Archive | February, 2012

Running on Empty: Bulimia, Food and Positive Body-Image

27 Feb

Those of you who know me in person or have seen the documentary may know that I have bulimia. Last week was eating disorder awareness week, and also –weirdly – a week where I had a bit of a relapse. So, in the spirit of “a problem shared is a problem halved” I thought I would take to the keyboard to write on the subject.

As I have previously said on the documentary, taking the step to being publicly naked (and not having the world respond in horror), as well as seeing, unhindered, the diversity of shapes and sizes the human form has to offer continues to be a very liberating experience for me. But naturism is just one of the strategies I use to manage my eating disorder, I hope to use this blogpost to share a few other methods I use to get by.

For me, bulimia is all about control. Nowadays, I only tend to feel the urge to binge, purge and fast when I’m feeling particularly overwhelmed or out of control. Fasting was/is all about control – I might not have had control over how my mind or body worked, but I could at least rigidly control what went into my body. I’ve always kept a list of “allowed foods” and “forbidden foods”, and the more out of control I felt the more slender my list of “allowed foods” became. When I felt really out of control I would crave my “forbidden foods” so much that a binge would result, followed by a purge and consequently more fasting.

To a large extent, going vegan gave my diet a set of rules and order that allowed me to feel in control, whilst giving me a relatively large and varied diet to keep me at a decent weight. There are plenty of other good reasons to go vegan, but it continues to be a really good framework for me to use for managing my relationship with food. It also allows me to have a readily acceptable explanation for having a restricted diet which means I don’t have to out myself as bulimic or have unnecessary awkward conversations with people if I don’t feel up to it.

I won’t deny it – I’m completely obsessed with food. Part of what drew me to help create this blog was the fact that it gives me a reason to think about food all the time in a way that isn’t self-destructive. When you live in a world where you need reasons to eat (beyond being hungry), it’s a pretty good reason to be cooking and eating. As a general rule, I pretty much only ever eat when I’m with others, and so the blog serves as one reason to have people round for dinner.

One of the strategies I use when I’m feeling close to falling back into the habit of fasting is to arrange lunchdates with friends. After my hiccup last week, I arranged breakfast, lunch and dinner dates with housemates and friends for a week after. I usually have at least one meal a day communally with my housemates. I feel blessed to be living with supportive people who I can talk to about these issues, and who I trust to nag me the right amount about eating.
For me, naturism has had a big part to play in helping me manage my eating disorder. Being publicly naked for the first time was absolutely terrifying, but the fact that those around me didn’t react in horror at my body was incredibly liberating and genuinely had a massive impact on my self esteem. However, it was/still is scary as fuck sometimes and isn’t the answer for everyone, but maybe something to consider.

Other strategies I use:

Find other (less harmful) ways to feel in control. When I feel close to relapsing I often go on a cleaning spree, organise my diary (and schedule in some pampering time) and go straight edge.
Communicate. A problem shared is a problem halved, and it really makes a difference to talk to people who are good at listening; whether that is friends, counsellors, etc. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone – get a diary and write it down or submit a postcard to postsecret.
Its OK to give into cravings for “forbidden foods”. If I feel a strong urge to eat a milk chocolate bar, I do. Its better that I eat one milk chocolate bar every now and again, than I wait until a binge and eat 12 mars bars in one sitting. If, like me, vegan food is your “allowed food” than always having a small amount of vegan “milk” chocolate around is a good idea.
Resist self critical thoughts. Any time that you hear *the voice* in your head, talk back to it internally using “your own” voice. By doing that, you don’t just quell the problem of “guilt” in the short term, you start to separate your ill self from your real self and to push the ill part of you further into the past.
– If you need help with finding out information on the net, get a friend to search for you / with you so you can avoid all the “thinspiration” sites.
Employ harm reduction techniques: If you are binging and fasting, make sure you are taking vitamin supplements and keeping hydrated (purging can really dehydrate you). If you are purging, chew antacids to neutralise the extra acid in your mouth afterwards to avoid messing up your teeth. Avoid taking laxatives or diet pills, they can really mess you up!
All your feelings are valid. And if you need to, you should find someone to talk to about them. A lot of people feel like their eating/ body image isnt “serious enough” to ask for help. But if its a problem to you, its a problem!
Remember your friends and family love you! They aren’t perfect but they are usually acting out of concern.
– Check out B-eat, a great support network!

