Category Archives: Food

Becky says things about … how to detox

My name is Becky and I am disgusting.

And if I’ve got to admit it, my darling Listener, then so have you. Admit it. You are disgusting. We are all disgusting. We have spent the last fortnight slouched on various sofas scoffing various beige food (the best party food is always beige), chucking endless booze down our flabby throats, and passing out into bloated, saggy comas.

It’s been wonderful.

And then came Monday morning and we put on our work trousers.

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I shall admit, dearest Listener old pal, that I was alarmed on Monday. I thought someone had kindly placed some cushions in the seat of my desk chair, and then I realised that I was in fact snuggling into the comfortable squidge of my own love handles. I spent the day gently perspiring, which I can only assume was my body finally ridding itself of two weeks’ worth of non-stop festive alcohol.

So, naturally, and along with literally everyone else, I decided to detox.

And as I have just completed my first day of detoxing, I thought I’d write you, my lovely listeners, a helpful guide to assist you in your quest for cleansed perfection. You’re welcome.

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What you will need 

  •  Willpower
  • Motivation
  • Delusions of success.
  • Approximately £10,000’s worth of fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, wholegrains, ominously-named health food shop items, and some form of mystical rare plant powder off the Internet that claims to boost your vitality, purify your system and improve your football dribbling skills.

Day 1 Detox Plan

07:15 Wake up with vague sense of dread. Quickly cast aside the implausible yearning for a bacon sandwich and a cheeky morning pint.

07:33 Let the struggle with which you pull on your previously loose-fitting skirt encourage you to make this day brilliant and to be the healthiest and most motivated person in the world and to transform yourself into a vision of saintly excellence. 

07:46 Retrieve from the fridge the unidentifiable-green-sludge-that-was-supposed-to-be-a-juice-but-you-don’t-have-a-juicer that you made last night using thirteen different green ingredients, including moss, algae, seaweed, pond scum and the mystical Internet powder, spent twenty minutes pulverising in your inadequate blender which resulted in your kitchen looking like Fungus the Bogeyman had had a particularly violent cold up the walls. Remind yourself that this green sludge is breakfast. And lunch.

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08:24 Order a flimsy black coffee instead of your normal frothy latte. Tell yourself you’re doing it for King and country.

09:03 Finish watery coffee and, in a single, glorious second, think ‘Well at least I have a lovely bowl of sugary granola smothered in thick, creamy yoghurt for breakfast’. Then remember about the green sludge.

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09:58 Breakfast. Retrieve green sludge from the fridge. Quickly realise you can’t drink it from the flask because its sludgy, thick consistency means that thick blobs of gloop simply slide onto your face, and instead eat it with a teaspoon. Try to ignore the mounting bitterness that is not only filling your mouth, but your heart.

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10:07 Put remaining green sludge in fridge. Ignore colleagues’ questions, remarks, and utterly unhelpful comments about how tasty their own breakfasts were.

10:11 Experience a brief but pleasing sensation of smugness as you consider the goodness that you’ve just put in your body.

10:12 – 12:10 Throw yourself into your work, and imagine your body exorcising itself of evil.

12:15 Ignore colleagues’ declarations of where they are going for lunch, or how many types of cheese they have stuffed into a French stick. Continue to work doggedly. (Useful tip: have some tissues at hand to wipe away the solitary tear that will fall from your eye as you consider the green sludge waiting for you in the fridge.)

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13:00 Moodily stomp outside for a walk, then experience the astounding revelation that you only ever step outside your office during the day in order to hunt for food, and thus are now utterly directionless because you have no need for food as you have the green sludge.

13:02 Walk moodily round the block, and stomp moodily back into the office. Tell your colleagues it’s just started to rain.

13:28 Sit hunched at your desk in front of Google images of ‘best burgers in the world’ and slurp green sludge from a teaspoon. Follow with a cup of peppermint tea and a healthy dose of resentment towards humanity.

13:47 Feel momentarily euphoric because you don’t feel full or sluggish, and remind yourself that the green sludge gives you nothing but goodness.

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13:48 – 15:09 Get on with your work, and genuinely forget about the green sludge.

15:10 Get up to go to the toilet, and walk straight into the hard wall of hunger. Realise you are dangerously hungry. You have probably never been this hungry. Look wildly around the office. Note the tin of sweets left over from Christmas. Squeeze out an ounce of willpower and try to focus on the taut stomach and inner peace you will achieve if you stick to the green sludge.

15:39 Give the following response when one of your colleagues says they will bring to the office the enormous unopened box of Christmas biscuits they didn’t eat at home.

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15:43 Weep softly.

15:44 – 17:20 Finish the working day with increasing fatigue, bitterness, and irrational rage.

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17:21 Crawl home. Do not for one second contemplate the prospect of a glass of wine or a chocolate biscuit. Instead, get home and immediately put on your jogging pants.

