Michele Grgas Thomas The Triplicate

This past weekend Rick and I watched the documentary "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead." We heard about the film from friends who had just seen it and were inspired to change their diet dramatically. I was very intrigued and wanted to learn more.

Like several other movies I found thought-provoking and educational, the video store stocked only one copy of "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead." However the movies about hangovers or catastrophic future events each had about 20 copies on the shelf with most of them rented! I only needed one copy of my movie and it was available on a Friday night in Crescent City. Supply and demand at work.

The movie is about Joe Cross, an Australian who is about 100 pounds

overweight and suffering from an auto-immune disease. Miserable, Joe

comes to the conclusion that he's spent more time worrying about his

wealth than his health and sets out to reset his priorities. He

"reboots" his body by going on a 60-day fast. He allows himself only

juices he makes from fresh fruits and vegetables as he travels across

the United States to distract him from his fasting. Along the way he

meets and interviews many people including Phil, an obsessed man "just

one cheeseburger away from a heart attack."

I've probably lost half my readers at this point in the plot because

most of us aren't in Joe or Phil's condition nor are we willing to trade

food as we know it for two months' worth of juices. One of the scenes

of the movie I remember vividly is a fasting Phil watching steaks sizzle

on a barbecue on the 4th of July. How could you trade a kale drink for


The fact that both Joe and Phil lose weight, cure the symptoms of

their ailments and are transformed into healthier and happier men is

just part of the story. The most important message, I think, is one

about nutrition and what our bodies really need in order to outsmart the

grim reapers like obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

Apparently this movie is not all that new, although I hadn't heard

about it until a couple of weeks ago. It was screened at the Sonoma

International Film Festival in April 2010 and won the Turning Point

Award for a film most likely to make an impact on viewers. I'm not sure

why it took so long for it to get on my radar.

After seeing it, I believe the turning point is NOT that we will all

go on juice fasts to lose tons of weight and cure all our ills, but that

viewers like me come away from the film knowing more about what foods

are healthiest to eat.

Joe Cross's physician, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D., presents a food

pyramid that has vegetables andndash; andfrac12; raw and andfrac12; cooked andndash; as the base. Fuhrman

recommends that 30-60 percent of our calories come from vegetables.

Next up on the pyramid are fruits and beans/legumes (10-40 percent of

calories) followed by seeds, nuts and avocados (10-40 percent); whole

grains and potatoes (20 percent or less of our caloric intake); eggs,

fish and fat-free dairy (less than 10 percent), while he suggests we

rarely eat beef, sweets, cheese or processed foods.

If you Google "food pyramid" you'll find many different flavors.

Television personality Dr. Oz's pyramid builds up from vegetables, then

grains, then fruits, followed by protein with dairy at the top (smallest

percentage). Both his and Dr. Fuhrman's pyramid are different from the

USDA pyramid. And there are many variations out there. But it's probably

a given that if we were to follow one of these pyramids to the letter,

with special attention given to portion sizes and number of servings, we

would indeed be better off.

It's known that portion control is a huge factor in a healthy diet.

If you go to the USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion's web



you'll find explanations and guidelines about servings and portions.

This information is helpful for making good choices about how much to

eat. For example, a medium order of French fries (4 ounces) is

equivalent to 4 portions of vegetables on the USDA pyramid. If I'm

trying to intake only 1600 calories a day, that 4 ounces of French fries

represents 2/3 of the vegetables I should have in an entire day.

"Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead" is just one movie out there that's an

eye-opener when it comes to getting healthier through the food we eat.

If you haven't seen "Food, Inc." (2008) or "Supersize Me" (2004), I

recommend a foodie film fest with this trio of films to start. There

should be at least one copy of each at your local video store and

perhaps even at our library.

Reach Michele Thomas, the Del Norte Triplicate's publisher, at

mtandshy;hoandshy;masandshy;@triplicate.com, 464-2141 or stop by 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.