Thursday 11 August 2011

Whole milk...

Yesterday I went into a Cafe Nero for a coffee. I asked for a latte and then had this exchange with the barista:

Me: “Would you make it with full fat milk please”

Barista: “No fat? Yes of course”

No, FULL fat please”

Barista: “Oh! Full fat? We don’t have full fat, I’m sorry. You know,
(with a smile) I think you are the first person who has asked me for that in two years!”

I have conversations like this one almost every time I go for a coffee. Except at my local deli, where they understand the value of drinking whole milk, just as it comes from the cow!
(Well, that’s unless you count the fact that it’s been pasteurised, which I wish it hadn’t). At least it’s organic, full fat and non-homogenised. And they offer all the options: full, semi and skimmed.

What is wrong with FULL FAT MILK?

Is it fattening?
Is it unhealthy?

We’ll actually NO, it isn’t. In fact, not only is not fattening - as we know fat is not fattening, unless we eat more of it than our body needs, in which case everything is fattening... carbs, protein, and indeed fat. Eaten when we are hungry (for milk is a food, not just a drink) full fat milk is (and FAT in general) is GOOD FOR US.

The propaganda against full fat milk has been so complete and pervasive over the past decade that it’s almost impossible to find a coffee made with it these days. The power of choice has been taken away. Starbucks use it and so do Costa, but Cafe Nero, Pret a Manger and many of the smaller coffee places just don’t even have it available. In fact Pret a Manger have told me they don't offer it because they have a duty to be responsible when it comes to health, so they decide for us!

And even the cafes who do have it often hear my request for full fat as a 'no' or low fat! They are so used to people asking for low fat they assume that's what I want. The Nero barista was not the first to comment on how unusual it is for someone to ask for full fat. "Especially a woman", they sometimes add!!

This is a sad an sorry state of affairs. The misleading and frankly erroneous message about whole milk and the evils of fat have been drummed into us so completely that most people now no longer
like full fat milk! Women I speak to say they don’t like the taste, it’s too creamy and rich. We have been weaned off that which is natural and whole and healthful. Today the milk we drink may look like milk (except for skimmed which looks like the water I used to wash my gluey paintbrush in at school!) but we may as well drink water for all the nourishment we get from it. I mean, why drink milk at all? If we want to benefit from the goodness it has to offer, if we want nourishment from our food as well as tastiness (is that a word??) then it’s worth considering the following:

1. Our bodies cannot digest the protein or absorb the calcium from milk without the fat.

2. Vitamins A and D are also fat-soluble. So you can’t absorb them from milk when all the fat has been skimmed off (this makes fortified skimmed milk the biggest sham of all — you can pump fat-free milk full of a year’s supply of vitamins A and D, but the body can’t make use of them).

3. Milk fat contains glycosphingolipids - types of fats linked to immune system health and cell metabolism.

4. Contrary to popular belief, low-fat and fat-free diets do not help prevent heart disease. New studies have revealed that the link between saturated fat and heart disease is tenuous, at best. In fact, studies now show that eating saturated fat raises good cholesterol — the kind of cholesterol you want and need in your body.

6. Foods that have not been processed are better for us than processed foods. Milk with the fat taken out is processed. The nutrients in
whole, un-processed foods have a natural synergy with one another — that is, they work best and are most beneficial to the body when they are eaten together, whole, as they come.

7. Homogenized whole milk isn’t whole. When you buy homogenized milk, you’re buying a whole food that isn’t whole — it’s had it’s fat removed, evened out, and injected back into it in an amount less than when it comes from the cow! They don’t put all the fat back in - they leave about 1% of it out so that they can standardise fat levels and taste…

And again… just to make a point FAT is not fattening. OVEREATING is fattening. Eating foods our bodies does not need is fattening. FAT is healthy and tastes good. FAT helps us feels sated and less likely to overeat.

I’m on a mission (you may have gathered!) to bring back whole, full-fat milk in cafes across the land! I keep asking for it everywhere I go.

Want to join me?


  1. In defend of full fat milk: I drunk the REAL milk a week ago. Milk from a REAL cow. Milk with a thick coat of cream floating at the top. It was yummy! I love it! Here in Germany, they have fromage frais with several versions according to fat percentage. I made an experiment and compared the taste of 0% fat, 20%, 40%. The last one is definitely the best! Especially with a little mountain of strawberries....I love full fat milk! Shell we produce T-shirts?

  2. I love the idea of the T-Shirt. May just have to make myself one :-)

  3. I made a choice to only drink full fat milk and cream as I wanted to be able to absorb all those lovely vitamins. I drink cream out of the tub if I'm hungry and it's really satisfying. Cholesterol is good for you, it's even in mother's milk and any deficit is made up by the liver.. it's natural and it's essential for our survival. By the way, I'm a healthy size 10 and 70% of my diet is fat - fat is not fattening!

