Like so many women, I’ve struggled with body image for a large part of my life. In high school, I participated in women’s lacrosse, track, and two soccer seasons a year! I was in exceptional shape, yet I still looked in the mirror and felt disappointed. I went to college and continued feeding my insatiable athlete’s appetite, only to find that I put on weight. So, I’d hit the gym almost daily to maintain my physical appearance, but became more and more discouraged by my weight gain and ravenous hunger. What was I doing wrong?
Answer: EVERYTHING! There are so many things I wish I could tell my younger self. Some of them are more mindset related:
- You don’t like how you look because you don’t like who you are. Focus on personal growth, and it’ll be easier to correct your self-image!
- Your response is your responsibility! Your feelings are in YOUR hands. Even if sometimes it is REALLY difficult to get out of bed in the morning, you must CHOOSE to do it if you want to be happier. Your attitude impacts everyone around you.
- When you’re sad and very inside-yourself, go do something for somebody else. Pray for someone, play with your kids, or go make your husband his favorite meal. Often times, the best medicine is simply removing yourself from yourself.
And some of them are more physically related:
- Only eat when you’re hungry, and stop eating when you’re full. Have self-awareness and do NOT indulge out of boredom, fatigue, or negative feelings. Eat to live and do not live to eat.
- Practice self-control. The more you practice, the easier it gets. Want junk food? Go get some water and keep yourself busy. Hungry? Wait 20 minutes and then eat. Pitying yourself? Face your difficulties with dignity and do not snivel. Life isn’t supposed to be fair.
Lastly, the piece of advice most related to this post:
- EAT FAT! Fill up on healthy fats, fresh produce, and reduce the sugar.
Though everyone is different and may disagree with some of my “life-lessons,” the last bit of advice is good for pretty much every body! Little did I know that my hunger was likely due to not eating enough fat. I was eating a lot of low-fat foods, which made my hunger spike soon after finishing a meal. I thought I was doing myself a favor! Oh, the things I wish I had known!
I’m so glad I learned that eating fat helps profoundly in controlling one’s appetite–even during pregnancy and breastfeeding. In fact, since significantly increasing my fat intake, my body goes much longer stretches of time without feeling hungry, and my weight levels out almost 30 lbs less than what I weighed in college. I’ve also never struggled with quickly losing baby weight. Fat is amazing!
Specifically, I focus daily on getting a lot of healthy fats in my diet in the form of grass-fed dairy fat:
- 1-2 cups homemade milk kefir from whole milk
- 3-6 tablespoons butter
- 1 cup raw whole milk
I also make sure to add other sources of fats throughout the week:
- Grass-fed beef
- Lots of eggs
- Extra virgin olive oil on salads
- Flax and chia seeds
- 1-3 tablespoons coconut oil in cooking
- Lots of bacon sauteed with greens-my little girl LOVES this!
Things I completely avoid are:
- Skim milk! It’s bad for you! Sources below.
- All reduced-fat dairy
- Lean beef/meats in general
- All hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils
- Vegetable oils and fats heated to very high temperatures in processing and frying
- Industrially processed oils: soy, cottonseed, corn, safflower, and canola 
Looking at my life, I realize that I was confused about many things and still have a lot left to learn. This life isn’t supposed to be easy for anyone. However, I am grateful that I have learned as much as I have, including how fats maintain my weight! Not only has increasing healthy fats in my diet helped me lose weight and keep it off, but my skin has significantly cleared, I don’t think about food 24/7, my body stretches to the demands of pregnancy and childbirth exceptionally well, and I don’t crave sugar (unless I’m exhausted!). Keeping fats high in my husband and daughter’s diets has been helpful as well! My baby girl has her mama’s demanding appetite, so lots of fat helps her focus on playing and learning to walk instead of hunger. 🙂
Because there is already so much on the internet and in books about why a high fat diet is WONDERFUL, my contribution is only in the form of personal testimony. To learn about the physiological details of this lifestyle, further learning is here:
- Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon and Mary Enig
- Eat fat to lose fat!
- Though there are some awesome fats out there, the best (for me!) has been dairy fat in the form of butter, whole milk, and homemade kefir from whole milk.
- Foods to avoid are low-fat dairy products (especially skim milk!), highly processed fats, and fully/partially hydrogenated oils.
What are your tips and tricks to maintaining health and weight? I’d love to learn!
Disclaimer: All information on this blog is for informational purposes only. I am not a licensed medical professional. Please discuss any dietary changes, supplements, or medical questions with your doctor.
Diane Stanislowski is a wife, mother, and researcher with the goal of restoring the practice of traditional holistic approaches to wellness and sharing evidence-based information with the public.
She lives in Grand Forks North Dakota with her husband and daughter Jane, and receives raw milk and pastured meats from Bartlett Farms.