These documentaries will change the way you look at food, health, and the relationship between the two – and you can watch them all through your Netflix account.
Get ready for some serious food for thought…
Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead
Weighing in at almost 23 stone and suffering from an autoimmune illness that leaves him covered in painful, itchy rashes, Joe Cross knows his health needs an overhaul, and decides to go about it in a pretty extreme way – by travelling 3,000 miles across America, drinking nothing but fresh fruit and vegetable juice for 60 days. Along the way, Joe meets hundreds of Americans and attempts to get them to reconsider their own eating habits too, and whilst he might not hit home with all of them, you won’t believe the results you see on his protégé and fellow autoimmune sufferer, 30-stone trucker Phil.
Watch it if you’re: Sticking to a strict diet plan – if Joe can juice for 60 days, you can resist that bar of Dairy Milk! It’ll also show you the benefits of plant-based eating, and whilst you might not convert completely, you’ll definitely be more determined to hit your 5-a-day.
This eye-opening 2011 documentary follows three New Yorkers who agree to go vegan for six weeks to see the impact that this overhaul will have on their lives. With the support of director Marisa Miller Wolfson, Tesla, Brian and Ellen learn some surprising truths about veganism – some fun (yes, you can still eat Oreos) and some frightening (there are some pretty disturbing scenes showing the plight of animals in the food production industry, which are not for the faint of heart). As the trio struggle through six weeks of peer pressure, family gatherings and holidays, will they all manage to stick it out? And once the project is over, will they just go straight back to scoffing steak?
Watch it if you’re: Interested in understanding the importance of ethically-sourced food. Unlike Marisa’s participants, you’re probably not going to go vegan overnight, but you’ll leave with a greater appreciation of where your food comes from and probably find yourself reaching for free-range options more often.
To most of us, a trip to McDonalds is an occasional treat, but for filmmaker Morgan Spurlock it becomes a way of life, as he decides to exclusively eat food from the Golden Arches for one entire month. The rules are that he has to eat everything on the menu at least once, and if he’s asked whether he’d like to supersize, he has to say yes. Morgan’s experiment (which he conducts under the watchful eye of several doctors) highlights the dramatic impact that fried, greasy foods can have not only on your waistline, but your internal health and mood as well, and you’ll be surprised how addictive your weekly or monthly burger is shown to be.
Watch it if you’re: Having trouble weaning yourself off fast food – once you’ve seen what the influx of fat, carbs and sugar does to Morgan’s body, you’ll think twice about chowing down on a Big Mac and fries.
Food Matters is a particularly controversial documentary that explores the relationship between the American diet and its pharmacutical industry, and the potential of food and natural remedies to supplement medicine. Whilst it’s not always relevant to the situation in the UK, because we have the NHS, it still makes fascinating viewing – not only does it make you truly appreciative of the system we have in place, but it might cause you to consider how much medication could be reduced if the public followed a healthier way of eating. As one of the contributors comments, ‘Good health makes a lot of sense, but it doesn’t make a lot of dollars.’
Watch it if you’re: Wanting more in-depth information about the issues associated with genetically modified food, and the benefits of organic produce. Food Matters may also be of interest to anyone suffering from chronic illness – it’s not by any means a magic cure, but eating sensibly can make a surprising impression on some conditions.
Hungry for Change
The diet and weight loss industries are multi-billion pound machines – and whether you realise it or not, you’re probably being manipulated by them. This documentary shows how food manufacturers exploit consumers by using marketing strategies that promise them a lifetime of happiness and health, whilst feeding them food which isn’t actually that great for them. Exposing the truth behind everything from diet cola to the milk we give our kids, Hungry for Change will open your eyes to the one diet you should be sticking too – a fresh and natural one.
Watch it if you’re: An emotional eater, and/or a sugar addict. Hungry for Change explains the science behind both, and will tell you a) how it’s not your fault, and b) how to fix it for a healthier future.
Ever wondered how the food you’re eating gets to your table? Or what that ridiculously long list of ingredients on the back actually means? Food Inc. gets under the skin of food production and shows you the way that companies are making lower quality food and charging higher prices for it – at the cost of small farmers and public health. The journey your food takes to get to your plate is a jawdropping feat – one that might empower you to change your mind about the type of products you put in your trolley. As the strapline for this documentary goes, you’ll never look at dinner in the same way again.
Watch it if you’re: Infuriated by the fact that fresh fruit and veggies bump the cost of your food shopping up so much (our mummy blogger Anneliese, who’s trying to feed her family 5-a-day, every day, can tell you a little something about that!)
Jeremy Seifert is a father of three on a mission – to uncover the potential damage that genetically modified organisms (GMOs) could cause to our children, our planet, and our ability to choose as consumers. Speaking to a diverse cross section of the population, Jeremy learns that most of the people don’t know what GMOs are, not least the impact they could be having, and his quest to speak to the big food bosses and question what is really in the food we’re eating makes us begin to question why no one wants them to know.
Watch it if you’re: Concerned not only about what you’re putting into your own body, but what your kids and kids all over the world are eating too – and the world we’re establishing that will be left to them. Whilst we don’t yet fully understand the impact that GMOs may or may not have on humans and their enviroment, it’s definitely an issue that’s worth your awareness.