How to be a good ally:

Read up on other people’s experiences of eating disorders. It’s your duty to learn about this sort of thing, don’t expect your friend to be in a position where they can teach you about it. Also, don’t assume that one persons experiences of having an eating disorder will be the same as anyone else’s.
– Foster body-positivism within yourself and your attitude to others. This means avoiding re-enforcing fat-prejudice by saying things like “but you’re not fat”, etc. Organise politically for body-positivism, and actively change the environment around you.
Don’t comment on how your friend’s body looks. Saying “you’re too thin” is still a negative comment about someone else’s body.
– Be there when your friend wants to chat. Employ active listening.
Don’t try to “fix” your friend. Let them know that you are there for them if they need you, and actively make yourself available for them.
Be patient, your friend might get angry or upset with you. Make sure you always employ non-violent communication: i.e. saying “I feel x when y happens” is less accusatory than saying “you make me feel x”
– Power struggles over food and eating are damaging. Consent is important. Never try and force someone to eat if they don’t want to. Avoid criticising your friend’s eating habits, instead focus on their feelings. Your friend is probably making themselves feel guilty and ashamed for the both of you – don’t try and guilt them into eating.
– Another thing to do is to think about how family/household approaches to food may support (or otherwise) the person with an eating disorder. Do you always hang out in the kitchen? Would having dinner in front of the tv help take the pressure off? Some people find being involved in cooking helpful, others not so much. How about skipping or growing your own food?
– Being stressed and upset can only lead to more harm, so make sure you time to pamper yourself and make sure you are OK too!

If you have any other positive tips, stories, resources or advice, please feel free to post in the comments (or even write an article for us!) – Thanks to everyone who has contributed helpful advice so far. Please read the above section on being a good ally before posting a comment, anything that isn’t positive about other people’s bodies will be deleted.

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Vegan Pancakes

22 Feb

We made these amazing pancakes yesterday, they taste just as good as their non-vegan equivalent, we must have got through about 50 of them between us! Try with savory or sweet fillings, we had vegan cheese, vegan chorizo and spinach followed by maple syrup and sugar with lemon juice. Happy belated pancake day!

Makes roughly 4 big pancakes

125 grams wholemeal flour,
1 heaped teaspoon soy flour,
250 milliliters soy milk,
1 pinch salt,
A few knobs of vitalite, other buttery spread or vegetable oil.

Topping ideas
Toffutti mozzarella style vegan cheese, Spacebar vegan chorizo and wilted spinach,
Organic maple syrup,
Freshly squeezed lemon juice and golden caster sugar.

Roughly sift the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the salt and soy flour,

Add the milk a little at a time as you wisk it together into a smooth batter,

Some people say that leaving the batter to stand for a while makes it better so don’t be afraid to make it in advance,

Heat your best non stick frying pan at the highest heat setting until the pan is scorching hot,

Add the knob of butter to the hot pan and use a scrunched up piece of kitchen towel to spread the butter or oil evenly around the pan,

Pour a little of the batter into the centre of the pan and tilt the pan to make it spread to the edges evenly, to prevent an undercooked and doughy pancake spread the batter quite thinly,

If there are any gaps add a little more batter to fill them,

Leave the pancake until the top has turned solid then lift the pan from the heat, give it a shake and with one quick, confident motion flip it over,

If you really can’t flip, try emptying out the pancake onto a plate, turning the pan upside down, pushing both together then turning them upside down before removing the plate,

Now add any toppings you want to wilt, melt or heat up, we like to partially wilt the spinach beforehand but toffutti cheese with lots of pepper melts gorgeously like this,

We also tend to fold our pancake in the pan at this point if we’re making a savory one,

Once your toppings have melted, wilted or heated or a two to three minutes have passed tip out the pancake onto a plate,

If you haven’t folded it roll it then add any extra toppings and enjoy!

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Valentines Pop Up in Pictures

17 Feb

Valentines Day saw us set up our first pop-up restaurant, serving a (scarily ambitious) 3 course menu for about 20 guests. Thanks to everyone who came, with special thanks to Janey from the fabulous Uprising Bakehouse for lending us a space and holding our hand! Whilst your’e at it, why not check out this pretty interesting article about Valentines Day (written from an American perspective)

The venue, tables set out with napkins, origami flowers and fresh red roses

Uprising Bakehouse

Ro and Janey making lasagne in the kitchen

Kitchen Monkeys

Hazelnut Pate with Sesame Toast

Hazelnut Pate with Sesame Toast

In the foreground: 3 males set round a table, two naked, one unclothed, In the background: Jess, naked, serving


Jeruselem Artichoke Soup with Chestnut Pesto

Jeruselem Artichoke Soup with Chestnut Pesto

Guests enjoying their food.


Pizza topped with mushrooms, olives, vegan pepperoni and vegan cheese. With salad garnish

"Pepperoni", mushroom and olive pizza

Our lovely friends enjoying pizza.

