If you asked anybody last fall what they thought their summer would be like, I’m sure nobody could have predicted we’d all be relegated to our homes, avoiding a deadly virus. (And if you did, give me your number because I need some advice on stocks.) Bars may be opening to varying degrees where you live, but maybe you don’t feel comfortable venturing out just yet. Or maybe you just prefer drinking in the comfort of your own home, which, before quarantine happened, we all complained was a better way to pass the time anyway! So if you’re not an overachiever who has taken this time to learn how to bartend (and who wants to buy random sh*t like vermouth and bitters anyway?), then it’s time to stock up on canned drinks for summer. They’re portable, they’re delicious, and you don’t have to make them yourself. Here are some canned drinks you can take to your next socially distant park hang.
Created in Los Angeles and produced in Ventura, CA, Livewire canned cocktails are created by top bartenders and the cans are designed by tattoo artists, which is good for your Instagram but bad for my hoarding tendencies. (What, I like to save pretty things…) Three drinks are now available: the Heartbreaker, a mix of vodka, oroblanco grapefruit, kumquat, jasmine, and ginger; the Honeydew Collins, which contains gin, honeydew, lime leaf, coconut, and elderflower; and the Golden God, which is made of Rye whiskey, brandy, apricot, green tea, and elderflower. Fancy. They’re available at select stores in Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York, or you can just buy a 4-pack online.
So basically you’ll never have to buy a bottle of liquor ever again if you just stock up on Cutwater Spirits, because they’ve put pretty much every cocktail imaginable in canned form. From a Bloody Mary to a tequila paloma to your basic vodka soda and so many f*cking more, they legit have it all. I sounded like an infomercial just there but it’s legitimately true. I the grapefruit vodka soda, which has a nice flavor kick without being too abrasive like ahem other grapefruit canned drink varietals, as well as the tequila margarita, which knocked me on my ass at 12.5% ABV. Truly something for everyone. They’re currently available in a bunch of states and on Drizly and Reserve Bar.
I love the design of these cans because they kind of look like you’re drinking an old-timey soda and not a cocktail with 5% ABV. Just in case, you know, you might need to disguise the fact that you’re getting buzzed…in front of your mom, not anything illegal, of course. Prairie’s canned cocktails come in three varietals, all made with Prairie Organic vodka or gin. The cucumber lemonade and grapefruit are made with vodka, and they are pretty self-explanatory in terms of flavor and ingredients. If you’re a gin person
I don’t trust you you can try the Minnesota Bootleg, a blend of gin, mint, lemon, and lime flavors. So like, kind of a gin fizz, maybe? Find them at a local retailer.
Speaking of super cute packaging, Two Chicks is a female-founded company that makes a number of equally tasty and pretty canned cocktails, and they’re all sparkling, because obviously. What I love about this brand (aside from what I already said) is that they have cocktails you’re not really going to find anywhere else, like a sparkling apple gimlet and vodka CuTea (vodka with peach, cucumber tea, and thyme). They also have your classics like a citrus margarita and paloma, though. I’ll take one of everything. Buy locally or through services like Drizly.
Started by Shay Mitchell, Noah Gray, Max Dworin, and Kelli Adams, this sh*t looks and tastes like summer in a can. Their canned tequila soda has 5% ABV and 100 calories, and it’s made with blanco tequila from a woman-owned distillery in Mexico and uses real lime and grapefruit juice. You really can’t go wrong with either of the two classic flavors, lime and grapefruit.
McBride Sisters was started by (you guessed it) sisters Robin and Andréa McBride, who had no idea the other existed until 1999. I’m going to need a movie about their life ASAP, and it will be the new Parent Trap. While they have a bigger bottle collection, they offer canned sauvignon blanc and rosé. The sauv b is a New Zealand wine and the rosé is a California wine, a nod to how one sister grew up in New Zealand and the other in California. I’m telling you, they need a movie!! You can bu the cans directly through their site, and stay on the lookout for SHE CAN spritzers.
If you’re more of a wine drinker, Cupcake wines have three types that come in a can: the sauvignon blanc, rosé, and sparkling rosé. All are perfect for summer and can be purchased at your local liquor store or, again, online. As an extra bonus that literally seems too good to be true, the cans are 375mL which means there is half a bottle in every can. Let me repeat that: HALF A BOTTLE IN EVERY CAN.
Speaking of wine, 14 Hands Unicorn Rosé Bubbles is pretty much the cutest canned drink ever, and that’s all there is to it. I am told the flavor is “light, fruity and crisp,” but I’m going to level with you guys: all wine tastes the same to me unless that wine is Chardonnay, which I categorically hate. This wine has scents of cranberry, pomegranate, and Bing cherry, but again, I went to a wine tasting once and was literally Michael Scott being like “this tastes like a red.” Regardless, this rosé is cute and it tastes good, and you can get your hands on some online or through Drizly.
We have now reached everyone’s favorite portion of the article: seltzers. And I’m not going to cover the obvious ones, but I do feel the need to include Bud Light on here. The thing is that these are actually good!! And they’re one of the only companies that has a strawberry flavor, which is a personal favorite. You can pretty much get it wherever you can find Bud Light—I trust that you don’t need my advice on this one.
Tequila drinkers (hi), this one’s for you. Volley is the first clean spiked seltzer since it’s made with only three ingredients: 100% blue agave tequila, sparkling water and organic juice (as if I care, I’m putting alcohol in my body). It’s made with 100% blue agave tequila, so to me it tastes like a tequila soda, which happens to be my go-to bar order. They’re basically like if you want the taste of tequila without all the commitment, and there are four flavors: zesty lime (tastes like your standard tequila soda with lime and it is, in fact, zesty), sharp grapefruit (like your skinny girl paloma), tropical mango (which is surprisingly really good and kind of tastes like soda), and spicy ginger (like a tequila mule). Check out their website where they will direct you to a third party retailer that ships to your state.
Another hard seltzer that is kinder on the body (well, as kind to your body as an alcoholic beverage can be) is Vizzy, which contains Vitamin C. This is bad news for me because I am known to drink when I am getting sick, because I subscribe to the “alcohol kills the germs” mentality. So now that we have alcohol that contains vitamin C, it’s game over. In any case, Vizzy has more ~elevated~ flavors like pineapple mango, black cherry lime, blueberry pomegranate (it’s getting wild over here), and strawberry kiwi. You can order through Drizly, Instacart, or at a retailer near you.
From spiked lemonade to tea to soda to coconut (water, I guess?) Crook & Marker has basically every type of hard fizzy drink you could ever want. I can always get down with a hard lemonade, and their classic, blueberry, raspberry, and watermelon flavors are a definite step up from the hard lemonade you stole from your parents in high school (not naming any brand names, but I think you know the one). You can find them at a local grocery store or similar retailer.
Images: Maria Oswalt / Unsplash; sipwhiskey.com; cutwaterspirits.com; prairieorganicspirits.com; twochickscocktails.com; drinkonda.com; mcbridesisters.com; cupcakevineyards.com; 14hands.com; budlight.com; jensensliquors.com; vizzyhardseltzer.com; crookandmarker.com
With social distancing guidelines and shelter in place laws in effect at least through the end of the month, it’s time to start taking this seriously and not leaving your house unless it’s absolutely necessary. Part of that means not going to the grocery store for one loaf of bread or because you ran out of LaCroix, and instead, learning to get creative with the items you already have in your kitchen.
When the instructions for social distancing and self-isolation came from Governor Newsom here in California, one thing I didn’t have to worry about was being able to eat from my pantry. It’s not that I’m a canned food fan. In fact, I much prefer the type of foods that live in the refrigerator: fresh vegetables, juicy fruits and select organic proteins. It’s more that I’m a fundamentally lazy person. Yes, I may have written a 500-hundred page cookbook, BUT if given the choice to go into my car and drive in L.A. traffic to go to the supermarket, where I then have to find parking before grocery shopping, versus sit on my couch and watch an episode of Silicon Valley until I fall into an hour-long slumber, I choose the latter. I really love a good nap.
So, because I am lazy, at times, I find myself hungry without fresh food in the house. I don’t like ordering in, and so it is in these moments that I get the most creative in my kitchen. Fueled by hunger for a proper meal, I play with the ingredients I find buried in my pantry, a skill that’s become especially useful now that we are supposed to be limiting trips to the supermarket.
