Yesterday I wrote about healthy food, unhealthy “food,” and how we’ve created industries that confuse the two, leading to people eating things they don’t like and avoiding things they do. The day before I wrote about the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead (view for free here, view trailers here).
Since food can be such a rewarding part of life when you find ways to actively enjoy it, many books, movies, restaurants, and so on inspire people by removing the deception and confusion “food” vendors create to sell their products. Once you realize how much joy and reward food can create, you love it. Many have inspired me. A character in Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead inspired me most recently.
The movie’s main thread is a fat, sick guy getting healthy by drinking fruit and vegetable juice for two months. It’s like a homemade movie — it looks like a couple friends recorded him unscripted.
He meets a trucker, about four-hundred pounds, with the same sickness. The trucker, it turns out, has let go of more and more things in his life, correlating with his increasing weight since he swam competitively in school, to the point where he seems to see nothing to live for. His family asked him how he wanted his funeral handled, pointing out the extra costs and complication of burying a four-hundred pound body. He avoided his son out of shame.
The trucker gives a heartfelt appeal for help to the main character, who in turn helps him switch his diet — nothing more. He just has him drink only fruit and vegetable juice for ten days. He also puts him in a hotel, I think to move him out of his usual environment (echoes of the Method).
In ten days the trucker loses significant weight. More importantly, he enjoys the experience, so he goes for another ten days. Losing more weight, he continues. Then continues more and more. He switches from Wal-mart produce to organic and begins leading talks at the health-food store on how to eat better as he continues to become more fit. Both characters’ sickness — a rare skin condition — goes away and they can stop taking drugs to treat it, suggesting the skin was reacting to their diets.
But the fitness and healing, I believe, merely outwardly indicate the meaningful change. It looks to me like he learns the amount of control he has over his body and life and the freedom that control creates.
Food can create great joy, pleasure, and reward. It can bring people together and create community. I believe we evolved to feel and behave this way about food.
“Food,” on the other hand, seems to create nearly the opposite. “Food” and the industries that create it promote lethargy, passivity, ignorance, and short-term stimulation over long-term health and emotional reward.
More insidious, confusing food and “food” leads to helplessness in finding ways to avoid the outcomes of eating “food.” If you don’t know a way out exists, what can you do?
Tomorrow: more on the reward of food