I’m a little embarrassed to admit that this nutrition coach stopped watching nutrition documentaries a few years ago. So….over eight years ago. It felt like they were repeating things I already knew. And I wasn’t looking to spend 2 hours listening to people say things I agreed with.
I watched Food, Inc and a couple others back before the kids. They were part of my dive into seeing how nutrition could help me improve my mental health when I was stuck in a cycle of depression & anxiety relapses every 2 years. The changes I made then significantly improved my mental health, physical health, and overall life. But fastforward a couple years, and I was more about mindless Greys Anatomy reruns than more documentaries about how our food can make us feel better.
But I decided recently to dive in. I wanted to see what was out there and what I might be able to recommend to clients or clients’ parents in the case of my pediatric clients. Plus I fell into a habit of either listening to podcasts or documentaries while I do low intensity workouts. I know, I’m a nerd.
Sugar Shocker Docs
In the last week, I watched both Fed Up and That Sugar Film, both on Amazon Prime. They take slightly different approaches to looking at the thesis they both share – that the overconsumption of sugar, primarily in processed and refined foods, is the primary contributor to our nation’s epidemic of chronic disease and obesity.
Fed Up goes about it from the investigative journalism point of view with Katie Couric leading the charge. It considers both the systemic issues (the tomato paste on pizza counting as a vegetable for school lunches) and the stories of individual adolescents caught up in the mix. It is heartbreaking to listen to these kids talk about their bodies and hear doctors or parents list the litany of health issues the kids face. Perhaps the hardest part, as a mom, is hearing how the kids blame themselves. Yes, I cried. No, that doesn’t surprise you.
That Sugar Film attacks the sugar problem from a different angle – personal experimentation. Now, n=1 style experiments are not considered data. We’ll get that objection out of the way. But they do make for a good story. I won’t ruin it for you, but let’s just say is it shocking how much your body can change – physically and physiologically right down to the bloodwork – in only a month.
There’s quite a lot of overlap between the experts consulted for both films, and it’s the usual suspects of the low carb world. There are wildly mixed feelings about experts like Gary Taubes and Dr. Mark Hyman in the nutrition world, and David Wolf (in That Sugar Film) has no real credentials aside from a large online presence. They build their case without noting research that contradicts their theory, but such is the world of documentaries, no?
The Nutrition Coach’s Verdict
In the end, they both boil down to the simplest version of our own nutrition philosophy taken staright from CrossFit’s “Fitness in 100 Words”:
“Eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat.”
So queue them up for your weekend viewing and let us know what you think!