote” eggs literally, but “recommend”. I used the word somewhat ironically because these days, if you say you eat eggs, you’re kind of “promoting” them in a way, compared to all the terrified screaming about not eating eggs that went on in the press because of all the truly moronic science about eggs that came out for twenty years, that, of course, all has been overturned. I never believed it, because I knew that eggs are an excellent food.

      People need cholesterol to make hormones and other things we need to live. If you don’t eat it, your body will make it. There is no need to avoid foods with cholesterol in them. (And don’t take statins, they’re poisons.)

      I approach everything skeptically and use empiricism when it comes to nutrition rather than trusting authority (or bias), because statistically speaking the majority of the time authority, even scientific authority, is wrong. (You know that.)

      Milk also is natural and we are so used to drinking cows’ milk that our bodies can use it very efficiently and healthily (except for people who lack the enzyme to digest it). It’s not good for babies, only human milk is; but once we’re weaned, there’s nothing unhealthy about drinking cows’ milk, as long as it’s organic. (Organic everything is a must. Not because it’s “better” usually, but because it’s safer.)

      I know some people believe that adults shouldn’t drink milk, but this opinion is promulgated by the biased, not the scientific, I’m sorry to say, and I disagree with it. Milk also is an excellent food, perhaps a necessary one. It keeps me slim, my antibodies cranking, and my bones strong. I eat meat, too, because it is a natural food and very high in nutrients. Many people do without it but I often crave red meat for the iron.

      If it’s a natural food, if you can digest it, if it provide nutrients and is free of toxins, it’s good for you. Period. That’s my opinion, more simply.

      Processed food, on the other hand, will make you fat. I’ve written about that. (When I had my own kitchen I made everything from scratch – dinners, desserts, even bread, and we got thin. Ah, the luxuries of the young.)

      I hate this stereotyping but I can’t get out of it now without thinking more than I want to this morning. … “Americans” are fat because of the chemicals in processed food, not because they eat fat, meat, or dairy products. Access to meat and dairy products are what have made “Americans” and “British Europeans” tall, strong, and long-lived.

      “Continental Europeans” and “Asians”, says the stereotype, have traditionally been thin, but that’s been due to a rather Spartan diet and no processed foods in their diets, not because they don’t eat eggs, meat, or dairy (or carbohydrates. Low/no carbohydrate diets destroy the body and lead to eating disorders. No no no.).

      I care about this subject due to my interest in health and I write about it out of empathy. I feel bad that people suffer to avoid good and healthy and often necessary foods. There is no need to eschew natural organic foods, even meat, milk, eggs, and butter, because of misinformation, misapprehension, or hype.

      Choose for yourself. Don’t even listen to me. Choose for yourself. Trust your own body.

      (OK, I give up. I’m bleary eyed and over-correcting. I should post these comments as an article myself. I have posted some of this, but it’s all old news, really, if you keep up with cutting edge science and filter the wheat, so to speak, from the chaff.)


  5. Cathi Carol says:

    Eating fat kills the appetite, and that can be good for weight loss.

    Are you lactose intolerant? If not, drink full-fat milk, too. We all need more calcium.

    Calcium = happiness, too, and it reduces cravings because most cravings are actually for calcium and other missing minerals. (A bowl of cereal and milk, for instance, fills and satisfies quite well).

    So glad to see you promoting eggs. But butter is far healthier than margarine, which is colored Crisco. Cholesterol is necessary for hormone production and isn’t bad for the health (neither is salt).

    Petroleum products, hydrogenated oils, transfats, and chemicals are not food.

    Most of the “nutritional” information promoted by the government and in the media is pure and unadulterated bs gleaned from the faulty methodology and bad conclusion forming of not-the-brightest-apples-in-the-barrel scientists. (That’s most of them. But they have to make a living, as bad as their “science” may be).

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