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Metro.co.uk: News, Sport, Showbiz, Celebrities from Metro

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    METRO GRAB VIA TWITTER Designer creates amazing homemade jukebox with song cards that you swipe https://twitter.com/ChrisJPatty/status/1078065910487760896
    (Picture: Metro/Twitter @ChrisJPatty)

    A designer has created an incredible homemade jukebox which plays songs when you swipe the correct card.

    Chris Patty used his impressive skills to make the retro gadget after his family promised to exchange homemade gifts this Christmas.

    The jukebox has a huge range of indiviually designed song cards, which feature album art from each particular artist. To get the song to play, you simply swipe the card and wait for the music to start. Ingenious.

    Patty, who designs wedding stationary, adverts and branding, posted a video on Twitter to show exactly how his invention works.

    The response online has been huge. Chris’s tweet gained more then 35,000 likes, with thousands of people clogging up his mentions clamoring to know how it was done.

    Chris was overwhelmed by the positive response and has promised to provide information about how he built the machine, and the software he wrote to make the song cards work.

    He has already posted a couple of pictures showing exactly what the gadget looks like on the inside, and some snaps from the building process.

    METRO GRAB VIA TWITTER Designer creates amazing homemade jukebox with song cards that you swipe https://twitter.com/ChrisJPatty/status/1078065910487760896
    (Picture: Metro/Twitter @ChrisJPatty)

    To non-designers it might look quite daunting, but Patty insists it isn’t too complicated.

    Inside the box is a speaker controlled by a Raspberry Pi – which is basically a tiny computer – which has been programmed with Patty’s software.

    All the songs are stored on an SD card, and whenever a song card is swiped, the computer knows to start playing that song.

    So if you’re feeling inspired by this crafty creation, all you have to do is follow Chris on Twitter and wait for his detailed instructions to land.

    It could be the perfect gift for a music-lover in your life. Fill the song cards with your favourite love songs to get some serious bonus points on Valentine’s Day.

    MORE: Woman goes into labour during graduation and still collects her degree on stage

    MORE: Mum gives up her job and sells her house to travel the world with her kids

    MORE: When do you have to get rid of your Christmas tree?


    Homemade jukeboxHomemade jukeboxnataliemorris88METRO GRAB VIA TWITTER Designer creates amazing homemade jukebox with song cards that you swipe https://twitter.com/ChrisJPatty/status/1078065910487760896METRO GRAB VIA TWITTER Designer creates amazing homemade jukebox with song cards that you swipe https://twitter.com/ChrisJPatty/status/1078065910487760896Homemade jukeboxHomemade jukeboxnataliemorris88METRO GRAB VIA TWITTER Designer creates amazing homemade jukebox with song cards that you swipe https://twitter.com/ChrisJPatty/status/1078065910487760896METRO GRAB VIA TWITTER Designer creates amazing homemade jukebox with song cards that you swipe https://twitter.com/ChrisJPatty/status/1078065910487760896

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    (Picture: M&S)

    Still feeling the after-effects of a party-filled New Year’s Eve?

    Apparently, you’re not the only one – new research shows that it takes a grand total of four days to reboot after the holiday season.

    So, while you’re doing your best not to fall asleep at your desk, why not enjoy a spot of retail therapy? The January M&S sale has started, and there are some real gems this year, alongside the useful basics.

    The trusted jumper, £52

    M&S January sale
    (Picture: M&S)

    Because what is M&S if not the perfect place to buy a jumper? This cashmere roll neck is available in size 6-24 and you can choose from 10 different colours but this red shade is our favourite.

    The classic pencil skirt, £12

    M&S January sale
    (Picture: M&S)

    Classic looks is what M&S do best. Pair with a chunky jumper and boots, or a silky camisole. Currently available in size 6, 8 and 24.

    The statement heels, £19

    M&S January sale
    (Picture: M&S)

    Even if the weather is dull, grey and depressing, it doesn’t mean your shoes need to be. Spice up your January wardrobe with a pair of wide fit court heels in mustard yellow.

    The quirky bedding, £15

    M&S January sale
    (Picture: M&S)

    M&S doesn’t just offer an abundance of clothing and accessories, there’s lots of beautiful homeware on sale, too. Like this chic Hummingbird print. But sadly, it’s only available if you have a double bed (the remaining sizes are already sold out).

    The quintessentially British suit jacket, £68

    M&S January sale
    (Picture: M&S)

    What could be more quintessentially British than a tailored jacket in pure wool? Available in four colours, but the only one currently on the sale list is the above shade, called ‘rust’.

    The beauty bag, £17.50

    M&S January sale
    (Picture: M&S)

    Some of the best shopping deals to be made in January is in the beauty department – as a lot of retailers need to get rid of combo-products, originally intended to be sold as gifts during the busy Christmas period.

    The AM & PM bag contains a 30ml energy-boosting cream, 50ml dermabrasion cleanser and 50ml night cream.

    There’s lots more to be had (for cheap) including Rosie Huntington-Whiteley designs in the lingerie department and larger furniture pieces.

    You can shop the entire sale here.

    MORE: Behold the first fashion trend of 2019: Giant backpacks

    MORE: Vans is suing Primark for selling ‘copies’ of their trainers

    MORE: Nirvana are reportedly suing Marc Jacobs for ripping off their iconic smiley face


    MandS January saleMandS January saleallieabgarianM&S January saleM&S January saleM&S January saleM&S January saleM&S January saleM&S January saleMandS January saleMandS January saleallieabgarianM&S January saleM&S January saleM&S January saleM&S January saleM&S January saleM&S January sale

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    With more than 100 ships on order, the cruise industry is continuing to bring innovation, fun and excitement to the high seas.

    This year’s crop of newcomers include bigger and better versions of earlier classes of ship, as well as polar expedition vessels with 007-style gadgets and infinity pools.

    Here’s my pick of the most exciting entrants for 2019…

    Norwegian Encore

    (Picture: Norwegian Cruise Line)

    Line: Norwegian Cruise Line

    Tonnage: 167,800

    Passengers: 4,000

    Debut: November

    Special features: There will be thrills and spills with the longest go-kart track at sea, which extends 13ft over the side of the ship, and a water park including a double-loop chute.

    Norwegian Encore will also boast a large open-air laser tag course based on the lost city of Atlantis and an augmented reality complex with an escape room, virtual maze and interactive theatre.

    The big show on board will be the West End hit Kinky Boots. Britons will get an early look at Encore when it makes its maiden voyage from Southampton on November 2 on an 11-day crossing to Miami.

     

    Spectrum of the Seas

    (Picture: Royal Caribbean)

    Name: Spectrum of the Seas

    Line: Royal Caribbean

    Tonnage: 168,800

    Passengers: 4,200

    Debut: April

    Special features: The first in a new class of ship for Royal Caribbean, Spectrum will feature some established favourites, such as bumper cars, robot bartenders and a skydiving simulator, as well as new attractions.

    The Ultimate Family Suite, accommodating up to 11 guests, will have a master bedroom that extends over the side of the ship for great ocean views, with extra accommodation for grandparents and other relatives.

    The suite even has a recreation room with surround-sound equipment for a night of karaoke, films or video games.

    The 4,200-passenger ship will make its debut with a 51-night voyage from Barcelona to Shanghai, taking in 13 countries, before a maiden season in Asia.

     

    Carnival Panorama

    (Picture: Carnival Cruise Line)

    Line: Carnival Cruise Line

    Tonnage: 133,500

    Passengers: 3,974

    Debut: December

    Special features: Panorama is the third Vista-class ship featuring an IMAX theatre, a large water park and cycling pods suspended from a track 150ft above the waves.

    The ship, which will introduce the first-ever indoor trampoline park at sea, will make its debut in California on December 11 before starting a year of Mexican Riviera cruises.

    Scenic Eclipse

    (Picture: Scenic Cruises)

    Line: Scenic Cruises

    Tonnage: 17,000

    Passengers: 228

    Debut: April

    Special features: This will be the James Bond of cruise ships with two helicopters and a submarine, heading off to explore areas such as the Arctic and Antarctic.

    You don’t have to sacrifice luxury for adventure, though, as the ship will offer spacious veranda suites and fine dining restaurants.

     

    Roald Amundsen

    (Picture: Hurtigruten)

    Line: Hurtigruten

    Tonnage: 20,889

    Passengers: 530

    Debut: May

    Special features: The world’s first hybrid cruise ship is being built in Norway, ready for its maiden voyage from Lisbon to Hamburg on May 17.

    Named after the first man to reach the South Pole, Roald Amundsen will take guests to the Arctic and Antarctic with facilities including a science centre, infinity pool, private hot tubs, a large observation area, underwater drones and the tallest LED screen at sea.

     

    MSC Bellissima

    (Picture: MSC Cruises)

    Line: MSC Cruises

    Tonnage: 171,398

    Passengers: 4,490

    Debut: March

    Special features: Bellissima – meaning ‘most beautiful’ – will be christened in Southampton on March 2 with a host of celebrities on board.

