Eat your fruits & veggies

applesUnnamed Partner and I agree on most things, but when it comes to teevee shows, we probably disagree more often than not. Sure, we’re both addicted to a handful of things like “Sherlock Holmes,” “30 Rock,” “Miss Marple,” “Law & Order: SVU,” MASH re-runs, etc. But one of the genres we never agree on is reality teevee. I don’t really know why, but I can very easily get addicted to a lot of these shows, and Unnamed Partner can not stand any of them. (Sure, there was season 4 of “Amazing Race” with Reichen & Chip, and season 7 of “Survivor” with that feisty Sandra. And occasionally I can get her to watch a few minutes of “Top Chef.”)

Honestly, though, I’m bored with those shows as well. All of the contests seem to be wannabe models and actors and they have watched so many seasons of these shows that there is very little new to watch. And I stopped watching the latest season of “Hell’s Kitchen” after just a couple episodes because there was so much screaming of name-calling and obscenities that I felt as if I had walked into a dysfunctional household full of mental health patients.

But one show that has me hooked is “The Biggest Loser.” Now, it’s true, I often watch while eating or having a beer.  And it’s also true that I could stare at Jillian Michael’s shoulders all night long. (I guess she probably wouldn’t let me do that, right? But hey, a girl can dream.) And in my defense, I always have just one beer when I watch.

Seriously, “The Biggest Loser” still seems unscripted to me (although the product placement has really gotten annoying), unlike the other shows that seem to have very little “real” left in them. Maybe “The Biggest Loser” does re-takes too, but when you see that big girl on the treadmill, you know it’s for real.

I also think this show is a snapshot at what we as a nation have become/are rapidly becoming. When I taught middle school, I was shocked at how many obese kids were in every class. I’m not talking about “husky” boys. I’m talking about children who could not comfortably fit in their desks. But it’s no surprise, really, when you look at what’s served in the cafeteria. I used to joke that it was always a beige meal. Chicken tenders, french fries, cheese pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken patty on a white bread roll (with mayonnaise). Fruit and vegetables? Sometimes there were bananas. Sometimes red jello that had a piece of pineapple suspended in the middle.

But the kids never complained, because this is what they’re used to eating. Kids today are used to eating fast-food as a regular part of their diet — whereas when we were young, it was a special “treat.” For example, I remember going to the McDonalds near our house when it was one of our birthdays. It was next to a small airport and we would sit and watch the planes take off and land. (Oh dear god. I am an old fart!)

Anyway, food today has become so much more about convenience and indulgence than about keeping our bodies going. On the “Biggest Loser” episode last night, the contestants went home for a week and had to keep up their diet and workout regimen. Most of them went out to dinner with their families, which is reasonable because that’s what we like to do. But I was struck by the one woman whose husband gorged himself on a cheesy, greasy burrito and then gleefully said he’d be having desert, too.  This guy looked “heavy” but not obese. Yet. But his wife was mortified that he would continue to eat like this, especially given that she is trying to lose weight on a teevee show and really change her life.

There’s  a lot of food talk these days, and people seem to be more aware of where their food comes from: Locavore, slow food, vegan, omnivore’s dilemma. But if you do nothing else, please stop and look at what you are putting into your body. It’s one life. Right now. Right here. You can choose to sit on the couch and eat pizza and see how long that life lasts. Or, you can eat your veggies and go for a walk every day, and see how long that one lasts. I’m betting on the latter.



  1. Two things come to mind: moderation and variety. I have always contended one should eat to live, not live to eat. Plus, “reality” tv is an oxymoron.

  2. Morgan, I do try to practice moderation — The Biggest Loser is the only reality show I watch!

    (And as I said, I only have one beer while I watch!)

  3. I think the childhood (and adult as well) obesity epidemic is a direct result of the fact that healthy food is so much more expensive. Ramen noodles are 5/less than $1. Try getting any fruit or veggie for that price. We need to start reducing the price of healthy food and raising the price of the crap.

  4. even though i live alone, i try and make myself a good meal every night. (alright, once a month i gorge on boxed mac and cheese, but i always add salmon and peas, to make it healthy!!)

    i discovered corinne trang’s oriental cuisine cookbook a couple months ago and am finding lots of good healthy meals to make with new ingredients that are readily available at any asian market. (ok, no asian markets in downeast maine, but a great one in portsmouth NH, so i stock up when down in boston) tonight i had curried pork with garden potatoes and squash over jasmine rice.

    totally addicted to top chef by the way.

  5. I see these kids too and it is true that more and more of them are really overweight and already unhealthy at such a young age.

    We rarely ever went out to eat as I was growing up so I refute that you are that old because I sure am not ;~)

  6. I’m with Jessica. Ramen noodles are cheap and filling — and you can get five packets of them for the price of an apple. If you’re trying to feed a family on a limited budget, odds are the kids aren’t going to see much salad or fresh fruit when the parents are having to shop at Aldi instead of Whole Paycheck.

    The NY Times had an interesting article about the Biggest Loser a few months back. IIRC, one of the most successful tactics they use isn’t exercise or diet per se — it’s changing the way people interact with food. They make people slow down, learn what an actual normal-sized serving is, and recognize the cues the body sends out saying “I’m full.” They’ve also found that one of the best changes a person can make that contributes to permanent weight loss is learning to cook — if you fix it yourself and eat at home, it’s a lot easier to stay at a healthy size.

    I’ve never watched Biggest Loser myself — my reality addiction is to HGTV and shows like Househunters.

  7. I kind of agree with you on the TV front. All we really have is reality shows, and good, dramatic TV has gone by the wayside.

    For me, my guilty pleasure is “The Real Housewives” series on Bravo. Can’t get enough!

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