18:12 Flap-arse about in your bedroom with a couple of dumbells, download the 30 Day Squat Challenge app, do half the squats you’re supposed to do because they’re uncomfortable, and lug your drooping, groaning buttocks out of the door for a jog.

18:30 Jog.

18:33 Seriously contemplate going back home.

18:39 Experience an endorphin.

18:41 Realise you have the actual ability and physical fortitude to run a marathon. Make mental note to sign up for one when you get home in four hours’ time.

18:42 Get an excruciating stitch, trip over a stick, hack your guts up into a bush and try to tell yourself you don’t need an ambulance.

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19:01 Having crawled home, have a shower and prepare dinner. This will involve 23 green and obscure ingredients and won’t use anything normal like potatoes or pasta.

19:25 Consume your virtuous green creation in front of Man vs Food. 

19:31 Sit very still in front of an empty plate and fight urge to order a pizza.

19:45 – 21:30 Absorb yourself in something engrossing, like a Netflix binge or mountaineering.

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21:49 Make tomorrow’s green sludge.

21:56 – 22:33 Clean the kitchen.

22:38 Crawl into bed in a cocoon of confusing mixed emotions over the day’s apparent success and the excruciating hunger that is literally consuming your entire being.

22:52 Text your work colleague and ask him nicely to please bring in that unopened box of Christmas biscuits to the office tomorrow.

 

Repeat the above on days 2 and 3, and on day 4 replace green sludge with brie and bacon baguette, three packets of crisps, a sausage roll, two doughnuts and four pints of self-loathing.

Good luck!

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Filed under Embarrassing Revelations, Food, Health and Exercise, Life eh?, People, Rants, The Beauty of Life, Thoughts and Musings

Becky says things about … January

Well good day to you my most excellent Listeners! I trust you are in fine fettle and full of the joys and hopes of a shining, sparkling New Year?

Of course you’re not.

It’s January.

The laws of Physics, Biology, Cosmology and other sciencey things dictate that it is virtually impossible to feel anything other than thoroughly depressed in January. It is a terrible month. We plough through December, eating and drinking everything in sight, relying on the fact that on January 1st we shall be injected with a pure elixir of energy, health and enthusiasm for life.

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The reality is quite different.

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Oh, Listener, you have no idea the effort it is taking to drag my lethargic fingers across these keys. Would I rather be binge-watching anything on Netflix with a plate of cheese resting on my stomach? Of course I would. Because that’s what I spent December doing. But January is here now, and January says NO to everything we did in December. December is the really fun yet irresponsible babysitter who lets us eat all the chocolate and watch unsuitable films, but is now passing us back to our stern January parents who are entirely disapproving of the whole thing.

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In the midst of the grey funk of January, we are expected to reinvent ourselves. We are expected to hoist ourselves out of the gluttonous December coma and be inconceivably motivated. I tried to do this, Listener. On Monday I went to the gym. For the first time in about 347 years. Everyone in the gym could be moved into one of three categories:

1) Those who were doing a sterling job of starting their New Year’s health and fitness routine, who had clearly spent the weekend online ordering vitamin powders and home exercise equipment, and who were sprinting, cycling, lifting, pushing, squatting, and sit-upping with the fearsome determination of movie soldiers running in slow motion through a forest in heavy rain to catch the enemy who had just shot their best buddy Herb against a dramatic soundtrack.

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2) Those who desperately wanted to be in the first category, but who couldn’t quite muster the same level of enthusiasm because they were weeping internally for the loss of justified over-indulgence and the ability to consume an entire wheel of truffle brie without challenge. These folks were slumped wretchedly over the rowing machines and staring at themselves in the mirror whilst mourning their lost happiness.

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3) Those for whom January is just another month of incessant smug fitness and energy, and who were watching the New Year’s Resolutions clutter up their gym with a tedious annual predictability, and who were waiting for us to get the hell off the treadmill and stuff our pathetic faces with the pizza we so tragically desired.

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And the weather will not assuage our torment. In December, we can handle the perpetual greyness because it is lit up with a flurry of twinkling lights and the prospect of endless evenings face down in sausagemeat stuffing against a backdrop of numbing festive television. In January, the greyness is just grey. There is no light at the end of the tunnel. No hope. No joy. Nothing.

Just grey.

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We are overweight. We are dehydrated. We are unfit. We have played with our Christmas presents and had to explain ourselves to the family member who spied their gift to us on eBay. We have received the credit card bill. We try to sleep after an evening of peppermint tea and miso salmon, but lie awake inside a body that screams ‘What is this shit? Give me a full-bodied Merlot and a turkey crown this instant!’ We are oh, so aware of the running shoes that have lain unopened in their box since Christmas morning, and which are now pulsing like Kryptonite at the back of the wardrobe where we have pitifully tried to hide them and forget that they exist.

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Oh, Listeners. I wish I could end your seasonal suffering. I wish I could tell you a sprightly jape or provide some words of comfort to pluck you from your January doom.

