Why We Avoid Low-Fat Products

When I first learned that the whole low-fat campaign was pretty much a hoax I was absolutely shocked as well. For years I was right there on that bandwagon bingeing on everything from low-fat Snackwells cookies to fat-free flavored yogurt to low-fat ice cream. And as it turns out, according to Michael Pollan, “We’ve gotten fat on low-fat products.”

photo credit: zeer.com

Here’s a direct quote from Pollan’s book Food Rules that explains it all:

The forty-year-old campaign to create low-fat and nonfat versions of traditional foods has been a failure: We’ve gotten fat on low-fat products. Why? Because removing the fat from foods doesn’t necessarily make them nonfattening. Carbohydrates can also make you fat, and many low- and nonfat foods boost the sugars to make up for the loss of flavor … You’re better off eating the real thing in moderation than bingeing on “lite” food products packed with sugars and salt.

Another New York Times bestselling author, Mark Bittman, agrees in his book Food Matters. He says, “The low-fat craze caused millions, maybe tens of millions, of Americans actually to gain weight, because they were reaching for ‘low-fat’ but high-calorie carbs.” And right on cue directly from Pollan’s In Defense of Food:

At this point you’re probably saying to yourself, Hold on just a minute. Are you really saying the whole low-fat deal was bogus? But my supermarket is still packed with low-fat this and no-cholesterol that! My doctor is still on me about my cholesterol and telling me to switch to low-fat everything. I was flabbergasted at the news too, because no one in charge – not in government, not in the public health community – has dared to come out and announce: Um, you know everything we’ve been telling you for the last thirty years about the links between dietary fat and heart disease? And fat and cancer? And fat and fat? Well, this just in: It now appears that none of it was true. We sincerely regret the error.

So let’s put the low-fat craze behind us and move forward by embracing the right portions of real food and real food only. No more faked low-fat products where according to Pollan, “fats in things like sour cream and yogurt are replaced with hydrogenated oils” and “the cream in ‘whipped cream’ and ‘coffee creamer’ are replaced with corn starch.”

And just to be clear this applies to all reduced fat products, including milk. When the fat is removed from dairy products like milk some of the beneficial nutrients are lost with the fat as well. We just recently switched to whole milk ourselves, and I was honestly a little scared. I drank skim milk up until last year after all! But along with reducing our overall consumption of milk it has actually been a surprisingly smooth transition for us. And after learning the shocking truth behind what we’ve been told for so many years…I’ve never looked at another low-fat product the same again.

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264 thoughts on “Why We Avoid Low-Fat Products”

  1. mccartygc@gci.net

    Lisa- I’ve been drinking lactaid free low fat milk. It’s made a huge difference in my digestive.
    Should I switch to the whole version lactaid free?

  2. This looks like a plan I can do! It’s what I’ve been looking for. A little scared because I need to lose weight also. I’ve always used half and half and either turbanado sugar or flavored syrup in coffee. What do you suggest for a healthier but still creamy and a little sweet?

    1. I suggest whole milk. You’ll find its sweeter than half-time and-half, so you might not even need maple syrup.

  3. I like the way you think. I’m also trying to avoid refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup. Also artificial colors, flavors and sweeteners. I try to avoid partially hydrogenated oils (aks trans fat). I don’t like the idea of farmed raised meats. I prefer grass fed beef, wild cought fish and cage free poultry. I reall try to stay away from man-made chemicals highly processed foods, fast foods and junk foods. I like to buy organic and GMO free foods.

  4. I get the fat thing, but I have one question. I have read that the kind of fat matters. We should be getting most of our fat from plants – polyunsaturated and monounsaturated – rather than the saturated fats found in animal products. Problem for me is I love butter and cream. Is it still true we should reduce the consumption of saturated fat?

  5. I was raised on Laurel’s Kitchen, but admit getting caught up in the low-fat/no-fat craze for a while. One thing I have never given up though is making my own yogurt, usually with 2% no growth hormones milk. Now that we are switching to whole milk and trying to use organic when possible, I can only get organic milk that is ultra-pasteurized. Can you make yogurt with ultra-pasteurized milk? I thought that removed all the good bacteria. What do you suggest is the best solution?

  6. Well this is interesting because my problem with milk is that I find 2% or higher just takes like glue on it’s own. My favourite has always been skim with the exception of chocolate being 1% and even 1% white is ok because I was raised on it but now I want to take the pledge and am at odds with what to do.

  7. We’re all in! We’ve been doing each week and compounding and are loving it so far! The hardest one for us has been no fast food. We’re an on-the-go family and I need more ideas for simple, healthy food to bring with us. Any suggestions?