    The ship, the latest from Swiss-based MSC Cruises, will offer two new shows from Cirque du Soleil as well as a water park, ropes course, full-size bowling alley, Formula 1 simulator and a School of Magic for children.

     

    MSC Grandiosa

    (Picture: MSC Cruises)

    Line: MSC Cruises

    Tonnage: 177,000

    Passengers: 4,888

    Debut: November

    Special features: Another launch from MSC Cruises, which is churning out ships at the rate of at least one a year.

    Grandiosa, which is slightly bigger than Bellissima and offers even more public space, will be christened in Hamburg on November 9 and sail to a new home port of Genoa, where it will commence seven-night sailings in the Mediterranean, including a visit to Southampton.

     

    Sky Princess

    (Picture: Princess Cruises)

    Line: Princess Cruises

    Tonnage: 143,700

    Passengers: 3,660

    Debut: October

    Special features: Guests in the new top-deck Sky Suites will have the largest balconies ever offered by the cruise line, giving them a private view of the ship’s Movies Under The Stars screen.

    The two rooms will have a 270-degree panorama and sleep up to five.

    There is plenty to do for water lovers as the ship will have a new Wakeview pool on its aft decks as well as two deep-tank pools and more hot tubs than its sister ships Royal, Regal and Majestic Princess.

     

    Hanseatic Inspiration

    (Picture: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises)

    Line: Hapag-Lloyd Cruises

    Tonnage: 15,650

    Passengers: 230

    Debut: October

    Special features: Hanseatic Inspiration will be the second of two sister ships making their debut in 2019, following the launch of Hanseatic Nature for the German market in April.

    Inspiration will be a bilingual expedition ship with the highest ice class to travel to the Arctic and Antarctic.

    Retractable glass balconies on the Sun Deck will give the feeling of hovering directly above the water, while guests can stand on the foredeck of the ship to be even closer to the action than the captain.

     

    Spirit of Discovery

    (Picture: Saga Cruises)

    Line: Saga Cruises

    Tonnage: 55,900

    Passengers: 999

    Debut: July

    Special features: Made for the over-50s, Spirit of Discovery will feature a club by Jools Holland, who will play live on certain cruises.

    Every guest will have a balcony and a choice of restaurants, from the grand dining room to oriental and seafood venues, as well as two pools, a spa and theatre.

     

    Marella Explorer 2

    (Picture: Marella Cruises)

    Line: Marella Cruises

    Tonnage: 71,545

    Passengers: 1,814

    Debut: May

    Special features: This isn’t an entirely new ship, but will receive an overhaul before joining Marella Cruises as its first adults-only vessel.

    At the same time, the whole fleet will go all-inclusive as standard, to appeal to new cruisers and younger passengers. Like its sister ship, Marella Explorer, it will also have a Champneys Spa.

    Also being launched this year are ships from Celebrity, Ponant, Viking, Costa and Majestic Line, among others.

    Dave also writes about cruising on his award-winning blog, shipmonk.co.uk. Read his Metro.co.uk reviews on 2018’s new cruise ships Symphony of the Seas, Norwegian Bliss, Celebrity Edge, Carnival Horizon, Azamara Pursuit and Marella Explorer.


    Norwegian Encore - Go-Kart Track Aerial-5d6aNorwegian Encore - Go-Kart Track Aerial-5d6ashipmonkNorwegian Encore - Go-Kart Track Aerial-5d6aNorwegian Encore - Go-Kart Track Aerial-5d6ashipmonk

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    Bride angry that bridesmaid is pregnant
    (Picture: Chalermphon Kumchai / EyeEm)

    Another day, another outrage-inducing bride.

    This time around the nightmare bride isn’t assigning a strict dress code or demanding cash as a gift.

    Instead, an anonymous bride revealed she was royally pissed off that her bridesmaid had dared to get pregnant.

    In a since deleted Reddit post, the bride asked whether she was allowed to be annoyed that her bridesmaid’s pregnancy might affect her bachelorette party.

    ‘Long story short, I just found out that one of my bridesmaids will be 5-6 months pregnant on my wedding day,’ the bride wrote. ‘This bridesmaid was also planning my super secret bachelorette party that I know no details of, but I’m assuming involved drinking that will probably either be changed or cancelled.

    ‘Maybe I’m just thinking the worst here. But personally I think it’s wrong to get pregnant when you’re part of the bridal party and not tell the bride…’

    The response was pretty overwhelming: Yes, the bride was being selfish.

    At least she was self-aware enough to ask, right?

    Bride angry that bridesmaid is pregnant
    (Picture: Moment RM)

    ‘It’s not wrong to get pregnant if you’re going to be in a bridal party,’ wrote one Redditor. ‘You can’t ask someone to put their life on hold for your wedding. You are being selfish.

    ‘As for your bachelorette party…that just means she won’t be able to drink. I’m sure you can still have the party you want.’

    Another responded: ‘Very selfish. I will be a bridesmaid this coming summer and one of my fellow bridesmaids is pregnant and is due just a few weeks after the wedding.

    ‘The bride is nothing but happy for her. Even making sure she will have a chair for her to sit in during the ceremony just in case she needs a rest.

    ‘Your friend is there for you and supporting you. You need to be there for her too.’

    So, what do we think? Is the bride being selfish?

    MORE: Bride-to-be claims ‘toxic’ Amazon bridesmaid cards are promoting fat shaming

    MORE: Is this bride in the wrong for kicking a crying kid out of her wedding?


    Low Section Of Women Holding Flower BouquetsLow Section Of Women Holding Flower BouquetsellencscottBride angry that bridesmaid is pregnantBride angry that bridesmaid is pregnantLow Section Of Women Holding Flower BouquetsLow Section Of Women Holding Flower BouquetsellencscottBride angry that bridesmaid is pregnantBride angry that bridesmaid is pregnant

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    (Picture: Tesco)

    You know the best thing about Christmas being over? All the cheap deals from supermarkets wanting to get rid of all of their Christmas stock ASAP.

    And the latest Christmas deal features those chocolate tubs we all know and love – Celebrations, Heroes and Quality Street – all selling for just £2.50 at Tesco.

    Considering the tubs were selling for £4 last week, this isn’t a bad deal.

    It was recently shared by someone on Hot UK Deals, which stated the deal was nationwide – however some stores are still selling the tubs for their original retail price.

    Regardless, those whose stores have been doing the discount have been very excited.

    One person wrote: ‘Awesome, might pick up a few tubs if my local Tesco Extra next to work has them!’

    METRO GRAB VIA FACEBOOK Tesco reduced chocolate - Qualiy Street and Miniature Heroes
    (Picture: HotUKDeals)

    Someone else said: ‘Quality Street deal worth a celebration, this hotdealer is some kind of hero’.

    So, if you want to get your hands on a cheap box of chocolates you should get down to your local Tesco pretty soon – though you could also hold off, as last year the prices kept reducing, with the huge boxes of chocolates selling for as little as £1.25.

    We love a post-Christmas bargain.

    MORE: Mum gives up her job and sells her house to travel the world with her kids

    MORE: How to get the millennial 26-30 railcard


    Tesco chocolateTesco chocolatehattiegladwellmetroMETRO GRAB VIA FACEBOOK Tesco reduced chocolate - Qualiy Street and Miniature HeroesTesco chocolateTesco chocolatehattiegladwellmetroMETRO GRAB VIA FACEBOOK Tesco reduced chocolate - Qualiy Street and Miniature Heroes

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    (Picture: Getty)

    Could your dog have chlamydia?

    It’s probably not something you’ve considered. Your dog isn’t going out on the town and having unprotected sex, so they don’t need regular STI checks, right?

    Unfortunately, dogs can catch chlamydia without any sex occurring.

    They’re more likely to catch the disease from a bird, either by coming into contact with dried bird poo or bird carcasses.

    It’s rare, but it can happen, especially if you also have pet birds or you take your dog on walks in areas highly populated by birds.

    Cats and kittens can catch chlamydia, too, and with both dogs and cats, the symptoms differ quite a bit from the signs of chlamydia you might spot in humans.

    Chlamydia will typically affect a pet’s eyes – a cat or dog may experience swollen, red eyes, watery eyes, and a yellow or greenish discharge.

    You can spot an issue if you notice your pet scratching their eyes and panting more than normal.

    ‘Chlamydia in dogs has different symptoms to chlamydia in humans and it’s not contracted in the same way,’ explains Iain Booth of VetUK.

    ‘In dogs it’s likely to manifest itself in the eyes, but can affect their respiratory tract too and make them pant more. They can also become lethargic.

    ‘If your dogs eyes are watering or red and they’re producing certain amounts of discharge, they may be infected.