But I cannot.

January has us in its clutches. January lies like the cold forgotten sausage at the back of your fridge. Hopeless. Useless. An unbearable disappointment.

My only advice to you is: cook some more sausages.

 

AND NOW FOR A SHAMELESS PLUG…

If you’d like something to cheer up your January, why not buy a copy of my book ‘This Ridiculous Life’? Click ‘Buy This Ridiculous Life’ at the top of the page and hey presto! January is immediately better! 

 

 

 

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Filed under Food, Health and Exercise, Life eh?, Rants, Thoughts and Musings

Becky says things about … Christmas as a grown-up VS Christmas as a kid

YULETIDE FELICITATIONS TO YOU, MOST CHRISTMASSY LISTENERS!! 

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The season of goodwill and gastronomic assault is upon us, the fairy lights are twinkling, the crooners are crooning, the kids are wetting themselves with excitement that Father Christmas is going to shower them with gifts, and the grown-ups are wetting themselves with fear that the tree is too big, the turkey is too small and the bank account is empty – which begs the important seasonal question: is Christmas as brilliant for grown-ups as it is for kids?

The Run-Up to Christmas

KIDS: You are in a constant frenzy and on the verge of soiling yourself. School is a dream: you spend lessons doing festive-themed wordsearches, colouring festive-themed pictures, or – and this is the most brilliant thing in the world – your teacher greets you with the words ‘I thought we’d watch a video today’, and she wheels the TV to the front of the class, shoves in a Disney film, turns off the lights, and life has never been more spectacular. 

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The world has become a sparkling, magical place. You are dribbling over Polly Pockets and Barbies and Lego and are hoping against hope that Father Christmas gets the letter you sent him, although you’re suspicious about the effectiveness of a postal system that involves chucking the letter up the chimney, especially as you saw said letter flutter down behind the fire grate and land amongst a load of dead woodlice, but your parents have assured you it’ll get to Lapland (wherever the hell that is. WHO CARES??) The house smells of pine, and the lounge furniture has been rearranged to make room for the Christmas tree, a necessary process which never ceases to be unfathomably thrilling.

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Christmas is the best thing ever ever ever.

GROWN-UPS: Work is becoming more tolerable because all you are doing is eating Celebrations, leaving post-its on your colleague’s monitor that say ‘All I want for Christmas is… you to stop bringing in f***ing leftover chilli for lunch’, and spending days trying to cure your hangover from yet another Christmas booze-up the night before.

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The world is a magical sparkly place, and you are enjoying the warm glow of lights twinkling in windows, but you are NOT enjoying the gladiatorial skirmish of Christmas shopping or the constant ejaculation of money from your purse, or the realisation that everything on your Christmas list are things you need like a new slow-cooker or a dustbuster or a nice practical desktop filing system, or the fact that you’ve done your back in rearranging the bloody lounge furniture.

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WINNER: Kids. The run-up to Christmas is a parade of relentless glee, mainly founded on a shroud of lies about a mythical avuncular stranger bearing gifts, the value of which you have no concept, and life is magnificent. Grown-ups are just finding the whole thing a bit tiring.

PRESENTS

KIDS: You have come out in prickly heat because you just cannot decide which of your phenomenal presents you are going to play with first. Will you perform an elaborate and heartwarming drama with your new Sylvanian families in your new dollshouse, involving Master Owl hiding all Mrs Badger’s silverwear under the stairs, much to the chargrin of Mrs Hedgehog the Cook? Will you construct the greatest feat of architectural mastery the Lego world has ever seen? Will you dress up your new Barbie in her sparkly ballgown that is so beautiful it is breaking your heart?

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It doesn’t matter what you play with first. Because the day ahead is a neverending heaven of playing, eating, playing and playing, and you wish it could be Christmas every day.

GROWN-UPS: You are smiling politely at your new desktop filing system, and spend 49 seconds arranging it neatly on your desk. You are thrilled with your new perfume and spray it on your wrist. Then you place it back in its box. Then you flick through your new book for a bit. Words and words. Then you sniff your new bubble bath and consider how nice it will make your skin smell after your bath. Then you think you should probably clean up those pine needles under the tree with your new dustbuster, and go and put the turkey on.

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WINNER: Kids again. You can play with stuff. All day. You won’t hear a grown-up gasping ‘Please can I plug in my new slow-cooker and cook something really slowly now????’

FOOD

KIDS: You are astounded by the abundance of festive victuals. You haven’t had lunch yet but you are already stuffed with mini mince pies, half a chocolate reindeer, a box of peppermint creams, and all the Quality Street toffee pennies. You are beside yourself at the presence of sausages with your roast dinner. That’s like two meals in one. You eat Christmas pudding until you feel sick, and then you spend half an hour puking it all back up again in the downstairs toilet while your mum rubs your back and tells you off for having eyes bigger than your stomach.