Since everyone is making pasta like never before, I thought I’d start off with a simple sauce recipe that even the laziest of us can accomplish.
Recommendation: Read through recipes outside the kitchen, like on the couch or even when you’re in bed. Get a feel for how each one works. That way if you’re missing some ingredients, you can come up with alternatives before you find yourself in the throes of cooking. For example, if you read through this recipe thinking “I don’t have red pepper flakes for the sauce,” take an inventory of your pantry to see what else you might have—maybe you’ve got some cayenne sitting around. Or maybe you’ll think, “I have a jalapeño I can chop up.” The point is to not go running out for spices or other ingredients, and figure out how to make do with what you’ve got. And by the way, if you have none of those heat-adding touches on hand, just make it without the spiciness (it will still taste fine, I promise). The purpose is to use these recipes as a template for you to get creative in your pantry, which is a lesson that will serve you well past the end of quarantining.
So without further ado, let’s make a simple tomato and basil sauce from the ingredients that have probably been sitting in your pantry for months.
Simple Tomato and Basil Sauce
I like canned tomatoes for certain sauces, because they’re just as good in the winter as they are in the summer—unlike fresh tomatoes, which are only good in summer—and they lend themselves to a richer sauce, with very little work.
This sauce doesn’t have many ingredients. It’s the opposite of Emeril Lagasse’s “BAM, BAM BAM!” explosions of flavor. This sauce is about harmony, about letting the garlic and whole basil leaves gently infuse their flavors into the tomatoes. The carrots add sweetness to the tomatoes naturally, without sugar, and lend a mildly earthy flavor.
⭐︎ 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
⭐︎ ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
⭐︎ 3 large garlic cloves
⭐︎ ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
⭐︎ 1 to 2 carrots, cut into matchstick pieces
⭐︎ 1 to 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
⭐︎ 10 to 15 fresh basil leaves, left on stems
Makes: 2 cups sauce for a box or a box and half of pasta
- Place a medium heavy pan over a medium flame for a couple minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and their juices to a food processor or blender and pulse into a thick pulp. You can also squeeze the tomatoes by hand, but be careful of the splattering!
- Add the olive oil to the hot pan, followed by the garlic, red pepper flakes, and carrots. Watch as the bubbles emanate from garlic; that is the garlic infusing its flavor into the oil. Don’t let the garlic burn or even brown—you want it to stay translucent.
- After several minutes, add the tomato purée. You will see olive oil coming up on the sides of the tomatoes; this is ok, the olive oil helps to transform the flavor of the tomatoes.
- Add a good sprinkling of salt, about 1 teaspoon, and a large handful of basil leaves. Stir occasionally. It will be done when it is no longer watery and the sauce has thickened, 20 to 25 minutes,
- Taste for salt and add more if necessary. If you aren’t sure if there is enough salt, there isn’t. Add more.
- Remove the carrots and use them as a side dish for another meal (see Variation). It’s up to you if you want to remove the garlic and basil leaves or keep them in for a rustic feel.
Variation: If you’d like a sweeter, more nutritious sauce, remove the garlic and basil and puree the tomato sauce with about half of the carrots in a blender or food processor. It will be delicious (and a good way to hide vegetables from your kids).
Enjoy with a box and a half of your favorite pasta (now you finally know how much to make).
In 2010, back in her hometown of Los Angeles, Elana founded the Meal and a Spiel cooking school out of her parents’ kitchen, and now travels the country teaching people how to make phenomenal food, easily.
Elana holds a B.A. from Brown University and a M.A. from Middlebury College in Florence, both in Italian Studies. She has written and performed stand-up comedy to Los Angeles audiences, spent 4 years teaching high school World History and has led experiential culinary vacations throughout the boot of Italy.
Her ultimate dream is to live in a world where everyone shares love with one another through cooking.
Image: Keri liwi / Unsplash
It’s no secret that we live in a society obsessed with wellness. According to one statistic, the global wellness market is estimated to reach $4.75 trillion in 2019. And while some wellness trends are genuinely beneficial, plenty are complete and utter bullsh*t. Read on for some of the worst wellness trends over the last 10 years.
2010: The Shake Weight
It’s hard to believe that just ten years ago, millions of people thought they could outsmart common sense science and lose weight by remaining sedentary and holding an oscillating weight for a few minutes each day. *Sigh* a girl can dream. Despite the claim that the Shake Weight can provide a total upper-body workout “in only 6 minutes per day,” this is highly unlikely. What it will do is make the holder look like they’re giving a hand job to a disembodied robot dick.
2011: HCG Diet
The HCG Diet involves taking the hormone HCG, eating a 500-700 calorie diet (not a typo) and forgoing exercise altogether, all for almost a month. There’s way too much to unpack here. First, altering your hormones is far from casual and should be a larger decision made under the care of a doctor. But even without that element, the diet is absolutely insane. The average woman needs to consume 2,000 calories per day to maintain weight and 1,500 calories to lose one pound per week. While these figures are obviously not one size fits all, suggesting that a person should eat one-third or half that amount is not sustainable and frankly, is probably starvation. And no exercise at all? Something’s not adding up here.
2012: Raw Food Diet
Not even Smith Jerrod could convince me to try this farce of a diet. Adoptees eat a diet, usually only plant-based, consisting of completely raw (that is, never heated over 104-118°F or 40-48°C) and unprocessed foods. I could eat 100 pounds of raw carrots and still be starving, so I do not understand how this diet is sustainable for more than one meal. If that weren’t unappealing enough, experts say that all of the slicing and dicing required to prepare raw foods actually strips them of many of the nutrients that proponents of the diet claim are lost to traditional cooking methods. Hard pass.
2013: Open Bar Gyms
I’m not here to ruin your good time on this one. In fact, I’m the first person to crave a cold, hard glass of Chardonnay after a moderately difficult grueling workout class. So why not save yourself the trip and have a one-stop shop in your gym? The issue is that alcohol decreases the level of glycogen in your muscles, which creates the energy the muscles need to repair and strengthen themselves, not to mention increase your metabolism. I guess there’s a reason most gyms don’t have a vodka fountain, and it’s because alcohol basically sabotages your workout. So as tempting as it might be to toss one back immediately after barre, opt for some water instead.
2014: Hot Exercise
We all have that one friend who swears by hot yoga and insists that she “doesn’t feel like she’s getting a real workout” unless she leaves the class in a pool of her own sweat. Unfortunately, these hot classes can do more harm than good. While many hot exercise classes turn the heat upwards of 100 degrees, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends temperatures between 68° and 72° F degrees for athletic facilities. In other words, there’s really no reason to make the room that hot, except for the false perception that you got a great workout because you sweated out half your water weight. Then there’s the risk of dehydration, heatstroke, and heat exhaustion. I’ll stick with my normal temperature yoga, TYVM.
2015: Vaginal Steaming
This list wouldn’t be complete without an entry from our favorite pseudo-medical professional wellness expert, Gwyneth Paltrow. In 2015, she recommended that women steam their vaginas, claiming “It is an energetic release—not just a steam douche—that balances female hormone levels.” The hormone claim is patently false. But that’s the least of the troubles with this bogus trend. First and foremost, the vagina doesn’t need help regulating itself. Second, steaming raises body temperature, opening the door for unwanted bacteria and yeast and poor lubrication. No thanks. And finally there’s the risk of, you know, burning your cooch. As with most things Gwyneth says, you should probably ignore this one.
2016: Detox Teas
Detox teas are yet another product of dubious efficacy shilled by celebrities and, in this case, Bachelor rejects, Kardashian-Jenners, and Real Housewives. Funnily enough, none of the #ads promoting these products show the user sitting on the toilet, even though that’s where these teas will take you. As we’ve explained before, detox teas are essentially liquid laxatives, and prolonged use can cause diarrhea, cramps, dysfunction of the bowels, and dependence on the laxatives. Yikes.
2017: Activated Charcoal
I’ve never really understood this one. The idea of drinking a black smoothie, or worse, brushing my teeth with black toothpaste never really held much appeal. I can kind of see where we went wrong with thinking this would be a wellness product, since activated charcoal is most commonly used in the case of an overdose because of its ability to absorb toxins. But as far as its detoxing properties go, there’s no need to use it to filter out toxins because we have kidneys and a liver to do exactly that. There’s also no clear evidence that it whitens teeth, clears acne, or controls odors. Even worse, it can reduce the effectiveness of certain medications. So basically, it makes you look demonic in pictures and that’s about all we can guarantee.
