I’m Ready for Fat Girl Summer

I’m Ready for Fat Girl Summer

Photo: UNSPLASH

You’ve probably gained weight and we’re all going to see it when you go outside again.

If your stomach just dropped reading that, you better read to the end of this because we have got some UNPACKING to do!

I meant what I said; yes, it’s likely you’ve put on a few pounds. Why wouldn’t you?

We’ve been trapped inside for months, racked with guilt, fear and increasing anxiety. You’re in the middle of a global pandemic that has had unprecedented ripple effects of tragedy everywhere you look; people have died on a catastrophic scale, jobs have been lost, debt has snowballed, isolation has been forced upon you and you could’ve died that way; alone, frightened and unemployed.

So… in light of that, are a few tubs of excess Ben & Jerry’s really worth beating yourself up for?

If you know me outside of a computer screen, you’ll probably already know that I have become venomously anti-diet and anti-weight loss in the past few years. I say this as someone who was a serial dieter and even when I was very underweight I always felt I had to be shrinking and depleting in order to be achieving.

But what does weight loss actually achieve?

Really, it’s nothing. Seriously. Before you come at me with your Weight Watchers slogans and drive-thru science, let me go into why it’s all bullshit.

Your body is the way it is because it’s trying to protect you at all times. Sometimes it gets it “wrong”; people have allergies, genetic disorders, disabilities, all things that are not “the standard” you’ve been led to believe is “correct”. But your body is functioning. You’re alive, you’re coping and that’s really all your body is getting paid to do.

Actively seeking and trying to manipulate weight loss goes against that and your body is going to see that as a threat. Now this isn’t to say all weight loss is always bad because we know that our weight is going to fluctuate as we wade through life. If you’re going through times of stress or illness, you may find your body is using your back up reserves to keep you going, and in that process you might lose weight because your body has deemed it necessary to do that in order to keep you alive and safe.

But when you’re functioning and alive and you then try to shake up the zen balance your body has going on, you’re letting yourself in for a shit storm.

Cutting out entire food groups when you have no allergenic reason to can actually cause you to be intolerant to those very food groups when you reintroduce them later on. Exercising too much, too vigorously and above your skill level can cause injury both in the short term, but also in the long term years away from now when you’re already old and fragile. Skipping meals or denying yourself food when your hungry can royally fuck up your metabolism, to the point where you can give yourself some pretty severe conditions such as diabetes (That’s right, it’s not just the result of pounding donuts in your mouth) and anaemia. Vitamin deficiencies can result in chronic conditions and death and don’t forget that a lot of organs like your liver and kidneys are really begging for certain kinds of food in order to function properly and again, keep you alive.

So why are we told these measures to lose weight are perfectly fine and healthy?

The diet industry is literally a billion-pound money making industry and wouldn’t you know it, they’re planning on keeping it that way. Ask yourself, if fad diets and wellness trends really did make the dramatic, positive impact their creators claim they do, then why do new ones crop up year after year? If we had the secret to healthy weight loss all along, surely no one would be fat and hospitals would become extinct?

When you ask these questions, you begin to realise how much bullshit we’ve been fed since the very beginning. This is without even going into how ableist and racist the diet industry is; 10,000 steps a day is a bit of a pisstake to ask of someone in a wheelchair, as is demanding somebody shrink themselves who’s already had their hair and body shamed historically.

I can see a bunch of size L lads chomping at the bit to tell me why (*cough* women *cough* they never care about fat men *cough* they’re allowed to live *cough*) being fat is so much worse so don’t panic, don’t PANIC. We’ll get to you in a second…

I said before, not all weight loss is bad weight loss. Diet-fuelled weight loss and cosmetic-fuelled weight loss is and I’d go as far as to say it’s literally poisonous.

But sometimes weight loss can be your body’s way of healing and correcting its mistakes.

You’ll be furious to know that I have actually lost weight during lockdown and maintained it either side of 4lbs. I’m still fat and I still eat bread.