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You finish Christmas Day delighted with your gastric prowess, the puking incident is forgotten, and you go to bed and eat the rest of your chocolate reindeer under the covers.

GROWN-UPS: You are astounded by the abundance of festive victuals. You haven’t had lunch yet but you are already stuffed and a bit drunk with smoked salmon, scrambled egg, half a bottle of Bucks Fizz, a box of chocolate liquors and all the Quality Street big purple ones. You wish you’d cooked more sausages, you eat two meals’ worth of Christmas dinner, but you refuse Christmas pudding because you’ve never really enjoyed it since you vomited after eating too much of it as a kid. You finish Christmas Day in a drunken haze with your face in a Vintage Gouda and a vague despair at the weight you’ve put on but you don’t care because there’s CHEESE.

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WINNER: Grown-ups. Your stomach is bigger, your tastes are more refined, and you’ve learnt from childhood vomiting experiences. And you can drink enough mulled wine, champagne and port to sink a ship whilst laughing at the kids for having to make do with crappy squash.

CHRISTMAS FILMS

KIDS: You cry and cry at the end of The Snowman because the little boy lost his Snowman friend and he had had such a nice time with his Snowman friend and it’s just so sad that the Snowman friend had to melt like that, and what’s more, the fact you’re crying at Christmas is making you cry even more because no one should cry at Christmas, but oh my goodness me your new rollar skates are the best things ever and you immediately forget about the sad melted Snowman friend. 

GROWN-UPS: You cry and cry at the end of The Snowman because the little boy lost his Snowman friend and life is so brief and joys are so fleeting and everything good ends up dark and shit and death is only round the corner, and the fact you’re crying at Christmas is making you cry even more because it’s the ninth ruddy time you’ve cried this Christmas because everyone cries at Christmas and where the hell is the eggnog and you can’t stop thinking about death.

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WINNER: Kids. A blissful ignorance of all the profoundly depressing themes that permeate almost every single Christmas film is essential for festive self-preservation.

FAMILY

KIDS: After the initial shock of being manhandled by various people you vaguely remember from last Christmas, you are required to present to the assembled company a comprehensive list of your Christmas presents, after which you will be told you’re a very lucky girl and that they didn’t have nearly so many presents when they were children. Once the fourth batch of mulled wine has come out and Uncle Clive has started playing House of the Rising Sun on his guitar, you seize your opportunity to escape and resume building your neo-Gothic inspired Lego mansion. You return to the lounge an hour later to find everyone asleep and you cannot fathom how insufferably boring it must be to be a grown-up who falls asleep on Christmas Day.

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GROWN-UPS: After the initial shock at how many kids your cousins have managed to churn out and ignoring a look from your mother that says ‘When are you going to have one?’, you get heavily involved in the alcohol to numb the bewildering amounts of noise the kids are making as they leap around to something called a Wii, and after the fourth batch of mulled wine has been handed round you get a warm fuzzy glow of affection for these mental relatives who are currently dancing madly to Uncle Clive playing House of the Rising Sun on his guitar, and two hours later you wake up with Aunt Audrey dribbling onto your shoulder and her false teeth in your lap, and you are mortified that you have become so insufferably old and boring and grown-up as to fall asleep on Christmas Day.

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WINNER: Grown-ups. Kids have the benefit of being able to escape the ridiculousness of grown-ups at Christmas, whilst grown-ups have the benefit of being able to drink enough alcohol to remember that they adore their relatives and then  pass out to escape the ridiculousness of kids at Christmas.

So there we have it. Kids: 3, grown-ups: 2. A close call, a small victory for the small people, and one that we should instantly forget about because Christmas can be ruddy brilliant whether we’re 8, 28, 58 or 88 (although grown-ups have the staggering benefit of MULLED WINE, and enjoy your crappy squash, kids).

Happy Christmas one and all, thank you for being such amazingly devoted and wonderful Listeners to the things that I say, and may Father Christmas bring you everything your hearts desire (within reason – a latex bodysuit is a frankly perverted desire).

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Filed under Film and TV, Food, Life eh?, People, The Beauty of Life, Thoughts and Musings

Becky says things about … food

Food, Listener. Food.

You know what I’m talking about. That limitlessly versatile concept that can make you weep with joy, laugh with elation, and soil yourself with excitement.

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Having been through the dark and exhausting world of an eating disorder and emerged the other side, I’ve finally reached a point in life where I can consume food without fearing that my bum is suddenly going to balloon outwards to resemble a small elephant. This is not because I have discovered the secret to eternal slender-lithe-slim-lean-ness, or have taken to wearing incredibly tight steel support pants, but because I am finally comfortable with my body. And consequently, I’ve rediscovered my love of food.

I’ve always loved food. I loved food even during my eating disorder – I was just terrified of it at the same time. It was a bit like having a dragon as a pet. You really love it, you think it’s really cute and you love hanging out with it, but you’re always conscious that it might suddenly blow a jet of fire out of its nostrils and burn your face off.

