This part I took out of Love Fat because, quite frankly, I had written so much about breastfeeding already that I thought any more would boarder on creepy. Love Fat is about fat and why we should love it, and my reasoning behind including breastfeeding conversation was to illustrate that we all loved fat as infants. Regardless of what your adult monkey-brain has learnt or what you think that you know as fact, you consumed fat as a newborn.
The understanding of this was revolutionary for me. My whole adult life being taught that fat was bad, only to learn in my late twenties that my very existence was dependent on it. Babies need fat to grow their brains. And not just any old fat will do: saturated—animal—fat.
I remember my sheer disbelief upon reading that for the first time. I remember how I desperately sought a differing opinion and frantically tore apart the library trying to find something, anything, that would reconcile my unease.
I didn’t; every source told me that it was true: babies need fat.
That was really difficult for me; far, far worse than the time that I learnt Santa was a lie. When I was a child, there were hints littered all over the place that pointed to Santa being a fabrication: the whispers of the older kids in the classroom; the tell-tale signs of wrapping paper clippings in my Mothers “secret” cupboard that match that which enveloped Santa’s gifts; the shuffling and hushed voices of my parents that I’d hear if I were able to stay awake long enough on Christmas eve. By the time of the unveiling, I had pretty much come to the conclusion that Santa and my mother were the one and same person myself—I just didn’t want to say anything in case that led to a cessation of gifts.
For me at least, there had not even been so much as a hint from anyone, ever, that I had been lied to about fat.
Anyway . . . here is what I took out, and don’t worry, as there is still plenty in there on the importance of fat for babies. Probably most of what is in there will piss off every vegan mother that I know. I left all that in, but also I hope that it is clear that I don’t wish to judge anyone’s life decisions other than my own.
The next day I remembered that I still had the library book on breastfeeding out on loan. I checked the date that it needed to be returned and noticed that I still had another week. I leafed forward to the part that I had read through the week before. The next chapter was all about fatty acids. We had covered fatty acids somewhat in my nutrition course. Most of the information that I had retained from that had been that fatty acids meant fat, and would therefore make one fat. I did remember however, that fatty acids are important in the fuel conversion equations within the human body, and this was relevant to personal training as people need adenosine triphosphate for energy equations. I remembered that fatty acids had a role in adenosine triphosphate availability within a person’s body.
Apparently some types of fatty acids found in breast milk, specifically those long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, play important roles in brain development. This goes some way to explaining why there is so much fat in breast milk; fat is essential for cognitive development.
The most well-known brain-friendly fatty acid is the ridiculously difficult to pronounce docosahexaenoic acid. Docosahexaenoic acid helps a baby’s brain manufacture myelin, which is the sheath that insulates nerve fibers; therefore, docosahexaenoic acid is crucial for the development of good vision.
It was almost too much for me to take! First of all, I had read that fat is apparently good for babies, then I had learned that cholesterol is essential for many bodily developments, and now I was reading that fatty acids are needed for good vision. I felt like I was going crazy; I now know that I was simply seeing sanity.
I remember that as I read these things, I felt extremely uneasy. I found it difficult to read about fat being a good thing, because doing so implied some sort of change on my part. Could I ever alter my perception of fat? The very thought made me shudder. I didn’t want to eat fat; I simply could not fathom being any other way.
I returned that book to the library the next day. That same afternoon, Hilary called me and explained that she had decided to stop training with me. She was awfully nice about it, and said she needed to save some money. It was a very valid excuse, but I felt that there was more to it than that. I suspected that Hilary did not want to change either. Hilary was a feeder, a foodie, and that is what suited her. I knew that she had seen me as the inadvertent taker of joy. It was not personal, but she was happier without me in her life.
Hilary was happy with fat.