Continuing the theme of completely unnecessary detoxing procedures is colonics, popularized by, you guessed it, the GOOP-meister herself. Colonics are procedures that flush your colon with water in an effort to detox the body. As we’ve covered above, our bodies are more than capable of purging themselves of toxins without any outside help. In addition, colonics can cause cramping, vomiting, electrolyte imbalance, rectal tears and even death. Just a few more reasons to spare your butthole.
Despite the douche factor, as vaping began trending, it was thought to be a healthier alternative to smoking. And when used as a means to quit cigarettes and other tobacco products, it may be effective, though it hasn’t been approved by the FDA for this purpose. We are, however, starting to see its risks. Just a month ago, a study found that Juul e-cigarettes deliver nicotine similarly to regular cigarettes. Considering that teenagers are some of the biggest users of e-cigarettes, this raises the concern that e-cigarettes are creating a whole new customer base of nicotine addicts, some of whom will eventually either turn to regular cigarettes or supplement their vaping with smoking. Then there’s the potential link between vaping and lung disease, and the instances of people who have ended up in the hospital because of vaping. While there’s still a lot we don’t know, it’s safe to say that vaping is far from the miracle it was originally thought to be (and still incredibly douchey).
If this list is any indication, our collective obsession with wellness, no matter how absurd, will continue for many decades to come. What other ridiculous wellness trends have you noticed over the past decade? Sound off in the comments!
Images: Shutterstock; Giphy (10)
The sodium-filled bags under your eyes will thank you.
Overeating on Thanksgiving is inevitable. Not only is overeating on Thanksgiving inevitable, but overeating some particularly nasty ingredients is also inevitable. (And if you don’t relate to this idea of “overeating” then I’m sure there is another article out there for you somewhere!).
We’ve all heard the shpiel about what “bad foods” and “bad ingredients” can do to our bodies, with the most obvious consequence being weight gain. But, have you ever stopped to think about what these harmful ingredients can do to your skin?
What I’m trying to say is: not only can you gain weight after eating poorly, but your face and skin can go down the drain, too. Certain foods really can affect the quality of our skin. But, as I mentioned, eating these foods on Thanksgiving is going to happen no matter what. So, instead of trying to change our behaviors on the one holiday that we’re basically required to indulge, let’s lean on some amazing skin care products instead to help get us back to our beautiful, fresh-faced selves.
Below I’ve listed out some beauty products you’ll probably need after indulging on Thanksgiving. I also spoke with dermatologist and founder of MMSkincare, Dr. Ellen Marmur, who helped explain why our faces look so
gross different after eating certain foods/ingredients.
Concern: Puffy Eyes From Sodium
Solution: Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Eye Masks
The excessive sodium we’ll be eating from all of that stuffing, pecan pie, and (if you’re one of those) gravy can lead to some seriously puffy under-eyes. Why? Because “when we’re eating out of balance, the fluids in our bodies begin to pool in areas where there is empty space,” says Dr. Marmur. She explained that you’re probably bloated all over, but you’ll notice it more under your eyes.
So, invest in some stretchy pants as well as The Baggage Claim Eye Masks from Wander Beauty. These eye masks are super soothing and cooling, and also completely stay put on your face. Not that you were planning on being productive on Thanksgiving, but on the off-chance that you get up from the couch and help your mom clean up, you definitely have the option to wear these masks at the same time.
Concern: Dry Skin From Alcohol
Solution: Herbal Dynamics Beauty Hyaluronic Acid & Oat Overnight Recovery Mask
Alcohol is a kicker for many reasons. Dr. Marmur explained that our skin gets super stressed out from all of the sleep we are destined to NOT get after drinking, as well as from the total loss of water our bodies experience when consuming alcohol. She explains, “The water that’s normally in our circulation either goes out to the soft tissue (which also causes puffiness under the eyes), or it gets driven to our kidneys and you end up peeing a lot more than usual.” Which all leads to dryness.
Hyaluronic acid to the rescue! HA is a molecule that “brings humidity to it, and holds it” according to Dr. Marmur. This is why the Herbal Dynamics Beauty Recovery Mask is a miracle worker. It totally plumps up the skin overnight by helping it to retain water. Let’s just hope you’re not too lit to remember to put it on.
Concern: Wrinkles & Acne From Carbohydrates
Solution: Anda Enzyme Serum-Masque & Paula’s Choice BHA 9 Treatment
While there is not much science behind the idea of carbs directly causing wrinkles and acne, Dr. Marmur explained to me the working theory of “glycation,” or that sugar found in carbohydrates causes inflammation (which can lead to acne) and a loss of collagen in the skin (which can lead to premature wrinkles). Dr. Marmur emphasized that some people simply metabolize carbs well, while others don’t. My brand is definitely “metabolizes carbs well.” Anyway, her advice is to eat what feels right to you. If you notice you look particularly swollen after chocolate, for example, then eat less chocolate. Life’s tough, I know.
Carbs or no carbs, we’ll all be wrinkly one day. Accept it! Or, if you can’t, you can use serums like the Anda enzyme serum-masque to gently exfoliate and smooth out the skin. I’ve noticed that my skin looks super luminous with this particular serum! For acne, Paula’s Choice BHA 9 Treatment works like a charm.
Concern: Being Anti-Social
Solution: MMSphere LED Skincare Device
Okay, you caught me—this isn’t a skincare concern, but it’s still arguably THE biggest concern on Thanksgiving. Like, why do I need to entertain my out-of-town cousin at 9am the morning after Thanksgiving when we mutually don’t care about each other?
Enter the MMSphere LED Skincare Device* from Dr. Marmur. You know those ring lights that make us look hot in our selfies? This device is shaped like that, but it actually has real, non-superficial benefits that don’t include getting our ex to “like” our latest Instagram. This device has five different colored lights, each with a different benefit for our skin. The amber light will be of particular use to you this Thanksgiving, as it releases endorphins and is proven to elevate your mood and energize you—it’s even used to treat depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. So instead of waking up and immediately retreating back to your pillow, soak up that amber light and be SOCIAL!
*Betches readers can use code “HOLIDAY19” for any starter pack of your choice with the purchase of a sphere or a 4 pack of masks with the purchase of 3 serums.
Good luck, and happy eating! 😉
Images: The MMSphere; Paula’s Choice Skincare; Kerstin Florian Skincare; Herbal Dynamics Beauty; Wander Beauty
Thanksgiving is the ideal holiday for people who actually know their way around a kitchen. The holidays are essentially a dragged out humble-brag for wholesome girls who “love to cook” and “just wanted to share their new banana bread recipe with the friends they love most!!”.
Cut to me: a gal who falls dead on the other end of the spectrum. One time I tried to make a Vietnamese spring roll that simply required me to buy some noodles and vegetables and roll them up into a single rice paper sheet—couldn’t even do that. So, you get where I’m at in terms of cooking for others. I am, therefore, taking the liberty of crowning myself an expert in NOT cooking, which makes me the perfect person to share ideas on what to bring to Thanksgiving or Friendsgiving dinner if you don’t know how to cook. And no, I’m not just going to tell you to go to the store and pick up a pumpkin pie—that’s amateur hour.
Alcohol That Isn’t Wine
You can pretty much bet on the hosts having wine already, or another guest bringing wine as a gift. So, instead of bringing a basic $25 red wine (because you felt too guilty buying the cheapest $12 option so you took it one notch up), bring a bottle of something that the hosts will actually remember. Skinnygirl cocktails are always unexpected and yummy, but still as fancy as wine. My personal favorite is the original Margarita flavor. Loverboy is another fun, low-calorie drink, and the packaging will automatically let it be known that “party’s here!!!” Or, if all else fails, bring a variety pack of spiked seltzer, since we as a collective society are still not done making memes about it.
I recently braved the Union Square Trader Joe’s (if you don’t live in NYC, just know that this Trader Joe’s location is almost as crowded and difficult to get into as, like, LIV nightclub in Miami), and had the amazing pleasure of sampling their Turkey and Stuffing Seasoned Kettle Chips. Not to be lame and get too overly excited about a chip, but I literally walked away thinking, “this is a party in my mouth!!” Okay, that got lame. Whatever. The chip truly tasted like turkey and then stuffing—magic! Pringles also came out with a roasted turkey flavor, now available in retailers nationwide. But if you do go this route, get a dip too so you don’t seem like a total cheapskate.