  8. Jennifer Aldrich

    We are a 2 adult and 3 child family (10, 6 and 4) and we are all in. My husband was shocked about the milk, but is slowly coming around. My 10 year old, a former trix yogurt eater, now loves whole milk yogurt with maple syrup and vanilla

  9. No problem!! This is already something I FULLY believe in! 4 of us will continue to not use low fat or lite products. :)

  10. I’m waiting to have heart bypass due to 90% blockage (genetics) and I find it very confusing as to which way to go on this. Doctors say low fat, so as a consumer your head is reeling as to which way to go. I definitely prefer butter over margarine!!

  11. I cant do it. I lost 45 lbs from 37% body fat to 24% on real food. Not processed with the exception of
    Fat free salad dressing (I eat a ton of salads and raw green veggies) I need a little flavor. Also I drink about 8 oz of fat free milk a day. I also use a tbls a day of reduced fat canola land lakes (sp?) butter. My starch consumption is is also a lite version of bread, totilla or English muffin. Again, I only have 3 of these a day so I’m not overindulging on anything. I’ve maintained my weight and really can’t get back to whole milk and full on butter. I don’t eat that much of either one so I’m sticking to what I know has worked for me. Good luck to all who do this, but I’ve experienced great results with what I’ve been doing. I feel great and I’m told I look great too. It’s a life style change, not a diet.

  12. Both my 3 and 5 year old are great eaters and in the upper percentile for height and weight. My doctor recommends 2% milk for them so they don’t get so much fat. I am not sure what to do. Not sure I understand why 2% is considered a bad/processed food. I am on board with no low fat, etc. food….always have been….

  13. I’ve had the “100 days of real food” book for a couple of weeks now and have not been purchasing any lowfat, nonfat, etc. since I received it. No more ever again. (3 of us in my household, all in!)

  14. I totally agree with this concept, but I have a question. What about organic plain 0% fat Greek yogurt? I know the fat is not being replaced with hydrogenated oil since it is certified organic. Is this still not considered real food? Just curious. Thanks. Love your site!

    1. Amy Taylor (comment moderator)

      Hi Katie. We would choose full fat. The removal of fat makes a food more processed. ~Amy

  15. 1 adult for the whole 7 days. Love your book! Will be switching back to whole milk for the week but mostly I use almond milk.

  16. Two adults, two children. I haven’t bought anything labeled “low fat” or “light” since reading Pollan’s book two years ago. And really didn’t much before because I realized a lot of it contains artificial sweetener which I hate. My husband had done Atkins and paleo ten+ years ago and so we knew about the flaws in the “low fat” diet theory and cut out a lot of sugar and refined grains. It surprises me and is a little scary that so many Americans are misinformed still. This info has been out there for more than a decade. It’s up to all of us to learn about what our bodies need and nutrition, but it certainly doesn’t help when the government spreads misinformation. Thanks Lisa and crew for getting the word out. I have your book and love it!

  17. In 2008 I was very ill with hyperthyroidism (diagnosed with Graves’ disease) for which my Endocrinologist wanted to kill off my thyroid gland, which would have made me dependent on a lifelong regime of synthetic thyroid hormone – we can’t live without thyroid hormone. Feeling uncomfortable with the Endo’s recommendation, I switched to another health care provider who specialised in Nutrition (amongst other things – he is actually a Dentist). He taught me about the ‘fat makes you fat’ myth and the perils of low fat dairy, sugar and other highly processed carbs and grains. After 18 months of following his advice I achieved a full remission and ditched my thyroid inhibiting medication completely. I am still well today – something all of the Drs I had been to about my condition told me was impossible. I’m a believer!

  18. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your website! I have made SO many recipes frim it and loved all of them! Not that I can say rhe same for my kids and husband but we’re workin on it! I wanted to address the consumption of dairy milk. We actually have a local dairy (IWIG) that still pasteurizes their milk in the VAT pasturization process, which simply means the milk is pasteurized at a lower temperature. This process allows our bodies to digest it better. (Ie my husband “though” he was lactose intolerant but when we COMPLETELY switched to this milk (whole) he had NO issues. I truly find it disturbing that our food companies continue to pollute our food that is consumed on a daily basis! I make the effort to buy my milk and bread (if I don’t have time to make) from completely seperate stores, make several different stops to do this. And others should do this as well! We have GOT to keep our truly natural food system alive! And it’s gonna take all of us to promote that simply because it’s so much easier to head to fhe McDonalds drive-thru…

  19. I can’t get over this revelation, I am back to regular cheese, yogurt, whole fat everything, in moderation!! No more low fat products, I’m free…………

  20. We are a 2% milk family as that is what the pediatrician recommends for my 3 year old . Also 2% Fage yogurt, that was a major move to get my husband to trade in his yoplait for more protein, less sugar and a lot fewer ingredients! We don’t do fake food! That includes low fat, no fat, sugar free etc. Definitely a work in progress.
    3 adults and 1 child

  21. There is just one person in my household. I have MS and am trying to find a way to eat healthier and hopefully that will provide my body with the right kinds of foods to help with MS fatigue. It is difficult to fix meals for one person but I am willing to give it a try. Right now I eat out almost every day at least one meal. I don’t have any control of what is going into the meals that I am eating. I am sure there is too much salt and who knows what else!
    I am willing to make a 6 week pledge.
    Thank you!
    Linda

