How did he lose the weight? Director Morgan Spurlock answers your questions about his fast food diet for the award-winning documentary Super Size Me.
Question: Do you still find yourself craving McDonald's, now that you've been away from it for a while? Adriane, Winnetka, Calif.
Answer: To this day, if I smell a Big Mac, my mouth starts watering like Pavlov's dog. It's crazy. I smell it and I want it, but I can't eat it because to me it doesn't even taste like food anymore. In fact, it tastes like the most "unfood" thing I can imagine, it tastes artificial, chemical and leaves quite an unnatural aftertaste (a delightful McFilm) in my mouth.
Question: Was it hard switching to the healthy food after you ate McDonald's for all of that time? Garrett, Nanuet, N.Y.
Answer: By the time I finished this diet, I was dying for fresh food! My body was craving vegetables and was overjoyed the first time it got some. I experienced an incredible period of withdrawal for the first three days off the diet: massive headaches, body pains, periods of sweats and shaking. It was remarkable. By the fourth day, most of these had effects had subsided. Now I'm not a firm believer that they add all types of chemicals to food to make it addictive, but I do believe that if you eat a diet heavy in fat, sugar, salt and caffeine (like you will eat at most fast food chains), then your body will start to crave and rely on it.
Question: Can't wait to see the film. As a doc filmmakers myself, you really made a sacrifice for your art. Kathryn, Jackson, Miss.
Answer: I knew from the minute I had the idea that I couldn't ask anyone else to do this. (Never ask someone to do something that you aren't willing to do yourself!)
Plus, I couldn't trust that when the camera's weren't rolling that this other person wouldn't go home, lock his door and sneak some broccoli behind our backs! I knew I would stay the course and be dedicated to the experiment. I also think my personal involvement put a very human face on the issue.
Question: Why did the director only eat at McDonald's, there are plenty of other fast food restaurants that are just as fatty. Why didn't he eat some meals at Burger King or Wendy's? Why did he feel the need to objectify McDonald's?
Consuelo, Colorado Springs
Answer: The film is not about McDonald's. But to me, McDonald's is iconic of every fast food chain. They are the biggest. They have the most outlets. When you think "fast food" you automatically think of the Golden Arches. They feed more people everyday than the entire population of Spain (46 million) and they influence the entire industry in a way that no other company can. Every restaurant follows their lead, so in my opinion, I picked the one company that I felt could most easily influence change across the board. What happened to me could easily have happened at a Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell or other fast food chain. (Or even a fast casual chain like an Outback, Applebee's or Olive Garden.)
Question: Great Film!!!! What was the budget for your film?
Answer: The movie that got us into Sundance cost $65,000. The one that went into theatres ended up costing a little more, 35mm prints and all, but is was the 65K film that we sold to distributors first.
Question: After filming was completed, what did your meals consist of in order to lose the acquired weight? Best of luck to you. Tommy, Duluth, Ga.
Answer: Alex's detox diet removed all of the processed food from my diet (so, basically nearly everything you can buy at a fast food restaurant!) She also removed all meat, dairy, white flour, added sugars, and caffeine from my diet. I ate a lot of whole grains, fruits and vegetables for two months, until my body functions returned to normal, and then I went back on my regular diet. I eat what I want, but I pay great attention to the amount of calories I eat, the quality of those calories, the portion sizes, and how much exercise I get.
Queston: Does McDonald's have its "Lighter Choices" menu in the U.S.? I ask because I live in Canada, and our McDonald's restaurants do have such a menu. On that menu there are McVeggie Burgers, Fruit 'N Yogurt Parfaits, Chicken McGrills and lots of salads to choose from. If there is such a menu in your area, what do you think of it? What would you think a "Lighter Choices" menu should have? Cynthia, Toronto
Answer: The lighter choices menu was in its infantile stages when we were shooting the documentary, but be sure to read the caloric content of what you eat. For example: eight of the 13 salads on McDonald's menu derive more than half their calories from fat. Once you add the dressing, you'll not only jump up the fat content, but you'll be eating more than half your recommended daily allowance of sodium in one sitting ? on a SALAD! So, my advice to any buyer is know what you're getting. We spend months researching what car we're going to, we read every pamphlet possible about what TV we may want to get, yet when it comes to eating, we don't think twice about shoveling unhealthy food into our mouths. We need to think more about where our food comes from, what's in it and what its going to do to us in the long run.
