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Trying on H&M jeans: Is H&M sizing a danger to people with body dysmorphia?

(Picture: Hattie Gladwell)

I’m a size 12 in most places. Boohoo, Missguided, Pretty Little Thing, New Look, Topshop, you name it.

But I’ve always avoided H&M because of all the negative things I’ve heard about its sizing.

The general consensus seems to be that H&M is rubbish for sizing. Most things come up too small and you leave the shop feeling pretty crappy about yourself. And so I just deemed it not worth the energy.

That, and the fact that I am a recovered bulimic who still has body dysmorphic tendencies.

What is body dysmorphic disorder?

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), or body dysmorphia, is a mental health condition where a person spends a lot of time worrying about flaws in their appearance. These flaws are often unnoticeable to others.

It’s not as bad as it used to be – where I would see myself as a completely different size in the mirror – but it can still be triggered.

Just last month, a spokesperson announced that H&M had taken customers’ comments and complaints on board, and were taking steps to change its women’s wear sizing.

But still, things haven’t changed and people are taking to social media to continuously complain.

Recently, blogger Lottie L’amour took to Twitter to express her frustration after a bad shopping experience in H&M.

She’d gone shopping with her girlfriend, and was trying on clothes as a size 24 – however she couldn’t even get into a size 28.

Then her size 16 girlfriend tried on the same item of clothing. She fit into the 28

Lottie later shared an image of H&M’s sizing – which the store states has recently changed, so that the old 6 is now a 4, the old 8 is now a 6 and so on.

After seeing so much frustration online, I decided it was time to experience H&M myself to see what the fuss was all about.

I decided to try on a selection of jeans, in sizes 12 – 20. As mentioned above, I’m a 12.

Here’s what happened.

Firstly, here’s a picture of how H&M sizing works:

(Picture: Hattie Gladwell)


Here’s a picture of my size 12 body, in my size 12 Topshop jeans. I’m smaller on top, have thick thighs and a big(ish) bum

(Picture: Hattie Gladwell)


First, I tried on a skinny ankle jean in a size 10-12

(Picture: Hattie Gladwell)

As you can see, I could barely get them past my knees let alone my thighs.

Next up was a size 14-16

(Picture: Hattie Gladwell)

According to H&M,  29″, 30″ and 31″ can fit between a 14 and 16. So, your best bet is getting a load of different sizes and hoping for the best.

Finally, I tried an 18-20

(Picture: Hattie Gladwell)

Yes. An 18-20 fit. I’m a size 12. This is a whole 3-4 sizes bigger than I actually am in most stores.

The jeans were a little loose on my knees, but perfectly comfortable on my waist.

I then tried on some regular skinny jeans – this is a size 12

(Picture: Hattie Gladwell)

These were a little bit better than the other jeans, I could actually get them up past my thighs. But they weren’t much better.

Next up was the size 14

(Picture: Hattie Gladwell)

These actually reached my hips! But there was absolutely no way in hell I was doing them up.

Finally, we have a fit – in a size 16

(Picture: Hattie Gladwell)

The size 16 fit perfectly.

As you can see, the sizes were totally different for both pairs of jeans, and fit completely differently. In the first pair, I managed to fit into an 18-20. The second pair that fit was a size 16.

If I didn’t know that H&M sizing was so varied, I’d probably be pretty upset.

It worries me how negatively the store is impacting many young women – especially those with body dysmorphia.

Body dysmorphia makes it hard to see yourself as you are.

What worries me with H&M is not so much the sizing itself – your size doesn’t matter, it’s how you feel in yourself that matters – it’s that the sizing discrepancies could trigger those with body dysmorphia.

Imagine someone finally coming to terms with themselves after suffering with the disorder, finally seeing themselves for the size they are, and then heading into H&M and struggling to fit into anything.

They’d start questioning whether they were actually seeing themselves as smaller than they are – setting off another vicious cycle of insecurity and dangerous eating habits and self perception.

H&M staff are totally aware of what’s happening in the store, and how many people are upset. But they can’t do anything about it.

I spoke to one sales assistant in the store, who told me she rarely buys from H&M despite working there, due to the sizes.

She said that she generally shops in Topshop, where she’s a size 8. However, in H&M she’s a size 14.

She says generally, a H&M size 8 is a TopShop size 4.

The sales assistant, who we aren’t naming to protect her anonymity, also says that she has personally written signs for various sections, because you can never count on true sizing.

Most of the signs warn customers that the sizes come up too small.

She does this to prevent customers trying things on that are only going to upset them.

She also told Metro.co.uk that no size is the same – you could buy a size 12 in three of the same pair of jeans and they’d all come up differently.