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  23. I just stumbled across your page and am a little overwhelmed by all the information. I buy a lot of organic, but am a little nervous about making the switch to full fat products, because I recently found out that I have high cholesterol. I have also tested positive for rheumatoid arthritis and am learning about the inflammation link to heart issues. All this to say I am not sure which switches to my diet would be best for me

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Carol. It is important to follow a physicians advice if you are experiencing medical problems. If you are looking for advice specific to an anti-inflammation diet, you might seek the advice of a doctor that practices integrative medicine because they incorporate a lot nutrition and prevention into their approach. There is a lot of good (and bad) info our online, as well. You might take a look at Dr. Andrew Weil’s site. He does a lot of anti-inflammation work. You can still eat completely real, but you might have to adjust the rules a bit to meet your needs. :) ~Amy

    2. I’d like to temper Amy’s advice on following your doctor’s recommendations with the caveat that “most” western physicians are not knowledgeable about nutrition or natural ways of improving health. Our healthcare system is currently designed to treat disease processes…in other words to treat symptoms–not to maintain health. Most physicians will spout the same advice you hear from the food manufacturers, which is contrary to what is required to maintain health. So please do some research on your own about macronutrients (protein, fat, carbs) and about natural approaches to health.

      1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

        Vaughn, I agree which is why I suggested finding a doctor who practices integrative medicine because they take a more holistic approach to “treating” patients. They focus much more on prevention and nutrition. I am also a big fan of naturopaths. :)

  24. This is a great way to change a little at a time!! 2 adults 2 children in it for a week – and for life!

  25. What about a product that says reduced fat? Which one is better…reduced fat or low fat? I ask because the only organic yogurt my local store sells is either reduced fat or low fat and I’m always confused as to which one to buy so I grab the non-organic one with full fat. So which one would you choose? I thought about even asking if they can start carrying the full fat organic kind but wasen’t sure if they would

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Amy)

      Hi Christy. We don’t recommend products that have had the fat removed and there is likely very little difference between reduced fat of low fat. I would ask the store if they can carry full fat organic. Most stores will accommodate. ~Amy

  26. Marjorie Nienhius

    I was overweight in my late 20’s and decided to join a weight loss group. There were weekly meetings and as expected they pushed the use of their products. I ate according to the points allotted and in less than a year lost 100 lbs. Two months after I lost the 100 lbs I had to have my gallbladder removed. In the years following I have been able to eat less and less processed food. I have also since had half of my thyroid removed and cysts on my ovaries removed. ALL of these problems are due to the processed foods in my diet. The fat free, light and low fat versions of foods are literally ripping my body apart. I am posting to publicly pledge my family and I will only eat the freshest most natural foods I can possibly find. Thank you for creating this fabulous blog and helping people every where.

  27. Count me in for 1 adult. I’ve been focusing on one min-challenge per week, and it’s been a good awareness exercise!

  28. I just started following your Blog a month or so ago and it has helped me so much with transitioning over to a real foods diet! We already ate a lot of fruits and veggies and love to juice. But even more so now with your wonderful recipes, dinners and getting easier to make from scratch and preparing lunches is a lot of fun. My husband will be happy to know that we are going to switch back to whole milk, he loves to drink it and I always felt that it was worse for him because of all the talk out there. I cannot drink it as much as him because it does upset my stomach, but we just were introduced to Almond milk and I really do like it in my smoothies. Do you have any advice for finding the right Almond Milk that I can use when I cannot drink the regular Whole Milk? I only drink milk in moderation so I should be fine but I just thought I would ask. I also just wanted to say thank you for your inspiration to start this blog and share it with us all. My husband and I have been married for a little over 3 years and we are 23 and 24 years old. 2 years ago my husband found out that he has Crohn’s disease, an auto immune disease that attacks the digestive system. I felt hopeless at times feeding him because his body could not break down good foods like fruits and vegetables. Honestly when he is in a flare up state it does not matter what you feed him and he will feel terrible. After a big scare in February where he was in the hospital for 3 days and had to have a blood transfusion I started thinking more about feeding him more organic foods. I knew that I would need to do it on a budget and we are finally able to start doing it more and more. We started with buying all of our fruits and veggies organic and have moved to buying others things like our bread and dairy organic. I love to cook and have always tried to cook with whole food ingredients and from scratch, but even more so now with your recipes I have truly been able to do that. So once again thank you!! (Sorry for the long post! I am just so excited about this!)

  29. It is a real eye opening when we think that we are following the best advice on what we eat and feed our children and then find out that there truly are food politics making these decisions. Nestlé also wrote a book Food Politics that is revealing of the food industry. even the Food Pyramid is politically influenced! the food industry had stockholders too and they watch the bottom line and the more food that is sold ,regardless of if it is good for the body , is good for the investors.

