Thursday, March 24, 2011

Fat least he got something right...

Another roommate related post. I know... poor form. Really, though, if you met them you would understand. Not one to usually use names when calling someone an idiot, we shall spend this blog entry referring to this roommate as 'Jim".

I am not in the practice of telling people how to eat. I clearly have my opinion on what foods bring optimal health, but I am also the only vegan, much less vegetarian, person I know (internet friends don't count). It may be because of this that I am particularly unsettled by my obese roommates informing me that the way I eat is wrong. This is an interesting proposition, as I feel that, by being the only person in this apartment that doesn't have to shuffle my body sideways to get down the stairs, my meal plan wins by default.

I understand that life (and Hollywood) can throw us some confusing curve-balls. As I was making dinner the other night one of my roommates ("Jim") decided to scoff at my soaking beans as inadequate fuel. My response, in as flat a tone as I could muster, was to point out that this was cheaper and healthier than a double cheeseburger. Jim then begin attacking the documentary 'Super Size Me'. That's a very interesting approach, as I hadn't brought up that particular movie in conversation. Nor had I used that in any arguments with Jim to support my choice of beans and greens over meat. Why are some people so easily threatened?

For those who haven't seen 'Super Size Me', you really should. It, like most other independent documentaries, has its flaws. Changing two variables that are fundamental to one's health, Morgan Spurlock makes a radical dietary change overnight from a largely plant based diet and stops exercising. This would automatically cause someone to gain some weight, but once you look past the exaggerations present in the documentary you can still see some incredibly valid arguments.

1. McDonald's does not care about the health of the consumer. They are a business, interested in what turns a profit. Cue their incorporation of what are quite possibly the world's highest calorie yet nutritionally weak 'salads' into their menu in the midst of a "health craze".

2. The average American does NOT go out of their way to read the nutritional information. Yes, if you try hard enough you can come across it but how many of you are actually doing that? The general behaviorments are usually as follows:
"I know it's bad for me, I don't need to look at the nutritional information to know that. Geez, are you some sort of dummy?"
"I don't care."

3. Morgan Spurlock questions where the line between personal and corporate responsibility lies. He doesn't answer that question, instead he leaves it up to the viewer to decide.

That is generally what I, personally, took from that movie. I didn't see it as Morgan Spurlock necessarily blaming McDonald's for the obesity crisis, but simply calling attention to our country's poor eating choices.

Jim has apparently read about a movie called 'Fat Head' that supposedly (and this is a direct quote) "destroyed everything Mogan Spurlock said in 'Super Size Me'." I hadn't seen it, so I decided to take a gander. Jim insisted that the creator, Tom Naughton, doesn't diet or count calories. Apparently he ate whatever he wanted and still lost weight. I can't lie to you, my friends, I was intrigued. This man must be some sort of medical marvel! I questioned his blood test results (not simply choleterol, but vitamin levels, etc.) and Jim proudly informed me they were perfect.

Jim's false sense of pride makes me a little bit sick, so we can gloss over the fact that he has not made ANY personal victories through Naughton's documentary. He is still a fat ass who now, thanks to Tom Naughton, believes he can finally begin to shed those two hundred extra pounds by eating his daily hot dogs. I have to say I am curious at the logic being used here... if he hasn't lost weight eating in what seems to be preparation for a long standing pie-eating contest then what makes him think the weight loss is going to start now?

I decided to figure it out. I signed onto Netflix and immediately searched for 'Fat Head'. Like most documentaries, they had already moved it to instant-watch. I have many thoughts on this movie. Steady yourself, because quite honestly, I hadn't mentally prepared myself enough.

'Fat Head' opens with creator Tom Naughton discussing the possibility for one to lose weight while eating fast food. At his preliminary doctor's appointment before he starts his new 'diet', Naughton is informed that his beginning cholesterol is over 230. This number is already above average, and when compared to his weight (over 200 pounds) and the fact that he is 31.2% body fat one can see his is already the anti-Morgan Spurlock.

This whole opening scene was interesting for me to watch, as everyone complains that because Spurlock was so radically healthy he suffered from more side effects because of his new diet. Is Naughton's debut really so different? He's simply at the other end of the spectrum. Medically considered 'obese' with high cholesterol, Naughton's solution is to eat at fast food joints for one month and lose weight by eating a low carbohydrate diet and by consuming less than 2000 calories per day while ramping up his exercise routine. I suppose Jim must have just glossed over that part.

In contrast to Spurlock's arguments, Naughton's are as follows:

1. Carbohydrates are the enemy. His consumption of fewer calories will lead to weight gain. This is simply REVOLUTIONARY! I'm not quite sure I can understand what is supposed to move me by his elimination of fries and less than 2000 calories a day paired with daily exercise. It's been done before with the same results, but honestly how many Americans are successfully utilizing the golden arches as a dietary supplement?

2. Health food stores are the enemy. Their attempt to sell us 'vegetable oils' are causing huge problems in our diet. How about screwing the oils, Naughton, and eating the actual vegetables? Oh wait. They don't sell those at McDonald's.

3. Fat people who exercise are healthier than naturally thin people. This seems skewed. Gasp. It is! In a quickly glossed over moment, Naughton conceeds that this is only geared at thin people who don't exercise. So what we're really getting here is that PEOPLE who exercise are healthier than those who don't? Shocker.

4. Spurlock exaggerated the lack of nutritional information. If you wanted to walk to the next McDonald's to get the nutrition facts you could. Another laugh. How many of you would actually do that? I like exercise and I'm totally into reading about what I'm eating, but I wouldn't even go that far. Though I'm just one person, so considering the average American is absolutely swimming in free time, I'm sure they would love to.

5. It's the vegetarian's fault. No, really. Naughton credits his weight gain to having been "talked into" being a vegetarian. So much pasta! Well, Naughton, stuffing your face with processed carbohydrates really isn't the fundamental platform of vegetarianism. We can sound it out together if you want 'vegeta-rian' sounds like it has at least PART of the word vegetable in it, doesn't it?

Copious amounts of pasta will make anyone gain weight. Instead maybe consuming whole grains with those vegetables and beans you probably weren't eating at the time would have been a healthier choice. Just sayin'.

According to Naughton, radical vegetarians are uneducated when it comes to the effect carbohydrates and sugars have on the body and instead blame all health issues on meat. I actually snickered. Vegetables are clearly famous for giving people their high levels of cholesterol, and vegetarians are forced to guzzle bowl after bowl of pasta to feel sustained! It's amazing I've lasted this long without developing diabetes or getting fat!

The National Cattlemen's Beef Association makes more money off of telling you that meat is essential to health than actually being honest with you. Will it kill you? Probably not if you eat it in moderation, but I can't make any promises.

At least we can all agree on something: eating too much of anything will make you gain weight.

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