My own parents, in a daring move, tried to kill me by making me watch a video called Fathead on my last visit. Fathead is an answer to Super Size Me, and is more poorly produced, by a fellow much less likeable than Morgan Spurlock, but it makes a convincing case that it’s perfectly fine to eat fat—that eating fat is not what makes us fat. It even avers that a total cholesterol reading of less than 160 is associated with depression. Once upon a time, my total cholesterol was 103, and I did struggle a lot with depression in those days. These days, I can’t think of the last time I would have said I was depressed, which might be because I’m older, or because of 24 years of meditating, or maybe it is because my cholesterol is no longer 103.
The film makes a pretty compelling argument—think cancer—against eating high-carb vegetables fried in vegetable oil. After seeing it, it was out with potato chips and in with jars of coconut oil and peanut butter. I figured any amount was basically fine, based on Fathead’s favorite snack, which is cheese fried in coconut oil. The very fact of frying one substance full of saturated fat in another would suggest that anything goes.
I discovered that extra-virgin coconut oil, if spoonable but still a bit firm, in conjunction with peanut butter is remarkably like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in texture and flavor, but without a single speck of sugar. Yum. Later on, I discovered that eating the better part of a jar of soft, almost runny coconut oil with a spoon is remarkably like something very disgusting. And it is extremely high in saturated fat, so just in case Fathead isn’t completely correct, it was on to nuts and more nuts, though I hadn’t forgotten that peanuts have a poor omega 3:6 ratio, which also is associated with depression. When it comes to the omega 3:6 ratio, the very best kind of nut to eat, alas also one of the yuckiest, is the raw walnut.
Anyway, nuts and more nuts, and then I noticed something curious, in a photo taken of me in Tilden Park by Lisa M. I walk with her there every month or so lately, and we always take a few snapshots in the very flattering natural light. In this photo, it almost appeared as if my stomach were sticking out, and in the photos taken on the subsequent walk, there was no mistaking it: I was gaining weight. Once upon a time, this would have been terrible and I would have felt ugly and awful, but for whatever reason, weight gain seems almost entirely excellent to me now.
After I had DCIS, I stopped eating sugar and dairy and I lost a whole lot of weight, and I could barely recognize myself in the mirror—I felt like crying when I saw myself—and people were basically telling me how lousy I looked, all but wondering aloud if I was dying. I don’t have a scale, so I don’t know how much weight I’ve gained back, but, according to myself, I look superb. I feel splendid, and, as for my work pants no longer fitting—duh—I bought the same pants in a larger size. I even am noticing other people around me looking better as they happen to gain weight. All that scrumptious flesh!
There’s only one consideration on the other side, but it’s a major one, which is that my DCIS was estrogen positive—it was fed by my body’s own estrogen. Because fat cells produce estrogen, being larger raises the risk of breast cancer, so if you want to keep breast cancer risk to a minimum, being as skinny as possible is probably good. I certainly do not wish to have breast cancer again, so I totted up just how many grams of fat and ergo calories I was taking in—yikes—and decided that barrels of roasted cashews are probably to be avoided.
To be fair, my father basically said the same thing. He said that he no longer worries about what percentage of his daily intake consists of fat, but he also doesn’t drink olive oil by the cup in an effort to get up to 5000 or 6000 calories daily. His overall intake is normally quite moderate, and so is my mother’s. So it’s possible that they weren’t actually trying to kill me.