    Signs of chlamydia in dogs:

    • Red, watery eyes
    • Discharge from the eyes that’s yellow or greenish
    • Increased panting
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Scratching the eyes

    ‘If they’re scratching or pawing at their eyes or they’re panting for more air, it could be because they’ve come into contact with the bacteria.

    ‘This bacteria is called chlamydia psittaci or psittacosis which can infect them when they come into contact with bird poo. Many birds carry it.

    ‘One potential hazard of contact is when your dog is out running in fields heavily populated with birds putting them at a higher risk.’

    Don’t panic too much – if your dog has come into contact with the bacteria it’s entirely treatable. A vet will usually prescribe antibiotics, which will clear the infection in a few weeks.

    Left untreated, chlamydia can lead to more serious symptoms in dogs, such as pneumonia, pericarditis (inflammation of the sack around the heart), extreme lethargy, and diarrhea

    And while humans can catch the bacteria from birds, it would be extremely unlikely to catch chlamydia from your dog.

    (Picture: Getty)

    ‘This is a different strain of chlamydia than the STD, and you cannot catch an STD from your dog,’ says Iain

    ‘The chances of catching chlamydia psittaci from your dog would be extremely slim too.

    ‘For its transmission you’d have to have the chlamydia vaporised, as in dry bird poo which turns into dust form and sticks to a dog’s moist facial parts like the nose and eye. From there the disease can stick and geminate.

    ‘But to catch it from your dog’s wet eyes would be highly improbable so do not worry.

    ‘Chlamydia psittaci is zootonic, meaning it can be spread from animal to human. But previous cases have been from birds to humans.

    ‘Whereas chlamydia in humans tends to affect their reproductive organs, in dogs it affects eyes and their breathing.

    ‘Humans catch it from bodily fluids, dogs get it from dried bird droppings.’

    Thankfully, the psittacosis bacteria isn’t that common in the UK (around 50 psittacosis cases are reported each year in England and Wales, according to the Health and Safety Executive website), so it’s nothing to panic about.

    But knowing the signs is always handy, and can help to make sure your dog is treated speedily if they are unwell.

    MORE: Is giving your cat catnip really like giving a baby crack cocaine?

    MORE: The best animals of 2018

    MORE: Oliver the carb-loving cat keeps stowing away on a potato harvest tractor


    Cute dog looking directly into cameraCute dog looking directly into cameraellencscottCute dog looking directly into cameraCute dog looking directly into cameraellencscott

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    Can what you eat affect your mental health? (Fiona Thomas)
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    The pressure to lose weight, eat healthily and work out suddenly intensifies in January.

    Healthy eating and regular exercise are indisputably good things, but the sheer volume of this kind of messaging in the new year can be overwhelming.

    The new-year-new-me brigade leap into action and suddenly every advert, every magazine article, every TV show is about how to ‘lose a dress size’, ‘get in shape’ or make up for Christmas ‘over indulgence’.

    All too often these messages veer into the negative realms of body shaming, playing on our insecurities to sell wellbeing products and lifestyles.

    It’s inescapable, and it’s hard for everyone. But it can be particularly triggering if you have an eating disorder, or if you are in recovery.

    Hope Virgo is an author and mental health campaigner. She had anorexia as a teenager, and despite a successful recovery, she knows it is something that will always be with her, and will always require careful monitoring.

    That’s why she says the new year is such a difficult time.

    ‘Everywhere you go and whoever you talk to it always comes back to diet, diet, diet. And it is so frustrating,’ Hope tells Metro.co.uk.

    ‘As someone who has lived with an eating disorder I see anorexia in these conversations and on these billboards – and I can feel it drawing me in. Seducing me. Suggesting that I should just try this one diet and I will feel better about life.

    ‘But it only takes one diet to lead me back in to recreating that relationship with anorexia. Which is a terrifying thought.

    ‘For anyone with an eating disorder, or in recovery, we can’t risk getting sucked in to these messages because who knows where we will find ourselves in a few months time?’

    (Picture: Hope Virgo/Metro.co.uk)

    For Hope, it isn’t just the prevalence of diet messaging that’s problematic, it’s the way people speak about weight loss at this time of year. It’s as though January gives people a pass to comment on other people’s weight or food habits.

    ‘Gym staff and shop workers suddenly feel like it is totally okay to talk about your weight or what’s in your trolley,’ Hope explains.

    ‘Just yesterday I had a message from someone who lives with anorexia. She had tried to go and get some cereal bars as a snack and instead of getting in and out of the shop quickly, she was told by the woman on the tills that these cereal bars aren’t right for January diets.’

    For people with a history of any kind of eating disorder, navigating this time of year can be a minefield. Society demands some kind of penance for relaxing and eating what we want over Christmas – the feelings of guilt are practically inevitable.

    It’s easy for this sense of guilt and repentance to trigger a spiral of negative thoughts.

    If this is happening to you, or you suspect it’s happening to someone in your life, then it’s important to get help as soon as possible.

    ‘This time of year can be a very triggering and exhausting time for people with all kinds of eating disorders, and it is crucial to recognise that you may need time to yourself, or need support,’ explains Rebecca Willgress, spokesperson for eating disorder charity, Beat.

    ‘Many people with eating disorders find diet talk triggering and need to avoid it. Instead, you can try and do something you enjoy, for yourself or with your friends or family.

    ‘If there are people you can trust, speak to them so that you don’t have to face the pressure of the new year alone, whether you are ill yourself or are supporting someone who is.

    ‘The sooner someone gets treatment for an eating disorder, the better their chances of recovery.’

    Practical tips for navigating the new year

    – If you feel able to do so, explain to those around you that you’re finding their conversation unhelpful and do not wish to speak about diet-related topics.

    – If trying to change the conversation doesn’t work, remove yourself from the conversation. You do not have to stand and listen to something that is making things more difficult for you.

    – Think about whether there are certain people around you who continually speak about diet talk, and how you can set boundaries with these people. Is it possible to let them know you struggle with this chat prior to meeting them, or would it be better to have some time apart whilst things are tough for you? Your wellbeing is the priority!

    – Keep reminding yourself that your recovery is the most important thing and that going against the diet culture will help you to regain your life from the illness. Try writing a list of your motivations for recovery, and look at this when things are tough.

    – Try to be compassionate in the way you view these conversations and your response to them. It is unlikely that the people around you mean to make you feel upset, but equally, you are not at fault for how they leave you feeling.

    – Ensure that the social media accounts you’re following don’t make you feel bad about yourself or reinforce messages of diet culture.

    – Remember that you’re not alone: a lot of people find this time of year difficult.

    – Think about what you can put in place if you have felt triggered. Is there a distraction technique you can use or someone you can speak to who can help you challenge the thoughts you are having?

    Rebecca Willgress, Beat

    It’s perfectly natural to want to make a positive change at the start of the new year.

    People want to improve their diet, get healthy, become the best versions of themselves.

    But for people with complicated, unhealthy or toxic relationships with food and nutrition, the relentless focus on this one topic can prove too much to handle.

    It doesn’t matter if you are in the grips of mental illness, or deep into your recovery – these messages can have a serious impact on anyone, at any stage.

    ‘This year I marked 10 years out of hospital and 11 years since I spent a new year in hospital,’ Hope tells us.

    ‘I looked back over my diaries from the last few years. Every year before I was admitted, my new year’s resolutions had always been focused on dieting, cutting food groups and exercise.

    ’11 years ago, when I was sitting in hospital on New Year’s Day, I had this realisation that my resolution each year to lose weight was what caused me me to repeatedly wind up in hospital. But even though I know this now, it doesn’t mean it’s easy to avoid the effects of new year’s pressure.

    ‘Anorexia is so competitive and makes you compare yourself to everyone, it beats you down and makes you want to give up.

    ‘It sometimes feels so easy to get sucked in because in the short term you think the feeling of losing weight will make everything okay. But the reality is that it won’t last. It never does.’

    You probably remember the ‘beach body ready’ bikini advert from a few years back. There was outcry about this ad, but the reality is that many ad campaigns still rely on these kinds of outdated, misogynistic techniques.

    Hope thinks the advertising world has a lot to answer for, and needs to take more responsibility for how their actions can affect the more vulnerable members of society.

    ‘Advertisers need to stop brain washing people with this messaging, and include a more diverse range of people in adverts,’ says Hope.

    ‘There must be a change in the way advertising is delivered and the key messages – removing the focus from calories, weight loss and restrictive eating, to educating people on a healthy lifestyle.

    ‘As individuals, we also have a role to play in all this. We need to realise how this translates to the everyday.

    ‘We need to be mindful throughout January that we aren’t fuelling this messaging further by talking constantly about dieting, calories and exercise. These types of conversations can be just as harmful to those with eating disorders than all the advertising.’

    Having a strategy can really help. If you know this time of year is coming, and you know there will be a bombardment of potentially triggering messages, preparation can be half the battle.

    Hope says she has an arsenal of techniques ready to deploy when the new year hits.

