Thursday, January 31, 2013

Making the Switch to Full-Fat

Today: 1 - Julie: 0

Seriously, today just kicked my butt. We didn't get up for our workout this morning, I rushed to get ready for work, I forgot my parking pass (thankfully that worked out okay), I wasn't excited about my food, and some of my classes were just a little more exhausting than usual.
But then, at the end of the day, a very respected colleague who had recently observed my more "difficult" class told me that she thought I was fantastic. It's amazing how a compliment like that can really boost your confidence. Honestly, I sometimes get very discouraged when I can't tell whether I'm succeeding with my students. It helps to have an outsider provide some perspective.

Another area in life where I'm finally gaining some perspective is with whole foods. For about two years now, I've been trying to subscribe to a "real food" lifestyle, as defined by 100 Days of Real Food and Michael Pollan. We've made some really positive changes:

  • Cooking almost everything from scratch and avoiding packaged foods as much as possible, especially those with ingredients I can't pronounce.
  • Switching to whole wheat flour, whole wheat pasta (only one ingredient), whole wheat pizza crust, and 5-ingredient whole wheat bread from Great Harvest.
  • Focusing on mostly natural sweeteners (honey and pure maple syrup) instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners (but see below for an exception).
  • Switching to grass fed beef, free-range poultry and eggs, and other organic meats.

Foods I really miss that I rarely indulge in now:

  • Non-real-food cereals
  • Snack crackers
  • Store-bought ketchup
  • Movie popcorn
Foods Terry misses:
  • Chicken McNuggets 
  • Hot dogs
  • Candy
  • Miscellaneous fried foods/fast food

But I'm far from perfect:

  • I still bake with white and brown sugar--and sometimes white flour--when I'm making sweets.
  • When we don't have time to go to Great Harvest (the closest location is 45 minutes away, and our freezer only has so much space for bread), we buy bread with some non-real ingredients.
  • We don't shop at the farmer's market nearly as much as we could. Local ingredients are always better!
  • We still use Pam most of the time when cooking eggs, etc.
  • We have our regular indulgences, like M&Ms, chips, etc.
  • Until recently, we still drank 2% milk and ate other low-fat dairy products.
So over the last several months we've been slowly transitioning. First it was buying full-fat cream cheese, sour cream, ice cream, and cheese. Then we tried out whole milk for our tea, baking, and scrambled eggs. And this week, finally, we went all the way: There are officially NO low-fat or non-fat dairy products in our house.

I'll be completely honest here: It's not easy to switch. I definitely grew up reading food labels--but only to look at the number of calories or the amount of fat. Seeing those high numbers on milk, yogurt, and cheese made me super hesitant at first (hence the long time it's taken to switch), but we're ready now.

It's all about moderation...

100 Days of Real Food has a fantastic post all about low-fat, lite, and nonfat food products, and Michael Pollan's book In Defense of Food describes it all in a way that helped me decide that full-fat is the way to go. What it comes down to is:
  • We're better off eating full-fat products in moderation than overdoing it on low-fat stuff.
  • Often, companies take out the fat but then add sweeteners (often artificial) to boost flavor.

Interestingly, 100 Days of Real Food blogger Lisa recently asked her Facebook followers whether switching to full-fat products has actually helped them LOSE weight. (Check out her page and scroll to January 26 to see.) The response? An overwhelming (800+ comments) YES! If that doesn't convince you to at least consider it, what will?

Some reading for you:
If any of this post interests you, I strongly encourage you to try out the 10-Day Challenge. It changed my life!

And now I'm off to enjoy some (whole) milk and cookies! Happy February!

What are your thoughts on full-fat vs. low-fat/lite/nonfat products? 


  1. I agree that low fat/fat free products are definitely more processed than full fat ones, but I can't see myself going back that direction. We drink nonfat milk and eat plain, nonfat Greek yogurt. We usually buy a combo of full fat/reduced fat cheese.

  2. i commend you completely on making this switch julie! i'm super impressed - i am definitely on the earlier side of making these changes but i'm doing my best! i'm purging my pantry of things like 100 calorie packs and reduced fat peanut butter. i think i'm about 50% of the way there - dairy is definitely going to be a big switch for me in terms of yogurt. milk won't be so hard because i stick with just almond milk and when i do have milk in my coffee i'm all about half n half. you've inspired me!

  3. It really sounds like this way of life is working great for you both! I think I would have a really hard time switching over...not impossible but definitely would be a mind over matter situation for me for a long time!

  4. I love this! I've been eating more full-fat stuff myself... Let's be real: it just tastes better on top if it all!

  5. I'm so glad you wrote about this! I'm trying to live a modified paleo lifestyle, and I read in Mark Sisson's book The Primal Blue Print that if you are going to eat dairy products that they should be whole fat! My mom thinks I'm crazy!

  6. this is a great switch to make, it is so good for you to have full fat products. plus they taste way better

  7. Full FAT is the way to be!!! I drink fat, all by itself! LOL! So stoked you're jumping on the high fat bandwagon, we are going to have TONS OF FUN! ;)

  8. Interesting...while I can't necessarily make the switch to full fat on some things, mostly because I can't do cheese, milk or dairy products, I do try to be mindful of the "fake" dairy products I consume. But like everyone, I'm not perfect. I feel a huge difference in my body when I don't eat processed foods so I do try to be really mindful. And when it comes to the fat content listed on labels, it's hard for me. It was hard for me to eat 2% greek yogurt vs. the 0% varieties even on occasion.

  9. Best switch you guys could have done. I can't commend you enough for all the accomplishments you've made so far. :)

  10. i made the switch to full fat on some things a while ago (cheese, sour cream) and switched from skim to 2% milk. i haven't gone to whole milk yet. good job to you guys for switching!

  11. good job making the switch! we've switched to full fat on some things (sour cream, cheese) and have switched from skim milk to 2%. we haven't gone to whole milk yet though. i don't drink much milk, except for in my coffee, so it wouldn't make much of a difference to me, but brad doesn't like whole milk...

  12. I'm not sure I'm ready to make the switch to full-fat dairy, but most of my other eating is "real" food. A couple of suggestions for you: you could always make your own bread to avoid buying loaves that aren't up to snuff. I started making my own the past summer and don't think I've bought a loaf of store bought bread this whole school year! A few years ago I never would have thought it possible. To avoid using Pam, you should try a Misto. I have one that I keep olive oil in, and I love it.