  30. I take the pledge! It’ll be easy for me because right now I’m doing the 28-day Fast Metabolism Diet and eating only fresh whole natural foods and no artificial sweeteners or added sugar (or dairy). I’m halfway through and feeling so much better. I love your blog and am glad you are spreading the word about real, healthy foods. I’ve spent years eating low fat/high carb or artificially sweetened foods and I’ve gotten heavier and heavier. Now I’m getting back to the “old” way of eating.

  31. I think this is a great challenge. I actually read your post about milk and non fat products and then did a little studying on my own and have already given up feeding non fat and low fat food items to my family. It was my first small step to feeding my family better. We are totally on board with this one. 2 adults and 4 children.

  32. Doesn’t skim milk have added vitamins though? I don’t think I could handle the taste of whole milk. I tried the silk milk too and just too yucky tasting for me personally.

    1. Sylvia RN MSN NP-C

      Skim milk has added vitamins, but they are FAT SOLUBLE vitamins, meaning your body can’t even absorb them unless they are consumed with fat! That’s why whole is so much better! Most other countries in the world eat full fat dairy products, and have lower rates of obesity compared to the USA!

  33. So- I would take this pledge, except- I can’t eat whole fat yogurt or milk- :( It gives me a horrible stomach ache! I am not lactose intolerant, I have had issues like this since I was a teenager, except it was far worse then- I couldn’t eat tomato sauce, fatty/greasy foods, or too much dairy of any kind.
    My husband and kids are the same way- we can eat full fat hard cheese, and the kids and I can eat full-fat fresh mozzarella, but if it isn’t fresh- ugh.
    …and I kinda love my non-fat plain greek yogurt… :)
    Anyone know why we would have such an intolerance for the fat? We eat a really healthy diet, and I make all of our bread, etc, from scratch.

    1. If your body says DON’T DRINK MILK, then please please please listen to it. Your guts know best. STOP DRINKING MILK.

  34. given how many comments are on here … this may never be seen.

    but. I’ll go ahead anyway.

    Seeking out low-fat foods is not necessarily bad for everyone. Some people are in a very slow state of oxidation, they are “Slow-Oxidizers”, they have hypoendocrine function. They have a decreased need for proteins and fats. And, in fact, too much fat in the diet can cause cancer (given the estrogen-like properties of many fats).

    Slow Oxidizer Diet Guide re Fats: “6-7% of diet high-quality fats and oils. Acceptable fats are from meat, eggs, dairy products such as butter or high-fat cheese, olive oil, and a little toasted almond butter. Avoid avocado, coconut oil and palm oil. These are too yin in Chinese medical terminology for common usage, no matter how nutritious they are.”

    I don’t think low fat milk is a wise choice, for instance, but if a person is a slow oxidizer it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to grab the lower fat greek yogurt. (Sugar and chemicals replacing fat is not healthful of course).

    I have heard the phrase “have some bread with your butter”. This is not a good choice for the slow oxidizer.

    There are generally 4 types of Oxidizers. The ideal is to have a Balanced Oxidation rate. Most people are either Fast Oxidizers, Slow Oxidizers, or less common, in a state of Mixed Oxidation.

    Some articles to reference:
    http://drlwilson.com/articles/Oxidation%20Types%201104.htm
    http://drlwilson.com/articles/slow%20diet.htm

    Oxidation is very important to consider. A slow oxidizer who eats too much fat/protien and not enough carbohydrate will further derrange their biochemistry, and further deplete their low energy levels; stressing their adrenals, etc. Whether the Slow (or Fast) Oxidizer realizes it, they are absolutely exhuasted “underneath”, which presents as anxiety in the individual, and other symptoms of body and mind.

    Another topic, not so much related to fats, but very important, is Methylation. Many mental illnesses are the result of poor methylation and problematic oxidation. as well as liver congestion, chemical exposture, parasitic/microbial infestation, and mineral depletion. Nutritional Balancing addresses all of these issues and more. Taking vitamins and avoiding processed foods is not enough for many people.

  35. I did some research many years ago into the low-fat/lite trend. One thing that I came up with, and I’m sorry I don’t remember the book it came from, was that non-fat is different than fat-free in the world of labels. Fat-free means modified and often includes hydrogenated oils/starches/sugars to beef up the flavor and texture. Non-fat means that the fat has been skimmed. So, plain, non-fat yogurt is not necessarily a bad option whereas fat-free (also available and you will see the different labels) is not a healthy choice. Just wanted to toss this into the conversation.

    1. very interesting. fat-free vs. non-fat. I like that addition. I agree that non-fat is not necessarily a poor choice.

  36. My daughter (3) doesn’t eat any of that stuff anyways. I actually heard this information. I don’t usually by much low-non etc. But I am going to do this def for the week an make a permanent change!