    ‘A huge part of my illness is around exercise, so for me, this is the biggest issue to manage throughout this time of year,’ Hope tells us.

    ‘If I feel like I am pushing myself too hard, I will book a session with my personal trainer to help me get back on track, or I will book a fitness class so that I am working out with others.

    ‘Talking is a huge thing for me in my recovery. I have a close-knit group around me who I can have very honest conversations with about food, so I make sure to schedule time to see them.

    ‘I also make sure that I keep my routine. Working for myself, my routine can sometimes be all over the place, but in January it is crucial to keep a recognisable structure. Otherwise I have a tendency to mess up my eating habits and feel the need to exercise if I am having a quiet day at work.’

    These are the strategies that work for Hope, but everyone’s needs are different.

    Eating disorders are varied and complex mental illnesses, and there is still so much work to be done in researching and developing treatment and support. The important thing to remember at this time of year is that you are not alone.

    If you find new-year-new-me culture difficult to be around, disengage from social media, step away from conversations that make you feel worse and, most importantly, talk to someone and seek support.

    You can find support on the Beat website, or call their helpline; 0808 801 0677

    MORE: Be careful who you label toxic – they may be a friend in need

    MORE: I spent 2018 complimenting women and it was beautiful

    MORE: For black women like me, the cost of being in the public eye is racial abuse – or silence


    Can what you eat affect your mental health? (Fiona Thomas)Can what you eat affect your mental health? (Fiona Thomas)nataliemorris88Can what you eat affect your mental health? (Fiona Thomas)Can what you eat affect your mental health? (Fiona Thomas)nataliemorris88

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    Cadbury white chocolate creme eggs Getty/Cadbury/metro.co.uk
    (Picutre: Getty/Cadbury/metro.co.uk)

    We know you’ve only just stopped thinking about Christmas.

    But Creme Eggs are already coming back – and the rare white chocolate treats hidden under a normal wrapper are returning too.

    This year though, the prize for finding one has increased from £2,000 to £10,000.

    This year you can win in other ways too as Cadbury will be hacking advertisements for other brands to create one big Easter Egg Hunt.

    (Picture: Tony Kyriacou/REX/Shutterstock)

    There will be 783 real white chocolate eggs in stores across the country.

    If you find a white chocolate egg, you’ll get a cash prize with 592 of them worth £50, 55 of them worth £100, 18 worth £1000 and seven worth the top prize of £10,000.

    Where can you find the white chocolate eggs?

    Independent retailers: 1 x £10,000, 1 x £1,000, 5 x £100 and 104 x £50 winning eggs (a total of 111 winning eggs) will be made available to be won.

    Tesco: 1 x £10,000, 4 x £1,000, 11 x £100 and 95 x £50 winning eggs (a total of 111 winning eggs) will be made available to be won.

    Co-op: 1 x £10,000, 4 x £1,000, 11 x £100 and 95 x £50 winning eggs (a total of 111 winning eggs) will be made available to be won.

    Morrisons: 1 x £10,000, 4 x £1,000, 11 x £100 and 95 x £50 winning eggs (a total of 111 winning eggs) will be made available to be won.

    Asda: 1 x £10,000, 4 x £1,000, 11 x £100 and 95 x £50 winning eggs (a total of 111 winning eggs) will be made available to be won.

    One stop: 1 x £10,000 and 5 x £100 winning eggs (a total of 6 winning eggs) will be made available to be won.

    Marks and Spencer: 1 x £10,000, 1 x £1,000, 1 x £100 and 108 x £50 winning eggs (a total of 111 winning eggs) will be made available to be won.

    Outside the stores, if you spot a Creme Egg hidden on social media, billboards or websites, you need to take a picture or screen shot and upload it to their website.

    If it’s a white egg, you get to keep it to try it and you’ll be entered into a draw to win £10,000.

    If it’s a milk chocolate egg, you get a voucher for a free Creme Egg.

    There are 1,000 white Cadbury Creme Eggs and 30,000 milk chocolate Cadbury Creme Eggs to be won.

    You can start hunting eggs from 14 January and you have until 21 May.

    MORE: Tesco is selling tubs of Celebrations, Quality Street and Heroes for £2.50

    MORE: Ex-vegan now only eats 100% meat after spider bite nearly killed her


    CREME_EGG_WHITE02CREME_EGG_WHITE02lauraabernethy6CREME_EGG_WHITE02CREME_EGG_WHITE02lauraabernethy6

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    (Picture: Amazon)

    Boob pillows exist.

    Yes, they’re exactly as they sound: Pillows which look like boobs. Let that just sink in for a moment.

    The Boobie Pillow is selling on Amazon for £14.50.

    It’s a white pillow with breast shaped bumps and pink nipples – and apparently it’s very comfy.

    So far, the pillow has had a number of extremely positive reviews, from people who can’t recommend the boob-shaped pillows enough.

    One person even bought the pillow for their dad. Yes, really.

    METRO GRAB AMAZON You Can Now Buy A Boob Shaped Pillow For Nap Time https://www.amazon.co.uk/Novelty-Boobie-Pillow/dp/B006JL2JIA
    (Picture: Amazon)

    They said: ‘Bought for my father, he loves boobs and relaxing so this seemed perfect if not a little weird.’

    Another bought it for their boyfriend. They wrote: ‘I got this as a jokey Christmas present for my boyfriend, he absolutely loves it. It has pride of place on his side of the bed. Great quality! The nipples are a very bright pink though!’

    Someone else said the pillow is perfect because the boobs are not too small but not too big. Lovely.

    The boob pillows follow on from the butt pillow, which we recently wrote about.

    The Buttress Pillow simulates the experience of getting to snuggle up to someone’s butt. Because we all know butts are super comfy.

    And now that boob pillows are a thing – you could buy both boob and butt and forget about ever having an actual girlfriend.

    Being comfy is key, right?

    MORE: Tesco is selling tubs of Celebrations, Quality Street and Heroes for £2.50

    MORE: The M&S January sale arrives with all the classic styles you need in 2019


    Luxury tropical resort bedroomLuxury tropical resort bedroomhattiegladwellmetroMETRO GRAB AMAZON You Can Now Buy A Boob Shaped Pillow For Nap Time https://www.amazon.co.uk/Novelty-Boobie-Pillow/dp/B006JL2JIALuxury tropical resort bedroomLuxury tropical resort bedroomhattiegladwellmetroMETRO GRAB AMAZON You Can Now Buy A Boob Shaped Pillow For Nap Time https://www.amazon.co.uk/Novelty-Boobie-Pillow/dp/B006JL2JIA

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    Two pets are so close that the female cat suckles on the teats of the dog.

    43-year-old Sarah Mallet recorded her three-year-old cat Mini nuzzling up to her dog Lola, also three, to show off their weird relationship.

    It’s a freaky habit that has happened at least once every day and first started back in 2016.

    Lola, a Dalmation, produced milk after experiencing a ‘phantom pregnancy’ when she was in season but never mated with a male dog.

    As she developed teats ready for puppies, Mini, a Savannah cat, one day decided to latch on and try to drink the milk.

    Florist Sarah, from Kings Lynn, Norfolk, says the form of bonding suppresses Mini’s suckle cravings and allows Lola to adopt the mother role she desires.

    Mini the cat who is known to suckles from her surrogate mum Lola the Dalmation. See SWNS story SWSYcat; A pet owner has filmed the moment her female cat SUCKLES on the teats of her dog. Animal lover, Sarah Mallet, 43, has recorded her cat, Mini, appearing to drink milk from the teats of her pet dog, Lola, both aged three. It's a habit that happens at least once every day and first started back in 2016. Dalmatian, Lola, produced milk after experiencing a 'phantom pregnancy' when she was in season but never mated with a male dog.
    (Picture: Sarah Mallett / SWNS)

    She has owned the two pets for around 18 months and also has five other cats living with her.

    Ever since they started living with Sarah and her husband Bob, aged 60, Mini and Lola have been the ‘best of friends’.

    But even Sarah, who adores her pets, admits the habit is ‘weird’.

    She said: ‘One day Mini went into the suckling position and Lola just let her do it. She doesn’t seem to mind at all.

    ‘Lola licks her whilst she does it. They have a great bond together and are inseparable.

    ‘Some people may find it disturbing and I found it a bit weird at first. It’s a bit strange but we’ve just accepted that is what they do.

    ‘The dog takes the mother role and some cats need to suckle. It’s a comfort thing for them.’

    Mini the cat who is known to suckles from her surrogate mum Lola the Dalmation. See SWNS story SWSYcat; A pet owner has filmed the moment her female cat SUCKLES on the teats of her dog. Animal lover, Sarah Mallet, 43, has recorded her cat, Mini, appearing to drink milk from the teats of her pet dog, Lola, both aged three. It's a habit that happens at least once every day and first started back in 2016. Dalmatian, Lola, produced milk after experiencing a 'phantom pregnancy' when she was in season but never mated with a male dog.
    (Picture: Sarah Mallett / SWNS)

    Mum-of-four, Sarah, adopted Mini and Lola three months apart, in late 2016.

