You Are What You Eat

When that drilling noise of alarm goes off, I roll on to my side, stretch out my arm, grab the phone turn off that noise and then start scrolling. I’ve read and heard countless time that a ‘perfect’ morning routine goes something along the lines of … waking up bright and early , jumping out of bed , (‘Rise and Shine’ by Kylie Jenner anyone) saluting the sun and setting my intentions for the day whilst avoiding social media and any source of blue light.

Admittedly, I haven’t got ‘mindful’ morning routine down yet and instead, I begin swiping through Instagram.

Between the top trending accounts, models, or the most aesthetically pleasing interior design pages, I will undoubtedly be bombarded with this type of content the most …food.

Food and ‘health’ accounts are the type of content that I try to avoid these days. The images that annoy me the most to will have a heading something along the lines of ‘try this, not that’ or ‘eat this , not that’ followed by lists or images of ‘bad’ food and what you can swap them for to live a happier/healthier life. I went on an unfollow spree to cleanse ( for lack of a better term) my feed from annoying or triggering content. Doing this, I noticed just how many diet accounts were created to tell people how to / what to and when to eat. These accounts all contradicted each other and all the avoided the word ‘diet’ opting for ‘lifestyle’- a term that’s easier to swallow, leaves a sweeter taste cause after all we don’t do diets in anymore, right?

2018/19 has been such a shift in beauty standards and what we define as ‘healthy’ . We have banned FAD diets and embraced better and new ways of working out – think way more woman lifting weights and the increase in weight training has risen in general.

But have we really got rid of diet culture?

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It got me thinking about all the new terms and what the replacements for Fad diets that we have created. I’ve found myself falling into the trap of looking at trends such as ‘intermittent Fasting, looking at before and after pictures of vegan diet, googling all about gluten free benefits.

According to the National Eating Disorders , orthorexia is “an unhealthy obsession with otherwise healthy eating”, ‘As awareness of healthy eating grows and more consumers than ever before go vegan and gluten free, clinicians say they are encountering more patients presenting orthorexia symptoms’.

It was through my Instagram scrolling that I found an account all around ‘Flexitarians’ – Mr Niven, a strategic market intelligence manager for trade association Scotland Food & Drink, says “flexitarian is only eating meat and fish occasionally and opting for a more plant-focused diet ‘’. He claims there is a significant rise in this and ‘Intuitive Eating’ – ‘’eating when hungry and stopping when full with the mindset of not labelling any food good or bad and not allowing food to have labels or morals’’.

Reading this out to my sister, scrolling through the feed of tips and how to’s of intuitive eating that my Dad pointed something out. ‘That’s just called eating’. He looked at me with the expression a Labrador does when you said a word it doesn’t quite know (head tilt, raised brows) . ‘Isn’t that common sense’, he said, and when I thought about it he’s right. What we should do naturally is it when hungry and stop when full and have a range of things in our diet. So how have we now labelled it and put rules around this trend which is mean to be about having no rules and how have we given eating , a label ?

Instagram isn’t the only place where we can obsess about food, one of the most searched and most popular videos on YouTube is ‘what I eat in a Day’- (explaining this to anyone who isn’t a millennial is funny). Yes, you watched a video of what someone else eats throughout their day and of course it’s always perfectly presented and ‘healthy’.

You can find these for anyone from Doctors, Models, Post baby weight loss, Eating disorder recovery or just your Favourite fitness youtuber.

 What I Eat In a Day videos-

https://youtu.be/EPBwKJJL1b4  (Natasha Oceane – what I eat in a day) 17.k likes in two days – one of her most requested videos

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https://youtu.be/mknrIncksQk – Stephanie Buttermore – the science behind going ‘all in’- Eating until full regardless of calories and purposely gaining weight in order to stop ‘severe hunger’ after years of being in a calorie deficit.

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All of this may not make much sense to some people and , hey, maybe most people aren’t affected but for me having a good relationship with food is important and something that needs worked on, so I’m just a bit fed up of being told what to do.

You are more than what you eat.

some people to follow if you want to change up your feed too 🙂

@no.food.rules

Hi.Ur.Beautiful

Alexandra Cane

Megan is a final year student at Ulster University studying Communication Management & Public Relations . Find her on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/missmegangillespie/ and LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/megan-gillespie-29baa3180/

The ‘C’ Word

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My family.

No, not that C word, I’m talking about the dreaded C word, CANCER! It was June last year when I heard the following four dreaded words leave my father’s mouth, “Girls, I have cancer.”

