14 Best Food Documentaries That Can Help You Eat Better
By Olivia Tarantino
It may sound crazy, but my parents just got a Netflix account last week.
They may be a little behind the trend, but they certainly didn't waste any time getting caught up on all the great shows and movies the streaming site offers. So, when my mom asked me which movie she should tackle first, I knew immediately what to recommend. (I, like many millennials, had my friend's friend's parents' account to thank for my early access.)
"You have to see Sugar Coated," I told her. "And then when you're done with that, watch Fed Up and Forks Over Knives, oh, and Vegucated!"
A nutrition junkie, like myself, my mom would love any of these food documentaries. Each one finds its own unique way to expose the countless health and food system problems in America and serves up the motivation to tackle it head on. So whether you're looking for some inspiration to lose 10 pounds, to learn how to lose belly fat, or you're just curious about what GMOs actually are, grab a bowl of air-popped popcorn, cozy up on the couch, and get started on these documentaries that are sure to help you eat better, be more mindful of your food choices, and keep your healthy lifestyle going.
Forks Over Knives—2011
No, this documentary isn't an instruction for to how to hold your cutlery. Forks Over Knives is actually a film that sets out to connect America's meat- and dairy-based diet to the rampant metabolic health crisis. The solution they suggest? Turn to a plant-based diet. The film has earned such high praises that even actress and Grammy-nominated singer Ariana Grande told V Magazine her decision to go vegan came after watching the documentary. She's not the only one who took the plunge. Check out these 22 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Vegetarian!
Ever wonder how the food you eat is made? From industrial meat to large-scale production of veggies and grains, Food, Inc. details everything you need to know about how big business has cheapened and quickened food production over the last 50 years. It's great for business—but terrible for your health.
Did you know that Congress counts pizza as a vegetable? If not, Fed Up is here to tell you more about how powerful agra- and sugar-industry lobbyists are preventing any meaningful legislation that protects our health from passing. After the film, we're pretty sure you'll be just as fed up with added sugars as we are.
Though "GMO" (Genetically Modified Organisms) has certainly become a mainstream term over the past decade, many people don't really know what it actually means or what effects it'll have on their health. And guess what? Scientists don't either. GMO OMG tells the story of a father's discovery of GMOs and his quest to understand how they'll affect his life—and his three kids' lives.
That Sugar Film—2014
After swearing off sugar for three years, one man (Damon Gameau) sets out to see exactly what happens when he follows a high sugar diet (40 teaspoons, or 160 grams of sugar, a day) by consuming only foods that are commonly perceived as "healthy." Case in point: these 14 "Health" Foods Worse Than a Donut. Spoiler alert: he develops signs of fatty liver disease in just two weeks.
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead—2010
There's nothing more motivating than to watch a man lose 100 pounds over the course of a film. And Joe Cross does just that by following none other than a juice cleanse. Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead chronicles Cross' journey across the country as well as the struggles of the overweight people he meets along the way. But because we don't necessarily condone juice cleanses as the best way to lose weight (due to their lack of satiating fiber), maybe try one of these 56 Smoothies for Weight Loss if you're feeling inspired.
Hungry for Change—2012
America is overweight, and it's not entirely our fault. We're not only programmed to eat food when it's available—and it's now available all the time—but these convenient foods aren't constructed to confer nutritional benefits; they're designed to make us addicted to them. And if that's not bad enough, Hungry For Change shows us the diet industry isn't much more trustworthy. The good news is that you're likely to see that you have the power to change your health for the better.
Thinking about going vegan? If you're not yet ready to take the plunge, maybe test the waters with Vegucated. Watch how three omnivores take a six-week challenge to ditch meat and dairy. They expose the harmful practices of the livestock industry, learn the long-term health benefits of eating vegan foods, and see how eating a plant-based diet makes them feel better and lose weight.
Through interviews with politicians, activists, farmers, and chefs, Food Fight shows how quickly our food system and culture of eating has shifted in the past few decades and how it's now slowing beginning to change for the better.
You likely know that childhood obesity and diabetes is a major health problem in America, but this documentary really helps it hit home. BITE SIZE peers into the lives of four overweight American preteens as they struggle to lose weight and get a handle on healthier eating habits. If you're struggling to lose weight, this film reveals many unique solutions that can help you in your own weight loss journey.
Follow best friends Ian Cheney and Curt Ellis as they move to the heartland to learn where their food comes from. Watch how these recent college grads grow their own one-acre crop of corn—America's most subsidized, most-productive, and most-genetically-modified grain—and try to follow it into the food system. What they find raises troubling questions about what we eat and our agricultural priorities. Keep in mind this film is on the older side, so some things may have changed a bit.
Allow us to introduce you to the new tobacco industry: Big Sugar. And we're not exaggerating. When dentist-turned-scholar Cristin Kearns stumbled on 1,500 pages of internal documents exposing how the sugar industry used Tobacco-style tactics to dismiss troubling health claims against their products in the archives at a now-defunct Colorado sugar company, she knew she found something big. Watch how the industry "sugar-coated" the science behind this health-harming additive in Sugar Coated. Hint: The sugar industry used fat as its scapegoat.
We think we're eating food, but most of the stuff we're putting in our bodies is dramatically removed from the stuff that grows in the ground or is hunted. In fact, the stuff on shelves is filled with so many artificial flavors and additives that it's contributing to an epidemic of Western malnutrition and a slew of chronic diseases. Food Matters exposes this health dilemma—along with pharmaceutical companies' skin in the game—and tells us it's not a trip to the doctor that will solve our health problems. Rather, it's that same stuff that you pile on your plate; we just have to choose the right things.
Super Size Me—2004
A classic. This legendary documentary follows the life of Morgan Spurlock as he spends an entire month eating nothing but McDonald's back in the days of "supersizing." Watch how his health—and mentality—declines throughout the course of his "McDiet."
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