THE F WORD: Why “Fat Free” & “Reduced Fat” Are Bad Words

Let me give you a quick overview of my diet from birth to age 25.

My mom says I was a picky eater. She says that when I was two or three, for an entire year of my life, I refused to eat anything but canned corned, which I termed “poppums”. This is before I can remember. But, I cringe every time I think about how incredibly awful it must be for a person to eat pretty much the worst food possible for an entire year. All I can think is, “thank goodness I was breastfed or there’s no telling what else would be wrong with me”. But seriously, feed your kids fruits and vegetables. I have a feeling if I had been giving the ultimatum to eat real food or go hungry, I would have eventually eaten. I’m stubborn, but I don’t think little Amy would have died of starvation.

I start remembering things better around the 4-year-old mark. I do remember my favorite food when I was little being “hot cheese”, which was a Kraft single melted on a plate in the microwave for 10-15 seconds, and I would scrape it off the plate with a spoon. I also remember eating a lot of bologna sandwiches. In fact, there was a period around kindergarten when I ate this for breakfast for quite some time. I don’t remember ever drinking water. It was always soda or Kool Aid. I also recall almost always having a Little Debbie or Hostess snack cake when coming home from school. As far as school lunches went, there were very few foods I’d eat—all the way through high school. I think the only school lunch items I would eat that I can recall were pizza, cheesy bread sticks, tacos, fish fillets, chili, and grilled cheese sandwiches. I never ate the side vegetables and I found (and I still do, but for different reasons) canned fruit disgusting.

Growing up my mom cooked dinner every day. We never ate out or ate fast food, with the exception of Saturday night, after church, we often went to McDonalds. I do have faded memories of being in-between my two big brothers, in the middle of the back seat, going around the drive thru. It was before starting school, and I would get a happy meal, take the cheeseburger out and pick off and eat the cheese, eat my fries, and be done. For a long time, I wouldn’t even eat anything but the cheese on a hamburger. I was even picky with the meals my mom made, and she would cook an entrée with several sides. She would cook fried chicken, pork chops, meat loaf, chicken and dumplings, Salisbury steak, chicken and rice, etc. Like most moms, she is an amazing cook. I’m sure everything was cooked in bacon grease, but at least it was homemade. I would usually eat the main dish, but I never tried any sides besides corn and potatoes. No beans, peas, carrots, fruit salad, coleslaw, or anything like that. I laugh at what I used to eat at Thanksgiving dinner. I didn’t eat turkey, deviled eggs, potato salad, cranberry salad, even though they were cooked by my mom. Literally my plate would be stuffing, mashed potatoes, macaroni, and a roll.

When I moved to New York to go to college, I thought everything was so bland tasting. Nothing I ate tasted seasoned. Nothing tasted like the southern cooking I was used to. But slowly I started eating things and my taste buds started adapting. I tried foods that I had never even heard of. I would eat sushi and Indian food, and Thai food, and all sorts of food I wouldn’t have dared to try when I was younger. Not that I was eating anything particularly healthy, but I was trying and learning to like new flavors. It was my junior year of college when I admitted to my vegetarian housemates that I had never eaten most fruits or veggies. I think it came up when one of them asked if I wanted a strawberry, and I said I had never eaten a strawberry before. They were like “WHAT?!?!” Hearing myself say that now, I must agree, it sounds absolutely absurd. But true. I was 21 years old, and I had never eaten any fresh fruit besides bananas and watermelons. And as potatoes and corn really don’t count as vegetables, I had never eaten a real vegetable either. The closest I had come would be canned green beans, seasoned, and cooked in bacon grease. That summer, I really worked on trying fruits, and I learned that I genuinely liked most of them. The only trouble I did have, wasn’t with the flavor, but with the texture, so I started making smoothies out of the ones I thought were too weird to chew ha!

I suddenly became very conscious about what I was eating. I wanted to eat healthy and I downloaded the My Fitness Pal app on my phone so I could scan and track everything I put in my mouth. I bought everything “fat free” or “reduced fat”. For about 3 years I lived largely off of Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, and similar “healthy” and “nutritionally balanced” frozen meals. Until very recently that is—because I discovered that buying anything labeled as “fat free” or “reduced fat” is one of the worst things I can do for my health. The gist of it is this: if something is reduced fat or fat free, it has twice as much sugar. And sugar is the real bad guy as far as health is concerned. It happens to be added to at least 80% of the food products found in the grocery store—and it can be disguised as 200 different names. I also learned just how bad processed foods are for you. Foods are so overly processed, that only a fraction of its nutritional content remains by the time you eat it. According to my app, I was doing good, I was eating enough protein, carbs, fats, calories, etc. I was “healthy”. Strange that someone so healthy would be having a multitude of health problems.

So I made a plan to stop buying as much processed foods. I quit shopping in the frozen section and started buying fresh foods, specifically organic meats, fruits, and veggies. I also quit relying on the microwave. Microwaves pretty much zap any of remaining nutrients that might be left in your already low-in-nutrition processed foods. It also creates carcinogens in your food. I used to use the microwave multiple times a day. Now I cook virtually everything on the stove, oven, or crock pot. I even brew my own tea now. I still struggle with eating enough fresh vegetables, which is the main reason I bought a juicer. I can eat most vegetables cooked, but if I’m looking to add more raw veggies into my diet, and there’s only a few that I like in a salad, then juicing is a quick way to get my veggies in for the day. All I have to do some juice shots. I juice a couple sweet fruits with the vegetable to disguise the taste, and I can juice vegetables that I would never dare to eat raw or cooked.

What is the new Amy doing to make her diet healthier? I eat REAL food. Real butter and other fats. Vegetables that aren’t covered in chemical pesticides. Meat that isn’t pumped full of antibiotics. Food that isn’t processed and full of GMO’s. Real, natural, nutritional food.

So why am I telling you all of this? Why am I even doing a blog in the first place? Couldn’t I just do all of this and keep it to myself?

My website contains information that is useful to all people, but I am specifically hoping to reach some of my fellow Kentuckians. Kentucky has the HIGHEST RATES OF CANCER and the HIGHEST DEATH RATES from cancer in the nation. We are number one. We win at being unhealthy. Yay us.

(Cancer rate info:

Furthermore, for the first time in history, CHILDREN ARE NOT EXPECTED TO LIVE AS LONG AS THEIR PARENTS.

I know you have heard over and over again about the obesity epidemic—A problem we are facing all over the world. But stop thinking about obesity in terms of being fat. People seem to forget about those who are normal weight, but are metabolically obese. About 69% of Americans are overweight or obese—about 36% are considered obese, and nearly as many are considered metabolically obese, aka “skinny fat”. In a documentary I recently watched on Netflix, experts predicted another large percentage of the population is metabolically obese, making the total percentage of obese individuals to be over 50 percent. Over half of our population is sick!

If you aren’t a fan of reading and researching online, I recommend everyone watching some documentaries on Netflix. I recommend at the very least watching “Food Matters” and “Hungry for Change”, but other interesting ones include “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” and “Fed Up”.




I am also including below some very short videos:








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