Saturday, 6 July 2013

Supersize V Superskinny

I watched Supersize V Superskinny this week
It was on Thursday night although I'm pretty sure that it wasn't a new episode
For those of you that don't know this show, it takes one very overweight person and one very underweight person and brings them in to what they call 'The feeding clinic'
Basically they swap diets
The show also does segments about people living with obesity and it's consequences and also people living with eating disorders

I have a bit of an issue with this programme but I feel compelled to watch it
For a long time I couldn't understand the reasoning behind getting these people to swap diets
Surely that is just switching from one unhealthy diet to another and how does that help?
How is that healthy?
The underweight people end up eating masses of high fat, high sugar foods and the overweight people end up eating a very restricted diet
And they don't actually explain why they are doing this
But then it hit me why they could be doing this
Maybe it's because the person sees a mirror image of themselves and what they eat
They are sitting across a table from some one eating what they usually eat
So they get to see how excessive or restrictive their diets really are
I know if I had to look at someone eating my diet, I would be concerned for them
When it's me it's ok, but someone else doing it I can see how unhealthy it is

This week we met Jo, a young mum who weighed 21 stone
And Ross, an engineer who stands at 6 feet tall and weighs a meagre 8 stone 11 pounds
The difference between the 2 of them was startling
They were on opposite ends of the same spectrum
Both had incredibly unhealthy diets
Too much and not enough

At the start of the show Dr Christian sent Jo over to the states to meet someone who he felt Jo could end up like
She travelled to Georgia to meet a woman who weighed 38 stone
Like Jo she was a mum of young kids and was finding it increasingly difficult to manage everyday tasks
Jo could relate to her a lot and acknowledged that she was heading the same way

Back in the UK Jo and Ross enter the feeding clinic and swap diets
Jo's potions are huge and she is a serial snacker
Ross goes the whole day without eating and when he does it is just a chocolate bar
Both of them struggle greatly but they carry on and manage to get through the week
At the end of the week they are given their own meal plans to take home
3 months later they return to give an update
Ross looks so much better
It's obvious he has filled out and his face has colour and his eyes are brighter
He managed to gain an impressive 15 pounds and it really suited him
Jo did well too
She lost well over  a stone and looked a lot healthier

Emma Woolf did  a segment on the show
She is a journalist and is recovering from anorexia
You may remember a post a did a few months ago about her book An apple a day which recounts her journey in to recovery
On this show she was investigating whether anorexia is inherited
She spoke to a professor who said that recent studies show that people with anorexia's brains are slightly different to that of people who don't have it
This means that some of us are more susceptible to developing it
This is ground breaking and may help with the treatment of anorexia
Emma spoke to a girl who had grown up watching her mother battle anorexia
The girl also developed an eating disorder but she believes that it was the environment that she grew up in that caused it, rather than her inheriting it
It's an interesting argument
I believe that like addiction our genes can make us more vulnerable but it alone can not cause an eating disorder
I think an eating disorder is born out of a mixture of nature and nurture
I am the only one in my  family to have developed an ED
All my siblings and I were brought up the same way so I can't blame that
Genetics may have loaded the gun but circumstances and environment coupled with plain bad luck pull the trigger
Some people turn to drink or drugs or gambling
And some people stop eating or start purging
They are all different ways to coping
Of hurting ourselves
Of escaping

I have to admit that watching this show can be really triggering
They mention weight a lot and I invariably end up comparing myself to the skinny people
And they do seem to be in their underwear a lot through out the show which I think is un neccesary
They are obviously trying to shock us by showing us extremes
I'm pretty sure that the underweight people do not have eating disorders
Yes, they have an unhealthy relationship with food but they could not be labelled anorexic or bulimic
They know that they are underweight
They are not losing weight on purpose
They just have bad eating habits and losing weight has been a side effect

I truly believe that I could just as easily be over weight
I could be anywhere on the spectrum between skinny and obese
My weight is constantly changing
At my highest weight I was about 130lbs
A perfectly healthy weight for my height but it didn't suit me
I take after my mother and have a small frame
So any extra weight at all really stands out on me
I'm probably at my most comfortable at around 115 - 120 lbs
Although the thought of gaining that weight is terrifying

So yes, now I can see why they get these people to swap diets
There is a method to thier madness

What about you?
Have you seen this show?
What do you think about it?


  1. Hey love. I have a tought for you. Have you ever thought of being a journallist. I see you writing movie reviews or restaurant reviews (when you embrace a healthy relationship with food again) or tv reviews like the one you wrote here. Why watch the show when I can gleam everything I need from your write up. Thanks for sharing and baring your soul.