    Cats and dogs are usually thought of as natural enemies but from day one, Lola and Mini have always lived happily together.

    Sarah says the pair often play together and believes her pets show that dogs and cats can be ‘best buds’.

    She said: ‘It shows the good nature of Lola and it’s nice that they get on so well.

    ‘Even if I wanted to I don’t see how I could stop it. They are both happy with the situation and seem to like bonding that way.

    ‘They bonded as a kitten and a puppy and grew up together so it must seem natural to them.’

    MORE: Rejoice, for Waitrose is launching vegan fishless fingers

    MORE: Greggs’ vegan sausage rolls are launching tomorrow


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    It’s finally happening! (Picture/metro.co.uk)

    Finally, McDonald’s has heard people’s cries and introduced a vegetarian Happy Meal, so no veggie kids will be left out of the fast food party.

    Once upon a time us vegetarian kiddos had to make do with fries and a milkshake while everyone else tucked into a Happy Meal, complete with a toy.

    Never again.

    As of today, 3 January 2019, McDonald’s is selling a vegetarian Happy Meal in all its restaurants across the UK.

    The veggie Happy Meal is made up of a veggie wrap, made up of a red pesto goujon, tomato ketchup, and shredded lettuce, wrapped in a soft toasted tortilla.

    McDonald’s worked with the Britmums network and Vegetarian society to come up with the recipe, inviting parents and children in to select the final flavour. The end result was the red pesto goujon wrap, which is vegetarian and dairy free.

    new mcdonald's veggie happy meal
    Here’s the new veggie Happy Meal in all its glory (Picture: McDonald’s)

    The wrap is also vegan, technically, but isn’t being advertised as such because the tortillas pass through the same toaster as McDonald’s buns, which contain milk.

    In exciting news for grown-up veggies, today McDonald’s also launches a new standalone vegetarian wrap.

    The new spicy veggie wrap is made with two red pesto goujons, spicy relish, tomato, and red onion in a soft tortilla. This replaces the spicy vegetable deluxe, but the normal Vegetable Deluxe remains on the menu so you can take your pick.

    And the new Spicy Veggie Wrap (Picture: McDonald’s)

    Lynne Elliot, chief executive of the Vegetarian Society, said: ‘We’re really proud to have worked closely with McDonald’s for over 10 years and it’s great to see their veggie menu developing, especially as McDonalds tell us a third of their customers think it’s important to eat more veggie meals.

    ‘There’s a growing demand for veggie food everywhere and it’s fantastic to see McDonald’s meeting the needs of their customers.

    ‘It is especially important for young veggies to be able to choose something to eat when they are out with their friends. With the new Spicy Veggie Wrap and Veggie Happy Meal carrying our trademark diners can trust their meal is one hundred percent vegetarian.’

    Now all we need is for McDonald’s to bring over their McVegan.

    MORE: Greggs’ vegan sausage rolls are launching tomorrow

    MORE: Rejoice, for Waitrose is launching vegan fishless fingers

    MORE: You can now get pigs in blankets flavour ice cream


    Veggie Happy mealVeggie Happy mealellencscottnew mcdonald's veggie happy mealVeggie Happy mealVeggie Happy mealellencscottnew mcdonald's veggie happy meal

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    Meet the real-life Dr Dolittles who keep a small zoo of 46 pets including guinea pigs, dogs, horses and budgies.

    Animal-loving Bella Wyllie encouraged her young daughters Poppy, seven, and Holly, 12, to take responsibility for the ‘small zoo’ they keep at home.

    This includes 24 rabbits, 11 guinea pigs, five horses, three budgies, two dogs and a gecko.

    Bella, 41, said: ‘I was verging on embarrassment at how many we’ve got, but we’re in pet shops a lot and I’m a huge animal lover so I encourage it.

    ‘Horses are definitely the most expensive.

    ‘We are up at the yard first thing to exercise them before anything else.

    Poppy Wyllie, from Mauchline, East Ayrshire who has 46 pets including a geko, horses, rabbits and dogs. Pictured: Dog Sassie and Freddy. See SWNS story SWSCpets; Meet the real-life Dr Doolittle family who keeps a small zoo of 46 PETS including guinea pigs, dogs, horses and budgies. Animal-loving Bella Wyllie encouraged her young daughters Poppy, aged seven, and Holly,12, to take responsibility for the 'small zoo' they keep at home. The menagerie includes an astonishing 24 rabbits - with most recent acquisitions Sylvester and Spud, who arrived just before Christmas. And 11 guinea pigs live at the home in Mauchline, East Ayrshire, as well as five horses, three budgies, two dogs and a gecko.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘We have to plan trips or holidays very carefully around the animals needs and days out revolve around the horses, they have to be dealt if we have any weekend plans – which is rare.

    ‘The animals are a huge amount of work, especially as I work too, but they are all worth it.

    ‘As for my hubby, he thinks we are all crazy.’

    Poppy says she absolutely loves looking after all of her pets, because every night she knows her animals are ‘all cared for’.

    Poppy Wyllie, from Mauchline, East Ayrshire, who has 46 pets including a geko, horses, rabbits and dogs. See SWNS story SWSCpets; Meet the real-life Dr Doolittle family who keeps a small zoo of 46 PETS including guinea pigs, dogs, horses and budgies. Animal-loving Bella Wyllie encouraged her young daughters Poppy, aged seven, and Holly,12, to take responsibility for the 'small zoo' they keep at home. The menagerie includes an astonishing 24 rabbits - with most recent acquisitions Sylvester and Spud, who arrived just before Christmas. And 11 guinea pigs live at the home in Mauchline, East Ayrshire, as well as five horses, three budgies, two dogs and a gecko.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘I love them all very much,’ she said.

    And her older sister, Holly, added: ‘They’re all a big extension of the family, and every day involves changing waters, feeding and haying them.

    ‘They get green treats like kale or cabbage twice a week and they are all cleaned out twice a week too.

    Poppy Wyllie, from Mauchline, East Ayrshire, who has 46 pets including a geko, horses, rabbits and dogs. See SWNS story SWSCpets; Meet the real-life Dr Doolittle family who keeps a small zoo of 46 PETS including guinea pigs, dogs, horses and budgies. Animal-loving Bella Wyllie encouraged her young daughters Poppy, aged seven, and Holly,12, to take responsibility for the 'small zoo' they keep at home. The menagerie includes an astonishing 24 rabbits - with most recent acquisitions Sylvester and Spud, who arrived just before Christmas. And 11 guinea pigs live at the home in Mauchline, East Ayrshire, as well as five horses, three budgies, two dogs and a gecko.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    ‘It’s a lot of work but it’s all worth it to know our animals are happy and healthy.’

    Every morning the sisters get up early before school to tend to the bunnies and guinea pigs, which takes about 30 minutes.

    Twice a week, Holly and Poppy clean out the pets’ cages and feed the rabbits and guinea pigs green vegetables.

    Poppy Wyllie, from Mauchline, East Ayrshire, who has 46 pets including a geko, horses, rabbits and dogs. See SWNS story SWSCpets; Meet the real-life Dr Doolittle family who keeps a small zoo of 46 PETS including guinea pigs, dogs, horses and budgies. Animal-loving Bella Wyllie encouraged her young daughters Poppy, aged seven, and Holly,12, to take responsibility for the 'small zoo' they keep at home. The menagerie includes an astonishing 24 rabbits - with most recent acquisitions Sylvester and Spud, who arrived just before Christmas. And 11 guinea pigs live at the home in Mauchline, East Ayrshire, as well as five horses, three budgies, two dogs and a gecko.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    Bella said: ‘The horses are on something called full livery so they are cleaned out for us and looked after by our fabulous yard manager when we are at school and work.’

    ‘We spend roughly two to three hours on a Thursday and Friday after school grooming and exercising the horses, and are there most Saturday mornings and all day Sunday.

    ‘Twice a week we clean out all the small animals,which takes about two to three hours per clean.’

    Poppy Wyllie, from Mauchline, East Ayrshire, has 46 pets including a geko, horses, rabbits and dogs. Pictured here is one of her rabbits. See SWNS story SWSCpets; Meet the real-life Dr Doolittle family who keeps a small zoo of 46 PETS including guinea pigs, dogs, horses and budgies. Animal-loving Bella Wyllie encouraged her young daughters Poppy, aged seven, and Holly,12, to take responsibility for the 'small zoo' they keep at home. The menagerie includes an astonishing 24 rabbits - with most recent acquisitions Sylvester and Spud, who arrived just before Christmas. And 11 guinea pigs live at the home in Mauchline, East Ayrshire, as well as five horses, three budgies, two dogs and a gecko.
    (Picture: SWNS)

    Poppy was so moved when she heard about a pet rabbit which was cruelly kept in a drawer, that she was inspired to make a hand-drawn poster urging owners to take proper care of their pets.