It was a normal Friday afternoon for myself and my three sisters. We just got home from our shopping trip in Victoria Square and headed straight up to my room to do the usual fashion show that consists of showing each other our latest purchases from that day (I know typical girls). Mum and dad were away to get “their heads showered” which is understandable as there is only so much ’girl chat’ dad can keep up with in a day. They arrived home shortly after us which is when we were called downstairs for ‘a talk’. I don’t know about you, but when we ALL get called downstairs it’s normally because someone has done something wrong. Immediately we all start asking the question “Oh for goodness sake what have we done this time? who hasn’t emptied the dishwasher?”

Anyway, downstairs we went, and sat nervously on the sofa awaiting our lecture (I was really hoping it wasn’t going to be as long as a lecture in uni). After what felt like a decade of silence, mum finally says “Girls, your dad and I have something to tell you?” Uh oh, what on earth could this be about? ‘they’re getting a divorce’, ‘Mum’s pregnant’? (I was really hoping it wasn’t this one, three sisters stealing my clothes is enough, never mind four sisters doing it) ‘they’ve won the lottery’ (that would have been nice, no more university fees for me) all thoughts I had but never once could I have predicted or prepared for why we were really sat here together.

And that’s when it did, when you don’t predict it, The C word! A word I never thought I would hear, I never thought it would happen to our family. “Girls, I have cancer.” A ‘normal’ day for us quickly turned into a not so normal day. After we all had a quick cry together, due to the initial shock of the news we wanted to get the facts and find out the prognosis. Thankfully, mum went to the hospital with dad and was able to give us this information, dad was also there but as a typical man he was able to retain about 2% of what he was told.

Dad went to get his tonsils privately removed as he was complaining of having a sore throat for over a month. During this operation the doctor found a cancerous growth, one that they couldn’t remove there and then as it was too far on. He was told he would have to endure radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but the prognosis was good (I don’t know if it’s just me, but the words radiotherapy and chemotherapy are scary). Dad was already at stage 3 which was a shock as he obviously didn’t expect anything was wrong bar having tonsillitis. So, here is where I plea that if you feel like something is wrong, even a small thing like a throat infection please get it looked at as it really can be a matter of life or death.

Our family was very matter of fact about the situation and to receive any form of sympathy is very rare (unless of course you break a nail – that’s MAJOR). Therefore, once we got all the facts, we took a very matter of fact approach and instead of dwelling on the negative news, we all remained very positive. Dad was also able to retain a positive mental attitude throughout the duration of his treatment which again encouraged us girls to be positive about the situation. However, I do think this backfired on him as he really didn’t receive any sympathy from us at all, actually if anything it got worse for him. Even when he had to be admitted to hospital and fed through a tube, we all made light of the situation and he was still the brunt of all our jokes.

I guess my life lesson to you from this situation is that no matter how hard you think it is, how hard you think it is going to be or how hard the news seems at first, you can get through it! It’s true what they say, and as cliché as it is, ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ even if you can’t see it at first. I promise you that eventually it will come through. Throughout this difficult time, as a family we relied on each other for support, and although at times it was tough, we all stuck together and as a whole it brought us closer together and strengthened our already strong family bond. I know this may not be the case for you but there is always someone willing to listen and help you through tough times.

Dad’s personal catch phrase is “Living the dream”. Anyone who asks him how he is, the response is always “Living the dream” (I mean how could he not, he has four beautiful daughters and according to my mum a beautiful wife). Together as a family, I’m glad that he is still able to live the dream and to live it with us makes it that bit better.

The photo on the left: Now you can put a face to the name, this is ‘Dad’ when he finally completed his radiotherapy and chemotherapy. 

The photo on the right: My family (Minus Lucy – getting us all together is a very rare occasion) at Dad’s abseil for cancer. Yes, this was the one-time mum didn’t pick out his clothes and he did wear the costume the rest of the day.

Molly Stevenson is a final year BSc in Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Instagram – @molly_stevensonn; Facebook – Molly Stevenson; LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/molly-stevenson-4bb39115b/

 

Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Is social media normalising being unhealthily overweight?

Everyone has a love-hate relationship with social media; why?

Pros:

  • Easy way to keep in touch with friends
  • Easy access to current affairs
  • Enables us to educate ourselves

The list goes on. There are endless reasons why we love social media; the extent to which can be seen in cities like Augsburg, Germany where pedestrian crossings signs have been put on the ground; because we spend most of our time with our heads down, engrossed in our phones. 

