Image: Tiffiny Hall digs into a burger (Channel 10).
The 10th season of The Biggest Loser Australia — sorry, TBL Families — is officially upon us.
This year, the program has a new twist: each of the coaches is required to spend a week at home with their assigned family, adopt their diet and lifestyle, and join the weigh-in. On last night’s episode, the four trainers — Michelle Bridges, Steve ‘Commando’ Willis, Tiffiny Hall and Shannon Ponton — were visibly horrified by the calorie-heavy dishes being served up to them.
Commando’s first breakfast comprised cold chicken, chips and a bottle of soft drink; while Ponton was served a family-sized lasagna for lunch, then an entire Bavarian chocolate cake with ice cream as a snack.
Meanwhile, Bridges was driven to tears by her breakfast of soft drink, sugary cereal, ice cream and pizza, telling her family, “I cant believe you eat like this. This is really awful.”
"It affects you psychologically. We couldn’t train that week but even if I had been allowed to and wanted to, I couldn’t. I was so bloated my stomach had expanded out like I was four months pregnant," Tiffiny Hall said in a recent News.com.au interview.
“My skin broke out ... by day two I had the worst hormonal acne, so it just shows you’re living on preservatives and chemicals and sugar and I was ravenous.”
You can see where TBL's producers were going with this — having four insanely healthy judges live in their not-so-virtuous contestants' shoes for a week makes for compelling viewing, and illustrating and spreading education on the benefits of healthy eating is important.
Plus, in signing up for the programme, the contestants are surely aware that their lifestyle will be under heavy scrutiny (set to an appropriately emotive soundtrack).
However, is making people feel bad about their eating habits really the way to encourage them to make a positive change?
"The Biggest Loser is pretty famous for not only fat shaming but food shaming, especially when they've got a whole bunch of the person's typical food and laid it out in front of them like a stick to beat them with," says Nicole Senior, Accredited Practising Dietician and Nutritionist. (Post continues after gallery.)
"To have someone who you know is at peak fitness and health to be eating badly on purpose for a week, I don't know how inspiring that is."
Senior says associating negative emotions with food choices isn't a helpful approach when encouraging someone to take control of their health.
"We need to avoid establishing a 'food fight', if you like, where it's a constant battle. It's more helpful if we disassociate food from emotions, especially emotions such as guilt."