On Netflix I just watched Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead, the documentary about the Australian man, Joe Cross, who had chronic hives and was overweight and got better by going on a 60-day juicing fast. I’ve heard so much about this film, and I’ve always rolled my eyes because of the title. It’s so melodramatic (the movie poster doesn’t win me over, either). I decided not to watch it. Almost nothing annoys me more than quick fix fad diets, general food quackery, and the people who try to sell you on these outrageous “nutrition plans.” It’s personal–when you have someone in your family who’s gone through an eating disorder, you get protective. I don’t like the word “fast.” I don’t like anything involving food that is extreme.
So anyway, I only watched the movie because yesterday, our youngest son Dragon, a teen, was diagnosed with hives that may or may not be recurrent. The whole idea scares me…he already has a dangerous tree nut allergy and mild asthma, and now, it seems, when Dragon’s core body temperature heats up, his brain gets his histamine levels going and he responds with hives. This is my beloved athlete son. I hate that health issues could stand between him and his soccer dreams in any way. Already his other dream of going to the Naval Academy, where his dad and grandfather went, has pretty much bitten the dust. They don’t let anyone in with asthma or food allergies (we’re still hoping he can get a medical waiver, but chances are slim to none).
When I got home from the allergist, I started reading about other people with this recurrent hive problem that Dragon may have, and it wasn’t pretty. It got me more and more worried. I have to stay grounded and believe that Dragon’s case won’t go that far. You know how the internet can scare you. But one thing leaped out at me in my research: someone recommended the movie Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead.
It was a sign. I had to watch it, even though when my own beloved sister asked me to watch it last month, I said no. I had no idea that Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead had anything to do with hives until yesterday’s perusal of the internet after the allergy doctor visit. I thought it was only about weight loss. I downloaded it immediately and watched it avidly because let me tell you–it’s fascinating. It’s also uplifting and inspiring.
It’s not just hives that may get better when you consume a lot of micronutrients through juicing vegetables and fruits: many illnesses can essentially be cured or alleviated. Think diabetes, heart disease, chronic migraines, and a host of other health problems.
The content of this documentary is grounded in good science, too. Dr. Joel Fuhrman was on it–he’s the guy who wrote the national bestseller Eat To Live, which Elise has talked about before. I read that book a year ago and decided that I couldn’t go as far as what Dr. Fuhrman recommends, which is an all-plant diet, basically. But he’s right, and everyone in the medical world agrees: a plant-based diet is the healthiest diet. It’s just that many of us don’t want to commit to that lifestyle.
So, back to the movie, it’s really given me hope that maybe if we incorporate more fruits and veggies into our diet–in a major, semi-extreme way–that Dragon’s hive symptoms might be seriously alleviated. Plus, going from 5% of our diet being fruits and veggies to anything higher can only help. That statistic applies to almost every American: only 5% of what we consume is fruits and vegetables. Sixty percent of what we eat is processed foods.
I never realized it, but I am living an extreme life already–an unhealthy one. I want to flip flop those percentages. I want 60% of my diet to be fruits and vegetables and only 5% processed foods!
As I begin this journey, which will start with purchasing a juicer today–an inexpensive one under $100–I’m a little scared. It’s costly, juicing. But the farmers’ market opens this weekend. I should be able to buy huge bundles of kale and spinach at a reasonable price. And as the documentary points out, we spend much more money on prescription pills and getting better from horrible things like heart attacks than we would if we’d only try to prevent these diseases from happening. And I especially like that Mr. Cross makes very clear that we need to move our bodies. At the end of the movie, he says it’s about so much more than juicing and/or fasting–good health is about balance.
Watch the movie. I think you’ll enjoy it. One thing that struck me was how every single overweight person on it admitted that it’s his or her own fault that they keep choosing to eat fast food and chicken fried steak. Some wanted to change their habits but were afraid or didn’t know how. Others decided that they’d rather die young and happy, so they planned to keep eating themselves to an early grave, consuming truly unhealthy foods because it brought them pleasure. Everyone has to decided for themselves how they want to live. This documentary reminds us that it’s not about the food–it’s really about us, what we believe, and what we want from this one, precious life we’re given.
Do you juice? Have you seen this documentary? What percentage of your diet is fruits and vegetables?
Hi, I’m Kieran. My family loves music and anything that makes us laugh out loud. Along with Chuck, my husband of 23 years, I try to teach our kids that we have to actively choose happiness–and if I accomplish nothing else as a mom but pass that one lesson along to them, then I think I’ve done my job.
My oldest guy, Nighthawk, was diagnosed in kindergarten with Asperger’s syndrome, and now he’s a junior in college; his sister Indie Girl, who’s younger by 16 months, is a college sophomore; and my youngest, Dragon, is in ninth grade. For our family, it’s about managing your weaknesses and wringing everything you can get out of your strengths. And along the way, finding joy.