Cons:

  • Depression
  • Cyberbullying
  • FOMO (Fear of missing out)
  • Negative body image
  • Unrealistic perceptions of other people’s lives

Social media also has its pros and cons on the subject of body image. It can be a source of ‘fitspiration’ to people striving to lead healthier lives. Aroosha Nekonam battled with anorexia for years and claimed social media helped her in the midst of her eating disorder. https://www.healthline.com/health/social-media-choices#inspiration-vs.-expectation 

female bodybuilders’ Instagram and Youtube accounts provided something to aspire to

This is, on the other hand, is one of social media’s biggest downfalls; and dangers! Constantly flicking through Instagram, seeing models with perfect physiques on regular holidays; wearing expensive clothes, and driving expensive cars. This can have a profound impact on someone’s mental health; especially when they start comparing their lives to what they see on Instagram.


The question I pose is: are the various body positivity campaigns such as the 2012 #FatKini, or #LoseHateNotWeight encouraging us to be more physically unhealthy? In a time where positive mental health is so important, could we be losing sight of how necessary good physical health is to compensate?

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For years, the ideology that you have to be a size 4 to be regarded beautiful was all that we knew. In an age of mental health being so prevalent, businesses and individuals with a platform have tried to combat this mentality, which in my opinion is a huge positive and step forward. It is completely unrealistic to assume that all women should be a certain size as we come naturally in different shapes and sizes.


Dr. Stephanie Buttermore, a Ph.D. academic turned fitness model from Canada, is going “all in” in an attempt to prove that people’s bodies have a natural ‘set point’. Buttermore describes going ‘all in’ as eating until your hunger is completely satiable. Stephanie expects that by the end of the process her body will return to a size where it is genetically supposed to be.

Stephanie Buttermore

She delves into the process on her YouTube channel, self-titled, Stephanie Buttermore https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DotlyWhBhak


Returning the focus to social media body positivity campaigns: I fully understand the main point of these; to be happy in your skin. As we are trying to push away from the thinking that you have to be ‘skinny’ to be viewed attractive. For example, Dove’sReal Beauty’ campaign, showing a diverse range of models; one that I thought displayed the message of body positivity in a healthy way.

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Another company that I feel tried to jump on the bandwagon with this, and in my opinion, failed was Gillette. Gillette’s April 2019 Twitter advert featured a plus-size model, Anna O’Brien.

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This campaign faced major backlash stating that the model shown is not healthy, and listing health problems that arise from being obese.

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Companies like Dove are positively combating the mentality that being dramatically underweight is not healthy, however, they are not using models at the other end of the spectrum to show this – surely this would be contradicting anyway?


We cannot deny the implications that come with being overweight: In England, obesity rates have increased from 16.4% in 1993 to 26.8% in 2015 in women (with similar statistics in men) costing the NHS £6.1 billion between 2014-2015 alone. Obesity is a trend that is on the rise and these figures are only going to vastly increase.

Now let’s look at the actual health risks associated with obesity:

  • 3 times more likely to develop colon cancer
  • 2.5 times more likely to develop high blood pressure (higher risk of heart disease)
  • 5 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes

Obviously, obesity blame is not solely on campaigns like Gillette but isn’t helped by businesses on social media trying to normalise it to appear more inclusive with the sole purpose of generating more sales; disregarding the physical health risks that are brought with it.

I appreciate that businesses using these campaigns have an aim to make women feel more confident in their skin; although I think that we need to be more conscious of how this can be perceived. Many people may look at these campaigns and think that being physically healthy is not a priority so long as you’re happy, which to an extent may be true. Looking at social media for a perfect figure is unhealthy as often these figures are naturally unattainable. Pictures have been airbrushed and models have had surgery but it can be a great source of information and motivation to get on the right track.

My point is that we cannot neglect our physical health in the hope that we will feel more mentally healthy, instead, we need to work on getting to a place where our bodies and minds are both happy and with a healthy diet and regular exercise this can be achieved.

 

Orlaigh Doherty is a final year Bsc Communication Management and Public Relations student at Ulster University. She can be found on: LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/orlaigh-doherty-7351a7139/ 

Following in Dad’s footsteps – how did I end up here?

From the ages of 12 to 16, if you’d asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, the answer certainly would’ve changed depending on my mood. Whether it was a barrister, a pathologist, or a translator, I pretty much wanted to be everything under the sun at one point or another. But one thing that stayed consistent was that I had absolutely no interest in following in my parents’ footsteps and becoming a civil servant or going in to marketing.

I just always had the mentality that following in your parents’ footsteps would somehow take away from your own individuality – something that was very important to me. So, how is it then that 5 years later I’m embarking on the final year of my CAM degree and currently working as a marketing assistant?