I’ve lost weight because I’m not supposed to be this size. I have a binge-eating disorder and have battled with depressive episodes for years. My self-medication during those depressive spells was food and not the kind my body was asking me for.

When you are depressed, you don’t want a fucking salad.

When you have a binge-eating disorder, food is a way of comforting yourself as well as self-harming. You’re not going to do that with overnight oats.

I’ve been repairing my relationship with food recently and I’m even starting to get friendly with exercise too. That’s led to weight loss, but you aren’t going to be able to tell for years because of the size I’m starting at and how I’m losing it.

Here are some bonafide, science-backed tips on how to lose weight:

  • Eat lots of different food
  • Eat food according to what your bloodwork and body tell you it needs
  • Eat food regularly
  • Eat food with people
  • Eat food when you’re hungry
  • Eat food you enjoy
  • Eat food that nourishes your body, mind and soul
  • Move regularly
  • Stretch regularly
  • Enjoy whatever movement or exercise you are doing and stop exercise you hate doing
  • Accept that your genetics have already decided what your “ideal size” is.

And in time, you might lose weight if it is healthy FOR YOU. IT’S HEALTHIER FOR SOME PEOPLE TO BE FAT. THAT’S RIGHT I SAID WHAT I SAID.

So many things OTHER THAN diet and exercise can influence your size and shape; genetics, environment, income, class, gender, medical history, the list goes on. And yet, we have become obsessed with the lie that everyone can and should be skinny, but it’s all a matter of willpower.

Fuck off. You know what, even if you were right, fuck off.

I’ve always been told that if what you’re about to tell someone can’t be fixed in 5 minutes, there’s no point in telling them. What purpose does it serve to sneer and snicker at fat people? What help are you giving somebody having fun with their friends by shouting insults at them? Why do you not have anything better to do in your own life than fixate on the size of other people?

Photo: UNSPLASH

At best, you’re going to make someone feel worthless and they might kill themselves. Yay, one less fatty around amirite?! At worst, you’re going to reveal what a sad, tiny person you really are by how you project your own insecurities onto those who are simply minding their own business.

Let’s make a pact to not accept such foolish, bullying behaviour.

So yeah, you probably have gained weight and you may be nervous about what everyone will think about it when we’re all meeting up again in the Summer.

But I ask you to ask yourself and I mean really really ask yourself; does it matter?

Photo: UNSPLASH

You aren’t going to have more friends if you lose a stone. You aren’t going to get promoted just because you cut out dairy. You aren’t going to have more fun as a skinny bitch with your friends than a fat bitch with their friends.

Despite what the Lynx Africa brigade think, you aren’t necessarily going to be healthier just because you’re lighter either.

So stop telling yourself you will. Focus on the truths; it’s going to be great to laugh outside again. It’s going to be amazing to wear cute outfits again. I can’t wait to wear funky sunglasses and to show off my hairy lockdown legs!

It’s going to be incredible when it hits you that you’ve survived a pandemic and all that happened to you is you got a little softer.

If this was all a bit too much and you’ve found yourself spiralling about weight, food and size, please seek the help of BEAT. You’re not alone and don’t have to put up with shitty thoughts www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk

The Best Meals for When You Feel a Bit Crummy

The Best Meals for When You Feel a Bit Crummy

A lot of people are finding themselves in a strange predicament during this COVID-19 quarantine; they are having to cook for themselves.

The broke and the self-sufficient among us will be annoyed to see a number of people looking for advice on just what to cook with these bare bones ingredients now that lavish restaurant meals and delivered goods are off the menu.

But despite my judgement against these people, I’m here to help. Not to mention that these are meals that help when you’re depressed, meals that help after a breakup, and food that makes you feel good emotionally, regardless of a global pandemic or not.

I’ve tried to include meals that are easy, cheap, and quick to make while being wholly comforting and good. Recipes are NOT included as you might want to zhuzh up or scale back as you see fit, and if you have allergies and the like, you can figure out some substitutions better than I can.