  37. 2 adults, 1 kiddo! I’m super excited to try this! I started buying real butter a few months back, so I think I’m headed in the right direction! Happy pledging everyone!

  38. 2 adults and 2 kids under 3yo. We already doing it for about month now and will definitely continue as long as we can :)!!!!! Good luck to others!!!

  39. I have been incorporating the whole food challenge in my family and daycare. My struggles are needing to add more protein to lunches and being required to serve 1% or skim for all children over two years of age.

  40. My mother have always warned me about low fat foods and frozen foods that have a heap of sodium in them. Low fat and reduced fat have so much more of something else in order for it taste like something. It’s hard to explain and crazy at the same time! I am taking the pledge.

  41. This should be an easier pledge for our household because I have been transitioning to whole fat items since March when my daughters pediatrician suggested why it was better. Its been two weeks since I have made a pledge because I went out of town last week, but we are back on track now. Also, in regards to my last pledge, I tried 3 new foods, and loved them all! We are starting this pledge today and doing it for a week. We have 2 adults and a toddlers in our home!!

  42. The one thing I do with my milk (I drink raw, but you can do the same with pasteurized so long as it is non-homogenized) is to let it rest and skim the bulk of the cream from the top. I put that into a container usually in the frig or freezer and use that for whipped cream, sour cream, or butter. Haven’t tried making cream cheese yet.

    But, though my milk is “skimmed”, it is still probably between 1 & 2%, but we still get the fat in the long run.

  43. I have high cholesterol and am trying to not take medication for it. My doctor told me to watch my fat intake. I use plain, non-fat Greek yogurt. I usually have it in the morning (not everyday) with fresh fruit, almond slices and a drizzle of honey. I also make homemade tzatziki sauce with it. I am really afraid to switch to the full fat version.

  44. Sometimes I get so impatient with this conversation because it all seems and should be so obvious. I too had my gall bladder removed and I almost died from an infection (sepsis) due to the shock my system went through because of 40 stones. I was someone who vacillated between obsessively eating healthy foods, including vegetarian and macrobiotic diets to someone who ate anything and everything including oily chicken wings and bags of flavored potato chips,etc. And moderation was NOT on the menu! And alas it all caught up with me. So when the surgeon, who spent 6 hours cutting me open to remove a very inflamed organ, advised me to eat a low fat diet (which I had already started on my own the day I fell ill), I did not have to question his wisdom. Because, although their western version of a good diet (i.e. something resembling hospital food)is NOT what I define as healthy, I surely know that eating packaged, processed, unreal food is NOT a very smart value. Now because I not only need to protect my GI tract, but I need to lose more weight, I realize that eating “low fat” can simply entail eating less of even the healthy fats. Of course it goes without saying that I don’t eat cookies and candy and chicken wings anymore, etc. (at least not for the foreseeable future), but I also make things like my salad dressing with 9 parts balsamic to 1 part olive oil. I do stir fry’s by coating the pan with olive oil spray (organic) and use ingredients like homemade vegetable stock and amino acid to cook the rest. I drink almond milk (the unsweetened version) and I use nuts but sparingly. I juice fruits and veggies and do NOT worry about the sugar as it’s “real food and thus real sugar”. And for snacking, besides fruit and kale chips with a variety of seasonings, I make copious amounts of olive oil popped popcorn seasoned with everything from nutritional yeast to curry powder. I’m just saying, that I have to be aware of limiting the amount of fat (which without those awful binges of foods like chicken wings) is already achieving half the battle. So let me conclude by saying, for some of us, eating low fat greek yogurt seems to be an area where I can comfortably give up some of the fat calories so that I can be free to consume the olive oils and avocados and an occasional turkey burger! I’ve been feeling great without obsessing anymore!!!

  45. My husband and I started the mini-challenges a few weeks ago and are almost to week 6. What are your thoughts on neufchatel cheese. It is marketed as reduced fat cream cheese, but I heard that it is just made the french way using milk instead of cream.

  46. So non fat Greek yogurt isn’t good for you? Great because I’ve been mixing it with real Quaker rolled oats and fresh strawberries and thought I was eating a healthy breakfast.

  47. My husband and I have been doing this weekly pledge of eating whole products. So far so good! We started on Monday. We have been snowed in from last weekend (blizzard on long island). My husband and I quickly went food shopping the friday before when the storm already began. And we went to the closest grocery store due to the weather.