Again, it wasn’t just that I woke up one day and decided to copy my dad and go on to study marketing, it was a very unconventional and at times very difficult path that brought me to where I am today. I’ll begin with September 2014, aged 16 and just starting lower sixth studying French, Irish, Maths and History, not anywhere close to the subjects you would expect a future CAM student to study, right? Well as I said I couldn’t decide on a specific career path before picking A Levels so with the idea that a lot of degree courses don’t expect specific subjects, I decided the safest option would be to go for the ones I enjoyed most.

But, week one of lower sixth comes to an end and my whole life changed. On Friday 5th September 2014, my dad suffered a massive stroke that initially left him with a 30% chance of survival, complete right side paralysis and global aphasia*. We were told that our whole lives would have to change and that my dad would be left in a wheelchair for the rest of his life, never speak again and would need 24/7 care. Being the optimists that we are, we took this with a pinch of salt and kept focusing on him making a full recovery (side note – five years on he is walking, driving and even has limited speech). We did however, know that this was going to take a lot of time, effort and money from the whole family. With my mum and sister both working full time, I even considered  leaving school to care for him but after lots of discussions, I realised that as an educator, my dad would never have accepted this. We decided we had to keep everything as normal as possible because after all, our lives had changed enough – I was going to stay in school, my mum and sister were going to stay in work and we were all going to take on the responsibility of caring for my dad and taking turns with the everyday responsibilities such as cooking, cleaning, shopping etc.

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This was of course very difficult and I could write an entire book on that story alone but alas we are talking about my path to marketing. During the mid-term break over Halloween, all lower sixth students had to embark on a week’s work experience, not having time to apply for work experience myself because my dad was still in hospital gravely ill, I reached out to two of my dad’s friends who worked in PR and Graphic Design to ask if they could take me on for a couple of days. They were of course willing to do anything possible to help and so began my journey into this industry.

I spent the first three days of the week shadowing Joanne McNeill at her PR agency, McNeill Communications – at this point I had zero idea what PR actually meant, apart from knowing that some of my friends did PR for Thompsons and Filthys. I did know that it was along the same lines as marketing and had therefore decided that although this experience wouldn’t help me in my career, it would be nice to get a few days away from school and the hospital. Within the first few hours of shadowing Joanne, my mind had been completely changed. We had been working on launch events and planning for a Red Bull event and it all seemed like the most interesting work in the world – I hadn’t enjoyed myself so much in a long time. The last two days of the week were spent with Mark Mulholland at Whitenoise Designs and although we both knew for certain that I was never going to me a graphic designer, he brought me to an event set up and showed the ins and outs of all the technical and branding elements. This was an amazing experience and set in stone my love for corporate events.

I’ll skip on a year to the start of upper sixth when we were about to attend the open days at Queen’s and Ulster and we had to do some research on the degrees they offered so that we could make the most of our time and attend specific talks. At this point, I still had some interest in keeping on my language studies and I was STILL set against studying straight marketing because I did not want to end up on the same career path as my dad, after all it was PR I’d fallen in love with at this stage. I hadn’t heard of anyone doing a degree in PR and didn’t really think such a thing existed so I was leaning towards French and International Business at Queen’s. Then, as I was browsing through the Ulster open day schedule, I noticed the CMPR and CAM talks and was instantly intrigued.

I went on to apply for both courses and sit my A Levels and months later after painstakenly waiting for remarks to meet the CAM grade boundaries, I was officially a CAM student.

Now three years on I’ve just completed a twelve month Corporate Communications internship in London at The Walt Disney Company and I’m currently working as a Marketing Assistant at Mirror Media. Needless to say, my 17 year old self was naive to the similarities between PR and marketing and when I decided to go into PR I firmly believed I was not following in my dad’s footsteps. But, alas, here I am, unintentionally following my dad’s discipline that I’d always been so against and I have to say that I couldn’t be happier. The past five years have of course taught me a lot but I’ve mainly learned that the bad things that happen to us are only going to teach us lessons that no book will and sometimes they’ll even lead you down the best path. I’ve learned that it’s important not to stress too much about your career path and as cliché as it sounds, everything will work itself out in the end.  

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*Global Aphasia – This is the most severe form of aphasia, a language impairment, and is applied to patients who can produce few recognizable words and understand little or no spoken language. Persons with Global Aphasia can neither read nor write.

Emily Spackman McKee is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be found on: Twitter @_spackman and LinkedIn Emily Spackman McKee