I know, I know—you saw that word “bake” and immediately kept scrolling. Don’t! You can do this! Ready-to-bake cookies literally only involve putting the cookie dough rounds (that are already all evenly cut up for you) on a cookie sheet, and putting them into the oven. You do not need to be Paul Hollywood to pull this off—all you need to be able to do is set a timer. If you don’t know how to use the oven, take deep breaths and text your Mom. Pillsbury knows that you are useless and uneducated in the kitchen, and has turkey-shaped sugar cookies just for you that are on-theme, easy and delicious. *Chef’s kiss.*
As someone whose cooking-incompetent mother has used this trick for years, I’m confident that people who don’t cook can still put together a really amazing and tasty salad. The ingredients don’t even have to be anything crazy. Simply find a unique dressing at one of those super expensive local health markets (like The Health Nuts), and people will rave about the salad. Trust me, I have seen the positive reactions with my own two eyes throughout many years of the same boring salad from my Mom (sorry, Mom)!
Here are a few detailed options (with links to ingredients you may be overwhelmed by):
Wild rice salad: Arugula, tomatoes, wild rice, shaved almonds, sweet potatoes (optional, my mom always forgets to add the sweet potatoes, #shocker, and it still tastes great), and Greek vinaigrette
Asian salad: Chopped up cabbage, chopped up peanuts, sesame seeds, tofu/chicken (optional), and ginger dressing
Garden salad: Mixed greens, avocado, dried cranberries/cherries, croutons, sweet potatoes, hummus (optional), walnuts, and avocado vinaigrette
Also, bring pita for extra brownie points.
Cranberry Cocktail Ingredients
Note that I did NOT write “cranberry vodka.” That was intentional. This isn’t your college bar. Let’s rebrand the cranberry vodka to a more sophisticated, classy Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving cocktail with cranberry juice, seltzer, vodka or gin, and some actual, fresh cranberries and lime to float inside the drink. Maybe even bring champagne flutes to complete the “fancy cocktail” package. Do a sugar rim if you’re extra fancy.
As my friend ingeniously told me over dinner the other night, the one thing everyone always forgets to bring to a Friendsgiving is veggies. I thought about it, and realized she was 100% right. When it comes to friendsgivings, everyone’s falling over themselves to bring a pumpkin pie, mac ‘n cheese, mashed potatoes, etc., and you have nothing green at the table. But roasting veggies is so easy. Just buy a bunch of asparagus, onions, peppers, or literally whatever else you want. Toss them in olive oil, season with salt and pepper (and other spices if you’re fancy), put them all on a pan, and roast at 400 degrees. Check on it after like, 20 minutes to make sure you didn’t burn anything.
To that girl in the office who ALWAYS brings banana bread in—we’re onto you. Banana bread is SO easy to make and requires very few ingredients. Just get:
- A bread-shaped pan because I know you don’t own one
- Butter (1/4 cup melted—look on the stick of butter and it will tell you how much that amounts to in solid form)
- Sugar (1 cup of the regular sh*t)
- Egg (just one)
- Flour (1 1/2 cups of the all-purpose flower that’s probably been sitting in your freezer for a year)
- Baking soda (1 tsp)
- Salt (1 tsp)
- Chocolate (optional)
- And 3 bananas! The blacker, the better—perfect for those people who try to be optimistic and buy fruit, only to have it go bad on their counter.
You literally just have to mix up the bananas, sugar, egg, and butter. Then mix the flower, baking soda, and salt, and add the banana mix into that. Then you bake that whole thing at 325 degrees for about an hour in your new pan. So, watch out, designated office baker.
To the non-cooking betches out there: stay confident in your gifts! No, bagged chips might not be the “homemade dish” that was technically requested on the invite, but they are equally as tasty—so who cares?
Images: Element5 Digital/ Unsplash; Christine Siracusa/ Unsplash; Jeff Siepman/ Unsplash; Jez Timms/Unsplash; Taylor Kiser/ Unsplash; Erol Ahmed/ Unsplash; Emiliano Vittoriosi/ Unsplash; Mae Mu/ Unsplash;
Presented by Moxy Hotels
Planning sucks, and bachelorette parties are a ton of work. So we’re taking all the guesswork out of planning a bachelorette party by breaking down top bachelorette destinations. Our guides will tell you where to stay, eat, party, how to get around, and give you a sample itinerary that you can follow. You’re welcome.
Bahstan really comes alive in the fall, and so will you, on an all-out bachelorette trip to B-Town. If you reside in Mass, are from the East Coast, or just looking to party it up on the cheap(er) side and not travel far, Beantown is a solid destination. It’s an easy year-round quick getaway. It’s a walkable metropolis packed with quality hotels, restaurants, bars, and adorable cobblestone streets made for impromptu photoshoots. Believe it or not, you can actually have a pretty epic girls trip in the “City of Champions”.
Boston’s really been stepping up their hospitality, culinary, and nightlife game, and they even have a Vegas-style club where you can order bottle service, dance on tables, and act like girls gone wild until you’re kicked out it’s time to go home. If you can avoid behaving like a total Masshole, or getting into any fights with the ones who live there, kudos to you. You’re not trying to get arrested on your last fling before the ring and have to dip into the wedding fund for bail money. With that being said, here’s our ultimate bachelorette guide to Boston.
How To Get There
Good news: Boston is a major city, so it’s not terribly hard to get to. The main airport is Logan if you happen to be flying from the South or the West Coast, but if you’re on the East Coast, you can also drive, train, or a take a boozy limo because it’s your bach and you do what you want! From NYC you’re looking at a 4+ hour drive and honestly around the same number of hours if you take Amtrak, but then you can pregame, so there’s that. Flying will get you to Beantown in closer to 2 hours from NYC, or approximately 5.5 hours from LA. Boston is wicked cheap to get to, though. Flights from the East Coast can be found for as low as $180 (or $130 from NYC), but pro tip—book on a Sunday. It’s the new Tuesday for bookings.
How To Get Around
Boston is a walking city, but obviously Uber, Lyft, and cabs work when your heels don’t. Another way to get around is the good ol’ T. The T isn’t as gross as the subway in NYC and for some places you go to, can take shorter than driving. Another option we love? Safr, which is ridesharing for women, by women. So if you don’t feel like dealing with some aggro Uber driver canceling on you when you’re just trying to find him when you’re blackout drunk, go with a local Boston lady who will probably compliment you on your outfit and give your squad tips on where to party all weekend. They’re friendly like that.
Where To Stay
The Moxy: The Moxy Boston Downtown just opened recently, and it’s already the place to stay if you want to take advantage of everything Boston has to offer. The location could not be more central, but tbh, you might not even want to leave the hotel. Between the industrial chic design and theatrical decor, the space is a perfect backdrop for your insta. There’s even a food-truck themed photo booth (because, why not?) if your phone is a dinosaur like mine. This is obviously ideal, because you know you’ll hate the pics you drunkenly decided would be so cute at the club after a few too many. Like all Moxy Hotels, the party starts as soon as you step into the lobby, with a video wall, games, and a free cocktail when you check-in.
The Moxy’s bar, appropriately named Bar Moxy, is the perfect spot to kick off your night with their signature “Got Moxy” cocktail. By the time you’re ready to hit the town, the hotel’s location is walking distance from all of the best food and drink in Downtown Boston. And the Moxy also has you covered when you come back at the end of the night, with 24-hour grab and go food inside the hotel. They even have a special “Curtain Call” menu, filled with dunchie delights, because the Moxy gets it. God bless. Combined with brand-new rooms with amazing floor-to-ceiling views, your bach group is going to be very happy with this hotel choice.
Hotel Commonwealth: This popular hotel is basically on top of Fenway Stadium, so it’s prime turf for taking in games and being in close proximity to all the Kenmore Square bars. It has a craft cocktail bar onsite, The Hawthorne, where you’ll start and end your nights. Two in-house restaurants (Eastern Standard and Island Creek Oyster Bar) also round out the list of perks, because when you’re hungover you need to be as close as humanly possible to mimosas and eggs Benedict. As for the digs, their posh 245 guest rooms, suites, and signature suites are spacious AF.