  4. Really good point - unfortunately I don't like the taste of milk at all on its own, but would prefer whole milk in coffees etc - I will check next time I go to a coffee shop. On a parallel note, I always ask for butter in cafes rather than the low fat spreads they often put out for scones etc and I always ask for mayonnaise in my sandwiches - I love it!

  5. Sophie, while I agree with the general sentiment of this, I also feel the tone of it drifts into the good food (whole milk) vs bad food (any other type of milk) area...

    My understanding of BC is that it is about removing these sorts of restrictions, so why shouldn't I drink skimmed milk if I actually enjoy it? I have opened up my choices enormously since first reading the book several years ago, and if I feel like drinking whole milk, I do. In the same way as if I am hungry and want to eat some chocolate, cheese, mayo or any other processed food, I will. Most of the time I really don't want the taste and texture of full fat milk in my tea/coffee/cereal etc and so I choose skimmed or semi-skimmed instead. Being my own guru, I am not going to suddenly start drinking only full-fat milk, because it isn't the right thing for me.

    But reading this post did momentarily bring back a small part of that horrible "food guilt" feeling I used to get when I ate something 'naughty' when dieting...

    I thoroughly agree that the choice should be there - and I hope I haven't upset anyone with this!!
    Sophie S

  6. I'm with you on this one. While I prefer semi-skim to go with a piece of chocolate cake, I love a cuppa with full fat milk. It just feels more cosy and satisfying :)

  7. Hi Anonymous,

    The first thing I want to say is you won't ever upset anyone here (that is any of the Chocolate Fairies) by saying what you think. All views are welcome as long as they are put (as yours was) respectfully and with good will.

    I do understand what you're saying about good food and bad food and yes, we do hold that as a way of thinking about foods with BC. It's NOT helpful to beat ourselves up and have rigid rules about what's good and bad and then feel guilty when we break those rules. BC IS indeed about freedom from all that guilt, the shoulds and the shouldn'ts. AND, once we have debunked the rules and the myths, once we are truly our own Gurus and we allow ourselves to CHOOSE what to eat... that also gives us the power to choose what NOT to eat - if anything. And that's the point. These are personal choices, every one of them. I may have views about foods I choose to eat and I may decide there are foods that I prefer not to eat - and that's me being my own Guru, making choices that are right for me. You are of course free to choose what kind of milk you have. I am not suggesting anywhere in the post that people should ONLY be offered full fat milk. I am not saying anywhere that other kinds of milk are bad of shouldn't be a part of your diet. What I AM doing is highlighting how the choice in many cases has been removed because full fat has been labeled, incorrectly as unhealthy. I am fighting for my right to decide which type of milk I have. You have that right too and I would not suggest that you have to have the kind of milk I have. I am also giving information I have found which supports my view that there is nothing wrong with and that there may a lot of good in, full fat milk and that in some ways lower fat versions may be less nourishing. You may not choose your milk on the basis of vitamins or nourishment and that is 100% fine. Or you may have other information which you trust and feel that the milk you choose fits your definition of what's healthy - and that's fine too. Does that make sense to you?

    There is another factor to consider in relation to BC and the principles. Once we have reclaimed the 'Eat whatever you want' principle - the next step is to look at how we make choices about what we eat, if we want to do that. That can only be done in a balanced way if we truly believe that we will let ourselves have what we want without judgement - and that comes from practicing the principle. Once we know that, once we really have removed the old rules, the diet like mentality towards foods and the rigid good and bad labels, we can decide that we would rather eat less of certain things and more of others because we like them or think they are good for us for whatever reason... the point is to make those decisions for yourself and to feel good about the choices you make.

    I hope this has helped to clarify how my post fits in with the rest of the BC message... come back to me if not!

  8. I love this post! I don't drink a lot of milk but I do have it in tea, coffee and cereal. I decided a while ago that I prefer the taste of what they call 'blue top' milk here in New Zealand which I guess is full fat milk. I refuse to believe the small amount of milk I have in my tea and on my cereal is going to do any damage! As you say its the amount of food not the food.

  9. I grew up on a dairy farm... we always had lovely fresh whole milk - as much as we wanted! Interestingly, my mum said the other week that she now only drinks Skimmed Milk!My Dad, thankfully, still has access to fresh milk..

  10. I always ask for full fat milk in every coffee shop, i prefer it, the coffee tasts nicer and will seek out full fat coffee shops, and complain loudly in semi skimmed only places. I even been to a bakery which only served semi skimmed milk, i mean for goodness sake, a bakery! "oh no miss we don't do that, would you like a donut with your coffee?"

  11. My mum has owned a transport cafe for over 20 years and I was the one who told her to stop selling full fat milk and swap to semi skimmed!! That was about 15 years ago, when I was a serial dieter. She had a few disappointed work men for a while :-(


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