  48. How much fat from olive oil and real butter (cery seldom) is allowed? I also get fat from nuts (just a bit of chopped raw almonds on my oatmeal every morning), and avocados,

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Juanita. It’s not a matter of what is “allowed”. We just try and consume everything in moderation. Jill

  49. I’m glad this post is here. The fact is that our body was designed to consume specific levels of certain nutrients. When all this nonsense about fat came to be, the initial recommendation was to limit the intake of cholesterol. I’m not going to post links to the 100s of articles out there, but here is how it works. When you limit your cholesterol to the obsessive degree that individuals limited it to as per MDs and “experts,” you create a lack of cholesterol in the body. So, your body says “hmm… I need more cholesterol, this is too – hey, liver produce me some cholesterol” In case, anyone was wondering, the liver does not have a brain. So, the quantity that it produces in case of a shortage will be in excess. As a result, in an effort lower blood cholesterol levels – you end up with high cholesterol. In addition, what the “experts” realized later was that dietary cholesterol does not affect blood serum levels. It is in fact dietary fats that affect those levels. In my opinion, the obsession with nutrients comes from the lack of knowledge when it comes to cooking and feeding one’s family. For example, in Greece they don’t worry about nutrients, but the traditional diets, which are still maintained, are naturally healthy and high in good fats (ie sardines, anchovies, herring, mackerel). In the US, the most popular fish is tilapia – not exactly a healthy fish. I’m sure the reader can make the connection here.

    1. All of this is so interesting. I don’t think it is necessarily a lack of knowledge that stops us from eating well. A lot of our confusion stems from the US not have a “food culture” since we are such a young country and almost all of us are immigrants at one point or another. It’s hard to try to emulate our family’s traditional, historical, ethnic European food culture. Which one to choose. I come from a German/French/Russian/English/Irish/Slovac background. Was I born to metabolize like an Eastern European or a Northern Atlantic European. I may eat like my mother and even my grandmothers but my great grandmothers either lived in Europe or an ethnic enclave here in the US. And they ate very differently from each other! When you add my husband and kids in you have to add Southern Europe as well. Americans have picked and chosen from many cultures for 100’s of years. The “melting pot” that we learned about includes food too! Thank you Lisa for helping us get back to basics.

  50. Michael Pollan seems to have been referring to products (cookies, yogurt, frozen desserts, etc) that have a bunch of ingredients. When the fat is removed, the manufacturer ramps up the sugar content (or adds weird ingredients) to make up for the lack of flavor or the weird texture in the low or non-fat version. But milk is just milk. You remove some fat and what remains is milk. They aren’t adding sugar to the milk to make it taste better. They aren’t adding chemicals. So I still haven’t seen a coherent reason to stop drinking low fat milk vs. whole milk. If you prefer the taste of whole milk, that would be a coherent reason.

    1. I just read the post on raw milk that included more of the Michael Pollan quote than what was included in this post. If what he says is true (i.e., that the extra fat in the milk helps our bodies absorb the vitamins) that would be a good reason to drink it. I’ll have to research this a bit more.

    2. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Kristen. I think the reason is that in order to get milk to low-fat, there is a lot more processing that happens. Hope that clarifies it. Jill

    3. There are a few reasons in whole vs skim milk to consider! I completely understand your point of view, because that was once exactly where i was. The best information i got was from our local dairy guy. We tested out whole raw milk to help w my sons serious allergies and my arthritis ( i was 27 when diagnosed). First- if you are not drinking raw milk, you are right, there isnt a real difference in skim and whole except less fat. The pasturization and homoginization removes many key vitamins and minerals, as well as beneficial bacteria. Second, the cows need to be grassfed rather han grained to gain as much health benefits from the milk. Same concept as raw local honey. Finally, and this is what stuck with me the most- he feeds the skim milk left over after his wife separates the cream for butter, etc to the PIGS! He said even in raw milk the nutritiional value is so low, its not worth the family drinking it! We drink about a gallon a week ( 2 adults, 1 toddler), and i am learning to use it in coffee, etc to counter costs. We have seen a difference :)

  51. We’re in! There are two adults and two kids in our household. I have never been a big fan of sugar-free and fat-free stuff in packaged food, but never thought about milk. We currently drink 1%,, so it will definitely be a switch. We’ll start off with a week, but I predict that we will soon switch over permanently!

  52. GREAT post! “We’ve gotten fat on low-fat products.”

    So true! I’m way healthier now that I just eat real food. No counting calories at all. My diet is filled with lots of healthy fats: coconut oil, butter, raw milk, nuts etc. It’s very important to recognize that “low fat” processed foods often means more sugar and sugar turns into fat. Thank you for your blog. Very inspirational!

    I’m curious, do you have an opinion on raw milk?

  53. I just wanted to say how thankful I am for finding your website. This milk post really made me want to search for local sources of whole milk. I was so excited to learn that there are two dairies left in our county and the one is within 3.5 miles of my house! I had no idea this market even existed and then I learned they also sell grass-fed beef! Without reading your post I would have never even looked for a source other than my grocery store. Thank you!

  54. Starting my first week with the mini-pledges. I love this one- wish more people understood how bad these products are for them! Especially now that anything “Light” or “Low Fat” will include the awful sugars such as sucralose!