XV Beacon: The tone at XV Beacon Hotel is swankkky, so if you and your crew are some fancy betches, this is where you wanna check in. Important info to note: they allow pets for any four-legged friends looking to jump on the party bandwagon; they have a chic little roof where popping bottles of bubbly is a must; and in-house restaurant, Mooo, is next-level for group dinners.
The Godfrey Hotel Boston: The Godfrey is super cute and all, but let’s be serious—we check in here for the Bloody Mary bar cart that comes to your room at the press of a button. You can even request meeting rooms like the Blake and Amory as “get-ready” rooms, to blast single lady anthems and discuss life important outfit decisions before you hit the town. For dinner, there’s RUKA Restobar downstairs, which is a Peruvian-Japanese option that brings Nikkei cuisine to the forefront in Boston.
Where To Eat
Real talk: Bach’ing in Boston isn’t like bach’ing in the Hamptons, Miami, or on some tropical island where you have to be in a swimsuit 24/7, so get ready to eat. A lot.
Fox & The Knife: James Beard award-winning chef Karen Akunowicz of Myers+Chang fame just opened her first solo venture, and it’s pretty badass. It’s been named one of 2019’s Best New Restaurants by Food & Wine and Eater, so reserve in advance, if you want any shot in hell of getting in. As for the eats, there’s this cheese-stuffed focaccia situation on the menu that will make your life complete and pastas so good, you run the risk of getting into a fight with the bride over the last bite.
Uni: If you’ve ever wanted to nom on crazy good sushi while listening to old-school rap, go here. It doesn’t get any better than Uni in Boston, and they offer a private dining room so you can be as debaucherous as you want. JK, keep it together—you want to be semi-sober to enjoy this. P.S. There’s late-night ramen on the menu, so keep that knowledge in your back pocket when the munchies strike.
Peregrine: Peregrine is the new kid on the block—the Beacon Hill block, to be exact—in The Whitney Hotel. It’s basically a love letter to the Italian islands of Sardinia and Sicily and their ever-changing seasonal menu highlights include: pappardelle with braised chicken, steak with addictive rosemary garlic potatoes, and Catalonian tomato bread—just like nonna used to make. Oh, and you’ll want to get dressed up.
Myers+Chang: This upscale Chinese, Taiwanese, Korean, Asian-ish restaurant is uberrrrr famous and has a million dim sum-y things on the menu that you’ll dream about long after you crawl back home in a post-bender state. Word to the wise, though: maybe save this one for last and wear stretchy pants unless you want to be in a food coma after.
Bistro du Midi: The posh 10-year-old French bistro overlooks the Boston Public Gardens and has Le Bernardin alum chef Robert Sisca manning the kitchen, so you know it’s legit. Go for a ladies who boozy brunch moment when you want to #roséallday and devour platters of charcuterie, flatbread, and pommes frites. I mean, a bachelorette party is technically a food tour, right?
Committee Ouzeri + Bar: Nestled in the middle of the Seaport district is Committee, a modern Greek ouzeria GEM that’s become a go-to hang in the past few years. It’s spacious (aka good for groups), has delish mezze, and some of the most insane craft cocktails in the city. Evidence below.
View this post on Instagram
SMOOTHER THAN A FRESH JAR OF SKIPPY🥜🍇 Peanut Butter Jelly Time🍌peanut butter washed Redemption Rye, raisin syrup, orange & Angostura bitters @skippybrand @brunomars @alizmeszesi . . . . #committee #thebaratcommittee #keepitreal #keepitcommittee #smooth #uptownfunk #funk #peanutbutter #peanutbutterjellytime #brunomars 📷 @heathosaurusrex
Toro Boston: This big deal Boston tapas restaurant brings the Barcelona vibes HARD, thanks to celeb chefs Ken Oringer and Jamie Biss. And seriously, what’s better than bonding over a massive pan of paella? Not a whole lot TBH.
SRV: Come for the cicchetti (Venetian-style) bar snacks; stay for the $45 tasting menu that’s one of the best in the city. You’ll feel like you’re in Italy, only you’re in Boston, most likely on your 4th glass of vino, licking your plate clean.
Barking Crab: This place is an institution in Boston, parked below The Envoy Hotel, smack dab on the waterfront. An “urban seafood shack”, if you will. Slam a few oyster shooters, then order the New England-style clambake, plus all the lobster rolls, chowdah, and fried fish sandwiches that will fit on the table.
Where To Party
Boston loves themselves some moody, brooding, speakeasy lairs. Among the winners are Wink & Nod, Yvonne’s, and Lion’s Tail, so be sure to allow yourself plenty of time to hit them all before passing out. Then there are the other tried-and-true fan favorites and one very Vegas-y club.
Alibi at The Liberty Hotel: Any bar that looks like a jail cell, is housed in a former prison, and has mug shots of Lindsay Lohan and Frank Sinatra hanging on the walls is our kind of place.
The Pour House: The Pour House is literally the greatest place on earth—when you’re in Boston. In fact, Rihanna visited THREE f-ing times on her last trip to Boston! The Po Ho is as neighborhood watering hole as it gets, but in that special “I can’t wait to go back” kind of way.
Lookout Rooftop and Bar: Their catch phrase says it all: Today’s forecast: 100% chance of cocktails. The best rooftop views in Boston, a cool kids kinda crowd, and heated igloos (in the winter) made for imbibing, while getting that high-performing content for the ‘gram. Need we say more?
Yvonne’s: You can’t go to Boston and not go to Yvonne’s. It’s a rite of passage. Located in the former Locke-Ober space, this sexy supper club flows from dinner, to drinks, to lounging and their menu is all about the sharable plates. Prepare to spend all night here and LOVE IT.
The Hawthorne: The Hawthorne’s curated cocktail menu is filled with wild concoctions, thanks to mixologist wizard Jackson Cannon. So getting the bride toasted from off-the-cuff libations and rare cognacs, mezcals, and well-aged rums is par for the course. Be sure to hit up Swizzle Sundays or Sunday Sips, depending on the season. It gets lit.
The Grand: The Grand is Boston’s version of a Vegas nightclub. Drawing international DJ talent and names like Tiësto, Aoki, Hardwell, R3HAB, Marshmello, etc., it’s worth a stop on your bach weekend. Grab your girls and get yourself a table because once the bottle service starts following, you’re going to want to keep partying all night. Or at least until 2am. when the bars shut down. COME ON, BOSTON.
Friday, Day 1
Pro Tip: Make Friday your city day for shopping, doing touristy stuff, etc. You ain’t got time for that on Sat.
- Swing by the hotel, drop your stuff off, and hit the bar at the Moxy for the first of many rounds of the weekend. Pro tip: Bar Moxy’s “French Spritz” is super tasty and light enough to fend off any mini-hangovers in the afternoon.
- Make your way over to the Newbs (Newbury Street)/Boylston St. for shopping with a side of lunch. Top spots include: Parish Cafe, Stephanie’s On Newbury, Pour House DUH (Rih loves the wings), and Lolita Back Bay.
- Get the bride toasted at lunch, then go drive an amphibious vehicle through the water. No really, this is a thing here. Boston Duck Tours are land-meets-water historical tours of Boston in replica World War II vehicles that look (sorta) like ducks. And they’re basically asking for wasted bachelorette groups to be on board, since all you do is scream QUACK QUACK at innocent people the whole time.
- Chill at the hotel, try to nap, then pop bottles and let the glam begin.
- Work the Seaport circuit via dinner/drinks at Committee and Lookout Rooftop.
- Party at Grand like it’s your job, then collapse in your bed.
Saturday, Day 2
Pro Tip: Grab coffee to go from your hotel (and maybe chug a mimosa or three), then head over to Charles St., the cutest street in all of Boston, for group pics on The Hill before you spend the rest of the day getting schwasty-faced.
- Brunch on Charles at The Paramount (if your crew is small) or at Scampo at The Liberty Hotel, or back over by the park at Bistro du Midi.
- Proceed to eat and drink all the things.
- If your squad is the spa type, book afternoon treatments at Exhale Boston in Back Bay or Battery Wharf.
- Or book the Bridal Dash Boston scavenger hunt where you’ll
try not to go madhave a good time because you’re a good friend, damnit.
- Another option for later: Keep drinking on a booze cruise around the harbor. The Boatonian has DJs, dancing, and all the cape codders you can handle (without vom’ing) for $30 per person (NOT including the cost of drinks, ugh). Country Saturdays features the best live country bands in New England—if you’re into that sort of thing—and they start boarding at 8:30pm and shove off at 9pm sharp. Contact Matt at (617) 306-3347 for the group discount hookup.
