My Top 10: Food and Health Documentaries

My Top 10: Food and Health Documentaries

I confess: I love watching food documentaries! Not surprising from a certified Nutritional Therapy Practitioner and self-proclaimed slow-food lover, right? Even if you don’t have this same enthusiasm for food and health documentaries, if you care about aging gracefully, feeling great or watching your family live healthy lives, kick back on the couch flip on the Netflix and enjoy some edu-tainment. 

The mass confusion around the all-too-pervasive question, “what should I eat?” has been created by design. With the constant rotation of new diets and gym memberships to buy every January, there is a clear market for getting healthy. The question is, how much of “getting healthy” is about what you eat? Check out my #Top10 list of food and health documentaries for some insight.

1. Seed: The Untold Story (2016) Trailer: 

Did you know that our food source is on the endangered species list? This film has to be my favorite food documentary to date. For one, it’s not advocating for any one eating style — it’s about the bigger picture. As a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner, I know eating style is a bio-individual activity that depends on many factors. Another reason to love it is the global nature of the story it tells. This is a story that effects all humanity around the world. I also love that the film’s website provides a free discussion guide for groups who want to screen the film. In fact, I’m helping to organize one such group right now! (contact me if you are interested in joining the fun in Delray Beach, FL on Feb 22, 2018). If there is any one film you choose to watch, let it be this one! This film explores the sacred nature of food, our physical and mental health, freedom of life and a major threat to our food source. Learn what steps you can take in your daily life to help make changes in our food marketplace.

2. Sugar Coated (2015) Trailer: 

Dive deep into sugar-industry documents as researchers follow the 40-year coverup that mirrors Big Tobacco’s path. With heart disease skyrocketing after government standards with “My Plate” failing and fatty liver disease becoming a diagnosis for children, this film tells an eye-opening story that will have you second guessing the core of our cultural celebrations. 

 This film is a favorite to recommend to my clients who take The RESTART® Program with me and are looking for some motivation for their own sugar detox.  Watch, listen and be a witness to what’s called the “biggest food cover up in history.”  

3. Fed Up (2014) Trailer: 

“What if our whole approach to the obesity epidemic was dead wrong?” Katie Couric asks in the opening of this film. The perfect question for a film that takes a much-needed look at what the U.S. culture has been sold to believe regarding weight loss. 

As they point out, 80% of our food products in the U.S. have added sugar and at this moment in history we are in one of the “great public health epidemics of our lifetimes.” Why then, are we lying to our kids? Throughout the film, several stories of well-intended families with children help the kids try to lose weight without success. 

My only wish is that I can reach through the screen and help the children and families reach their goal by realizing that food-like products and lots of exercise are not the answer to reaching their goals. It’s time to face the lie we as a culture have been sold… that when we want to lose weight all we need to do is “just need to move more.” As Dr. Robert Lustig notes, “a calorie is not a calorie anymore.”  

4. GMO OMG (2013) Trailer: 

What the heck is a GMO? This film explains. You’ve heard the acronym flying around sure… but do you know what GMOs really are? Do you know where to find them? Do you know how to avoid them? Most of all, do you know the health consequences of GMOs? If not, it’s time you find out and this film is a great way to start! 

Proponents of GMOs say that there haven’t been enough scientific studies do fully provide causation that GMOs or pesticides cause cancer. But there has been correlation between the two. When it comes to life and death matters, I don’t know about you but I don’t want to be, nor did I give my consent to be, a human science experiment! Correlation to cancer is enough for me to want to avoid GMOs, so the question becomes, how do I avoid them? 

Do you ever eat conventional (that is, not grass fed) meat and diary in the U.S.? Then you are eating GMOs. Chances are, if it’s not organic or grass fed, it is most likely GMO filled or fed. GMO’s create new allergies, they lower nutrition, they make food toxic and lower our immune response, to name a few. And they are now pervasive in our food system. If there is something unavoidable in most of the food readily available in our marketplace, then don’t you think we have the right to know what’s in it?   #KnowYourFarmer

5. A Place at the Table (2013) 

Shifting the conversation to hunger in America, A Place at the Table explores why 50 million Americans are “food insecure” —  meaning they don’t know where they will find their next meal. From the makers of Food Inc., this film illuminates since the 1980’s we’ve been presented with charity as the only solution to alleviating hunger. This, they say, is noble work but it’s only a temporary solution to a broken system. “Why are we hungry?” is a much easier question to ask than, “why is there poverty?” the film points out. The question of poverty is much harder to answer because — like it or not — it’s a question of power and class. The filmmakers point to education and awareness as the key in revising this problem. As one teacher shares, when she teaches children what vegetables are and how they grow, then they are curious and begin to like them. An important story to understand, this film takes a look at hunger in our great country and an opportunity to create new solutions to a real problem  often overlooked. Hunger is in the land of opportunity and it’s time to take on new solutions to avoid being — as they say on the film poster — “One Nation, Underfed.” 

