Nanny-staters will tell you fast food is inherently bad, but one Iowa teacher demonstrated to his students that personal choices rule their health outcomes, not scare tactics and food menus.
Morgan Spurlock’s documentary, “Supersize Me,” was quite a hit a decade ago. It was a 98-minute video that chronicled the physiological changes this particular Manhattan filmmaker underwent by eating at McDonald’s restaurants three times daily, every day, for a month. Spurlock didn’t exercise during the project, other than normal city walking, opted for “supersized” meals when offered, and ended up gaining 25 lbs., and experiencing depression, lethargy, loss of sex drive, etc.
I thought the whole concept was sort of anticlimactic. Just about anything in excess can be toxic, after all; drinking too much water can kill you. Nor is an all McDonald’s diet illustrative of most folks’ diet. While many folks aren’t eating enough fruits and vegetables, and processed foods and snacks are overdone due to their convenience, very few folks eat only fast-food.
Nonetheless, the video was an interesting visual study – sort of like the thrill of watching a car accident. And it was a huge hit with the “nanny” folks who seek to regulate how, where and what we eat. It even was nominated for an Oscar, and Spurlock was able to parlay his notoriety into a more steady-paying gig for CNN.
I got to thinking about this Spurlock documentary recently upon seeing a report on an Ankeny, IA, science teacher named John Cisna who recreated the Spurlock exercise, but with one big difference – moderation and logic. In Cisna’s case, however, he ate nothing but McDonald’s offerings for three months and lost 37 lbs., and his cholesterol readings fell to 170 from 249.
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Cisna utilized his experience as a teaching moment for his students. His students helped him plan out a 2,000-calorie daily diet plan that consisted of only McDonald’s offerings. The report says their planning also strived to stay within the recommended daily allowances for carbohydrates, proteins, fat calories and cholesterol.
Typically, a McDonald’s breakfast for Cisna was two egg white delights, a bowl of maple oatmeal and 1% milk. He generally opted for salad for lunch, and dined on more traditional value meal for dinner, including items like Big Macs, ice creams and sundaes, the reports says.
I heard him interviewed on the radio recently and he said that he knew he would lose weight by making good food choices and employing moderation and regular exercise. “It’s our choices that make us fat,” Cisna told KCCI, “not McDonald’s.”
This piece isn't to defend one commercial outfit's menu over another, but to illustrate how important personal choice and responsibility are to our health profiles.
Consider the lessons that Cisna has imparted to his charges during this project – critical thinking, planning, moderation, physical exercise and personal responsibility. Cisna is one heck of a teacher in my book.
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