To be honest, this was actually not a typical movie choice for me. I might be a food/healthy lifestyle blogger, but there are a lot of movements that I don't generally buy into. For instance, I'm not a huge fan of 'The Biggest Loser'. Why? I think they do a great service for morbidly obese people to get them to a point where they can then do 'normal' activities without difficulty, but the lifestyle they teach is not something that can be maintained in the long run. There have been finalists and winners that relapse back hundreds of pounds. Those people go back to their jobs, their families, and their food and need to be able to cope when a literal and figurative carrot isn't dangling in front of them.
I also really dislike one-sided arguments. Michael Moore movies bother me (I don't like people who yell a lot in general). I have read Michael Pollan's books, and the best thing about them is that in one he admits that he doesn't have all the answers. Because I think food, food policy, and the social aspects of food complicate the story in ways that he never gets to. I will say that I really enjoyed 'Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution' series, but that's because he really exposed America's problem with food in a new way and had to 'learn on the go' how to reach people.
Ok, so now I've let you in on why I generally wouldn't choose this movie. But I did, and so you probably want the synopsis and the review.
Joe Cross suffers from an autoimmune disorder that is making his life miserable. He has tried all of the modern and alternative medicines that he can find, and nothing is helping. He decides to drastically change his diet via a 60 day juice fast, which he does while facing his enemy in the food-lover's haven: the USA. Along the way he interacts with a variety of people, talking about food, lifestyle, and morbidity and mortality. He also recruits two 'real world' examples of everyday people to try his method.
Hopefully I didn't give too much away! Ok, the review:
-Joe Cross is likeable. He doesn't come off as pompous. He's a little self-depricating. He's understanding when people disagree with him.
-He seeks and acquires the correct medical supervision.
-The auto-immune disorder gives him a good case for removing unnecessary stimuli in the form of food from his diet.
-He talks with experts. One expert, Joel Fuhrman, who is a medical doctor, has built his career around a new food pyramid with a plant basis. This isn't a vegetarian or vegan food pyramid. It's just a new way of thinking about food consumption (and the fiance will attest: even though I had no idea about this pyramid, it's how I cook and eat). Here is the pyramid:
Plant based High Nutrient Diet and Weight Loss.
-He gets regular people to try it and they like the results. They stick with the program. This will become more important when I get to the things I wasn't crazy about.
-He never talks about calorie consumption. He isn't trying to sell you a 1200 calorie diet. One of the regular people weighs over 400 lbs. He gets to start by drinking more juice. Obviously, 400 lbs requires more fuel than a 200 lb person.
-The juicer he uses isn't fancy-schmancy. It's a Breville. You can buy them at any big-box store. He does have this battery generator that lets him juice out of the back of his car, but that's not neccesary. One of the regular people in the film just juices enough to fill a pitcher in the morning and carries it around with him for the rest of the day. It shows two reasonable ways to juice all day if that's what you're going to do.
-He doesn't demonize specific foods or the people who eat them.
Not for me
-Juicing as your only source of food? I don't think it's necessary. However, juice does contain less fiber than whole fruits and vegetables, so it will be better for people who are transitioning from a low-fiber diet. One of the regular people talks pretty candidly about her GI problems when transitioning to the juice fast. The influx of 'micronutrients' really does a number on the osmotic pressure in your intestines. Diarrhea is a normal side effect. (Want more details? How diarrhea and food poisoning works)
-He never talks about calorie consumption. We all know that if you want to lose weight, calories in << calories out, right? Well, that's never addressed. The experts claim that you don't really have to measure calories because the nutrient dense foods keep you full, but I'm going to say that people can still gain weight with that mentality. I am a bigger fan of the counting calories (at least initially) or listening to your body and understanding how that correlates to calorie consumption.
-He's really very wealthy. He can fly to the US on almost no notice. He's spent his lifetime building his wealth, and while he does work, he is the boss of his work. In fact, only one of his regular people continued to work during the fast. And one of his regular people actually decided to change jobs because of this lifestyle change (was a truck driver, now works at the YMCA). This is probably not a good lifestyle for those of us who work 40+ hours per week or are in a transitional period of our lives because it requires so much dedication and control.
-While all three of the people profiled in this documentary had major medical problems that are not understood by modern medicine: migraines & auto-immune disorders. I definitely think a healthy lifestyle is a way to keep these problems under control and that weight loss is going to help regulate the way your body responds to stimuli, but I don't think a juice fast is the only way to do it.
-Finally, I am afraid this is going to become a weight-loss gimmick. And it shouldn't be.
Ok, so my final grade for this movie was B+.
Not too much propaganda. Involved real, everyday people (from Iowa!) and was narrated by an approachable enough person. It was fun to watch. You wanted people to succeed. And there wasn't too much demonization of specific foods or the people who ate them.
What is your favorite diet or food and lifestyle philosophy?