My Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead Review
Almost two weeks ago I hopped on a plane to vacation with three of my very best friends from grad school for a long weekend in Sedona, Arizona. Of course, amidst hiking in the red rocks, wine tasting in the vineyards, and browsing the shops in town, we talked nutrition. Of course we talk nutrition. So when we decided to spend our last night relaxing in our pjs while watching a movie, we settled on Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead (FSND), a movie I’ve seen buzz over in the Twitterverse, and a movie I knew I’d want to discuss afterwards with my three nutrition nerds. All I knew about FSND before I watched it was that everyone who has seen it suddenly obsesses over the need to own a juicer, and make juicing a regular part of their newfound healthy lifestyle. I already have my own opinions on juicers, but was open to having my mind changed.
The premise of the movie focuses on Joe, who had an autoimmune condition that caused a body rash for which he took a myriad of medications. He also ate horribly and did not exercise. He decided to make a drastic change, and went on a 60 day juice cleanse, which helped him lose something like 90 pounds, clear up his condition, and give him a new lease on life. Joe met a trucker who was in a similar situation and clocked in at over 400 pounds. I can’t remember the trucker’s name, but he asked Joe to help him kick-start his journey to better health, through juicing (and thankfully exercise) and as a result dropped half of his body weight. Doctors monitored both men closely, and all of their lab values improved and detrimental health conditions disappeared. The aspect of the documentary I liked was watching these two men transform their health from fast food, sedentary lifestyles to active, produce eating (er, drinking) men. I always like a good health epiphany story. I also liked that well known plant-based promoting doc, Dr. Joel Fuhrman monitored and helped Joe in his progress. One of my favorite quotes of the movie was his, and he said something like “If you want life long results, you need to make life long changes.” Truth. I also liked that there was a Boston-based registered dietitian, Stacy Kennedy, used in the film, and she focused on a healthy diet to make health improvements.
But the part I didn’t like was all that juice! I get why people think juicing is so beneficial: you take massive amounts of kale, parsley, apples, carrots, beets, ginger, and any other piece of produce you can get your hands on, churn it through the juicer, and get “all the benefits” of that produce in a glass. And who could POSSIBLY eat ALL that produce? I’ll tell you who: people who focus on eating plant-based diets. I’m not saying you have to be vegan to get all that produce in. But getting ample amounts of produce in your diet is a cinch if you truly make an effort to eat it at every meal and snack and fill your plate with plant-based foods, including things like whole grains, beans and nuts. The thing I like the least about juicing is that you separate the pulp from the juice in the fruits and veggies, leaving all that filling, heart-healthy fiber behind. So how on earth does juicing retain “all the benefits of whole produce” when you’re leaving behind one of the most health-boosting aspects? A glass of orange juice is not nearly as filling as eating a whole orange (which is higher in fiber at about half the calories as the glass of juice) and our body doesn’t recognize satiety in the same way from liquid calories (drinks) versus solid calories (food). Yes you’re getting beneficial vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phytochemicals, but that’s not the whole package.
Another part of the documentary I didn’t like was his differentiation between “macronutrient foods” and “micronutrient foods.” Let me give you some Nutrition 101: Macronutrients are carbs, fat, and protein. We need them in large amounts in our diet. They provide energy and calories. Micronutrients are needed in much smaller amounts but they’re no less important. They’re vitamins and minerals. Joe kept calling fruits and veggies micronutrients, and said to eat only micronutrients. And he referred to things like bread and meat as macronutrients, and to nix them from the diet. But Joe failed to note that fruits and veggies are carbohydrate-packed, making them foods that contain both macronutrients and micronutrients. They also have small amounts of protein if you want to get technical. And it’s totally wrong to label foods as macronutrients or micronutrients since most foods contain a combination of both.
And what really ruffled my feathers the most was the omission of a healthy diet. I know a healthy diet is not sexy, and drastic, life-altering diets sell. I do appreciate that juicing kick–started healthy behaviors in those featured in the film, but I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t think to just quit their disgusting processed, fast food diets and swap it for a plant-focused diet rich in whole foods. I can guarantee with 100% certainty that if the 400+ pound guy started walking or swimming 10 minutes per day and eating more whole foods, he would have felt better, lost weight, and eliminated most if not all of his obesity-related conditions. Why did they jump right to juicing? And why not smoothing? I just made that word up, but what I mean is why not smoothies instead of juice? With smoothies, you’re blending the food and keeping the fiber containing pulp in the mix while getting all the benefits of those whole foods. I’ve made fruit and veggie smoothies jam-packed with berries, dark leafy greens, fresh herbs, and more…including the fiber. With all that fiber in our diets, we’re fuller, more satisfied, and more likely to eat fewer calories. Hooray!
What about you? Did you see the documentary? Are you a diehard juicer? Or do you stick to smoothies? Do you think eating the amount of fruits and veggies featured in the film is unreasonable? Or do you, like me, love eating fresh produce far too much to ever pulverize it into a juiced form?