Loved by fitness fanatics, the thrifty and eco-warriors, there are now 8m posts of pre-prepared meals on Instagram, arrayed in rows of colourful Tupperware. But is it good for you?
The relationship between food and social media was once straightforward. Those were the innocent days when no meal could be declared consumed unless it had also been photographed, filtered and posted on Instagram, when the world seemed merely a stage for avocado toast, açai bowls and barista art. It was a different time – a time before meal prep.
While meal prep has long existed, of course, it has grown in popularity over the past six years, aided by Instagram, where there are 8m posts with the hashtag #mealprep. Most show a variety of meals prepared for the week ahead – quinoa salads, chicken rice bowls, carrot sticks, broccoli florets, hulled strawberries – all displayed in a selection of artfully photographed Tupperware-style containers.
A strikingly accomplished work from a 16-year-old poet reflects on the resonances of anorexia with religious fasting
How did we ever get here? I have been measuring my worth in etched wrists for so long I think my bones are made of aspartame. Or plum blossom. Can I gain solubility, dissolve? Can I become entirely blood? Viscera. Cold palms pressed against my back. Ribs. Ankles, spine. This resembles a checklist but is more truly a prayer. A prayer offered in the rain with a headache behind my eyes. A prayer offered propped against the car with trembling hands. Some Magnificat for vivisection. He hath filled the hungry with good things. Communion wine burns on an empty stomach. Lord, have I already martyred myself for skinny jeans? What if I wake up a husk, made clean and dry by sunlight? What if I wake up as sunlight itself, yellow and sharp and hard?
Olivia Campbell on reconciling the size of her talent and the size of her body, and how ‘giving up can be an act of self-preservation’
I could’ve been a professional ballet dancer. At least, this is the lie I tell myself, how I am able to face my reflection in the mirror every day without collapsing into a puddle of regret.
After spending a year at a dance conservatory in London, I quit. A year later, I tried again at a university in my home state of Virginia. But two years in, I broke my foot and decided to switch to a major that was less tied to my physical integrity: journalism. Soon, I became the arts editor of the school paper. Now, 10 years after graduating from college, I have three beautiful sons and a successful freelance writing career. But the fact that I quit before I had the chance to see if I could truly succeed haunts me to this day.
Can a thicker brush not make just as beautiful strokes?
I quickly discover that trying to induce my own vomiting is much too traumatic and difficult.
Weighing pupils and measuring their girth could push them into eating disorders. As a former anorexic, I know the dangers
In an attempt to fight obesity, the government could force schools across England to weigh and measure their students. Under a suggested policy from No 10, children would jump on the scales and have their middles taped once a year. If they qualified as overweight, they’d be subjected to extra gym classes and a school-imposed programme of weight loss.
Eating disorders in men are often hidden. One man reveals how bulimia has shaped his life
It was a Thursday night in Chinatown and the restaurant was packed. It was one of those places you go when you and your friends can’t agree on what you want: menu as thick as a Bible, dishes from every country east of Norwich. Cheap, plentiful, tasty. The air was jammed with food smells and the heat that burst through the kitchen door every time it opened, but that’s not why I was sweating. We’d over-ordered again and, one by one, my friends passed their leftovers towards me.
“Give it to Tom, he’ll eat it.”
I crouched in the light of the fridge, jamming my mouth with anything I could get my hands on
I ate until it hurt. I told myself I'd learn from the pain and never let myself go like that again. But of course I did
The public health system is supposed to prevent undue financial burdens. But for author Fiona Wright, the reality is far from utopian
Before I became unwell, I had a lot of assumptions about what happened to people who were unwell. I assumed that no unwell person would ever find themself having to explain their condition to doctors who had never heard of it before. I assumed that doctors could not refuse to treat someone who was unwell, or would not ask that unwell person to convince them – often over several weeks – why they should do so. I assumed that treatment cures illness, or at least does not do harm; that medicines are prescribed precisely and not by trial and error. But most of all, I assumed that when a person became unwell, their medical expenses would be taken care of. We have a public healthcare system, after all – and our politicians speak so often of fairness and the fair go – and it is never a sick person’s fault that they are unwell, and so it seemed ridiculous that they would be penalised for something already so punishing.
This is, essentially, just a gentler way of saying that I had the privilege to be incredibly naive. When I consider now all of the money I have spent across the seven years that I was in active treatment for my illness, seven years when media commentary about the irresponsibility and instant gratification of my generation has continually intensified, I often think: if I could eat avocado toast, I’d be able to afford a house by now.
‘In this image, in all of them, I marvel how little of myself is left. The more pieces of myself I lose, the more men I attract’
I sit in child’s pose on the carpet, my back inches away from the heater in the wall, cradling images of the girl I used to be. I cup her many faces in my hands, like water droplets threatening to spill through laced fingers.
As many as 90,000 children in England could be considered eligible for bariatric surgery, yet only 18 operations were performed last year. Shouldn’t there be many more?
When Vicky Counsell was 16, her doctor told her that if she didn’t have surgery to reduce her weight, there was a good chance it would kill her. She was 140kg (22st), her weight gain accelerated by the steroids she was taking for a lung condition, and she had tried everything to lose it. “It was an easy choice,” she says. “It was life or death.” At 17, she had gastric band surgery, in which a band around the stomach creates a small pouch, meaning only a small amount of food can be consumed. Ten years on, she has lost more than 44kg (7st). “Before the surgery, I couldn’t even walk on the flat for 200m,” she says. “Now I walk for miles.” She works as a support worker for older people, a physical job she couldn’t have done before.
Although it has “definitely been worth it”, she wasn’t prepared for how difficult living with a gastric band would be. “I remember the doctors telling me I wouldn’t be able to eat a lot of food, but I don’t think I realised how tough it would be,” she says. “At the very beginning I couldn’t even keep water or juice down. Now I can’t eat bread, pizza or anything high-carb.” It can be difficult going to restaurants with friends and explaining to waiters what she can and can’t eat, and she says her portion sizes are about what you would give a child. It is a lifelong commitment, which as a teenager she says she didn’t really grasp.
We shouldn’t shy away from last resorts. Bariatric surgery is incredibly effective