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I am inherently greedy, Listener. If I ate everything I wanted to eat, in the quantity and with the frequency that my gluttonous stomach desires, it wouldn’t take me long to grow to the size of the Arctic Circle, and meet an untimely death that would cause problems for those that entered the afterlife at more reasonable proportions.

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Food is exciting. And not just crazy food done in crazy Heston Blumenthal ways, like a Scotch egg in the shape of an aardvark with a fairy wing-infused golden goose egg in the centre, or a pureed bumble bee thermidor that turns to diamonds in your mouth and then sets your teeth on fire – ordinary food is brilliant. There are trillions of blogs, like the fabulous Food for Fun, dedicated to the majesty of food, because food floats people’s boats. Come on, who hasn’t been so excited over a piping hot spoonful of succulent beef stew that they have recklessly forgone the essential blowing technique and instead shoved it in their mouth and consequently experienced the hellish pain of a burnt oesophagus, or swallowed a mouthful of double chocolate fudge ice cream the size of a badger and cried?

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Food makes people happy. I love that it makes people happy. Are you eating something delicious right now, Listener? Is it making you happy? Well, I love that your tasty treat is making you happy. I have just eaten a slice of soft toast excessively, almost histrionically, slathered in Marmite. It’s made me extremely happy. (‘What’s Marmite?’ you lovely US of A Listeners cry. It’s a little black jar of a thousand hallelujahs, my friends. That’s what it is.)

The fact that eating is a basic human function and that we need to do it several times a day is also marvellous. There are relatively few basic daily human needs that are quite so enjoyable.

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I love all  food. I am the least fussy eater this side of Mars. All those foods that people can be a bit weird about – olives, seafood, Brussels sprouts, cottage cheese, liver, stomach lining, cow colon residue – I just can’t get enough. Tuna and cottage cheese sandwich? Why, yes please. Olives stuffed with anchovies? Don’t mind if I do. I am unfathomably grateful that I’m not a fussy eater. One, I would never have been invited round to chums’ houses to play as a child because no one likes the kid that only eats breadstick shavings, and two, isn’t it boring????

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(A thought – I like every food in the world apart from banana-flavoured products. I love bananas – I really enjoy a lone, uncontaminated banana – but hand me a banana-flavoured yoghurt, or milkshake, or ice cream, which will all, without shadow of a doubt, be the same sickly-phlegmy yellowy colour, and I will simply make a dignified exit and send you a follow-up email politely asking you never to speak to me again.)

One of the many joys of food is that we all have our dark little food secrets. These are the food secrets that make us a slightly less dignified, slightly more greedy, and slightly sillier person that we make ourselves out to be. An example, if you will permit me, is that I have just this minute finished a jar of peanut butter. All gone. Empty. (Very sad, I cried a bit.) And did any of the peanut butter in that jar see a slice of bread? Not one bit! I consumed the entire contents by periodically visiting it with a teaspoon and standing quietly in the kitchen making the very peculiar facial movements that a mouthful of peanut butter necessitates.

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This is one of my food secrets: I will eat anything from a jar with a spoon. I mean anything. Marmite, lemon curd, pickled onions, chutney, jam, chocolate spread, piccalilli (don’t ask me to explain that one, my American pals – even we Brits don’t know what the hell piccalilli is), mustard, capers, baby food (one of the darker food secrets there), anything. Not mayonnaise. That would be vile.

Another food secret is that I am an avid consumer of raw cake mix. Yep, I have been known to eat so much raw cake mix (a heavenly cocktail of raw flour, raw egg, butter and sugar, anyone?) that I’ve been forced to make some more in order to manifest a cake. It can take me a very long time to bake a cake.

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I can also eat anything for breakfast. None of this ‘Ooo, no, my stomach can’t deal with eggs in the morning’ or ‘Chocolate??? For breakfast???’ nonsense with me. Nope, I’ll have my head in a bag of chocolate buttons and a plate of cold lasagne before you can say ‘Becky, you repulse me’.

We all have these food secrets, these little moments alone when we check that no one’s watching, then shove our face through the skin of some day-old custard, because food is ours, it’s part of and borne from our personalities; the joy of food is a universal and yet personal thing.

Food brings people together. People get very passionate about their food preferences. Some of the most animated conversations and vicious arguments I have witnessed have been over food. When I used to work in a pub, I would amuse myself on a quiet Monday evening by asking the locals important questions such as ‘What’s your favourite sandwich’ or ‘What’s your ideal three-course meal’. I would go to the other end of the bar and return half an hour later to find grown men embroiled in a heated debate along the lines of:

‘Prawn mayonnaise? Fucking prawn mayonnaiseYou want your head examined, mate. Egg and cress all the way.’

‘Egg and cress? You’re talking out your arse, mate. Salmon and cucumber or nothing.’

‘Wanker.’

‘Tosser.’

