You are What You Eat

'Jste to, co jíte', photo:

It's an unfortunate habit, and a hard one to kick- I am talking about the taste for reality TV that I acquired in the United States. Here in the Czech Republic, there are much fewer reality formats in the TV program, but I have found a quality one.

Five years of living in America have surely changed me. When I arrived in 2003, drinking still water was inconceivable to me. For months, my poor roommate gave me rides to the supermarket until one day, after carrying 25 bottles of mineral water to our apartment, I realized in a flash that I was being ridiculous. From then on, I fearlessly chugged down whole glasses of flat water.

Picking up the habit of watching reality TV proved much less useful. In the Czech Republic, TV stations don’t air shows like The 650-Pound Virgin. But I searched until I found a substitute. Now every Thursday night, I catch my latest fix of “Jste to, co jíte,” or in English: You are what you eat. True words, and watching overweight Czechs from all over the country being confronted with their bad eating habits, I often wonder about the quality of my own character. Still, just like some peoples’ eyes linger on that piece of road kill a bit longer than necessary, I just can’t look away.

The premise of “Jste to, co jíte” is simple. Dr. Kateřina Cajthamlová and nutrionist Petr Havlíček help an overweight candidate lose weight. The methods employed are often brutal, such as the dreaded fridge raid. Cajthamlová mercilessly plunders the candidate’s stocks while the candidate helplessly looks on. Offending items are quickly discarded or given to slender neighbors.

In one episode, meat lover Petr was cured of his taste for sausage by a radical but effective method: Dr. Cajthamlová piled up what would be his typical monthly supply of meat. Needless to say, the dog was the only family member that seemed unfazed by the shocking exhibit. The pet’s subsequent trip to his water bowl was readily explained by the doctor: too much sodium, even for a canine.

Another highlight of the season was undoubtedly the episode featuring the obese cousins Vlasta and Květa, two young girls of the tough shell, soft core variety. The episode culminated in a rousing closing sequence, and I cheered the girls on as they climbed up Petřín tower, showing their new-found stamina off to the world.

Czechs, unlike Americans, are still new to the concept of reality TV, and often, they don’t seem half as fake. Czech reality TV is more real, and has made me grow even fonder of the Czechs. Or maybe I am just trying to come up with an excuse to keep watching.