Question: Someone once said: "To err is human. To blame it on someone else is even more human" Perhaps your documentary places the blame on someone else when we really should be blaming ourselves. Do you not think that this will give rise to the thought that 'It is not my fault I'm obese, it is McDonald's as a way to not blame ourselves? Harold, Mesquite, Texas
Answer: I am a strong believer in personal responsibility and if you see the film, you'll realize that I don't blame McDonald's for the obesity epidemic. I do blame this fast food lifestyle for playing an active part in its rise over the last few years. As CEO of McDonald's Australia Guy Russo said in an interview in May, "McDonald's and society contributed to obesity, absolutely." So, McDonald's and society must do more to shift the paradigm, in my opinion. We can't keep placing blame, this issue is a two way street and we have to meet somewhere in the middle, corporations and individuals. I do believe that the massive advertising toward children needs to be stopped, that parents need to be better role models to their kids, that schools need to get the junk food out and make physical activity a daily part of the education process and that a nationwide initiative needs to be instituted to help people understand exactly how many calories they should be eating everyday. This would be a great start.
Question: During your interview on 20/20 I heard you mention at least twice that Americans do not exercise — I'm curious as to where you live that you make this claim? Here in the very small N.C., town I live in there are two gyms, and getting there when it's not so crowded that you don't have to wait for equipment is rare.
I disagree that Americans do not exercise, and as an American who has exercised regularly for over 20 years I take offense to your claim. Veronica, Seven Lakes, N.C.
Answer: Well, Veronica, it sounds as though you are one of the most active people in the country and that you're town of Seven Lakes is an enigma when compared to the rest of America. In the U.S., nearly 2/3 of Americans of overweight or obese, its no coincidence that according to the Centers for Disease Control that nearly that many don't get the daily recommended amount of 30 minutes of exercise each day. I live in New York City, a very active walking city, and with all of the calories we take in each day, even all that walking is not enough to combat the epidemic we are currently facing. We need to be as active as we can, just like you, as often as possible.
Question: What diet did you follow after taking the Super Size Me Challenge? Andy, Forth Worth
Answer: After the diet, my girlfriend Alex (who is in the film and is a professional vegan chef) put me on a detox diet which removed all the meat, cheese, processed food, sugar, white flour and caffeine from my diet. I ate a diet filled with fruit, vegetables, whole grains
Question: Were burgers all that you ate from McDonald's, or did you order salads, chicken nuggets, or anything else? Deb
Answer: During my McDiet, I had to eat everything on the menu at least once. In fact, I ate everything on the menu many times over. Salads, nuggets, McGrills, you name it — if the Golden Arches sold it, I ate it.
Question: You've said you "snacked" between meals and didn't eat 100 percent McDonald's food for the 30 days.
What else did you eat...and how much...and when? Did you keep track of the snacking as well as the actual amount of Mickey D's food you ate? Chuck
Answer: I only ate food that was for sale over the counter at McDonald's. If they didn't sell it I didn't eat it. I didn't even have a Tic Tac for 30 days! Usually my snacks would be in the afternoon or in the evening after dinner, when most of us snack. A coffee and an apple pie as a mid-afternoon pick me up or a cup of tea and a cookie while watching TV at night, I did what most Americans do. Most of us don't realize how much this snacking plays into what we eat. In America, we live in a state of perpetual snacking where we eat in the car on the way to work, knosh on chips at our desk all day and sit on the couch eat ice cream at night — never connecting these to our "meals." Keep track of your snacks sometime and you may be surprised what you caloric in take looks like.