- Do a late dinner (Fox & The Knife, Toro Boston, Uni, Yvonne’s), then hit the speakeasies for a few, before ending at the Boylston bars for last call.
Sunday, Day 3
Pro Tip: Ask for a late check-out in advance (some hotels let you pay more) so you can capitalize on Sunday Funday.
- Wake up, raid the mini bar for all the water in the room (and maybe more champagne), pop some Tylenol and get ready for brunch! It’s a marathon, not a sprint!
- Go out with a bang at Dim Sum Brunch at Meyers+Chang.
- Pass out on your flight, bus, train, car ride home—unless you’re the driver. Don’t do that.
Until next time, Boston!
Images: todd kent / Unsplash; hotelcommonwealth (2), xvbeaconhotel, godfreyboston, foxandknife, uni_boston, whitneyhotelboston, myersandchang, bistrodumidi, committeeboston, toroboston, srvboston, barkingcrab, alibiboston, thepourhouseboston, lookoutrooftop, yvonnesboston, bar500a, thegrandboston / Instagram
Annnnnd we’re back for the fourth and final installment of F*ck Your Diet. This series is for you if you identify as a food addict, a binge eater, someone who feels stress over what you eat, or if you’re constantly trying to lose weight and going from diet to diet. Here is my disclaimer: if you feel happy and content with your relationship to food and weight, you have my full blessing to keep doing whatever you’re doing. I’m not trying to napalm the part of your life that makes you feel good. If you like your diet, simply don’t f*ck your diet. That’s my general rule of thumb: If you’re happy, I’m not trying to get you to do anything. But! If you feel like something is off in the way you relate to food, this is definitely for you.
I spent the first three installments explaining how food deprivation and restriction actually cause and/or perpetuate food fixation and many experiences of food addiction. I also explain how I went from a food-obsessed childhood binge-eater, to teenage chronic yo-yo dieter, to a weight-obsessed faux-intuitive eater. Dieting was my religion and sugar was the devil I was trying to purify myself from. And strangely, it all became a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the more I restricted food and sugar, the more and more out of control and “addicted to it” I felt when I inevitably “slipped up” and drove to CVS at 11pm in my parents’ car to buy sugar-free protein bars that I pretended were candy bars. But still, if you haven’t read the first three installments, I recommend you go ahead and do that, because you may not understand what the hell I’m talking about in this installment if you don’t. Part 1. Part 2. And, Part 3.
View this post on Instagram
It was almost eight years ago now that I woke up from my decade-long diet hell. Which means I’ve been eating whatever I want for eight years. And even though in the beginning I was very hungry and spent a few months eating a lot and making up for lost time, I didn’t actually end up spinning into years of chaos like we all worry we will if we stop dieting. The chaos is temporary. The extreme hunger is temporary. I didn’t eat the whole world. And today, even though I have zero (ZERO!) rules around food, I do not eat a steady diet of donuts and McDonald’s and Snickers, because… I don’t want to (anymore). In fact, at this point, I probably eat “better” than I ever did on a diet, because I can actually hear what the hell my body is asking for, and the drama around food is gone.
So, what I’d like to do in this last piece in this series, is address some common fears that come up when people consider “F*cking Their Diet” or “Being on The F*ck It Diet” (which is actually what my site, Instagram, and book are named) or are even just flirting with the idea of not dieting.
“Anytime I try to stop dieting, I eat way more than anyone should.”
You are not alone! In fact, this is one of the big reasons that most people are convinced they can’t give up dieting. But, eating a lot of food is actually a really normal response to dieting or restricting food. We think it’s our bodies proving to us they’re broken or food addicted, but really it’s just survival. It’s just the body trying to make up for a famine scare.
We also tend to think that we should be eating way less food than we actually need. Did you know that in the 1940s, there was an experiment where men were put on a semi-starvation diet of 1,600-1,800 calories a day for six months, and it made them extremely emaciated and obsessed with food, and it made lots of them anxious and depressed, and normal amounts of food didn’t help them to recover at all? Instead it took them 5,000-11,000 calories a day for months to rehabilitate their bodies and their minds? Yeah. That happened.
So if that’s any indication, 1,600-1,800 calories is something lots of people think they should be striving for. Also, 1,200-1,400 calories is how much they recommend you feed your 2-year-old, so, you need a lot more, ok? No wonder we all feel so out of control with food. Most of us don’t even realize we are constantly trying to under-eat, and then we beat ourselves up for eating more than our too-low daily calorie amounts, and then we force ourselves to repent the next day by eating even less. What do you think that’s doing to our bodies and relationship with food?! We just need to f*cking eat consistently, and stop putting ourselves on cleanses, ok??!
“I honestly can’t trust my body or cravings, all I want to eat is cake and cookies and pizza. I’m positive that is all I would eat”
Craving only high-calorie dessert and “junk food” is also a really normal response to dieting. (And I promise it is just a phase before your cravings diversify and calm down.) If your body has been getting intermittent access to calories (like going back and forth dieting and binging and dieting again), or you’ve been trying to eat less food than your body wants for a few months (or a few years), you’re going to crave the densest food that you can find, because that will counteract the state you’re in the fastest. That’s why we crave cake and cookies and pizza and candy and grilled cheese and everything we think we shouldn’t have. Your body just wants dense and easy-to-assimilate calories for a while, because that is what will get your body out of a low-metabolic state the fastest, and back to a normal and more easy relationship with food, with more normal cravings.
The other thing is that when we make any food off-limits, that food is going to have wayyyy more allure psychologically than if you were allowed to eat it. (I used to misinterpret this and think: Ok, if I allow brownies then I won’t WANT brownies. And then I’d be mad at myself that I still wanted brownies. But you can’t play that paradox! You have to actually allow yourself to eat the brownies!)
View this post on Instagram
“I have to diet! I’m an emotional eater!”
Dieting and restriction can actually make emotional eating worse. I know, what? First of all, many of us actually use dieting as a way to try and distract from our emotions, too. Not only does it bring the promise of beauty, glowing health, and praise, but it also gives us a high on stress hormones. But at the same time, the more we diet, the more chemically rewarding food and eating becomes, and the more food can give us a “high”. So, not only is dieting its own version of avoiding our emotions, but in a way, it actually makes eating a more effective “drug”. And often, people go back and forth between the two “addictions” in a never-ending yo-yo. In order to make food a less effective drug, we need to stop dieting and restricting. Another paradox, I know.
Having other coping mechanisms and emotional support is definitely an important piece of the emotional eating puzzle. I’m not saying that ice cream should be your therapist. But, just beware that going on a diet to heal emotional eating is like trying to put out a brush fire by blowing on it.
“I have to diet! When I don’t diet, I gain weight!”
Ahhhh, yes. Weight gain and cultural fatphobia. This is no small subject. It’s actually at the heart of this whole thing. It’s a core reason why we are all dieting in the first place. And it’s also a subject that makes the villagers take up arms like they’re in their very own mob led by Gaston, and they storm into the comments to rage about the obesity epidemic. Because people feel very, very strongly about weight gain and health, and want to concern troll allll over the health of people they don’t know.
First of all, gaining weight after dieting is also another normal phenomenon. That’s what the body does. It loses some weight at the beginning of dieting, and then it insists you put it back on. It will literally slow down your metabolism and raise your hunger hormones in order to force you to gain back weight. It’s normal. It’s also survival. And we assume it’s the worst thing that could ever happen to us, but our bodies are doing it on purpose. We evolved this way, and it’s actually protective against withering away. Because, no matter what our culture tells us, becoming a nation of teeny tiny little string bean people isn’t actually what makes our bodies feel safest. Having a super low body fat percentage isn’t good for us and can wreak havoc on our hormones.
But we live in a very thin-obsessed and fatphobic society. We just do. And the thing that makes it so hard to even begin to have a conversation about not dieting is that there is a lot of moralizing over health that helps to justify people’s judgement over weight and the way people eat. People feel very strongly about weight and weight loss. Just go to the comments of these articles, you’ll see. But what that means is that being afraid to gain weight, even a little, even weight that your body definitely needs and wants to gain, is understandable. We constantly see how much better people are treated when they are smaller or fitter or leaner, and how much judgment (and concern) comes along with gaining weight. We are praised nonstop when we lose weight. We assume that weight loss is always healthy and impressive, when, hey, lots of people are losing weight because of eating disorders, illness, anxiety, etc. Weight loss is not always healthy, and on the flip side, weight gain is not always unhealthy. But we live in a society where obsessing over food and weight, and developing disordered eating habits, are praised, and even encouraged, and that makes it really hard to tell if what we are doing is healthy or if it’s going too far.