  55. I make my own homemade almond milk in my Vitamix blender. I add some sweetener and vanilla and it is delicious. My son and I use it in our smoothies, and my son (19) will also drink it all by itself. Working on changing the husband’s attitudes :)

  56. My gallbladder has decided that functioning properly isn’t on its to do list. I am trying to avoid having it removed since I have an 8 month old and 2 other very active older children. I am on a VERY low fat diet right now, I am trying to keep it under 20g pery day. Any suggestions for what to do?? Thank you for the amazing inspiration on your blog!

    1. 100 Days of Real Food

      You definitely want to take your doctor’s advice first! I don’t know anything about gallbladders and what they need so I am not sure I can help you with that dilemma…good luck though.

    2. I had a similar situation – major gall bladder attack when my daughter was 6 weeks old (plus 3 big brothers), followed by several not so major ones any time I had fatty foods. When she was almost 3 months old, had the surgery and never looked back.
      I was told that I might have a hard time eating full-fat foods, but the only thing that has ever bothered me since is corn on the cob. ??? I love Trader Joe’s full-fat yogurt, but not a fan of whole milk. Like one of the other readers, I couldn’t force it down as a kid and never developed a taste for it until I discovered skim milk as an adult. I still don’t actually drink it – just use it on cereal.
      2 adults/3 kids going to take this challenge!

    3. I had my gallbladder removed 5 years ago. While no surgery is truly “minor”, it’s a minimally invasive outpatient surgery, provided you don’t have complications. I went in at 8:00 AM and was home by 2:30 PM that day. I was back to my normal self in less than a week. I had been having attacks for 2 months prior (most attacks resulting from eating fatty foods, some attacks random). While some people aren’t like this after the surgery, I went back to my old self. I’m so glad I went ahead and got it over with. No attacks of any kind, and I can eat anything I want without getting sick. But just because I “can” doesn’t mean I “do” eat anything, haha!

      I have to wonder if I had made the switch to “real foods” (esp hormone free food – hormones have a drastic effect on gallbladder function) before, if I would have had gallbladder issues in the first place. Who knows, but I’m glad to be on a healthier journey now. Thanks for this great site! It’s very informative as I work towards eating real, whole foods.

      1. I’m a biology student. I’m not a gallbladder expert; I don’t know what advice to give on that mater. But I do know that doctors often think they know everything: they don’t. Experts disagree among themselves. There is usually someone equally qualified who will give you a different opinion. I’m on the same page with Amy: the sooner, the better as far as changing your diet. I’ve tried the low fat diets and the low/no carb thing, and from my own experience I think such extremes are unhealthy. I read ingredients and eat differently now and I feel better because of it. I believe in whole milk, whole grain, real natural foods. Some people may be born with an allergy or intolerance and that’s unfortunate. That’s a different matter. Thousands of years of healthy populations speak for themselves. If you think you can do better than Mother Nature, good luck….

    4. My husbands family has all been the victims of gall bladder issues. After lots and lots of research, they all went gluten free and are so much better and got to keep their gall bladder. :-) My husband had his removed before they figured out what was causing it…and removing it doesn’t solve everything. There are just newer issues to be had. Hope you’ve found something to help or feel better…its been a while but im new to this site and just thought I’d share from my family’s experience in case you were still trying to find answers. Good luck to you!

  57. I was wondering what your thoughts are about plain Greek yogurt? It is non-fat but seems pretty healthy otherwise…we use it a lot for snacks and substituting in recipes.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Kate. I think plain Greek yogurt is great, but, you would be better off with a whole milk version. Having said that, I have not seen a whole milk greek yogurt. I have heard Trader Joe’s carries one, but, I have not looked recently. Good luck and give us an update if you find a whole milk greek yogurt. Jill

  58. Anyone have thoughts on Ice Cream, especially the 1/2 fat “double churned” ice cream which I’m sure they’ve added stuff too, but I also know you’re basically paying for air.

    1. Assistant to 100 Days (Jill)

      Hi Ashley. While I’m not familiar with the ice cream you refer to, I would suggest reading the ingredient label. My guess is that it probably doesn’t follow the 5 ingredients or less rule. In addition, it sounds like it might be low fat. Our team does not suggest low-fat products as you probably read in the post you were looking at. Finally, you may enjoy making the ice cream yourself. Check out this ice cream maker that our team likes…https://www.100daysofrealfood.com/my-kitchen-essentials/#tools. Jill

  59. Eeeek! I am going to give this a shot, but I must admit-I am freaking out about all the extra calories! I am trying to lose some weight.

  60. We were drinking whole milk only, and then I switched back to skim- and lost more than a handful of pounds. I’m nervous about switching back b/c I don’t want to put it back on! Has anyone else had any ‘whole milk/ weight gain’ experiences? This blog is helping us slowly transition our eating, and I do like whole milk better…. but I’m nervous!

  61. This assumes everyone who drinks not-whole milk only does so for the lower fat content, not because of the taste. I drink nonfat milk because I like the taste of it. Growing up, I would spend hours sitting at the dinner table, not allowed to leave until I finished my milk (whole milk). Once my mom brought home some nonfat milk and I never spent another minute staring at a glass of horrible white goo again. My (nonfat) milk glass was finished before I finished dinner. And sometimes I’d get a second glass. Whole milk is totally distasteful to me. I would rather give up milk completely than have to drink whole milk from now on.

