Over the last couple of years my view on food has changed drastically. Here are five, must-see documentaries that will do the same for you.
1. Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.
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A 100 lbs overweight, taking tons of medication and suffering from an autoimmune disease, Australian entrepreneur and filmmaker Joe Cross takes us on a journey to gain his health back. He vows to drink nothing but fresh vegetable and fruit juices for 60 days. During his journey he travels throughout the US, meeting over 500 Americans, many of which are also suffering from weight-related health issues. This documentary is an inspiring story of change, determination and human connection. It was one of the first food documentaries that I’ve watched and since then I became a food-documentary junkie. After watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, we got ourselves a juicer and try to incorporate fresh juices into our diet as often as possible. Since the release of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Joe has released a sequel (Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2).
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Marisa Miller Wolfson is a food activist who decided to conduct a social experiment, selecting three, meat and cheese loving New Yorkers and switching their diets into a vegan one, for six weeks. That means no meat, no diary, no animal byproducts whatsoever. This documentary is what convinced me to try a vegan diet last year, and even though I only lasted for a few months, I’m hoping to give it another go this year. It touches quite a bit on the subject of inhumane treatment of farm animals and at times it was difficult to watch (some of the material is painfully graphic). I laughed and cried during this movie and found it incredibly inspiring.
3. Forks Over Knives
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Forks Over Kinves touches on the relationship between nutrition and degenerative diseases and the importance of plant-based diet. Just like other four documentaries listed here, it’s an eye-opener. It shines light on how much “bad” food we are really consuming and how it affects our health.
4. Food, Inc.
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Food, Inc. was THE first food-related documentary that I’ve watched. It shows how the way we eat has changed over the years and how the food industry “forces” us to eat. The powerful food companies focus on creating foods that are produced as fast and at a smallest cost as possible, which in turn causes us to eat foods that have little to no nutrition, loaded with artificial sugar, fat and chemicals. This movie was truly frightening to me watch, but it also carries an important message: we have the power to change that. I really wish that everyone could watch this movie and educate themselves about how much the small choices we make each day can effect the food industry and its tactics.
5. Hungry for Change
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Hungry for Change is a documentary that I could watch over and over again. Not only does it feature-among other leading nutrition experts- Kris Carr (the girl behind the “Crazy, Sexy Cancer” documentary and author of “Crazy Sexy, Kitchen”) who I LOVE, but it also touches on self love and acceptance. It exposes weight-loss industry, and shows how small lifestyle changes can lead to a full and healthy life. This documentary also features Joe Cross, the guy behind already mentioned Fat, Sick and nearly Dead and Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead 2. Hungry for Change is one of the most inspirational documentaries I’ve watched. I guarantee you that after watching it, you’ll want to clean up your fridge and fill it up with tons of veggies. fruit, grains. “real foods” and not ones filled with chemicals, hormones, fat and sugar.
As you guys know, I’ve had problems with my skin ever since I can remember. Few years ago, I suffered from cystic acne that was severe to the point where I couldn’t sleep because I was in pain every time my face rested on a pillow, not to mention not ever wanting to leave the house. No amount of makeup could cover it up and it was my acne, amongst other things I was going though at the time, that caused me to fall into deep depression my sophomore year in college. I even remember getting my hair done once, and as my hair stylist was cutting my hair, I was looking in the mirror, with tears rolling down my face. All I wanted to do is leave the crowded salon and go home and hide. I was sick and tired of going out shopping, especially browsing beauty counters at the mall, only to be told by the sales person “oh my, you poor thing look at your skin, my cousin had the same problem and she tried this…. and that…..”. A lot of people assumed that I lived on junk food….. one time my mom took me and my sister to a Chanel counter to buy us some makeup and the makeup artist looked at me and said “oh honey, you need to stop drinking all that soda”. Funny thing is, unlike pretty much everyone in my family, I hated soda and I always avoided junk food. People always assumed that they knew why my skin was the way it was, everyone had advice for me and it was the most annoying thing ever. It seemed that when people looked at me, they no longer saw me, all they saw me was my horrible, scabbed skin.
