Super Size Me

Yesterday (although I’m still awake, the day’s rolled over) I rented Super Size Me from Blockbusters. Interestingly enough, out of the 9 Blockbusters in Brampton (a city of 350K + people) only 1 had this title available.

Just 1.

And trust me, I was there while my sister called them all. Either the title was flying off the shelves (unlikely) or there are exactly 9 people in Brampton who are able to/want to watch this documentary. That’s a sad commentary on the state of society, in my opinion.

The premise of this movie is simple. Inspired by a lawsuit brought against McDonalds by two obese teenagers, Morgan Spurlock decides to embark on a McDonalds diet. His intent was to eat only McDonalds products for a period of 30 days and evaluate its effects on his health.

In my honest opinion – this is one documentary you should watch. I’ve watched Farenheit 9/11 and Super Size Me is far better executed in my opinion. Super Size Me has a more documentary ‘feel’ to it than the belittling tone that Farenheit 9/11 engages in. It’s engaging, maintains its focus, deals with a topic that we wrestle with (or should wrestle with) daily and is genuinely eye opening. Personally, I was surprised by just how…radical the effects of his diet were and taken aback by some of the points he brought up. It’s sad that this documentary came out during the same period as Farenheit 9/11 and the election campaign of possibly the most divisive presidency the United States has ever known. It’s sad because it’s message is one that all of us in developed, ‘first-world’ nations have to take to heart. Namely – we are what we eat.

Obesity is a growing problem worldwide (no pun intended) and nowhere is this more obvious than at your neighbourhood grocery store. Walk down the aisles of a typical Sobeys, A&P, Loblaws…whatever you can find. High fat meats, pre-breaded deep fried dishes, high fat entres, hot fast food, creamy sauces, refined carbohydrates, high sugar cereals, candy, carbonated drinks, sugared milk. Heck – there’s even aspartame/sugar in bran. With this glut of unhealthy food facing us, with our high stress lives, its so easy to reach for that package of crackers, for that candy bar.

I know – because I still catch myself reaching for those Breton crackers.

Healthy, pre-packaged foods aren’t that easy to get a hold of either. You’d figure that in stores that are larger than the Hagey Hall auditorium (in terms of square footage) you’d be able to find some healthy, pre-packaged items fairly quickly. No, no – you thought wrong. Read those labels. Low fat? They probably added aspartame, sorbitol, sucralose or another artificial sweetener. Low carb? Even worse – they probably upped the total fat. Says “healthy” on the cover? Check that nutritional panel. Shocked by the fact that a single meal bar can pack over 300 calories? 300 calories in under 7″? Heck, I could eat a banana, apple and an orange and make 300 calories. Or a whole wheat ham sandwich with veggies. And, as a bonus, I’d actually feel full afterwards! Oh – and definitely watch those cereals. They’re a lot scarier than you think.

It’s hard. It’s hard to find those foods, to pack a lunch for yourself everyday instead of buying that Jamaican patty at the Engineering C&D, to stock up on fresh fruit and eat that instead of the bagel you can buy for $0.55 CDN. But I think its worth it.

Sometimes I feel like I’m swimming against the tide. I think that for guys especially, it’s almost un-manly to talk about restricting one’s self. Leave that to the girls right? I mean – we can drink as much as we want, eat the fattiest, unhealthiest foods and revel in it, boast about being lazy – that’s what we want right?

I say: “Bullshit”.

It doesn’t have to be that way. I don’t want to grow up into the middle-aged, pear shaped office worker. I don’t want that beer belly/pot belly. And I wonder – as I see people around me eating with abandon – do people not care? The argument I hear most often is: “I go with whatever’s cheap”. Isn’t your health more valuable than the money you’ll save now?

Why aren’t we (as in all of us) caring now, before we gain those extra 10 lbs? Are we reactive by nature? Or just the hubris of youth?

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