6. Hungry for Change (2012) 

If you’re sick and tired of feeling like no matter how much you exercise you can’t lose weight, then you might be hungry for a change. This documentary exposes the diet industry, flipping some of our basic conceptions about weight loss. As they note in the trailer, “the whole dieting paradigm is flawed.” 

As human beings, we are programmed to eat more and put on weight during a shortage of food. How then could counting calories (like they do in many major dieting programs) ever work for sustaining weight loss (and creating a healthy lifestyle)? The answer: it can’t, it doesn’t and it won’t ever work to count calories and do a deprivation diet. Since we don’t learn the basic life skills for self care anymore, it’s time we understand that the $60 billion dollar diet and food industry does not have our best interest at heart. This film makes some great points to help us begin to shift our mindset when it comes to sustainable and healthy weight loss. 

7. In Defense of Food (2008) 

Filmmaker Michael Pollan, author of the 2006 New York Times article Voting with Your Fork, sets out to answer the question, “what do I eat?” It’s a universal question, he says, that his readers continue to ask him. 

Why is there so much confusion around what to eat anyway? It seems it should be a simple thing. Hunger is a natural human response the body gives to urge you to act daily. Pollan names, “Nutrition-ism” as the answer of why eating has become complicated. “Edible food-like substances” are processed foods, he says. They have labels and are somewhat loud in their marketing. “The quieter the food, the healthier the food” he notes. “We are omnivores,” Pollan says, we have managed to create a healthy diet from what nature provides in cultures around the world. I love this guy! His simple recommendation: “Eat food. Not too much, mostly plants.”   

This film also takes a fascinating look at “the genius of milk” — human breast milk that is… and it’s connection to our digestion and immune system. 

8. The Human Experiment (2013) 

The chemical industry was born out of the need to find a way to use warfare chemicals post-wartime. Now, we eat them. And as this film notes, “Chemical use has gone up dramatically in the last 50 years.” These are the chemicals that now surround our daily environment. What we eat is one thing but what about the pesticides on our food, how we store food, what we put on our skin, the products we use in our homes, the air we breathe, the materials we wear, etc.? 

This story explores the impact chemicals have on those with conditions like infertility, cancer, PCOS and learning disabilities, to name a few. It pointedly says, “We’ve allowed these [chemical] industries to get away with murder.” 

We have to recognize that we absorb what we put on our skin and personal-care products are filled with chemicals that disrupt our body’s natural processes. At some point, we pay for this and dearly. It’s a must-watch for anyone who wants to maintain a healthy, high-quality standard of living for a lifetime. 

9. Prescription Thugs (2015) 

From the UFC to Elvis in the White House, the abuse of prescription medications is pervasive and long-standing in the U.S.A. This film shines a light on the dark topic of dependence on prescription drugs. The filmmaker poses the question, are we “A nation of prescription thugs?” by sharing his personal journey with his brother’s opioid addiction and his own.  It serves as a window into the world of wrestling, and parallels it as a microcosm of the country (U.S.A.) at large. 

While the conversation follows the WWE, they note this is not a new problem and likely goes on everywhere — all professional sports and beyond athletics. To paint the picture of what this abuse looks like, one professional wrestler shares how his addiction unfolded, starting with 5 pills a day, 10, 20 and then a 90-per-day pill addiction. While I noticed that this film didn’t get the greatest reviews, I have to commend them for taking on a tough topic: that of corrupt doctors, overdosing celebrities, the lack of self love within addiction.  A worthy watch with so many lives affected by prescription drug abuse. 

10. What’s with Wheat (2016) 

Is wheat really a neurotoxin? Some medical experts say it is.  As author and nutrition expert Sally Fallon says in the film, “If you don’t think we’re in a crisis, you’re not watching…because we have an extreme health crisis for our children today.” I was so impressed by this film I’ve written about it before so check it out here

I hope you’ll grab a healthy treat and watch some of my #Top10 list!  Then let me know your favorites in the comments below. I know you’ll be entertained and will certainly learn some valuable information along the way. 

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