  2. I have see this show Ruby... not for quite awhile but I got the premise. If it helps the participants, that's good!

    I think I could go either way too Ruby... I have an addictive personality. There have been times in my life that I restricted food, each time I ended up having children and I started eating again for them.... which then became obsessive eating..

    Either way... it's about not loving myself... I'm working on that..

  3. I've seen the show and I wasn't really impressed. It reminded me of giving them a pill when they were given diet plans and they came back all happy like robots that didn't think of this themselves haha.

    What interests me is the fact that there's research but nothing fantastic on eating disorders. The argument in Psychology about addiction is that by saying it's all genetic, you make it so the person has no fault in the choice they Ade to use. There was a symposium at my college this spring on genetics and addiction I had wanted to see but had class or work. :( there's no true nature vs nurture argument since it's accepted that both are to blame simultaneously. I think we're predisposed to some things more than others and then we make a choice to act on it. You have a healthy road and an unhealthy one. Which will you take? It places an amount of responsibility on the person but no one else chooses to be unhealthy but us.

    One study I read said that someone with an eating disorder actually weigh cause and effects more than a healthy person. I think it may permanently change the brain, which wouldn't surprise me.
    I've really considered being an ED specialist when I go for my masters. Who knows. It's interesting research!


  4. I watched the show twice. I cried uncontrollably during both episodes. Part of me cried because I was watching these people struggle with unhealthy eating habits. I related to both the obese and the underweight. I have been on both sides. But part of me cried because I wished to be as thin as the underweight participants.

    I realized, like you said (and warned me of previously) that this show would ultimately be triggering for me, and is not healthy for me personally to watch.

    I often contemplate a genetic component to eating disorders. I feel that these thoughts, obsessions, and compulsions are so far out of my control, that it must be a genetic disease. I've compared eating disorders to OCD. I believe there is a relation between the two. So perhaps the OCD is genetic, and depending on our environments, some of us turn it into an eating disorder, while others hoard, others wash compulsively, etc.

    Being educated on our disorder is fuel for the fight to recovery. The problem is I find reading and watching about anything ED related triggering. Catch 22.

    I hope more research is done, and steps can be taken to prevent and treat disorders more effectively than they are now.

  5. I think this is a programme I love to hate. I hate it so much because watching it makes me feel terrible, and yet I feel utterly compelled to watch it. Coincidentally, I read somewhere the other day that Emma Wolf was a 'presenter' and I couldn't for the life of me remember her, so I have been scouring 4OD to find her in any of the episodes, and find myself watching episode after episode, feeling worse and worse, but I can't stop myself. Watching the people who are obese terrifies me (I don't judge them, I just feel afraid of this) and watching the the people who are underweight makes me feel inadequate. I don't understand how they can be so skinny and not be labelled 'anorexic' when I have this label and feel so much bigger than them.

    Either way, like you say, the programme is very triggering. And I allow myself to be triggered.


  6. I haven't seen it yet, but it's another one on my 'list' of trigger-happy shows/movies. The premise puts me off a little. I don't understand the point in swapping diets, unless like you said it's to show them someone else eating what they eat.

    In a way I feel I could've been easily overweight, though my highest weight was perfectly healthy, and my set point is slightly underweight. My mum and brother are both obese, to hear a BMI chart tell it, and have health issues related to their weight. My mum and I often joke about us being "The anorexic and the diabetic", because we're such a stark contrast.

    As for the genetics side, I think it plays a key. My brother and I were talking a few weeks back about family history of illness, which is one reason why he never wants children. He has Asperges, which has been genetically linked to Anorexia. He made the point that there's a good chance out ancestors suffered from one of the above, but it probably wouldn't have been diagnosed 'back then'. Just some food for thought.
    Environment has had it's hand in my mental health, but I think there was a genetic predisposition already there.

    Take care dear Ruby *hugs*

  7. "What I thought was a bit strange was that they both spoke about how they wanted to change but for lunch they sat down to a huge portion of ribs smothered in sauce"

    What if someone said "It's strange that Ruby says she wants to get better but then she refuses to eat"? It wouldn't be fair because it's not that simple for anyone with an ED or disordered eating.

    I believe that biology and environment are both involved, and that which contributes how much varies from person to person. My Mom used me as a binge buddy when she was trying to cope with the breakdown of our family. I was literally trained that eating is how you cope with pain. People who believe that ALL eating disorders are primarily biological completely ignore experiences like mine. Carrie Arnold at ED Bites holds that belief, and in her own situation it does make sense that it is mostly biology.*

    *Btw I say "biology" which includes the way the body regulates itself and inherent/fairly unchanging traits like temperament, not just "genetics." I don't necessarily believe there is an "eating disorder gene." It's more complicated than that.