“So you’re saying that I just have to accept my body as it is?! What are you? A monster trying to destroy the American people from the inside out?? HOW is that healthy?!?!”
One of the things that really shook me and woke me up out of my diet and weight loss obsession was learning that what I believed about weight and health was based on misinformation and cultural bias. Because I cared about health. I still do, actually! Believe it or not!
We think we can fully blame people for their weight, and assume that they just aren’t trying hard enough. But, I mean, you’ve heard, right? Dieting backfires. This has been relatively mainstream public health info since 1992. But… we have a hard time hearing it. There is a cognitive dissonance. I used to hear that “diets don’t work” and think, “No no no noo, those scientists clearly aren’t studying the right diet.” But really, weight loss diets backfire long-term. It’s not because we are lazy, it’s in our biological blueprint. Initial weight loss on a diet happens all the time, but our bodies will eventually adjust to try and get our weight back into a range where it feels safe. And the idea that we just need to keep eating less and less and less to try and keep up with our body fighting back is not healthy. That’s not health! That’s focusing on weight at the expense of health.
Get this: a two-year study was done with two different groups of women categorized with an obese BMI, and the group that didn’t diet or focus on weight loss, but instead made subtle healthy lifestyle changes—joyful movement that they actually liked doing, eating in an intuitive, nourishing way that wasn’t focused on weight loss, stress reduction and shame reduction, and being kinder to themselves and their bodies. And at the end of two years, they ended up with improved overall health (blood pressure, blood lipids, mental health symptoms), even though that group didn’t end up losing weight. And the group of women who focused on standard weight loss protocol (good old fashioned monitored, guided diet and exercise, prescribed by a diet) lost weight initially, but gained it all back and then some, and ended up with worse physical and mental health markers that they started with by the end of two years, even when lots of them were still sticking to the doctor-prescribed diet. So what that means is that joy and self-compassion was good for their health, and earnest and doctor-monitored weight loss backfired big time.
I know! I know! Nobody wants to hear this! But in the very least, it’s important information if we want to understand what the HELL is going on when we put ourselves on a diet. And it also matters if what we really care about is our overall health.
So, back to the question: am I trying to ruin the health of our nation? No, I’m just trying to explain that obsessing over our weight and food and exercise isn’t good for our health. A hyper-focus on weight and weight loss and perfect eating actually ends up being a distraction from truly taking care of ourselves. The truth is, when people stop dieting, some people eventually lose weight, but some people need to gain weight, and some people stay the same. Either way, forcing it tends to backfire in more than one way.
I definitely understand why it scares people. It sounds extremely irresponsible, because people still assume that not dieting means eating donuts for breakfast and lunch and then eating mac n’ cheese and Burger King for dinner every night. And then eating an entire cake in bed. Which is actually the kind of thing I was more likely to do when I was constantly forcing myself to diet.
View this post on Instagram
This is the (actual) book dedication for The F*ck It Diet. I considered dedicating it to my little sister, but her response to me was, “aw that’s sweet but like, don’t, y’know?” So I said, “fine. Cheese it is.” 🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀🧀 (Have you read #thefuckitdiet ????- my sister hasn’t but that’s ok because I bug her enough in real life. You can read the first chapter for free by visiting my site slash link in bio etc etc etc)
These days, food isn’t the drama that it used to be. I eat a varied diet and I eat until I am full. I crave healthy foods, I crave dense foods, I crave vegetables and fruit. I crave pizza. I’ll eat one (or, y’know, sometimes even two!) pieces of cake instead of finishing off the cake at 1am while standing in front of the refrigerator. I eat dessert. I eat pancakes. I eat the bread on the table at restaurants. I eat grains and meat and eggs and lots and lots of cheese. Sometimes people ask me what I like to eat, and I usually can’t even remember because that is how little I think about food now. It’s food. I like it! I like it a lot! I want to feel good, I want to feel fed, I want to feel alive, and I want to go live my life and pet my dog and go get happy hour.
In conclusion: I think sweet potatoes and green juice are healthy, and I like them, and I eat/drink them! But being afraid of nachos was ultimately very bad for me. Maybe that applies to you, too?
It’s been so great to get to share my story and experience with Betches readers. I know some of you hate me now, but that’s just the name of the game when you talk about diets. People get cagey. People are very devoted to their diets, and in some ways, diets are the new religion of the 21st century. If you read this series and you’re like, “this is… interesting to me, but I’m not convinced,” my book The F*ck It Diet goes wayyyy more in depth. You can also start researching weight stigma and Health at Every Size, and start reading all of the things that helped open up my eyes to the dark side of dieting. You can also follow me on Instagram at @thefuckitdiet. (I post a lot of instagram stories of my bernedoodle if you’re into that sort of thing.)
And remember, if you’re having a great time dieting, or doing whatever you’re doing, I really don’t care if you diet or not. I promise. Everybody should do what works for them. Don’t F*ck Your Diet on my account. BUT, if you’re stressed out over food and weight and have been in a dysfunctional cycle with dieting, I invite you to come join us over here on the other side of diet culture. There are snacks! There are cheese boards with dried fruit and sourdough bread! You can take naps! You’re allowed to buy clothes that actually fit you! Nobody will ever force you to wake up at 4:30am to go to the gym! And there are no diets.
Images: @dietstartstomorrow/Instagram; @thefuckitdiet/Instagram
We’re back! In this installment of F*ck Your Diet, I am going to explain how I actually stopped dieting. But if you’re new here, read the first two installments to get some context. My first installment is about how I’d been binging on food since I was a child, and the second installment is about my experience dieting for 10 years to try and control my “addiction,” which only made my “addiction” to food worse.
When I set out to heal my eating, I had already spent a handful of years (before my final stint on the paleo diet) thinking I was “listening to my body” and “eating intuitively.” But I wasn’t really. What I was actually doing was constantly trying to eat the smallest amount possible. I assumed that the more intuitive I was, and the more precisely I listened to my hunger, the less I would eat. I soaked up the belief that leaving the table slightly hungry was healthier than leaving the table slightly full. I believed, truly, that thinner was always healthier, and that if I could just get my act together and be permanently skinny, that all of my health problems, including my PCOS, would go away. (And all of my other problems too.)
I also spent a good bit of this time thinking I was being balanced and responsible and chic by eating “like a French woman.” Seriously. My eating was straight out of the book French Women Don’t Get Fat, and I thought I had found the answer: Frenchness. This wasn’t a diet! This was culture! This was aspirational food snobbery! I (thought I) was eating whatever I wanted, just in small quantities! I also ate everything really slowly. I felt bad if I ever wanted to eat a whole brownie, because a French person would probably only eat half of a brownie, if they even ate brownies at all. Which, ugh, they probably don’t even eat brownies. I should be having a fruit clafoutis!!!!
Beyond brownie panic, I thought that because I wasn’t formally on a diet, I was healed from my “food addiction”. But I wasn’t. I was still over-worried about amounts of food, my goal was still always thinness, and I still thought about food. A lot.
It took 10 years for me to realize that micromanaging food and carbs, and trying to force myself to lose the 10-15 pounds that I’d lost and just gained back, had been really bad for me. It definitely wasn’t good for me mentally, but it also wasn’t healthy physically. The toughest thing to wrap my head around was that diets were not helpful, because what I had been doing with diets and weight loss was culturally normal and encouraged. Everyone’s doing it! Everyone’s talking about it and complaining about it and trying to lose the same 10-15 pounds I am. It really didn’t seem like I was undereating at all. I was just focused on healthy food and wellness! I mean, honestly, according to the calorie allotments in fitness apps, I was overeating every day. Plus, I binged for God’s sake. PLUS! I didn’t look emaciated, or like I had a problem with food. I actually gained weight really easily. My problem, ever since I was a child, had been eating too much. So, the idea that I had a problem with dieting was a hard pill to swallow.