Our friends

loads of heart shaped sticky toffee puddings (without the sauce)

sticky toffee puddings

Guests: foreground, a clothed couple, background: a couple, one male undressed, female clothed.


Icecream sundae with strawberry compote

Icecream sundae with strawberry compote

After the guests leave, we sit down to eat. Luke is in the middle of getting naked for the camera and everyone else is laughing at him


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Vegan Focaccia

4 Feb
Were really excited about the upcoming Pop-Up Restaurant on Valentines Day! There are still places left if you are interested –  get in touch!
This  amazing focaccia recipe comes from the lovely Hannah, who is Vegan Goddess from Up North. Thanks love!
Hannah is wearing a striped top and chunky glasses, and is holding a blue plate with delicious looking focaccia bread on it. Yum.
Ingredients: 3 cups plain flour, 1 1/2 cups of lukewarm water, 1 tbsp yeast, 2 pinches of salt, 1 tbsp minced garlic, 3 tbsp olive oil.
Optional extras: olives, sweetcorn, onions (I went for onions as I was making spaghetti), rosemary, thyme, etc.
Amazing focaccia bread on blue plate.
In a mixing bowl, combine water and yeast, a pinch of salt, flour and mix. Get it into a good mixture and leave to rise for half an hour/hour in a warm place with a warm damp cloth on top. After it’s nicely risen, dust your workbench and shape into a flat circle around 2cm’s thick.  (Last time I did it, I made two smaller breads as I gave one as a gift).
Prick shallow holes in the bread for the oil/garlic to seep into! Make sure you do all the top! Spread the minced garlic on top, add extras, and drizzle oil on top.
Spinkle with salt for crispyness/flavour, and pop onto a baking paper’d tray, or if you like your breads neat like I do, use the lid of a pyrex dish, and make two smaller breads.
Place into an over at 240C for around 30 mins, or until golden brown.
Serve hot or cold (it’s amazing warm so..might not get chance to cool down!
I hope this was a good recipe for you’s! I’m a massive baker/cook and there’s nothing nicer than trying something new : ) x
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Naked Greta laughing with rosemary sprig

Naked Vegan Cooking’s Valentines Restaurant

2 Feb


Sorry, we are unable to take any more bookings! There has been massive demand for tickets and we are planning another event in a couple of months.


We are happy to announce our location is going to be the new Uprising Bakery in Whalley Range, Manchester. We are expecting great demand for the tickets so book quickly!

Each ticket costs £18.50 and the proceeds will be going towards our housing co-op which you can find more information about here.

We won’t be selling alcohol but you can bring your own for no extra charge, we will have a selection of soft drinks. We plan to start serving at 8pm, so if you could be arriving from 7.30 ish that would be great. 

This event is on Valentines Day but it’s not for couples only. We are also taking bookings from single people and you can come alone to meet some new friends. You can also book for more than two people per table, they seat up to four. If you book a single ticket rather than a table you will be seated with other people who booked single tickets.

The event will be clothing optional, guests (and cooks!) can be entirely naked, entirely clothed or anything in between.

We spent all weekend last week trying to get a fancy booking system working, however it’s taking our web designer a bit longer than she thought so we are going for the simple option for now. If you want to come please send an email to saying your name, how many tickets you want to book, what menu options each person wants to eat and any access requirements and/or allergies. We are taking all the food orders in advance so things will run smoothly on the night. Then use the paypal donate button at the right hand side of the blog to pay a deposit. The deposit is £10 per person, and then you pay £8.50 on the night. If the name you use to pay will be different to the name your booking is under then please let us know in the email. Once we have received the email and your deposit we will send you an email confirming your booking.


All food is vegan
wf= wheat free/ wheat free on request
nf = nut free/ nut free on request

First Course

Olives and sunblush tomatoes wf nf
Lightly salted cashews and pistachios wf

Second Course

Jerusalem artichoke soup with chestnut and parsley pesto wf nf
Sesame toast with hazelnut and mushroom pâté

Third Course

Lasagna with Italian salad nf
Pizza with a choice of toppings (pepperoni mushroom and olive, butternut squash with hazelnut and red onion) wf nf

Fourth Course

Sticky toffee pudding nf
Strawberry ice cream sundae wf nf

Fifth Course

A selection of coffees or hot chocolate both served with a mint chocolate fondant.


There is level access from the back of the venue and a gender neutral toilet. Please let us know in advance if you are a wheelchair user or have any other access requirements and we can give you more information. Please also let us know if you have any food allergies or intolerances and if you want to order the wheat/nut free options for any of the dishes.

Uprising Bakery’s address is 254 Upper Chorlton Street, M16 0BN.