Gnocchi, pesto, parmesan

Gnocchi is amazing. It can be vegan, gluten free, dairy free, ALL the frees depending on what you do with it, and it can be frozen or cooked straight from scratch. You can have it with some cheese and a bit of oil, some veg, some sauce, whatever your little isolated heart desires! The ultimate staple is the combo above, but seriously, gnocchi goes with pretty much everything. It’s cheap to buy or you can make your own if you have potatoes, eggs and some form of flour. Gnocchi should be the president. Gnocchi, for your consideration.

Fish Finger Butty

Now, bread might be scarce but I’ve been told it’s possible to make your own without a breadmaker and using realtively common ingredients. But if you have a loaf stowed in the freezer or manage to get your hands on some, make sure you get a pack of fish fingers to go with it. Doorstop white bread and cheap, cheerful fingers are the ideal stock, but do what you like if you fancy being a hipster or a health nut about it. Vegan options do apparently exist as well as vegan sauce alternatives, but as long you have the fingers, the bread, the spread and some sauce (Salad cream or liberally peppered mayonnaise is my pick), you have a winning teatime meal on your hands.

Potato smileys, beans, turkey shapes

While we’re in the realm of school dinners, you cannot feel more taken care of than when you’ve just finished a plate of the above. Potato shapes and breadcrumbed shapes come in all sorts of entertaining forms and can be frozen for eons and should be in your freezer regardless of an epidemic. Baked beans may be in sort supply, but if you can’t find a dusty tin at the back of your cupboards, any saucy tinned pasta will do the trick. Healthier options do exist if you want it, but my pick would be the standard McCain’s Potato Smileys, Heinz Baked Beans, and Bernard Matthews Golden Drummers or Turkey Dinosaurs.

Brinner

In the iconic words of Christopher Duncan Turk in Scrubs (2001), “It’s kind of hard to beat brinner”. For those of you unfamiliar, ‘Brinner’ is simply breakfast for dinner. And who wouldn’t want to explore that world of possibilities? A fry up, toast, cereal, fruit and yogurt, the world truly is your oyster when it comes to brinner. If there’s a few of you in quarantine together, why not make a brinner banquet? My only rule would be you have to bring eggs. Speaking of which…

Baked Eggs

Huevos rancheros, shakshouka, menemen, whatever you call it, baking a few eggs in some tinned tomatoes has never felt more upmarket. You can customise this to feature additional veg of course and I personally like to get plenty of balsamic vinegar in the tomatoes, but it’s really up to you what you want to do here. Ideal with some crusty bread to dip straight into the pan, it’s a great dish to share with your isolation pals as well, and for all its impressive presentation warrants, it’s mega easy to make.

Omelette

Another egg-based dish, an omelette is ideal for using up fresh ingredients about to perish or maybe a little worse for wear already. Do you remember those adverts for BEIC? The ‘Red Lion Eggs’ and how versatile they could be when it looked like you had nothing in? The adverts (Directed by Tom Hooper in case you’re interested) showed families looking in near empty fridges but managing to cook up something wonderful with eggs and a couple of other ingredients. They were basically always omelettes, but it is still something that rings true to this day that even if it looks like there’s nothing in, you can probably make an omelette.

Soup

Vegans and non-vegans, unite! I don’t need to tell you how many varieties of soup there are. Fresh, tinned, homemade, you can make anything into a decent bowl of soup if you blend and season enough. In fact there are so many different flavours and forms of soup that I didn’t want to put a picture on this entry, but instead chose one of my favourite adverts from the king of soup, Heinz, that perfectly encapsulates how a hot bowl of soup puts everything in its place after a crummy day.

Crimble Crumble

I don’t know exactly why they call it crimble crumble on Friday Night Dinner (2011) but it’s now the only name I shall accept for the low-maintenance dessert. If you have flour, sugar and fruit (fresh or tinned), you can make some sort of crumble. Hopefully you can make or have some custard, cream or ice cream to go with it, but even the most basic recipe and presentation will hit your sweet-tooth appropriately, and wrap around you like a hug.

