I recently watched the documentary Hungry for Change, which provides an in-depth look into how what you put into your body affects your general health. This film is a must-watch for anyone interested in health and nutrition, but there are a few takeaways everyone should hear.
Avoid Sugar, Not Fat
The majority of diet foods jump out at us because the labels scream “FAT FREE!” But, fat free foods are typically full of additives and a ton of sugar. Even foods we generally consider healthy can be deceiving. For example, greek yogurt brand Chobani has come under pressure for misleading labeling and high sugar contents.
Here’s what Hungry for Change has to say about sugar:
- “Sugar is in everything. In America we’re eating about 22 teaspoons of sugar a day.”
- “It’s not fat that makes you fat, it’s sugar that makes you fat.”
- On eating foods filled with sugar that don’t fulfill our nutritional needs: “People are over fed, but they’re also starving to death.”
- “Sugar is without question the cocaine of the food world.”
- “If you walk the aisles in the average grocery store and you look at the amount of sugar in a child’s breakfast cereal, you might as well be rolling up the kid’s sleeve and putting in heroin, because it’s the same thing.” (Ok, extreme, but gets the point across)
The simple takeaway from Hungry for Change is that sugar is addicting. Ever wonder why you plan to only have a few bites of ice cream, but then, magically, the entire pint is gone? Hungry for Change explains that when you eat sugar it stimulates a part of your brain that creates dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter. Then, as our dopamine levels begin to drop, we crave the same feeling… thus, leading to sugar addiction.
The film also stresses that we need to expand our definition of sugar to truly avoid it. Refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta, turn into sugar as soon as they enter our bodies. It’s not just white sugar that we should avoid, but all refined, processed carbohydrates (think: cereal, white bread, crackers, cookies, etc.).
Health is A Lifestyle, Not a Diet
Whenever I hear someone talk about a new diet, detox, or cleanse they’re on, I honestly can’t listen. Diets don’t work. They may work in the short term, especially if you’re on a “cleanse” that only provides about 1000 calories a day. But, as soon as you return to your normal eating habits, the weight returns. Maybe I’m biased because of my love for working out, but any short-term diet that restricts calories and instructs you not to work out while you’re on the diet is bad news in my book. (10 Truths About Juice Cleanses)
- “I think we’re barking up the wrong tree. People are looking for a result that is superficial, they’re looking to look good. And they don’t really consider that that could be done from the inside out. So people go into diets and fads in order to lose weight and lose weight fast, and that’s just not the way to approach it.”
Hungry for Change promotes the idea that weight loss and health come from a change in lifestyle, not from limiting, constricting, painful diets. They suggest shifting your thoughts from “I want that, but I can’t have it” to “I can have that, but I don’t want it.” If you add fruits, vegetables, organic lean meats, and healthy fats (e.g., avocado, nut butter) to your diet, your body will no longer crave refined carbs and sugars.
- “The problem is we are no longer eating food, we are eating food-like products.”
- “Inevitably you’re going to feel so much better eating the good stuff, that the choice for the bad stuff is no longer valid.”
Beauty Comes from the Inside Out
Listen to this:
- “The truth is that we are programmed as a species to be attracted to the people who look good. Why? Because they’re the healthy ones.”
- “The skin is a true symbol of our health because it’s the last place to get nutrition. If you can drive all those nutrients through to the skin then you know it’s gotten everywhere else too.”
- “Your skin looks better when you’re eating a diet that’s low glycemic. As a matter of fact that’s one of the first things that happens: your skin, your nails, your hair begin to look better.”
- “Ultimately, that to me is what we’re striving for: a deep richness of skin tone, a deep richness of hair, a luster in our nails, an overall feeling of shine and glow, almost an aura. This is possible through natural foods.”
I mean, if the thought of having fabulous skin, hair, and nails isn’t enough to get you to change your diet, then I don’t know what is.
My favorite takeaway from Hungry for Change is that health and nutrition go hand in hand with self-love. The film addresses the fact that we need to let go of feelings of guilt and shame about our bodies and food. It’s absolutely crucial to find self-worth in ourselves as we exist today, not as we hope to be one day. This message needs to be heard. You only have one body, and you have it as it is right now. Love it, accept it, and do everything in your power to treat it right.
- “Whatever you hold in your mind on a consistent basis is exactly what you will experience in your life.” -Tony Robbins
- “The concept of loving yourself is the key to all of it.”
- “As a doctor, let me tell you what self-love does. It improves your hearing, your eyesight, it lowers your blood pressure, it increases pulmonary function, cardiac output. So if we had a rampant epidemic of self-love, then our healthcare costs would go down dramatically.”
Overall, Hungry for Change will (hopefully) change the way you view food. The film isn’t perfect. It seems to be vegetarian focused, and stresses juicing as the best way to get vegetable nutrients. But, the film’s overall message of promoting nutrition and self-love makes it worth the watch.