    The hand-drawn poster was so successful that it appeared in pet shops.

    Poppy’s handmade poster showed a rabbit with a speech bubble telling the public: ‘To make me have a better life I need…

    ‘A big spaced cage, hay, fresh water daily, food, love and attention. Cared for and cleaned.

    ‘Don’t just make my life a good Christmas, make it a good life – forever.’

    Pharmacist Bella added: ‘Poppy’s always been around animals as I’ve always kept them.

    ‘Holly is also very involved and does the most of the cleaning out the cages – she loves the animals as much as Poppy.

    ‘It teaches the children a lot about responsibility, especially when they have to get up early to tend to them and feed them in all weathers.

    ‘The animals definitely come first in our lifestyle.’

    MORE: Weird video shows female cat suckling on dog’s teats

    MORE: Dogs can catch chlamydia from bird poo – do you know the signs?


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    If you were to walk past me in the street as I hold my girlfriend’s hand, my label would not be obvious to you.

    It’s for this reason that bisexual men like myself often have a hard time convincing the world we exist at all.

    The path to discovering you’re bisexual is a tricky one and it can take years to fully understand. For me, it wasn’t until I reached the age of 19 that I realised I liked men.

    Speaking to gay friends, they tell me that most of them knew they were gay from a young age; the other boys talked about the girls they liked and they realised they didn’t feel the same.

    For a bisexual like myself, I did like girls growing up so never saw myself as different sexually. It wasn’t until adulthood that I realised there had been boys at school I thought were hot, but at the time I’d just thought they were cool and wanted to be like them.

    Labels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUAL
    ‘If you were to walk past me in the street as I hold my girlfriend’s hand, my label would not be obvious to you.’ (Picture: Alexander Crawley/Metro.co.uk)

    To discover you like men at 19 is confusing. The first thought you have is ‘I’m gay.’ Then, as soon as you start to come to terms with this realisation, you think, ‘wait but I keep seeing hot girls everywhere.’

    Eventually you realise you are a textbook bisexual, but it doesn’t stop there.

    A bisexual cannot just announce themselves as bisexual without an endless list of questions from those around them.

    ‘Do you prefer one or the other?’

    ‘How many women have you slept with compared to men?’

    ‘Do you have romantic feelings for women but sexual feelings for men?’

    Labels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUAL
    ‘I’m a bisexual and shouldn’t need to explain myself any more than that.’ (Picture: Alexander Crawley/Metro.co.uk)

    ‘Do you think one person will ever be enough for you?

    ‘Are you sure you’re not just gay?’

    Sadly, there doesn’t appear to have been many bi men in history that have forced society to take our sexuality seriously.

    ‘Bisexual’ has been a label so few men have been happy to declare they belong to publicly. And it’s fallen on the shoulders of bi men like myself to clear up the misconceptions.

    For me, that’s why my label is so important – I’m a bisexual and shouldn’t need to explain myself any more than that.

    All people need to know is that I’m not monosexual. If I choose to tell them more than that then it’s my choice.

    Labels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUAL
    ‘Strangely, the two groups that have the biggest issues with bisexual men are straight women and gay men.’ (Picture: Alexander Crawley/Metro.co.uk)

    Strangely, the two groups that have the biggest issues with bisexual men are straight women and gay men – a sad twist of fate considering they are who my sexuality makes me attracted to.

    Women usually come out with, ‘I could never date a bisexual, I’m too jealous and would be worried you’d cheat.’ Because for some reason it’s okay to say that my sexuality means I’m a cheater.

    Gay men will usually tell me that I’m actually gay.

    I’ve never understood how someone thinks they know more about what turns me on than I do, but that is the world I live in.

    In spite of all this, I wear my bisexuality as a badge of honour.

    It’s part of me, something I can’t change and more importantly, don’t want to change.

    Labels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUAL
    ‘Hopefully one day more bi men will feel the same and stand together behind the bisexual label.’ (Picture: Alexander Crawley/Metro.co.uk)

    It’s really not a negative thing, I get to see the world from a unique perspective. I’ve dated men, dated women; had sex with men and women.

    My life is fun and I enjoy it now that I’ve learned to embrace it.

    Honing something that for so many men is a source of shame and making it work for me is a transferable skill, one that’s given me so much confidence in my life.

    Hopefully one day more bi men will feel the same and stand together behind the bisexual label.

    It worries me that something I’ve come to see as a strength is a source of great shame and a secret for the majority of men like me.

    I want to go to bisexual bars and talk to other men like myself, share our experience of dating men and women and trade the best comebacks to people calling us confused or greedy.

    I want to have friends who have first-hand experience of bisexuality.

    I’m a bisexual man – and it’s awesome.

    Labels

    Labels is an exclusive series that hears from individuals who have been labelled – whether that be by society, a job title, or a diagnosis. Throughout the project, writers will share how having these words ascribed to them shaped their identity  positively or negatively  and what the label means to them.

    If you would like to get involved please email jess.austin@metro.co.uk

    MORE: My Label and Me: I didn’t talk about my mental health in case people called me a psycho

    MORE: My Label and Me: Do not call me a person of colour

    MORE: My Label and Me: Being blind is part of my life, but it will never define me


    Lewis Oakley BISEXUAL LABELS BLOGLewis Oakley BISEXUAL LABELS BLOGlewyoaksLabels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUALLabels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUALLabels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUALLabels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUALLewis Oakley BISEXUAL LABELS BLOGLewis Oakley BISEXUAL LABELS BLOGlewyoaksLabels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUALLabels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUALLabels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUALLabels Blog - Lewis Oakley BISEXUAL

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    (Picture: Getty)

    If you’re trying to cut off your sugar dependency by popping sweeteners in your cuppa, you might want to stop.

    A new study suggests that artificial sweeteners provide no health benefits, and could even be harmful.

    Oh dear.

    The British Medical Journal published a review of 56 previous studies that indicates there is no evidence of any health benefits from sugar alternatives such as Steva, Splenda, Saccharin, Aspartame, and Sucralose.

    A team of researchers compared no intake or lower intake of non-sugar sweeteners with healthy adults and children with high intake of these non-sugar sweeteners, looking at their weight, blood sugar, oral health, cancer, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, mood, and behaviour.

    The results showed no statistically relevant differences between those consuming higher levels of non-sugar sweeteners and those sticking to regular sugar.

    Children who consumed more sweeteners than sugar saw a smaller increase in body mass index, and no evidence was found of any effect of non-sugar sweeteners for adults or children who were actively trying to lose weight.

    Sugar intake breakdown

    • Adults should have no more than 30g of free sugars a day, (roughly equivalent to seven sugar cubes).
    • Children aged 7 to 10 should have no more than 24g of free sugars a day (six sugar cubes).
    • Children aged 4 to 6 should have no more than 19g of free sugars a day (five sugar cubes).
    • There is no guideline limit for children under the age of 4, but it’s recommended they avoid sugar-sweetened drinks and food with sugar added to it.

    Lead researcher Dr Joerg Meerpohl, co-director of the Medical Centre of the University of Freiburg in Germany, said: ‘For most outcomes, there seemed to be no statistically or clinically relevant difference between intake versus no intake, or between different doses of non-sugar sweeteners.

    ‘No evidence was seen for health benefits from non-sugar sweeteners and potential harms could not be excluded.’

    More long-term studies will be needed to find out more about non-sugar sweeteners and whether they’re a healthy alternative to sugar.

    Dr Vasanti Malik, of Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that sweeteners may help people who eat a lot of sugar make a gradual switch to healthier options.

    She said: ‘Based on existing evidence, use of non-sugar sweeteners as a replacement for free sugars, particularly in sugar sweetened drinks, could be a helpful strategy to reduce cardiometabolic risk [chances of having diabetes, heart disease or stroke] among heavy consumers, with the ultimate goal of switching to water or other healthy drinks.

    ‘Policies and recommendations will need updating regularly, as more evidence emerges to ensure that the best available data is used to inform the important public health debate on sugar and its alternatives.’

    MORE: Everything you need to know if you are doing Dry January 2019

    MORE: By 10 years old, kids in the UK have already eaten 18 years’ worth of sugar


    No evidence that sugar substitutes are healthierNo evidence that sugar substitutes are healthierellencscottNo evidence that sugar substitutes are healthierNo evidence that sugar substitutes are healthierellencscott

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    McDonald’s is set to launch its first veggie Happy Meal, complete with toy, of course. (Photo: Kristian Dowling/Getty Images)

    As of today, 3 January 2019, McDonald’s is selling a vegetarian Happy Meal in all its restaurants across the UK.

    Perhaps you presumed there was a vegetarian option already. Turns out a pescetarian-friendly Filet-o-Fish was as close as it got – until now, that is. McDonald’s have just added a vegetarian Happy Meal option to their menu: the Vegetarian Society-accredited Veggie Wrap, complete with the cardboard house and boredom-busting toy.