Stew

If you want to be fancy you can call it a casserole, but a stew is a stew because that’s what your ingredients are doing. I love a stew because you can use anything. All you need is a big pot or a slow cooker, some dry ingredients, seasoning and liquid, and you’re good to go. This can be meaty, veggie, or vegan, and there is no limit on what weird and wonderful combinations you can come up with for stew. My only advice is that this is a leisurely dinner that should be cooked low and slow, so you’re best not leaving it until you actually need to eat. Leave it in the slow cooker all day or start the cooking as early as you can for maximum flavour and tenderisation.

Pasta, bacon, cheese

Like gnocchi, pasta can be used in a million and one combinations but I think the above is the best for a quick meal you won’t judge yourself for. If you’re Italian, look away now, because I fully expect you to come for my head if you read what I’m about to say; you do not have to respect pasta! One of my old favourite pasta dishes was penne, barbecue sauce, and cheddar cheese. Done in about 10 minutes, and very filling. You can go down this route of sacrilege, or you can keep it authentic with old Italian recipes that make use of ingredients lying around the house. Either way, there’s a reason pasta is in demand right now and I hope you can grab some for tough times ahead.

Toasties

A superior comfort food if you have a toastie maker or sandwich press, but also acceptable by cooking on the stovetop. You can put whatever you want on a toastie and it will make you feel good. I require cheese on mine but I’m not fussy about what it’s paired with because in my opinion cheese goes with everything. I have seen people use brevilles to make desserts and pies out of chilled pastry as well, so it’s worth keeping that in mind during your self-isolation.

Noodles

Ramen should not be disrespected. What is known as ‘ramen’ in the US and UK is not ‘ramen’. They are instant noodles okay? Even in Japan, they call it ‘instant ramen’. INSTANT. But anyway, instant noodles are a godsend and you can jazz them up with liberal seasoning, sriracha, and a boiled egg sitting on top. Just don’t call it ramen though.

“Pies”

I do not like that shepard’s pies and cottage pies are called pies because they are not pies. But regardless of this, they are a great way to use up ingredients and fill your stomach. These are basically less liquidy stews with potato on top, and who wouldn’t love that?

Mince and Tatties

If you know what you’re doing here, this meal is bound to snap you out of your funk. You should always look to the Scots and other cold countries when it comes to comfort meals with minimal ingredients, because they will without a doubt have the best recipes with the smallest fuss. It’s all about the seasoning with this dish, so don’t be shy with your salt and pepper and whack some soy or Worcestershire sauce in there for extra purchase.

Cereal and flavoured milk

I’ll be the first to say I’m actually not a cereal fan. It’s my least favourite breakfast and I never understood Jerry’s obsession in Seinfeld (1989) until I tried Nesquik with chocolate almond milk. Shit! It was amazing! Since then I’m queen of the cereal combos. Some of my favourites include Lucky Charms with strawberry milk, peanut butter Crunchy Nut Clusters with banana milk, and Golden Nuggets with white chocolate milk (it does exist!). Experiment and change your life! The crazier the better!

Stir Fry

Like a lot of these meals, the best thing about a stir fry is that anything goes. If you are frying it on a high heat in a big pan and stirring as you fry, you are making a stir fry. Keeping it Chinese in flavour is my recommendation, with rice or noodles, vegetables, some sort of protein, seasoning and sweet chili sauce. Quick, easy, and super filling, I do not know how people survive without stir frys.

Cheese on Toast

The first. The last. Our everything. Cheese on toast might seem like a snack rather than a meal, but you’re not thinking outside the box. Even basic cheddar cheese on toast is great. Then add a bit of worcestershire sauce. Ooh? Little bit interesting? Then maybe put a little dijon mustard and ham underneath the cheese before grilling. Croque monsieur por moi? Ooh la la. Get really fancy and make Welsh rarebit! OH YES CHEESE ON TOAST, DO IT TO ME AGAIN! Never underestimate cheese on toast because it will never underestimate you. It’s a dish that’s truly what you want to make of it and it’s another great meal that lifts your spirits just when you need it

What do you reckon? Are these decent comfort foods or am I just a terrible cook? Let me know if I missed any or you’ve had these and they made you even more depressed!