Reality television shows have unquestionably become staples in many homes locally. With the concept of recording 'real life' and unfiltered happenings, viewers become connected with the characters on these programmes, triggering a range of emotions.
And so with this concept in mind, Chef Charles Mattocks, in recognition of the overwhelming power reality TV shows have on those who watch, has decided to use this medium to force change.
This change will come through his newly devised programme, Reversed Caribbean. Conceptualised as a reality television programme, this show will seek to inform and educate veiwers about successfully living their lives healthily as diabetics.
"I came up with the concept after working with persons and associations dealing with diabetes for the past three years. I have met so many people with diabetes that don't have a clue what diabetes is all about. They don't know what or how how to eat, they don't get any real time spent with their doctors, and the list goes on. With 380 million people worldwide with diabetes, I knew we had a audience."
Inspired by the popular reality show, Biggest Loser, the show will feature eight participants from four Caribbean Islands including Jamaica. They will be chosen from casting calls, where they will have to prove why they deserve to be on the show.
"Diabetes is exploding in the islands. I travel and work with many islands, and in some of the islands , it's almost one out of four that have diabetes, so to focus this show in the islands can be great for the people. It can be great and inspirational on so many levels. We want to be able to bring some Hollywood to Jamaica."
He continued, "We are looking to filming in the next few months, and finalising locations and people who will be seen on the show, like doctors, trainers, health coaches and nutritionists. Arrangements are now being made as well to set up a casting in Jamaica. For the open casting, people can come and tell us why they should be on the show. We look to pick a few great people and we hope to change their lives."
What's in a name?
But why the name Reversed Caribbean?
"Can diabetes be reversed? Many would say yes and many would say no. The show is truly about reversing diabetes mentally, physically and emotionally. The fight in diabetes is a battle that has to have all of these on one accord. The word reversed 'also means to slow or stop forward progress, so I do feel diabetes can be reversed, and what I mean by that is that if you take control of your life, you can live a quality life."
Focusing on diabetes means more to Mattocks than just raising awareness. Living with Type 2 diabetes, he has first hand knowledge of how impactful the disease can be on someone's life.
"It changed everything, I thought I was going to die, so I stopped the way I was eating, what I drank, my exercise routine, you name it. I changed it. The first thing I needed to do was look in the mirror and look at myself. I knew I needed to lose about 20 pounds and I did. I made a 360 degree change right away."
An advocate for change and awareness, Mattocks is very vocal on the growing rate of diabetes across the world.
"I think I just have a big mouth and a lot of passion. I think I am also not afraid to push the system or the business of diabetes. I am an advocate and I speak out on television shows like Dr Oz, the Today show and CNN and I am also a blue ribbon champion with the International Diabetes federation. I also have a cookbook coming out with the American Diabetes association, but at the end of the day, I just have a lot of passion."
Realising and analysing the worrying statistics of persons developing diabetes within the Caribbean, Mattocks noted that unhealthy lifestyle practices, is the number one reason persons fall prey to the disease.
"Lack of discipline is a big factor. We, at times, are our worse enemy; we choose to eat the fried foods and the sugar bag juice. We seem to also lose that spark that made us feel so good about who we are and have allowed ourselves to gain the weight and not be able to exercise the way we used to. Be good to yourself, treat your gift of life and your body as your temple and allow yourself to live this life healthy. Being sick is not fun, and if we can do just a few simple things, we can enjoy a healthy life."
Born in New York to a Jamaican mother, who happens to be the sister of Reggae legend, Bob Marley, Mattocks is a trained chef.
He earned the title, 'Poor Chef', as he was able to create dishes and showcase to persons how to prepare dishes on a budget using what's available in their kitchens.
Healthy yet tasty food
As a single parent, he has also utilised his skills in the kitchen to ensure that his son enjoys healthy yet tasty foods. This was also his attempt to inculcate good lifestyle practices in his son.
"Well, at first, it was real rough, as kids can be picky and they don't want to eat certain things, so I had to focus on, not only healthy but tasty and cost effective meals. We teach our children many things, and if we don't have our health or diet together, they will then have our ways passed down to them and they will then do the same."
As the time gets closer for his programme to become a reality on television, Mattocks has high expectations.
"I hope to have the people of the island have some good quality TV, something they can watch as a family. I also want to spark the amazing people in health in the islands to come together and forget the red tape and the old way of doing things and work together. I have some great things to share."