    As a vegan and a mother raising a child not to eat meat, it is supremely welcome news to hear that McDonald’s are finally adding a veggie option to their roster of kid-pleasing delights. But why on earth has it taken them 40 years to do it?

    From a company of firsts – it was the first high street restaurant to switch to 100% RSPCA-assured pork across the entire menu – I’m surprised it’s taken them this long.

    The year is 2019. Even people who do not define themselves as vegetarian are interested in having a plant-based option on the menu. According to 2018 research by food charity IGD, one in two shoppers are following or showing an interest in a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet.

    Even train companies are now wising up to the UK’s infatuation with green food, with seven out of 12 of them now offering a vegan option on-board their trains.

    McDonald’s has long been a haven for families keen to fuel up after, before or during a shopping trip and trips there remain one of my fondest childhood memories.

    This is despite the embarrassment of my dad demanding: ‘no gherkins in my Big Mac’, followed by the inevitable drama that ensued if the Big Mac did in fact arrive with aforementioned gherkins intact.

    These menu choices might sound trivial, but they’re so much more; they’re a validation, a normalisation.

    Before I had a baby, I rarely found it difficult to eat out; there’s often a veggie option on the menu and supermarkets are adding new veggie ranges to their shelves all the time.

    Having a baby and going vegan has made things trickier.

    On maternity leave – with a tight budget, a hungry baby and a whole heap of time on my hands – I trawled the usual family-friendly cafes and chains to find something both of us could eat.

    Many a day was spent with a bag full of snacks squirrelled away in the hope I wouldn’t be told off for bringing my own food while surreptitiously guzzling coffee.

    Even now, family trips often mean eating the usual plain jacket potato and a seriously grumpy baby for company. Because, let’s face it, have you ever tried feeding wild mushroom ratatouille to a toddler?

    In practice, it’s been problematic navigating kids parties and days schlepping to soft play with a mediocre packed lunch. The inevitable tantrum because everyone else’s food is way more fun is a little heartbreaking, not to mention headache-inducing.

    And it’ll only get harder as my daughter gets older. Play dates spent eating a lonely bag of chips and declining invites to McDonald’s parties are on the horizon, I’m sure.

    The post-pub trips to the 24-hour McDonald’s to preemptively cure a hangover at 3am isn’t something I want her to recreate, but it’s nostalgic for me – and maybe inevitable for her – nonetheless.

    Moreover, veganism isn’t something I want my daughter to feel is a quirk, a strange habit or fad. It’s part of our lives but it’s just what we choose not to eat, nothing more, and I like to think my toddler will grow up with compassion for animals and the planet, too.

    These menu choices might sound trivial, but they’re so much more; they’re a validation, a normalisation. McDonald’s putting their seal of approval on vegetarianism means something. Others will surely follow suit.

    Given McDonald’s beefy Big Mac signature, it’s perhaps little wonder it’s taken so long to incorporate a plant-based option to the menu.

    But I’m so glad it has and I’ll be voting with my wallet and making sure it’s here to stay. I hope to see more fast food chains from my youth do the same.

    Because, above all, all vegetarian kids should be able to pick something from a menu that isn’t a last resort or, God help us, a Portobello mushroom.

    MORE: As a trans immigrant I’ve never felt so unwelcome in the UK

    MORE: We’ll ring in 2019 rowing on the Atlantic to highlight what plastic pollution is doing to our seas

    MORE: Rail fares and train delays aren’t just irritating – they affect my life, career and family


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    ‘All you can really do here is raise your concerns lovingly, listen to your mama and be there for her either way.’ (Illustration: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Welcome to Lean On Me – a weekly agony aunt style column from Metro.co.uk where Kate Leaver answers your friendship woes.

    Dear Kate,

    My mum has had the one best friend most of her life – let’s call her Susan.

    She’s like my atheist godmother or an honorary aunt. She and my mum spend a lot of time together and they’re so close, but Susan is actually quite horrible.

    She’s always making snide remarks about my mum, putting her down and, worst of all, making fun of her weight.

    What can I do about this? How do I tell my mum that she should get rid of her lifelong best friend?

    Claire, 33

    ‘She’s got herself into quite a common friendship quagmire here: friends with someone so long, she’s forgotten to ask herself whether this person still belongs in her life or deserves her companionship.’ (Illustration: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Hi Claire,

    I feel like I know Susan. She’s just the sort of person to weasel her way into someone’s life long-term and stay there, out of stubbornness and convenience, rather than for being a genuinely good friend.

    I’m extremely displeased with her hobby of putting your mother down and, to be frank with you, quite angry that she comments about her weight. Be better, Susan.

    I absolutely get why you’re protective of your mama, and she’s lucky to have you looking out for her.

    I think she’s got herself into quite a common friendship quagmire here: friends with someone so long, she’s forgotten to ask herself whether this person still belongs in her life or deserves her companionship.

    We do this all the time, keeping people in our lives because we are too awkward or too scared to get rid of them. We hang onto all sorts of inappropriate, even harmful people out of complacency, fear or laziness.

    It’s easier for your ma to just keep being friends with this Susan character, and she probably enjoys her company – but perhaps to the detriment of her self-esteem.

    I’d say she would have noticed that Susan is nasty to her, but in that funny way where we don’t full acknowledge the way someone is treating us because it’s a little bit overwhelming to be that honest with ourselves.

    We do this all the time, keeping people in our lives because we are too awkward or too scared to get rid of them.

    She may just be stuck in this notion that it’s perfectly normal for a friend to speak to her like that – or worse, that she deserves it or agrees with what Susan says.

    Now, I don’t know much about your relationship with your mother, but I’m guessing you’re quite close.

    You’ve come to me with the idea of telling your mum she should fire her lifelong best friend, so I assume you feel like that sort of conversation could be doable for you. You just need the encouragement.

    Here it is: Claire, talk to your mama. Either sit her down at home where she’s comfortable, put on the kettle, get out the biscuits and have a proper natter, or take her out for brunch somewhere cute so she knows this is special mother-daughter time.

    Mums crave the attention and love of their adult daughters, so make this into something tender and open.

    Make her feel safe and cherished, because an intervention like this could come across as harsh.Then, I think you need to just tell her how you feel.

    Say something like ‘Mum, you know I love you. That’s why I want to be honest with you. I feel like your friend Susan actually might not be a friend at all.

    ‘I’ve noticed that she makes nasty little remarks and criticizes you. It makes me really uncomfortable, so I just wanted to chat to you about it and suggest that maybe she isn’t the type of friend you deserve.’

    Ask her how she feels, make sure she knows she can talk to you openly, and listen to her.

    If it feels right, maybe suggest that she see less of Susan. Depending on how she feels, she could just put some distance between herself and Susan: turn down some invitations, stop asking her to hang out, that kind of thing.

    Or, perhaps even better, she could have a little chat with this Susan and tell her that the way she’s treating her is not acceptable.

    That’s going to be a huge thing for your mum to contemplate, so tread carefully and suggest it gently. If she chooses that option, be on standby for cuddles, chats and tea.

    All you can really do here is raise your concerns lovingly, listen to your mama and be there for her either way. As I said, your mama is lucky to have you.

    About Lean On Me

    Kate Leaver is the author of The Friendship Cure and she will be answering your friendship woes in her weekly Metro.co.uk column.

    If you’d like to submit a question or problem, email LeanOnMe@metro.co.uk with ‘Lean on me’ in the subject line.

    Submissions are anonymous and you can follow the discussion on Twitter #LeanOnMe.

    MORE: Lean On Me: Should I tell my friend I think boyfriend is wrong for her?

    MORE: I beat cancer on the same day my mum died from it

    MORE: Eight years without a cigarette but in 2019 I'm finally giving up smoking


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    (Picture: Ella Byworth)

    Don’t tell us you thought we’d left terrible dating trends in 2018.

    As long as us humans have a need to interact with other humans, shitty behaviour and the catchy terms given to that behaviour will live on forever.

    And so we present unto you, another dating trend. It might be the first one you ponder in the New Year. How fun.

    The good news is that this particular dating trend isn’t as brutal as scroogeing or stashing.

    You-turning describes the act of falling head over heels for someone, only to suddenly change your mind and dip.

    Get it? It’s like the car manoeuvre, the U-turn, but instead of turning around on a road someone turns away from, well, you.

    It’s super abrupt and always very intense. A you-turner isn’t someone who casually dates then ditches because they’re not quite sure, they’re the type to declare that the person they’re with is the one they’re going to marry, only to completely change course and dump ’em without warning.

    Think Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson. A you-turn describes that kind of intense love affair followed by a shock breakup.

    Plenty of Fish declares that more than a quarter (29%) of daters have experienced you-turning, and that women are more like to you-turn than men (37% of women have done it versus 23% of men).

