Doctor in the House

We've got a hot one for you, can you take care of it? 

When I first heard about "Doctor in the House" I thought Yazz and the Plastic Population had reformed.

I then managed to catch a couple of episodes and whilst I thought it was interesting, I also thought it was quite disturbing too.

For those that haven't seen the programme, it consists of a doctor (Dr Chatterjee) going to live with a family for 24 hours to observe their lifestyle, diet etc.

After this period, Dr Chatterjee makes informed decisions and advises the family where they are going wrong. After all, the family have invited the good Doctor to their home, they clearly feel they need some sort of advice, or TV appearance fee.

However, the advice given is built on extreme measures and habits that cannot be maintained long term.

In the 2 episodes I saw both consisted of a family of overweights, one of which ate McDonalds (or other fast food) several times a week. While this in itself is unhealthy it can be pointed out, particularly on TV and a family can change.

The weigh-in's, blood tests and other check-ups the families undergo seem to often suggest one or more of the family is at risk of heart disease and/or type 2 Diabetes.

One guy started taking more exercise which would certainly help to lower his blood sugar levels, and he saw the benefits to changing his lifestyle. He was shocked into change, and that can be a good thing.

However, I have a problem with the extreme changes to the families diet as a whole. Chatterjee goes through all the cupboards and drawers in the kitchen, systematically removing and binning everything he sees as "bad".

Cereal, in the bin.
Bread, no thank you.
Rice and pasta, you're 'aving a bleeding larf, aintcha?

And so on, and so forth.

The problem with this? It is not possible for a busy working family to exist on his suggested alternatives.

Eggs for breakfast every day? Well, it's nice for the first day or 2 then I think I'd be banned from the office.

Who has the time in a morning to make eggs, every day? As an alternative to cereal and toast it's a good option, but one for the weekend, surely?

Every single item of carbohydrate is removed from the house and banned.

And that, my friends, is extreme.

No matter what these so called experts say, the body needs carbs. Dr Atkins was wrong and a lot of people suffered from being on his diet. You'd have been better off listening to Marmalade Atkins than this fraud.

It's all well and good observing someone's lifestyle and diet for 24 hours, but that's not an exhaustive investigation into the families lives, and only when that is done can a real informed decision be made.

Snap judgments work for TV, it's clearly intended to shock people into thinking and comparing themselves to the family they're following.

"He's a fatty, look at what he's eating! He's eating all this stuff! He's borderline diabetic, he's gonna have a heart attack! Oh wait, hang on, he's my age, I'm a bit fat, I eat that stuff.... could I be the same?"

The shock factor to make the viewer think about themselves is a good thing, but long term changes cannot be made via an hour long TV show.

As a Diabetic I know all this. I eat carbs, the difference? I eat less carbs.

I still eat cereal, but I eat cereal that I know will release energy slower and won't spike my blood sugar.

I still eat bread, but again I eat wholemeal, which I know is better for me and won't spike my blood sugar.

I still eat pasta and rice, but I eat less of it... Smaller portions, that is the key to it, not stopping eating all these items completely.

Food is labelled now, and although it can be confusing, if you take the time to work out the sugar, salt, fat levels etc in food you can make a change yourself.

I have check-ups twice a year where my blood sugar is measured for the last few weeks, a test known as a HbA1c, the results of which come back very positive each time and I'm told to keep on doing what I'm doing.

It's all well and good programmes such as these shaming families into change, but you have offer real advice and take into account that families do work odd hours sometimes or don't always have the time to make the kind of meals you're suggesting every day, plus there's costs to factor in as well.  Offer advice on healthy lifestyles, tell the families why, educate them but don't just chuck all the shit in the bin and stick them on a prison diet for good because as soon as your arse is out the door that diet's going in the bin and the Coco-Pops are coming back out.

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