I then took a few nutrition classes in college and one of my professors, who was a registered dietitian has really inspired me to try and eliminate dairy from my diet (I pretty much lived on lowfat milk, fat-free yogurts, rice puddings, “healthy” cereal, etc.). When I switched to almond milk and coconut based yogurts, my skin all of the sudden started to clear up and I no longer had any digestive issues. I then gave up other processed foods and my skin got even better. Even though I never was much of a junk food eater and rarely touched anything carbonated (except for Redbull, how else was I supposed to pull off those all-nighters in school? ;) ) I was surprised at how many “healthy” foods in my pantry weren’t so healthy after all (I’m talking all those nutrition shakes, nutrition bars, “healthy cereals”, etc. ) I can’t even tell you how many times I went to a dermatologist’s office, only to be prescribed mega strong antibiotics that only made me sick. No doctor ever spent more than a few minutes talking to me, before writing a prescription. No one ever suggested that I try changing my diet. That was that “aha” moment for me, that’s when realized that “Let Food Be Thy Medicine” isn’t just some ancient saying that health freaks like to throw around.
Changing your diet to a healthy one can be a bit difficult at times. You have plethora of “experts” saying that their way is the best way. Some say meat is bad for you, some say you need it (my own grandma was told by her oncologist that she should eat more red meat and forget about the “greens”……. :| ) some say fruit is good for you, some will argue that it had too much sugar. At this day and age there are so many different diets and diet plans, books, movies, programs, this and that, it’s enough to drive a person crazy. If you feel overwhelmed by all of this, I can give you one advice: do what makes you feel good. I, for instance feel most energized and healthy when I eat fresh, unprocessed foods so that’s what I stick to. When I go out to eat, I do like to splurge once in a while, but even then I need to be careful because a lot foods (mostly meat, cheese and heavy sauces, dips etc.) leave me with horrible heartburn and that awful, “heavy” feeling in my stomach that’s guaranteed to keep me up all night. When I go grocery shopping, I always make sure to spend more time in the produce isle then all other ones (did you ever notice how in most super markets there is only one isle of fresh, “live” produce and about six or seven isles of processed junk? I believe this point was made in one of the documentaries mentioned above). Whenever I can, I visit farmer’s markets (luckily there is one in my town) or small health-food stores that support local farmers. I also almost always buy certified organic food and try to get eggs from a local source (as you will find out from “Vegucated” just because eggs are “certified humane” doesn’t mean they were treated in a humane matter).
Another thing to also remember is to not try and shove your ideas about healthy eating into someone else’s face. My sister often complained that there isn’t much to eat at my house whenever she visits, that there is only stuff that she doesn’t like. When I know that she and/or my brother are coming over, I’d still buy a bottle of soda for them since that is all they’ll drink, but in return, I’ll make a mega healthy dinner or a snack. At first they didn’t want to try any of my food and I always ended up ordering takeout for them. Now, whenever my mom comes to see me, my little brother always asks that she brings over “whatever Paula made for dinner” . I know that a lot of people, (sorry to admit this, but especially some vegans) fat-shame and and make fun of meat and animal-product eating people and it’s not something that I’d feel comfortable doing (I chose not to eat meat for ethical reasons, but I still cook meat for my husband, MOST of the time it’s without an hour-long lecture about unethical treatment of farm animals). At the same time, it’s not cool to make fun of people for wanting to get healthy. I, myself had people call me a “lettuce-eating rabbit”. Even though it was made as a joke, I still didn’t think it was fair to joke about someone wanting to get healthy because sometimes that’s all it takes for them to feel discouraged. Few years a go, I also had a friend tell me a story about a coworker making fun of a heavy-set friend for bringing a salad to work; she said something to the effect of “like that’s gonna help”. How horrible is that? Eating healthy isn’t just about looking good and being fit, but about FEELING healthy, having energy and being full of life. All it takes is a small change.