A couple of nights ago Jamie Oliver‘s programme ‘Eat to save your life‘ was aired on Australian TV. In a country where the amount of junk food restaurants practically out number the people, a programme like this couldn’t have come a moment to soon. Australia is a nation it seems that really does need to have the blindingly obvious message drummed home to the masses.
(Fast Food x Every day) + (Excess Fat + Disease) = Death
The show was aimed at those members of the public who believe that the gherkin in their Big Mac counts towards their 5 a day. It was designed to pick them up by the scruff of the neck and give them a bloody good shake, and a smack around their ketchup smeared chops. Nothing that Jamie Oliver said isn’t already common knowledge and in fact just basic common sense. He simply pointed out that if you shovel huge amounts of crap down your throat you will not only gain weight and look like a bouncy castle, but your body will buckle under the strain and your over inflated internal organs will eventually give up and stop working. More than likely a good few years before you are actually ready to give up on life. He also spelt out, by way of statistics and shocking test results that to continue with their junk fueled diet would put them at risk of a whole host of life threatening conditions, including heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
The 18 calorie guzzling guinea pigs on the show all had several thing in common. They lived on take aways, rarely if ever touched a vegetable and barely owned a saucepan between them. They were all classified as either overweight, obese or morbidly obese by their BMI. They also seemed unable to put 2 and 2 together and realise that if you fill your body with saturated fats, sugar, salt and preservatives, and then run a mile from any nutrients or vitamins, you are inevitably going to look more like Miss Piggy than Miss Universe and probably won’t live long enough to meet your grandchildren.
One of the volunteers had her daily food and calorie intake laid out on a table for all the world to see. While she wasn’t massively over her recommended calorie intake (2550 for men and 1940 for women – UK Department of Health), the food that she did eat all arrived in a cardboard box on the back of a delivery bike. Her wake up and smell the cooking oil moment came when she was told that from her daily diet, just the one Latte coffee and a small bowl of crisps that she ate every day would cause her to gain a whopping 3 and a half stone over the course of the next 15 months – pushing her from just plain old obese to morbidly obese. This news and the estimated weight gain shown in an expanding image of her on a nearby screen was understandably enough to make her second chin start to wobble with the shock. It just goes to show that when it comes to food, moderation and self control definitely seems to be the key.
Perhaps the biggest wake up call of all was the autopsy performed by Dr Gunther von Hagens on the body of a 25-stone man, who literally ate himself to death. While there’s nothing like a little late night slicing and dicing to have your recently consumed dinner churning in your stomach, it did make for fascinating viewing. Once over the initial shock of seeing a human body being cut up and flapped open, seeing the massive amount of damage caused to the heart, lungs and liver by years of excessive eating was enough to make you push away the nearby packet of biscuits and reach for a carrot stick.
On the bright side, the best thing about obesity is that it can be cured and better still it can be prevented. Damage to bodies can be reversed and life spans extended. Parents can educate their children to eat well and in turn try and stamp out the rise in childhood obesity (read other article). Ideas and attitudes towards food can be changed, if the motivation to do so is there. I’d have to say that for most people surely the idea of staying alive is a pretty big motivation in itself.
Of course surrounded by treats, sweets and temptation at every cashiers till, very few people could honestly say that they live a completely healthy life or would even have the will power to try. And who would want to, life without any comfort food and empty calories would be very dull indeed. The trick it seems is to reach a happy medium and balance out the Yin and the Yang of unhealthy, healthy and good old fashioned exercise. Perhaps the answer is to have a take out as a treat, but then eat it while strapped to a treadmill. Or eat an entire block of chocolate, but wash it down with 3 litres of detoxing spring water..
I like a slab of Mud cake as much as the next person. I’ve actually just got through 2 pieces while writing this. There is of course a valid reason for being a pig today. I need extra insulation to survive a winter in Perth and I sense I will need a bit of a sugar kick to get through the dinner, bath and bed routine today. Mud cake aside, I like to try and stay as healthy as possibly. I have cut out meat, I drink Green Tea and I try and limit myself to 1 packet of Tim Tams a week.
Because I have children I would never want to knowingly do anything that would prevent me from being there to see them grow up, and in turn have their own children. I want to live for as long as possible, watch them turn into exactly what they will say they will never be and then watch them constantly nag their own offspring about eating all of the vegetables on their plate.
So let’s hope that people like Jamie Oliver continue to use their fame and positive influence to try and scare people into facing up to the facts and turn their life around. Someone give the man a medal or better still a knighthood. If actors, pop stars and talk show hosts deserve one, then surely so to does someone trying to save the lives of both this generation and the next.
Because so many people are trying to find copies of this show, I have found a website (based in Oz) that sells both a VHS or DVD version of ‘Eat to Save your Life’.
Cost: VHS-$54.95 (+ plus P&H)
DVD -$54.95 (+ plus P&H)