    1. I completely agree Sherry! I don’t like the creaminess of whole milk or the taste either. From what I’ve read here I believe drinking skim milk is fine as long as I’m also eating natural butter and cream.. I still get nutrients from both. Also, I’m a tea drinker with milk normally, but switched for a few months to coffee with cream and really felt the weight difference! I think this site has great suggestions, but these life changes need to be made according to how you normally eat. I avoid low fat & light everywhere else, but milk has to be skim for me.

  62. I grew up drinking “raw Milk” we would buy it at the stable right out of the cow! When she got it home, my mother would bring it to a boil and quickly turn it off – as it cooled the fat would rise to the top and clump – she would skim it off and we would eat it as a topping for our bread or use it in soups such as carrot, pea or zucchini – it is delicious! In Spanish it is called nata- and the milk we drank warm – it is cold in Mexico City at night! It is still done that way to this day – when I visit my family they are still buying their milk from the dairy ranches near the city! In Europe it is also available – I believe the Welsh use the same process and call it clotted cream – and use it about the same. The beautiful thing about whole raw milk is that it makes great cheeses, and even when it sours because of its high fat content it still can be used. Look up Clabber, Creme Fraiche, yogurt cheese etc. etc. etc. Now that I live in a major city in the US it virtually impossible to find good milk – with all the subsidies you would think it would be easier!

  63. Just this evening I was buying butter–when I reached for the “light butter” version thinking I was doing a good thing, I was shocked at the ingredients list–
    LIGHT BUTTER: Butter (Cream, Salt), Water*, Buttermilk*, Contains Less Than 2% of Food Starch-Modified*, Tapioca Maltodextrin*, Salt, Distilled Monoglycerides*, Lactic Acid*, Potassium Sorbate* and Sodium Benzoate* (Preservatives), PGPR* (emulsifier), Natural Flavor*, Xanthan Gum*, Vitamin A Palmitate*, Beta Carotene* (color). (*Ingredients not found in regular butter.)

    The “regular” butter list of ingredients: Sweet Cream, Salt.

    I sure know which I’d rather eat. I just always assumed that the fat was sucked out magically but everything was the same. I was wrong!

  64. The movie Forks over Knives will change your outlook on milk and meat in general. Vegan is the way. Good luck!

  65. Yea for week 6!! We bought whole milk the other day so we are getting started. I’m going to check the fridge to see if there is anything else in there then we are set to go!! 2 adults, 3 children, for life!! :-)

  66. What are your thoughts about fat free half and half? I love to put it in my coffee. Do you think I would be better off just using a little bit of full cream?

  67. We are lucky to have a local farmer we are able to buy milk from. I was surprised how delicious it is and will have a hard time getting my family to go back to the store brand stuff. 2 adults 3 kids. We drink about a gallon of milk a day. Yeah I need to get a better job just to supply milk. Thinking about getting our own dairy cow. (we already raise beef cattle).

  68. 2 adults. I’ve been looking forward to this pledge! it’s so nice to just enjoy the full flavor of foods and not worry about fat content anymore. we’ve been drinking 2% but officially started local non-homogenized whole milk today

  69. I have read some of the same books and never realized how fat the low fat/non-fat foods can be. I feel totally deceived! My family can easily conquor this week as the even our milk is full of fat…just the way we like it! When I first came across your blog I though this was going to be terribly hard, but we are already really good about reading labels and only eating selective small ingredient pre-made foods. Still working on refining, but we have made HUGE strides. Thanks for helping me stay confident and know I am doing the right thing for my family despite all the push back!

    3 adults, 2 kids= 1 wk (and more)

  70. 4 kiddos and two adults. Thanks for posting! We’ve been doing a lot of the whole milk stuff for the baby, but it’s nice to know us adults can have the “good stuff” too!

  71. 2 adults and 2 kids here. After reading david guilespie “sweet poison” i have tried to reduce our sugar and I have dropped most of our low fat dairy products however the milk has been the one thing I haven’t changed. We drink reduced fat A2 but I shall try the full fat version.

  72. This one is great! We have recently done this in our family, we buy whole organic milk for our young son and decided to only buy whole milk for the whole family! No more low-fat anything in our home for this week and all the weeks to follow! Thanks for the great post!

  73. With regards to cholesterol and low fat products, Dr. Ray Strand’s book Healthy for Life is a must read! What’s bad about Greek yogurt? I’ve been drinking unsweetened coconut milk but my family still drinks 2 percent organic. I knew about low fat not being good but never equated that to milk for some reason. Will have to think about that!

  74. There are 2 adults here and we are in. I do eat the Yoplait fat free yogurt and we drink fat free milk. I will change those products for the week and maybe for good!

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