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5 ‘Foods’ That Make Us Fat

20 J0000002UTC 2011

When I was at Baylor University in the late 90’s eating the homemade white bread in the dorms, I contracted what I now refer to as “bread butt.” I did not understand the science behind my condition, but I knew something happened to my body upon consumption. The bread was so good, so I walked the Bear Trail, lifted weights, ran Cameron Park trails and took up mountain biking, promptly breaking my wrist. No activity cured bread butt– other than cutting myself off from the white bread.

I hear it all the time. “I eat healthy. I exercise every day. I don’t understand why I can’t lose this extra weight.” It typically looks the same– a small (or large) inner tube around the midsection, a couple extra chins and arms that should be lean and muscular, but aren’t. It doesn’t make sense to most people, but it does to me.

Americans have (literally) grown accustomed to a few little extras in our daily intake. Rather than feeling satisfied with a few nutrient dense meals that meet our bodily and energy requirements, we feel entitled to some special rewards for when we are good, have had a hard day, give a stellar presentation or practice patience with the kiddos. Then we reward the kids with ‘treats’ when they win soccer games or get good grades. It’s cool. It’s normal. But it also makes us fat.

When I use the word “fat,” I mean it. Doctors, friends and family dance around it,  but fat is what is compromising

Adipose Tissue, Stained

and killing Americans off one at a time. Fat is stored adipose tissue in various layers of the body, some necessary, some  harmful and some just undesirable. Excess fat is hormonally active, now considered to be a functioning endocrine organ, viable in bodily workings and breakdown. This means that our fat cells are not just for unsightly storage anymore. They’re alive.

Eating food that has fat (butter, meat, avocados) doesn’t make you fat. It’s more complicated than that. When you ingest olives, walnuts or whipped cream it does not “go to your butt.” Sugar (carbohydrates) and refined/processed grains such as white flour (also carbohydrates) are greater culprits in fat storage than is dietary fat. In addition, the quality of all the foods you eat (carbohydrates, fats and protein) has an impact on fat production and storage.

On the flip-side, eating “fat free” food in order to avoid fat storage is an absolute farce. The intake of these food-like substances do not prevent you from storing fat. On the contrary, when the body is forced to deal with these substances, a common consequence is fat storage, often due to the high level of sugar, fake sugar, preservatives and other ingredients the digestive system and liver are unable to recognize. When the body does not recognize a food item, find it useful for construction/energy or have the ability to break it down for excretion, it must store it somewhere.

5 Foods That Make Us Fat:

The Morning Bagel & Cream Cheese. This seems healthy because it’s not a donut– but it has absolutely zero nutritional value and is made out of entirely refined carbs aka, sugar. So guess what? It’s a donut.

The Lunchtime Sandwich Bread or Hamburger Bun. This is a repeat of the bagel issue. It’s not only empty calories, offering no nutritional value, it’s adding sugar (glucose) to your blood stream which increases your insulin which can contribute to insulin resistance and belly fat.

The Afternoon Latte and Pastry “Treat”. An insane fat-making duo. Because your blood sugar is crashing in the afternoon and you’re getting tired and irritable because you ate lettuce on a giant white hoagie with fat free chips for lunch, you go for what’s easy and tasty– a 20 ounce “fat free” latte with four shots of espresso, sugar free vanilla syrup and maybe a touch of whipped cream, because the milk was fat free, after all. And a pumpkin spice scone. This is a fat time bomb and the trip-wire is the sugar free syrup.

The Evening Beer(s). Beer is delicious. It is also grain (carbohydrate) based alcohol (sugar) that packs more calories per punch than either carbs or protein. If you drink beer or wine or tequila or whiskey or vodka every single night of the week then it’s probably either making you fat or it’s going to. Unless you don’t eat because of it. That’s an entirely different problem and you should call AA. Now.

Oreos. Or Whatever Your Night-Time Coookie Is. Same story, different hour. Because your blood sugar has been going up and down all day from the deprivation/sugar gluttony rollercoaster, your liable to crash again at night a couple hours after your beer. To get the sugar back up, you head to the cabinet for the cookies and milk. I’ve eaten roughly a square mile of Oreos in my life. I get it.

5 Things to Try Instead:

Eggy Scramble Bowl. Make it to go. Throw in 2-3 scrambled eggs, 1/4 cup brown rice, some black beans, sauteed onions/red pepper/spinach, salsa and 1/2 an avocado. Top with cilantro and nutritional yeast. Prepare some of this the night before or wake up 15 minutes early so you don’t flip out.

Bigger than Life Salad. Forget the bread. Put whatever you put in your sandwich on a massive amount of greens– romaine lettuce, spinach, arugula, kale. Add radishes, shredded carrot, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, pears, walnuts, pumpkin seeds and roasted chicken or salmon. Top with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, sea salt and cracked pepper. Take your time and try to taste what you’re eating.

3 O’Clock Snack. Don’t skip it! Just skip your empty 500 calorie and ridiculously bread-butt scone. If you are not ready to lose the caffeine (that’s a whole other discussion), go for an Americano or coffee, like a real man/woman. If you’re ready to truly improve your health, try filtered water, coconut water, kombucha or green tea. Have apples and almond butter, blueberries and Brazil nuts or red peppers and beef jerky for a snack. Try it for more than one day, you instant gratification freak.

Green Tea from

Less Beer, Less Often. Go down to every other night, then twice a week and after a few months you will probably see a difference in your body. Plus, if you have to drink every night, there may be a problem.

Dark Chocolate or Chia Seed Pudding. Instead of cookies, a refined flour-refined sugar disaster, eat a nutrient dense dessert within 30 minutes of finishing dinner. If you need a late night stack, go for leftover chicken or nuts.

My final word is choice. You might not get to choose what genes you received or exactly what your body looks like, but you can choose what you eat or refuse to eat every day. And those choices do translate, in part, to how you feel, how you look and what the quality of your health is. You are not held victim to the bagels your co-worker brought! You don’t have to go to Subway for lunch. You don’t have to get the venti latte just because you have for the past 10 years. You can make different choices today.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. 20 J0000002UTC 2011 5:53 pm

    Kris, I met you at Bauman, I was in the chef program last summer… and I just used a modifed version of your bean fudge for a workshop I taught (you shared with our class and we talked about it for, well, months)! I think I stumbled upon your blog last month via BC newsletter, it is great! Nice job!!

    • 20 J0000002UTC 2011 8:45 am

      Hi Brandi– Thanks for the message. I’m glad you found me and I hope your fudge turned out great. I’m going to go find you on your blog now! Best of everything to you.

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