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We Brits can be very territorial about our food. We love food. It gives us something to do during those moments of devastating social awkwardness. And we get particularly territorial – riled, even – when we go to places like, oh, I don’t know, the United States of America, and find that the Americans are using food out of context. A prime example of this is the concept of biscuits. To us Brits, a biscuit is an everyday sugary treat, a necessity of life. We dunk them in our tea. We eat them at parties. We like them so much, websites have been dedicated to the concept of having a nice cup of tea and a sit down. 

So when we get to America and ask for some biscuits and are presented with a thick, glutinous flob of soggy dough that is then smothered with thick, glutinous gravy (gravy, Brits! Gravy!!!!) made from pork meat, flour and milk – we are, to put it mildly, absolutely ruddy furious.

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We will also be plunged into tremendous confusion and emotional upheaval when we see signs for ‘jelly on toast’. Jelly on toast??? we will mutter fervently to each other. What kind of perversion is this??? Because, you see, jelly in Britainland is your jello. We Brits do not eat jelly on toast. That would be foolish and distressing. No, we eat jam on toast. Because that is what it is. Jam. Get it RIGHT, America. Stop putting food out of context. 

However – and I say this at risk of being pelted with banana yoghurts by my fellow Brits – I have had one of my most magical food experiences in America. In Las Vegas. At the Wynn Hotel. The Breakfast Buffet. 15 food stations. Two hours. Heartburn to take down an entire city. The most heavenly morning of my life.

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So, dearest and most hungry of Listeners, enjoy your grub, stuff your face, tell me your darkest food secrets, and, if you are American, sort out the biscuit / jelly thing. You’ll be a better country for it.

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Becky says things about … the epic fail of an eating disorder

I greet you, dearest Listener, a perturbed Becky. Something happened yesterday that has made me want to say some very important things.

Whilst in a shop, I overhead the following conversation between two young teenage girls. I’m appalling at judging people’s ages – I thought Mick Jagger was 348, turns out he’s only 70 – but I’m guessing these two girls couldn’t have been more than 14.

Girl 1:  I really need to lose weight.

Girl 2: Do what I’m doing.

Girl 1: Yeah, you’ve lost loads of weight.

Girl 2: Yeah, over a stone! Seriously, just spit everything into a tissue, you never actually swallow anything! I’ve been doing it for ages.

Girl 1: I might start doing that.

Girl 2: Do it, we’ll be well skinny.

Girl 1: (Smiling) Yeah.

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Listener, this conversation left me colder than a polar bear who’s fallen into a frozen lake, climbed out, spent all night in the rain, then been told the local shop has no woolly jumpers left.

These two girls were healthy-looking and slim – in fact the one who said she’d been hawking food into tissues was erring on too-skinny (unsurprising, as she’s probably ingested about 7 calories in the last month) – and neither of them needed, by any stretch of even the wildest imagination, to lose even an ounce.

Yet here they were proudly discussing the merits of what is essentially a form of bulimia. In a bid to get ‘well skinny’.

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Every gram of fat, every ounce of muscle in my body wanted to grab them by their perfectly lean shoulders and yell

FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, DON’T EVEN GO THERE. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, STAY WELL AWAY FROM ALL THAT, AND JUST EAT.

The thought of these two healthy girls slipping into the bony grip of an eating disorder was horrible. Depressing, and horrible. Two words that exactly describe an eating disorder. Or, if you’re less wordy, the word

SHIT

will do nicely.

I’m not just having an aimless rant, I know what I’m talking about: I spent nearly two years in my early 20s starving myself in a bid to get skinny. At the end of 2005, the world had a healthy, happy, curvaceous, 9 and a half stone Becky. By mid 2007, the world was frankly bored and rather irritated by an unhealthy, miserable, bony, 7 and a half stone Becky.

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What started as a bid to ‘lose a few pounds’ and ‘tone up’ plummeted into an uncontrollable need to control what I put in my mouth, and before I could say ‘I don’t have an issue with food and I could never be anorexic’, I had a monumental issue with food and I was anorexic.

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An eating disorder is basically the man-eating plant from Little Shop of Horrors. In fact, I’m surprised some English literature professor hasn’t written a thesis entitled “Feed Me, Seymour: Audrey II as a Metaphor for Anorexia”. (That one’s mine, hands off.)

It starts as an innocuous seed in your brain: I want to lose weight. You start eating less, you start losing weight. You get smaller. The seed gets bigger. It wants more of your flesh, more of your blood. You duly provide. The less you eat and the smaller you get, the more it consumes and the bigger and more monstrous is becomes, until it’s got you dangling from its greedy, slobbering lips and you realise with a sudden terrible certainty that there is no escape.

