We all know that movie food can be dangerous to your waistline, not to mention that simply sitting in the dark tends to give you the feeling that you can eat with immunity. But don't cancel your cinematic plans just yet. There are movies that actually can stimulate you to action. In fact, movies are now being used in therapy to help people improve various aspects of their lives — it's called cinematherapy or reel therapy.
How can films motivate you to achieve your goals?
"The process of film helps to suspend belief. Viewers trust that what they're seeing is true and, in turn, think they can do it, too," says Gary Solomon, a professor at the Community College of Southern Nevada and author of "Reel Therapy" (Lebhar-Friedman Books, 2001). When viewers relate to the characters, they are able to identify and potentially start to work through issues of their own.
GET OFF YOUR BUTT
This is one of the more important film categories. These films have the power to get you out the door and moving.
Watching others transform their bodies can motivate you to change your own.
OH, THOSE DIETS
According to Solomon, food and weight control are rarely portrayed accurately in film. In fact, alcohol and drug films can be better examples of the problems faced by many dieters. When the issues aren't so "close to home," it can be easier to see our own issues, suggests Solomon. He mentions a few that are good to start with, including: "Days of Wine and Roses" (1962), "Clean and Sober" (1988) and "When a Man Loves a Woman" (1994). The following depict many of the experiences we have when attempting to lose weight and get control of our eating behaviors.
BEAT THE OBSTACLES
In reel therapy terms, a viewer may think: If those people in the movie can overcome those great obstacles, so can I.
Many movies can give a person confidence, and believing in oneself is among the core ingredients of a successful weight-control program.
If you want a few films that are going to turn you off from eating, try watching these and see if you're still hungry.
Charles Stuart Platkin is a nutrition and public-health advocate, and author of "Breaking the FAT Pattern" (Plume, 2006). Sign up for the free Diet Detective newsletter at www.dietdetective.com.