Carb-Loaded: Interview with FilmMaker Lathe Poland
Lathe Poland has been a filmmaker for over 10 years. His work has taken him around the world, filming live events and creating video content for brands such as ABC Studios, The Discovery Channel, Dreamworks Pictures and The History Channel plus many local, national, and non-profit organizations. He lives with his wife in the woods of rural Connecticut. His latest project, Carb-Loaded: A Culture Dying To Eat, was born after a trip to his doctor revealed a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. What Lathe learned about the changes in our food supply- in particular, the hidden sugars- fired him up enough that he needed to share. Full of animation and humor, this film is a must-see for every family. Watch for its release in the fall!
Your film was inspired by a trip to the doctor and a diagnosis of Type II Diabetes. What thoughts ran through your head at this time and why did you decide a film would be a good way to share your story?
I can't tell to you how shocked I was with the diagnosis. As an active 165lb thirty something, diabetes was the last thing on my mind. I had always thought of myself as a healthy eater. I rarely drink soda or ate candy. I had always believed that diabetes was something that happened to overweight people.
Yet there I was, shocked and without a clue as to why I was sick. For the next few months I felt like this disease had beaten me, that it would be hanging around my neck for the rest of my life. So I took my medication and tried to maintain the diet recommended by the American Diabetes Association.
That all changed in 2012 when I heard an NPR news story about cases of diabetes and pre-diabetes skyrocketing. That was the tipping point for me. I needed to piece this puzzle together.
I started digging and soon discovered that millions of Americans who regularly exercise and eat a diet recommended by the USDA were classified as "skinny-fat”. Skinny-fat also called T.O.F.I or Thin on the Outside Fat on the Inside, is a booming health crisis. Often people with this condition are stricken with metabolic syndrome, that eventually becomes diabetes or heart disease.
As a filmmaker, it was a logical next step for me to write a documentary film about what I was learning. Was our lifestyle, culture, or food ecosystem, enabling this shift? Or was it the catalyst? And, more importantly, could this wave of momentum be reversed? These are the questions that I decided to tackle in the documentary film Carb-Loaded: A Culture Dying to Eat.
How did your research for this film influence your personal lifestyle habits?
For me that was one of the best things that happened. I was traveling all over the country talking with experts about this topic. I was soaking up everything they were telling me. Over time, I made slight little changes to my habits and thinking. The cumulative effect was that my blood sugar numbers were averaging at a much lower range. Eventually I was able to maintain a blood glucose in the upper 80’s to 90’s without taking any medication. In fact, now I no longer consider myself diabetic.
I love that you used so many expert sources- Dr. David Katz and food politics writer Marion Nestle being just two. Was it encouraging to find that so many experts are trying to bring awareness to the problem of our current food habits?
Yeah, we spoke with some really fascinating people. These are people that have been fighting in the food culture trenches for many decades. I remember after we left the interviews with Dr. Katz (and Mrs. Nestle), that my head was spinning. How was I going to fit all of this amazing insight into an hour long documentary? Inevitably, the special features for the film will be quite extensive.
I think this film has the potential to save lives. There are still many who believe they are doomed by their genetics, but there is so much documented, scientific proof that says otherwise. How are you hoping this film will influence those who see it?
I didn’t really have any kind of family history with diabetes. By my eating habits (and beliefs about food) I had unintentionally forced my pancreas into a corner. Most people with Type II diabetes have eaten their way into this situation, It is my sincere hope that they realize that they can eat their way out of it. It will require people re-examine many of the things they think they know about healthy eating.
I am a big believer in baby stepping our way into a new lifestyle so that new habits become sustainable. What three baby steps would you suggest might be most important for somebody looking to ease into a healthful lifestyle?
Starting small is…HUGE. You just have to keep moving ahead. One step needs to eventually lead to another until eventually a person has developed a healthy habit. I would say three beginning steps would be...
1) Educate yourself before you do anything. You need to know the reasons why certain foods have negative effects on your health.
2) Stop Drinking Soda. Studies make it clear that there is no longer any doubt that soda is directly linked to Type II diabetes.
3) Cut starchy carbs whenever you can.
Just doing those three things will present enough evidence for people to make even more extensive dietary changes.
All the animation included in this film makes it fun and would resonate well in classroom settings. Do you have plans to make this film available to schools?
6) Absolutely! If there is one thing we learned, it’s that diabetes is growing fastest in the childhood population. We will be making a 54 min. version available to the education market.
The film premieres on Saturday September 27 at the Ridgefield Playhouse and will be making its way into distribution in early October. Look for it anywhere you watch documentaries (iTunes, Netflix, Amazon, Hulu…) as well as DVD and Blu-Ray.