But here I was, still obsessed with food after 10 years of dieting, and I finally started learning that our bodies are wired to push us off our diets. And instead of fighting back against our bodies, we need to just… stop it. This is something I go into even more in detail in the second installment (so go there and read it!) But, TL;DR: I started learning about the inevitable metabolic backlash with diets—that we are wired to fixate on food, binge, and gain weight when we try and force weight loss, all to save us from ourselves. Apparently, our bodies insist we put weight back on so they feels safe. And to ensure that happens, your body either slows down metabolically, and/or it fixates you on food, so food tastes better, you feel even hungrier, and actually keeps your brain thinking more about food than it otherwise would (source). Our bodies are literally pushing us off our diets. On purpose.
I’d spent ten years fighting this cycle. I would put my body on a diet, then my body would fight back and push me off, and instead of being like, “Ooh, sorry body, I’ll take care of you in a gentle way,” I would put it back on another diet, and the cycle continued. All the while, I started feeling more and more out of control around food, and blamed it on my gluttony, and what had to be a food addiction.
But if forcing your body back onto a diet is part of staying in the diet cycle, then the logical and terrifying answer to get out of the cycle was to…stop. Stop constantly trying to suppress both my eating and my weight. Which, plainly, meant that I had to eat whatever my body needed. And I had to let myself gain whatever weight my body needed to gain.
And let me be clear: I was terrified. But I was so tired of fighting my body and hating myself for not being a tiny little fairy person. I was run-down physically and emotionally by a decade of dieting and hating myself.
So I started eating. A lot. And doing my very best to actually allow it all and work through my panic and guilt. This is the part people are fascinated by: Ok but what did you eat? How much did you eat? How much weight did you gain? How did you actually push through fear of eating certain things or certain amounts? So, I am going to try and remember the specifics as well as I can, even though this was almost eight years ago, and at this point, it’s all a blur of meals. (With the caveat that anyone who embarks on this sort of uncharted intuitive food healing journey will have a different set of experiences, and a different set of specific fears to work through, and I definitely recommend a non-diet dietitian even though I didn’t work with one, because I didn’t really understand that this was a thing.)
I had been coming off of the paleo diet, so I was still afraid of bread and gluten and grains. I was also extremely afraid of “industrial seed-oils.” To be perfectly clear, just in case you think that I’m claiming that McDonald’s is a health food (I’m not): I still don’t think weird oils that come from a cotton seed are health foods, but neither is vodka, and vodka is still allowed on the keto diet, so let’s just put everything in perspective please. Also, having small emotional breakdowns in restaurants, just because they probably (definitely) use less-than-perfect cooking oils, is far, far worse for us than just eating some f*cking corn oil and moving on with our lives. I had no desire to continue my life being afraid of nachos, so I pushed through my fear of strange oils so I could stop lying in bed, ruminating about the worldwide olive oil scam.
At the same time, the paleo diet is generally calorie-positive and encouraging of “healthy fats” (they have their own rules about what healthy fats are). So, when I started my “F*ck It Diet” (which is what I named my new “diet”, and my website, and years later, my book) I wasn’t afraid of calories. But I was afraid of carbs. And some fruit. And grains. I was a little afraid of dairy. And any oil that wasn’t coconut or olive oil. And I was afraid, of course, of gaining weight. But I knew that the way to get over all of those fears was to face them.
So the first thing I did was up my carbs and start to eat a lot of butter and dairy. I started eating lots of potatoes and ice cream. In my head, I was trying to “eat myself” to a place where my body wasn’t starved for carbs and calories, and where my mind wasn’t starved, denied, or petrified of certain foods. I believed (correctly) that if I could get out of that metabolic and mental cycle by actually eating a lot of food, consistently, for a long time, that my appetite would eventually normalize. And it did.
But first, I had to keep eating. I eventually added in bread (I did not die from the gluten! In fact, I felt very normal. Because I do not, in fact, have a gluten sensitivity). I also turned what used to be my late-night binges into deliberate and allowed feasts. I would sit down and bring out everything I wanted to eat, and I would lay it all out on the table and let myself eat whatever I wanted in a relatively calm way. I would often still eat a lot, but because it was allowed, it wasn’t a binge anymore. It was just eating a big snack. And then I went to bed.
And yes, I did gain weight. Which I expected to, and knew had to be part of the process for me. I went up a few clothing sizes. But it wasn’t the exponential weight gain that everyone fears will happen when you stop dieting. The truth is that everyone’s body does something different when they stop dieting, depending on lots of factors. Some people need to gain a lot of weight, some people a little, some people stay the same, and some people lose weight without gaining weight first (I’d say that one is the rarest). Before, I thought that I had to be one of the people who lost weight. But in order to heal, I actually had to gain weight.
It took a good solid six months (and even longer to work through lots of cultural conditioning), but the more I ate and allowed foods, the more normal around food I became. The foods I thought I would never ever be able to “control myself” around stopped having power over me. I could take them or leave them. I stopped fixating on food. I stopped daydreaming about food. I stopped planning my life around meals. Meals happened. I ate what I wanted—and moved on. I stopped losing control while I was eating. I just…ate. I started getting bored of my food mid-meal once I got full. That never used to happen. I used to charge on past fullness and finish that whole bowl and then move onto the bag of chips and the full pantry of snacks.
The longer I proved to my body (and mind) that there would always be whatever food I wanted and needed, and that I would always let myself eat as amply as I wanted, the more normal my relationship to food became. And as my panic fell away, my binging also fell away and also became just…eating. The “food addiction” that I had experienced my entire life was gone. My binging, compulsive eating, and obsession with food, had actually pre-dated my dieting. I thought I had been born that way, but my binging on friend’s snacks was actually the result of feeling restricted, which is pretty eye-opening to how much our mental relationship with food can control our physical appetite.
Not only do restriction and dieting set us up to feel out of control around food, but so does diet culture. Being surrounded by weight loss ads, having constant guilt about what we are eating and what we look like, affects our relationship with food, whether we are fully aware of it or not.
When I talk about this (and I talk about it a lot, and wrote a book on it), it actually really pisses some people off. People either have a revelatory experience about their own relationship with food, dieting, and weight, or they immediately hate me. It turns out, dieting, weight loss, and the concept of “food addiction” is a very polarizing and charged subject! It’s especially charged for people who have felt food-addicted their whole lives, or for people who have always used food to soothe themselves. Hearing me say that food addiction isn’t actually food addiction, or that they don’t actually need to spend their entire lives micromanaging their food and weight, immediately puts people on guard. I know it might feel annoying to hear me say that food addiction isn’t actually food addiction, so I want to take the time to unpack it a little bit more.
The experience of food addiction and compulsion is very real. And, the truth is, humans can develop an emotional dependence on literally anything: gambling, bad relationships, Instagram likes, and even cookies. So, yes, anyone can become “addicted” to food the same way they get addicted to praise or gambling, but it still doesn’t make dieting the cure.
Food is inherently different from other addictions. It’s different from both physical addictions, like a drug addiction, and different from mental addictions, like video games and gambling, because we need food, multiple times a day, to survive. And despite lots of fear mongering over how addictive food is, food and sugar itself is not addictive like cocaine. But, at the same time, we are wired to feel and act addicted to food when there’s any form of food scarcity. This is for our survival. We have evolved this way. Demonizing our enjoyment of food is actually not helpful at all. When there is any food scarcity, a hormone in our body actually wire us to feel hungrier, to make food taste better to us, and to fixate us on food. And food scarcity can take the form of actual food scarcity because of poverty or famine, or self-imposed (or culture-imposed) scarcity, like a diet. Or! Even just the threat of another diet. (“I’ve been so bad today I need to diet tomorrow!”) So, dieting can actually make the experience of food addiction (and emotional eating) worse.
Ok, have I done enough to piss everyone off yet in this article? My next and final installment will be filling in some of the gaps. I’m going to talk more about emotions and emotional eating, I’m going to talk about cultural beliefs and mental resistance that I see popping up for people who try to go on a similar eating journey, I’m going to talk about exercise, and about pervasive cultural weight stigma that keeps people stuck, and perpetuates our dysfunction with food in the first place. And I’m going to talk more about what my eating (and life) is like now, eight years after embarking on this F*ck It Diet journey. But until then, I will be eating cheese, because I am not, in fact, lactose intolerant like I convinced myself I was for 15 years.
Images: thefuckitdiet (3) / Instagram