Last week I wrote a post on fat and our obsession with fat as an indicator of health and self-worth. This weekend this post was published on thought catalog, and I was fascinated by the comments (scroll to the bottom of the thought catalog link to read them). I’ll admit that what I wrote probably wasn’t the most thorough and clear explanation I could have given. Had I taken the time to do that, it would have been three times as long and no one would have bothered to read it. I wrote a condensed version of my views with relevant examples. I wanted to get across a basic point about how fat in and of itself is not the enemy. I wanted to make this point with relation to nutrition and size and body image. I had assumed people would think about what was being written as opposed to seeing words and pulling them out of context. Obviously I was mistaken.
I have never received that many comments before, and as you probably know I like comments. I like to know what people think. Sometimes it changes my mind on certain topics or enlightens me to new ways of thinking. Well, they enlightened me, that’s for sure. In fact, most of the comments really proved the point I was trying to make in my post: that we see fat as bad and unhealthy and not fat as good and healthy, and that we have no real understanding of what is healthy and how our own bodies work. So, I feel the need to give a little nutrition lesson. I apologize if I sound condescending. I feel that what I am writing is not aimed at my regular readers but at everyone else. However, given that I can’t send this to everyone else I am posting it here so as to vent some frustrations. Hopefully there might be someone who does think fat is evil who reads this and decides to learn a little more about their own health.
One comment, that as of writing this has received 29 “upvotes” (the most of any comment) talks about the fact that being fat and eating fat are two different things (that’s true), and “the kind of fat found in soda or desserts people often eat too many of at the holidays is man made and is not necessary for our survival”.
Well, where do I start?
1. There is no (well, a negligible amount according to the info) fat in soda. None. The main ingredient in soda that causes weight gain (among other nutritional players) is sugar. When we eat more sugar than our body needs, the body has to store that sugar somewhere. The sugar is first converted to glycogen for storage and easy access later. Once we have filled our glycogen needs the glucose is broken down and eventually becomes fatty acids that can be stored in the body.
Sugar is not fat.
One of the big concerns with excess sugar intake is diabetes, not fat.
2. When the author of this particular comment references the kind of fat we eat too much of I am assuming s/he is referring to saturated fats. These tend to be the fats that the media and faces of public have referred to as “bad fats”. So, let’s begin by correcting another assertion – namely, that these are man-made. Yes, they can be. That is true. But unless we want to get very philosophical I don’t think cows and other animals are man-made. The meats from these animals are full of saturated fats, which is why we are now being warned to cut down on red meat consumption.
3. These “bad fats” are actually necessary for our survival. Both saturated and unsaturated fats and necessary, albeit in varying quantities. It’s true that we need fewer of the “bad fats” but saturated fats are necessary for the production of certain vitamins within the body and for other important bodily functions.
These are just the bad assumptions made by one person in one sentence of a comment. While I would love to put this down to the ignorance of just one person, the amount of “support” it received and the fact that further comments were in a similar vein leads me to believe this is really how a lot of people think and this is concerning. We don’t seem to know or care to understand what healthy means and we are furthermore just assuming that fat is bad and “not fat” is good, in both a food and body context.
The concept of fat and being fat is a whole other issue for another post, which I am sure I will write shortly.
Also, my title is a reference to another comment I received. Obviously the author of that comment (“spoken like a true fatty”) missed the point of what I was saying. While I know it is used as such, I don’t really believe that fat should be an insult. I am glad I have fat; it keeps me alive. This comment, and others like it, seem to support my thoughts that we have a deep-seated fear of fat for some reason.