Juice fasts: Review of Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

A glass of green juice for a juice fastYes, I am aware that reviewing a movie released last April is a little tardy. With so many documentaries and reality shows about the food industry and extreme weight loss, it’s easy for the ol’ eyes to glaze over and miss one.

The official trailer pretty much sums it up. It promotes eating more food with micronutrients (fruits and vegetables) than macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates and fat).

It also unabashedly promotes Breville juicers.

You follow Joe Cross on a juice fast for 60 days. He interviews a diverse slice of Americans and introduces us to Phil Staples, a truck driver found at an Arizona truck stop. Phil fasts, exercises and undergoes an amazing metamorphosis.

A storyline we’ve all seen more than enough.

This film is rather sluggish and predictable…so why bother? Because it clicks with my previous discussion about cleansing and raises a few issues other documentaries ignore.

Besides, I’m a sucker for heartfelt weight loss stories.

Lessons learned from Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead

Healthy lifestyle includes personal responsibility. There is a plethora of documentaries that target the role our behemoth food industry, fast food, lobbyists and Monsanto play in our nation’s rising obesity and failing health. Critics of the film indicate that Cross ignores all socioeconomic factors and “places responsibility for good nutrition squarely on human willpower”.

I don’t disagree. But why NOT address willpower? We don’t know enough about that. We DO turn off a large slice of potential audiences by pointing fingers.

Almost all the people Cross interviews admit they were responsible for their health. Cliché as it is, it’s hard to argue when Cross quotes, “The best way to change the world is to change yourself.”

Accompany cleansing with other lifestyle changes. Of course you will lose weight solely drinking green juices. This movie also enforces the reality of exercise. Initially, Phil can barely walk for 10 minutes, something not acknowledged by those hardcore workouts seen on shows like The Biggest Loser. It touches on how the lack of participation from friends and family could deter you. It reveals that it might even take a complete job change to stay healthy.

“If you want to master something, teach it” (Yogi Bhajan) Joe Cross mentors Phil, who, while still significantly overweight, begins to teach others. Were his teaching opportunities manipulated by the film producers? Quite frankly, I don’t care. The light in his eyes tells us he is happier than he’s been in a long time. Bless the producers for giving him that chance. Teaching only enforces the lesson for both men.

Not everyone will jump on the juicing bandwagon based on what they see in Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. Some may firmly agree with one of Cross’ interviewees when he touts the “right to die  fat and happy”.

But it’s a nice look at how taking personal control of boosting micronutrients and losing weight can have a huge impact on your physical, emotional and social well-being.

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About Amy Johnson

Amy Johnson is a freelance writer with nearly 20 years of experience in community health education, non-profit program management and mental health counseling. Amy works on projects that promote greener, healthier living through pragmatic approaches. She is an avid fan of reality therapy, small town farmers markets and dishing out home cooking with unsolicited advice. You can also follow Amy’s adventures in realistic wellness.