The “F” Word

This month Sláinte is going to indulge in some plain talk and use the “F” word. If this bothers you, read elsewhere. Still here? Good because we are going to discuss something that bothers a lot of women and a growing number of men. That  “F” word so many people-doctors included-are afraid to say for fear of offending: fat.

Do your thighs jiggle like Jell-O that has escaped from its mold? Do your upper arms flap? Ever been mistaken for pregnant? Overweight and obese are just polite terms for the real thing. Fat. “Fatties” outnumber “skinnies” 2 to 1 in the US right now. Are you fat? Are you a fattie?

Many of us have already suspected that fat is not the inert substance doctors told us it was. It seemed to be too responsive to our actions for that to be true and we were right. Fat does has an

Beer or baby?

agenda and that is to keep you as fat as possible despite all your efforts. Fat is good because only the fatties will survive the coming famine. Naturally thin women think fat takes orders from the thinking part of the brain. Using self-control you can impose your will on those recalcitrant fat cells and tell them what to do. But fat people know better. Fat cells answer to the primitive brain deep in our skull. It equates weight loss with famine and death so it unleashes the most powerful weapon known in the universe: hunger. Hunger almost always trumps self-control.

I know what you are thinking. If in this war on fat when the blockade on calories no longer works, then maybe we should consider a surgical strike to take out the offenders. Something like we did with Bin Laden. Something called liposuction. Be honest, haven’t you thought about liposuction? Take a nap and wake up with a flat tummy. It’s almost too good to be true but it’s a surgical procedure. It’s not like some quacky potion that claims to get rid of fat, you see all the fat they suck out of those cellulite riddled thighs.

Alas, to everyone’s amazement, it looks like liposuction was too good to be true. In a study published this month in the journal Obesity, University of Colorado researchers found that liposuction does not remove fat, it just puts it someplace else. In their study, fat was suctioned from the lower abdomen or thighs and it later reappeared in the upper body in the arms and upper abdomen. Of course, it wasn’t the same fat cells sneaking back (although Sláinte wouldn’t put it past them) but an average of 3 pounds of fat was removed in this study and an equal amount was gained back in the upper body within a year.

Moral of the story: don’t try to fool Mother Nature. Or a Fat Cell.

While researchers look for ways to counteract the “fat is good” messages being sent to and from the brain, what can you do now? You have only to look on a science news website to see all the ways you can incur the wrath of the Fat Cell and gain more weight. You would go crazy trying to control them all. So, own who you are. Be fat and love your body. Accept it and accept the fact that being fat is going to put your at greater risk for some disorders. Accept also that there are some things under your control like what kinds of foods you eat or how much you exercise. Being fat is not an excuse to eat anything you want. But being fat does necessarily means unhealthy just like being skinny does not necessarily mean healthy. Health is more than body shape. It’s linked to the kinds of foods you eat, the kind and amount of exercise you get, and other lifestyle factors like stress control, how much deep sleep you get, and of course, if you use tobacco.

The best advice is the simplest. Most of your diet should be real food,  that holds true no matter what your shape. Fats should be vegetable fats especially nut oils, canola oil and olive oil. Avoid fake food and fried food as much as you can; real food does not come in boxes and your body knows that even if you don’t. If you must have them (and sometimes we must), put it off until you have eaten all the recommended servings  of fruits, vegetables, seeds and whole grains for the day. Then you can eat one serving. The problem with fried foods is twofold: the fat makes them very high in calories and the high temperature used to deep fry changes the nature of the oil so it is likely to damage your arteries.

Sláinte strongly suggests you learn the nature of your hunger beast. What feeds it? Pay attention to the kinds of stimuli that makes you feel hunger. Sláinte might not be hungry at all but then she sees a Red Lobster commercial and she wants butter drenched sea food. Do the odors of food make you hungry? The sight of food? The time of day? Make a list of what feeds your hunger and brainstorm ways to avoid them. For example, if the sight and smell of chocolate makes you crave chocolate, don’t put chocolate-scented chocolate-shaped magnets on your bulletin board or fridge where you see them all the time.

Finally, being fat is one thing and being morbidly obese is another. Don’ t let yourself cross over from fat and overweight to obese.

Sláinte!

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