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At this point you may as well say goodbye to everything that shapes you as a person. Any aspirations, hobbies, enjoyment, pleasure, hopes, sparks of character, or that fire that burns inside you with your name on it – forget it. You are one thing and one thing only: an eating disorder. Every single second of every day is consumed with focussing on losing fat, with not eating, with trying to avoid eating situations. Food is your nemesis. Yet you can’t think about anything else. It doesn’t matter where you are, what you are doing, who says what to you – there is only one thing you can think about.

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The enjoyment you took in everyday things – hanging out with friends, dinner with your family, shopping, lounging around being yourself – disappears. Suddenly everything is a terrifying problem. An invite to a house party becomes a desperate quest to look skinny and avoid those evil plates of nibbles on every surface. A harmless question from a parent – ‘Are you in for dinner tonight’ – is a gut-punching, brain-screwing imperative to lie. And lie you will. You will become an expert fabricator of life’s minutiae, and you will be ruthless. 

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To avoid having to stay in and eat what was put in front of me, I once told my mother I was going out for dinner with friends. I wasn’t going out for dinner. It was a massive, slimy lie. I borrowed her car and drove round the streets of South West London for three hours, then came back and gushed about what a lovely meal I’d had. Not only did my eating disorder turn me into a slithering, pathetic liar, it rendered me single-handedly responsible for England’s carbon emissions.

An eating disorder makes your once happy, sparkly life utterly miserable. And now let me tell you what you achieve in your diehard quest to be skinny:

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The tragic irony is that in your quest to be skinny, there is no such thing as ‘skinny’. There is no single weight, no end goal, that will satisfy an eating disorder.

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‘Skinny’ is a terrifying, bottomless concept that you will never, ever reach. Even when everyone in the world is telling you

YOU ARE REALLY SKINNY

it is never enough. Comments like that are a sign you are doing well, and you should carry on. Basically, in today’s lingo, an eating disorder is an epic fail. Before you even start, you have failed. You will never reach your goal because your goal will scuttle off into the gloom like a cockroach. Even when you can happily see your cute little collar bones strain through your skin, and you can admire your twig-like arms in the mirror, it still will not make you smile. I have never been so miserable, so wretched, or cried or shouted so much, as I did during my eating disorder.

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Eventually, if my experience is anything to go by, your willpower and your self-control will snap like a piece of taut string – it may take one year, two, ten – it may never happen – and you will plunge into a desperate, blacked-out world of uncontrollable, panicked binge eating. Late nights in the kitchen, tearing through cupboards like the Tasmanian Devil, shoving anything and everything you can get your hands on. I probably owe my parents hundreds of pounds in binged-on food. And the bitter truth is that I have lost more hours to the blind frenzy of binge eating than I have to starving myself. An eating disorder has one hell of a long hangover.

And even if you make a full recovery, like I did (and guess what: I love food and I’m bloody happy about it), and get back to a healthy weight and stop viewing food as the Devil incarnate, your body image and your self-control will always be a little bit broken. 

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I didn’t say anything to the two girls in the shop who wanted to be ‘well skinny’, and I spent the day wishing I had. True, they may have told me to Fuck off, and remarked amongst themselves that I could do with dropping a few feet from around my bum – but on the other hand, they might have thought about the stranger that felt strongly enough to say something, and they might, just might, have packed the whole thing in and gone for a pizza.

So I’ve said it on here instead. Trying to be skinny is shit. It is impossible. You will never reach it. It will get hold of you, and it will never quite let go.

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Becky says things about … drunken eating

Remember that clip of a completely obliterated David Hasselhoff eating a burger on the floor of a Las Vegas hotel room? Of course you do. It was the most painful video filmed by the daughter of an international star and then posted on the Internet, like, ever. If you found the image of your Baywatch hero slurring into some reconstituted meat too painful and you’ve blocked it out, it looked something like this:

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Pretty epic.

But, in the same way that we would be lying if we said we didn’t rummage through friends’ bathroom cabinets whilst using their toilet, we would be lying if we said we haven’t all done a David Hasselhoff.

Come on. Tell Aunty Beck. You know you have. When you get home from a night out with a hunger that could extinguish entire species? When the only course of action is to lie with your face in the fridge, or to climb into the condiment cupboard and just open your mouth until you’ve absorbed everything, like one of those speeded-up sciencey videos of insects devouring a piece of fruit? You know what I’m talking about. 

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Yes, there is undoubtedly a gratuitous indignity of shoving your silly drunken face into a cling-filmed block of stilton, but let’s look at it another way. How about the glorious, unadulterated, uninhibited freedom of it! At what other point in your day-to-day life can you really throw all moral, social, personal, and hygienic caution to the wind and just pig the hell out? There are no ‘If I eat half that Sara Lee chocolate gateau it’ll definitely go straight to my hips and I’ll be left with an acute feeling of self-disgust’ worries here. Quite the contrary: your brain is saying ‘I must eat half that Sara Lee chocolate gateau. I need it. If I don’t eat half that Sara Lee chocolate gateau something awful will happen. It is my duty to eat half that Sara Lee chocolate gateau.’