    It's also important not to confuse correlation with causation. Chronic starvation changes the brain - you can see it in people who have gone hungry for other reasons (ie concentration camp survivors). The fact that an anorexic's brain is different from most people's doesn't necessarily mean it started out that way. The brain could cause the anorexia, the anorexia could change the brain, or something else could cause both of them.

  8. I've seen the show and this specific episode. I don't necessarily love or hate the show, but it really fascinates me, especially the difference between obesity/EDs/health in the UK versus the US. If I remember right, Idk but for some reason, I didn't think Jo was taking it very seriously. I think it was more "Oh wow all of this is really terrible, but I'm not that bad". Guess it just shows what we don't see that the outside does. I think it's an interesting show but sometimes it tugs at my heartstrings.

  9. I've seen the show. I watch it through YouTube as they don't have it here. But I really do like it, for some reason I can't explain. I guess it's just to see how people are, and how neither extreme is healthy. Of course I have my own reasons for watching it, but none that I'd admit. I haven't seen this episode, but it's just crazy how different people can be. I think it's very good that they switch diets. Very helpful. Xx

  10. I love this show but it is very triggering. One thing that bothers me is that whenever they show a superskinny girl the announcer says something like "She may have a movie-star body, but she wants to gain weight."
    Implying, of course, that being that skinny is healthy, which the show itself is trying to say is not true.

  11. I watch this a lot even though I know I probably shouldn't. Actually when the super skinny person is a man I don't find it triggering at all. However now they often do sections on Anorexia I find that triggering anyway.

    I thought the same as you- if someone has such a skewed and wrong eating pattern then how will giving them another even more skewed pattern help?? But I see the point- the mirror idea, and maybe it can work, who knows.

    I saw this episode and the one thing that disgusted me was the professor guy or whoever he was. He was seeming ok, fairly clued up on anorexia....then he suddenly made a VERY wrong statement- he said 'an anorexic person looks in the mirror and sees a very fat person'. I HATE this misconception. I dont think many anorexics genuinely believe they are huge- they are just not a skeleton and therefore far too big for 'them'.

    Anyway I will continue to watch it!


  12. Oh man I am so many kinds of addicted to that show. When I lived by myself I used to watch it on YouTube and knit for hours. Now I have to be careful with my youtube habits -.-

    There are things wrong with their approach. Sometimes though only the crude shock tactics they employ are the only way to get a normal person motivated enough to change entrenched habits.

    We inherit a predisposition to mental disorders, and if people are lucky they are ones that are triggered by an environmental situation that may never happen. If someone is unlucky it's something that onsets no matter what. Fuck, I would NEVER have become a comfort eater if Mum hadn't used starvation as a punishment!

    Speaking of weights, I weigh more or less the same as a newborn giraffe :/ I DON'T WANNA BE WEAK AND HELPLESS! Miles' weight is cooler, he's about the same as two mastiffs. MUCH nicer!

    Ok now I want to work out how many kittens would be my equivalent. A MONSTER HAS BEEN CREATED.

    Love you Ruby *huggles*

  13. Yes, I have seen the show and it is more than triggering. Not only did it pull the lever on the gun, this show loaded the bullets. My mom and her sister had eating disorders so the gun was already there, but it was dusting in the corner of a locked closet until I watched this show. This show has created a battle with anorexia I do not think I will ever be able to overcome. I have had this disorder for exactly one year now and have already lost enough weight to the point of dizziness and heart palpitations. I do not know where else my body could possible feed from - I am practically a sac of bones - but I have about 60 more years of this to go so I am sure it will figure it out.

  14. I love love the show, way too much. Its a big guilty pleasure and whilst I see their reasoning behind it I don't like the stigamized way in which they describe the obese people e.g. by using words like 'whopping' to describe their food/weight and the unsympathetic use of dramatic music to accompany the arrival of a fat person. Its almost comedic and quite cruel given that this show shouldn't be body-shaming people, but it does. I've lived with an ED for three years and sometimes I find the show triggering myself. Seeing how much the thinner people eat makes me feel ashamed. As a bulimic I eat more like the super-sizers, but because I don't keep it down I'm not obese, but it does make me feel guilty for the enormous amounts of food I can get through on a bad day. I'm not sure how I feel about the show. I think its trying to help people eat better, but its going about it the wrong way. They need to try and be more sensitive and less douchey to overweight people.

  15. I just watch this for entertainment and to feel relieved that I am not fat. I would not starve myself over this show. Get a life.


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