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How Eating Fat Helps Cure Binge EatingQuestion: Hi Leora!

I got the 100 days of real food cookbooks, and notice that they say to eat full fat cheese and yogurts and things like that, I know that you say we should eat full fat yogurts and things as well. I know they are better for my body, and I can eat less of then to get full faster, but it’s honestly hard for me to not buy nonfat.  It makes me worried about gaining weight. I know it’s silly, but would love any advice you can give!

Thank you! Elizabeth

Answer: Hi Elizabeth, 

Yes, you are right. There is an underlying message out there that all fat is bad- body fat, fats in food, all of it. There is a belief that eating fat makes you fat– which is not only untrue, it’s also the opposite. When you eat more healthy fat, your body weight actually regulates and comes to its healthy place.  At this point, although many of us know from a nutritional and intellectual standpoint that full-fat products are much better for your body- it’s still difficult to integrate that knowledge to day-to-day eating. Fat certainly keeps you fuller longer and is more satisfying but it also decreases your risk of binge eating, and conversely,  avoiding fat increases your chances of bingeing. So much of healing from binge eating disorder is also about increasing your nutritional profile. This is why: 

–Essential fatty acids found in food supply the nutrients that promote growth of our cell functions but our body cannot make on its own. Thus if we avoid fat, we will either get very ill or our body will involuntarily turn to binge eating to meet these needs. 

–Your brain is made up of fat- the myelin sheath (which insulates your nerve cells) is made up of fat. Because of this, it’s important to continue to supply your brain with fat. This helps to increase concentration and uplift your mood.  Depression and anxiety can often lead to binge eating as it temporarily decreases these mood issues (and then makes them a lot worse). By keeping your brain feeling strong and stable, you have more of a chance of avoiding binges. 

–Fat transports essential fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) to your cells.  Your body needs these nutrients to keep its functions going. If it doesn’t have fat to deliver them, you will likely binge (whether you want to or not) because your body is looking to heal itself. 

–Fat helps to regulate your hormones which will keep issues like PMS at bay. When you find that your mood swings are fluctuating less, it decreases your chances of binge eating. 

Because of how essential fat is, your body will seek out ways to get it if you avoid it. Now, your main question is “how can I get myself to eat fat?”  You have to flip the message in your brain that “fat is bad.”

Flip Your Thoughts about Fat: When you see full-fat yogurt or olive oil or milk or cheese, I want you to try to think to yourself, “there is something rich and nurturing for my body, I am dousing my body in nutrients when I feed it healthy fats.   You are changing your thoughts about what fat is. Instead of equating fat with an unhealthy body, start to think about how healthy and strong fat makes your body. 

Take it slow:  This doesn’t have to be a fast all or nothing process. You can start slow. For instance you can tell yourself that you will have one bowl of full fat yogurt in the morning once and see how it goes. Then you can make a list of breakfast foods that are full fat and try one each morning. For instance:

  • Toast with peanut butter
  • Eggs with Avocado
  • Full fat yogurt with berries 
  • Macadamia nuts with fruit 
  • Bacon/Avocado rolls
  • Butternut squash with butter or olive oil mashed in (yes squash for breakfast! very yummy)

And then just let yourself sit with it mindfully and see how it makes your body feel. Usually when I do this experiment with clients, I give them a one week challenge of eating a breakfast with fat and protein each morning. Although they are often scared, they tend to feel so nurtured that they notice their urge to binge decreases considerably and they feel grateful for their new appreciation of nourishing fats. 

Start slow. Try it for one breakfast and see how it goes and then let me know! Thank you for the question. 

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Most recent quote from community member: "Unbelievable progress. I had a slice of cake, wasn't that fussed about it and moved on. Cake is just cake! I never thought I'd get to this place. I keep thinking back to an earlier meditation when all the negative energy left down through my feet. That was really powerful. I'm planning to play it again. I've also drawn up a weekly meal plan of healthy balanced meals. This just helps to give me a bit of guidance and planning and eliminates any need for impulsive decisions when I often feel stressed after work. Amazing, thank you so much. I always hoped for hope, but n ow I feel like I'm living hope! I'm so grateful Leora. Thank you."