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And what of culinary conventions? Those suffocating dictations that tell you it is not appropriate to make a sandwich of hot buttered toast filled with Coco Pops, or that it is unseemly – depraved, even – to eat a can of cold rice pudding using a Kit Kat as a spoon? In a fit of drunken eating you can shun such stifling conventions! Stand up for what is good and true! Open that tin of sardines and that jar of peanut butter, consume the two with the same spoon, and to hell with the consequences!

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Drunken eating makes food fun. Small conquests are made. It becomes paramount that you must seek out all of the sultanas in your box of Sultana Bran. You can spend whole minutes staring into a flaky brown utopia, exclaiming ‘Aha!’ when you spy one of the sneaky little buggers, fish it out with your sweaty drunken fingers, consume it, and the search continues. Do you want a packet of sultanas? No, you do not want a packet of sultanas! You want the thrill of the chase, the glory of the conquest! You want to fundamentally transform the very essence of this product: you have the power to turn it from ‘Sultana Bran’ to simply ‘Bran’! You are God!

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So do not be ashamed next time you find yourself with your head inside a chicken carcass at half past one in the morning. You are only doing what is right. You, and David Hasselhoff, are merely obeying nature’s natural order. Run with it. Enjoy it. Create. Experiment. Who says sliced ham doesn’t go with chocolate spread? You are your own man.

I would like to conclude by stating that I have never indulged in such drunken eating behaviour, and I certainly didn’t do it when I got home at half past two this morning.

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Becky says things about ………………….. procrastinating

Having just undergone an enforced period of saying-things absence due to the need to write my university dissertation, I feel I am very well equipped to say things about procrastination.

A writer’s life is made up of 5% thinking, 8% writing, and 87% procrastinating. Every writer knows that. But the range of avoidance tactics a writer will employ to avoid sitting down and actually doing some writing is nothing short of astounding.

1. Eating

Don’t write that short story, have six slices of toast and Marmite instead! And then, hell, make a cake! Then eat the cake! And then because it’s time for dinner, make dinner – and eat dinner! And hey presto, not a single word written! Hurrah!

2. Cleaning

Hang on, are you really about to sit down and try to plot that novel you’ve been meaning to write for five years? Good gracious, woman, don’t you realise that the back of the tumble dryer needs cleaning? I mean, there really isn’t a moment to lose! Run, run from your desk and your evilly blinking Microsoft Word cursor, and clean! Because after you’ve tackled the tumble dryer, just take a moment to think: have you ever cleaned out the dishwasher filter? Hmm? Have you? Well maybe you should do it! RIGHT NOW!

3. YouTube-ing

Oh, YouTube. How many bestselling novels would I have written if it weren’t for your irresistible videos of people falling into open manholes and drunk grandmas burping the alphabet. I’ll just sit down and do a spot of writing – got a good character I want to develop, explore some really interesting themes and make a social commentary on the declining morals of the 21st century OH BUT HANG ON, THERE’S A KITTEN THAT SOUNDS LIKE IT’S SAYING I LOVE YOU WHEN IT MEOWS!!!!!!

4. Exercise

No one really likes exercise. No one would choose to do exercise over something fun like, say, watching videos of babies farting on YouTube. But when it’s a choice between sitting down to try and work out that rather fiddly bit of plotting, and running literally anywhere, then it’s running, every time. You suddenly realise how idle you’ve been recently, how you haven’t done any exercise for AGES, and, heavens to Betsy, if you don’t do some RIGHT NOW you will wake up tomorrow and be eighty stone and as it’s such a lovely day you must run out of the door NOW and just RUN RUN RUN AS FAR AWAY FROM YOUR LAPTOP AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN BECAUSE ISN’T EXERCISE BRILLIANT??

Or you start doing weights. Lots and lots of weights. Don’t write that synopsis, pump some IRON. You know bodybuilders? How do you think they got so big?

5. Developing a New Interest

Isn’t it funny, that every time you open up a blank Microsoft Word document to start a new story, you suddenly realise you’ve developed a burning interest in 13th century architecture? Or French knitting bobbins. Or how hemorrhoids form. And luckily, because your computer is connected to the internet, you can close that blank Microsoft Word document and spend six hours Googling your newfound interests! Isn’t the internet WONDERFUL?

6. Running Away

The most desperate of procrastination attempts. You can sit in front of your laptop all you want, you can twirl that pen around between your fingers, you can open and close all your creative writing books, but there’s no escaping the fact that you’re going to run away. I did that once. I got in my car and drove 40 miles to Reading. For literally no reason at all. When I got to Reading, I drove back again. Killed three hours. No writing. Job done. Just run for the hills.

Procrastination is all well and good. It is part of life’s rich tapestry. It is only when your time has come and you’re in the queue at the pearly gates that you might regret it.

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Filed under Food, Health and Exercise, People, The Beauty of Life, Thoughts and Musings