    An open letter to the Instagram fitness model my boyfriend dumped me for
    (Picture: Ella Byworth/Metro.co.uk)

    As we mentioned, you-turning really isn’t terrible as far as dating behaviour goes.

    You’re perfectly entitled to change your mind about someone you thought you fancied the pants off, and it’s probably better to get out of the relationship the moment you realise it’s not right rather than dragging out the misery.

    The harsh bit of a you-turn is the suddenness of it all, and how a you-turner deals with changing their mind.

    A gentle chat about how it’s not working would be great. Ghosting after being really intense and in love is not fair.

    As the nature of you-turning is that it’s unexpected, there’s no real way to prepare yourself for the risk. But getting too intense, too fast could be a warning sign.

    Pause, take it slow, and work out whether you really, properly like each other before making any big commitments. That might not sound as exciting as a whirlwind romance, but it saves you from the faff of trying to find a new roommate to split the rent with after your partner of six months suddenly ditches.

    MORE: My Label and Me: I wear my bisexuality as a badge of honour

    MORE: Vegan man launches his own dating site to find a woman who likes animals and isn’t ‘too crazy’

    MORE: Twitter account rates all the desperate and trashy moves of your exes


    mourning-someone-you-dont-know-2e1emourning-someone-you-dont-know-2e1eellencscottAn open letter to the Instagram fitness model my boyfriend dumped me formourning-someone-you-dont-know-2e1emourning-someone-you-dont-know-2e1eellencscottAn open letter to the Instagram fitness model my boyfriend dumped me for

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    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    When I had my heart broken it felt like my life was ending. But it was only just beginning.

    There are no two ways around it, heartbreak sucks. That numb ache in your stomach, feeling like you’re going to throw up, going back and forth between feeling nothing at all and being unable to stop crying.

    You feel like your entire world is crumbling beneath you. I know. But I promise you it’s not.

    So you’ve just been broken up with, you feel like you’ve lost everything you’ve ever had and you’re terrified of being alone.

    It’s okay to feel this way.

    When you’ve adapted to having someone around all the time, the thought of being on your own is daunting.

    And then you get sadder, because you realise that the person who was always around is no longer going to be there. How are you going to fill your time? How are you going to cope alone?

    It’s like breaking any habit. When you grow accustomed to your partner always being around you get into this routine, and you forget what time alone is like or how to appreciate it.

    You can end up forgetting how to be alone.

    So when you come out of a relationship and learn how to spend time with yourself, it’s life-changing.

    I won’t pretend like going through a breakup isn’t soul-destroying, that it doesn’t make you feel a million emotions or that you aren’t going to question what’s wrong with you (even though there’s probably nothing wrong with you, it just wasn’t meant to be).

    You won’t wake up the day after a breakup and suddenly feel fine. That just won’t happen.

    But one piece of advice I was given time and time again is that ‘time is the best healer’.

    In the moment you don’t agree. In the moment you think, ‘I’m never going to get over this’, in the moment, you feel like things will never get better.

    But they do.

    (Illustration: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    It’s cliche, but over time things do get easier. Time heals the wounds your broken relationship will have left behind.

    Going through a breakup doesn’t have to be a miserable time, it can also be an exciting one.

    Don’t see it as your whole world ending, but as your world only just opening up.

    For the first time in a long time, you finally get to focus on yourself. Nobody else. You get to rediscover yourself. Do things for you and nobody else.

    You no longer have anyone to answer to. You no longer have to think about anyone else. You can be totally selfish.

    Being single is a huge learning curve.

    But being alone doesn’t have to be scary – it can be liberating.

    You get to focus on things that make you happy, try new things, meet new people, become who you want to be.

    You get to focus on loving nobody else but yourself. And trust me, self-love is the most amazing love out there.

    And once you’ve learned to love yourself alone, once you’ve realised that there’s nobody better to rely on than yourself, when you’re finally ready to meet someone else – and believe me, you will meet someone else – you’ll be in a better place to fall in love again, because you’ll have fallen in love with yourself first.

    You’ll know what you deserve and what you don’t. You’ll realise that you shouldn’t settle for anything less than what you need.

    You’ll realise that your own self-worth comes first, and that if someone isn’t compatible with you, it doesn’t matter – because you’ve learned how to be on your own and love it.

    You will no longer rely on someone else to make you happy. And that is liberating.

    It’s not easy. Grieving the end of a relationship takes time. It’s important to feel all of the emotions it brings instead of bottling them up and disregarding them.

    But when you’re done grieving, you can start to work on yourself.

    You can begin your relationship with yourself.

    And it’ll be the best relationship you’ll ever have.

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    It’s January – which means it’s time to get back at it.

    We’re shaking off the lethargy of December, prizing ourselves off the sofa, remembering what it feels like to go outside.

    If your new year vibe is about getting fitter, then you’re probably on the hunt for an affordable gym.

    Let’s face it, no one wants to run around outside in the depths of winter.

    But gym memberships do not come cheap. Luckily there are some great January deals to keep your fitness dreams alive even if your bank account is feeling the post-Christmas pinch.

    Virgin Active – join now and get January free

    That’s right – practically a whole free month.

    Virgin Active is a fantastically well rounded chain of gyms. Most branches have a pool, loads have a sauna and steam room, and they all have tons of classes.

    From the basics – spinning and body pump – to the latest trends, including aerial aerobics and ‘Zuu’ training – there are plenty of options, whatever your fitness goals.

    DW Fitness First – get January free and a free three-day pass

    With branches all over the country, DW Fitness First is a really accessible option – and slightly cheaper than Virgin.

    Central London membership starts from around £38 per month.

    The January offer means you get a month for free, and you can claim a free three-day pass at any time to try before you buy.

    All the gym floors have the latest kit and equipment, and you can try fun classes like aqua zumba and glow spin – which they describe as a party on a bike.

    (Picture: Getty)

    Pure Gym – 50% off your first month and no joining fee

    The perfect low-cost option, Pure Gym is great for fitness fans who are on a budget.

    With branches on every other corner, and loads which are 24-hour, it’s a really accessible chain that allows you to fit fitness into your schedule easily.

    Prices vary from branch to branch, but London’s Covent Garden gym costs £24.99 per month, and further out in Colindale and Ilford, membership is just £14.99 per month.

    Your first month will be discounted at 50%, if you sign up by Monday.

    Nuffield Health – join today and get January free

    The Nuffield Health gyms have a friendly, leisure centre feel, which makes them perfect for fitness rookies. They are the opposite of intimidating.

    The branches are conveniently located and there are loads of classes to help get you started on your new year fitness journey.

    Full membership includes access to the gym, classes and pool – but they’re not the cheapest. Pries vary by branch, but one central London venue costs £111 per month.

    There is also the option of joining as an off-peak member if you have a more flexible schedule – which does make it more affordable.

    The Gym Group – no joining fee

    The no-frills gym has everything you need if you like to get in, get sweaty, and get out.

    There are no nasty contracts to tie you in long-term – which is perfect if you move around for work, or just have trouble committing.

    Prices vary, but central London membership is generally less than £30 per month, and you can pay £10 to drop in for a single session any time you like.

    Better Gym – First month is half price and no joining fee

    January is the best time to join Better because they’re not going to sting you with a joining fee – which definitely makes the whole process less painful.

    Better is a great choice of gym for the socially conscious. The chain is community-based and doesn’t pocket a penny of profit – everything they make goes back into promoting wellness for the local area.

    All inclusive membership includes access to the gyms, pools and refocus sessions after six weeks to help keep you on track.

    Prices vary, but all inclusive membership at the London Vauxhall branch is £46.80 per month.

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    MORE: New year’s fitness resolutions you will actually stick to

    MORE: The biggest fitness trends for 2019


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    Changing your duvet cover is a bit of a chore.

    No matter how many hacks you follow online, you end up twisted inside with the duvet folded in two.

    So what if you could just wash the whole thing and never had to change it?

    M&S have released a duvet where you can do just that.

    Their Supremely Washable duvet range offers light, printed duvets that can apparently be washed and dried in one day.

    Available in a light 4.5 tog, more suited to summer, or a heavier 10.5 tog for the colder months, M&S say the duvet is ‘simple to clean’ and ‘designed to be easily washed and dried in a single day, while maintaining its fresh, indulgent softness.’

    It comes in single, double, kingsize and super kingsize so perfect for any type of bed.

    At the minute, the duvet doesn’t have the most inspiring of designs, with just a plain dark blue cover or grey cover so hopefully they release some more designs in the future.

    It’s also a little pricey, with the 4.5 tog duvet ranging between £32.50 – £47.50 and the 10.5g tog selling for between £39.50 – £57.50 depending on the size.

    But it might just be worth it if you can get that clean sheet feeling in minutes.

    MORE: All the best January gym deals

    MORE: A breakup isn’t the end of the world – it’s the beginning of a new one


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