What I found incredibly sad is that she also told us that some of the women’s wear is actually smaller than the children’s section. Women are leaving the store upset because something smaller than what a child would wear doesn’t fit.

When asked what H&M is doing to battle this, the sales assistant told me she really didn’t know. She explained that they receive frequent complaints but they’re yet to offer customers a positive shopping experience. The changes they have made haven’t made a difference.

She said: ‘The people higher up don’t have a clue what they’re doing. And I think this is because they don’t actually know what goes on in store. Most of them have never actually worked in a store. They don’t see what’s happening. They don’t see what the customers are saying.’

Metro.co.uk reached out to H&M to ask them exactly why it’s so hard to fit into your usual size when shopping at H&M.

A spokesperson told us: ‘H&M hugely values all customer feedback. It is only ever our intention to design and make clothes that make our customers feel good about themselves, any other outcome is neither intended nor desired.

‘H&M sizes are continually reviewed by our in-house sizing department and this is an on-going internal process.’

When I responded to challenge this, asking why it was that a size 16 woman can fit into a size 28 jean, I didn’t receive a reply.

We also reached out to charity Beat to find out how discrepancies in clothing size can affect people with eating disorders and body dysmorphia.

Beat’s Head of Communications, Rebecca Field said: ‘Eating disorders are serious mental illnesses with multiple causes, including people’s genetic make-up and a range of environmental triggers, so pressure to fit certain size clothes would never be the sole and direct reason for someone developing an eating disorder.

‘However, the idealisation of thinness that is often presented by the fashion industry can be a key factor in exacerbating the illness and preventing recovery.

‘Fashion retailers should recognise and respect the diversity in people’s natural body shapes and sizes.

‘It is important to remember that not everyone who has an eating disorder will be underweight. Eating disorders are mental, not physical illnesses and affect people of all backgrounds and physical shapes.’

The problem with H&M’s sizing seems to be an ongoing thing, and we’re hoping that changing the sizing really is an ‘on-going internal process’.

MORE: We spoke to women who sell their used underwear to see if it’s as lucrative as it seems

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Did you know most chewing gum contains plastic?

Did you know that most chewing gum contains plastic?
(Pictures: Getty/Shutterstock)

We reported yesterday that Iceland is to become the first major UK supermarket to sell plastic-free chewing gum.

An amazing development, but a headscratcher nonetheless. Have we been chewing on plastic this whole time?

Iceland commissioned a study before making their product, and we’re not alone; 85% of the 2,000 people surveyed had no idea there was plastic in chewing gum.

We had a look into

he thing that makes it gummy is the gum base. Although in the past this was made using natural ingredients such a chicle (which is extracted from a tree like sap) scientists found ways to adapt the recipe and use easier to find things.

Those things can be any combination of the following (these are the USA FDA approved gum base ingredients):

  • Butadiene-styrene rubber
  • Isobutylene-isoprene copolymer (butyl rubber)
  • Paraffin (via the Fischer-Tropsch process)
  • Petroleum wax
  • Petroleum wax synthetic
  • Polyethylene
  • Polyvinyl acetate

Without the jargon, they’re plastics, rubbers, and waxes.

(Picture: Giphy)

Polyethylene is used in plastic bags and children’s toys while polyvinyl acetate is one of the ingredients in the PVA glue you know so well from your school days.

Manufacturers don’t have to disclose which of the above products they use and in which quantities (it will usually just be listed as gum base) so there’s no way to tell which you’re ingesting.

Although it’s a myth that swallowed gum stays in your system for ten years, the body can’t digest these polymers and elastomers, so if you do swallow it it’ll come out of your body virtually the same way it went in.

Aside from this, though, there are environmental concerns.

UK authorities spend an estimated £60 million removing gum from our streets each year, and it’s not clear where it all goes, but it’s not water-soluble so doesn’t break down.

That’s why companies like Simply Gum (who manufacture the new Iceland product) decided to offer an alternative that’s biodegradable.

Other plastic-free brands are also available, such as Peppersmith, Chicza, and Glee Gum.

MORE: Dad used pair of iPhone earphones to deliver baby

MORE: A new campaign is calling for better treatment of chickens in the food industry

Cat and chicken form unlikely friendship during fires in Sacramento

(Picture: Yubanet.com

How many hours do you reckon you’ve lost to ’10 Unlikely Animal Friends’ compilations? More than you’re willing to tell your boss, we’re sure.

And here’s a new couple to coo over, courtesy of the Grass Valley Fire Service in the Californian city of Sacramento, who were working to tame fires raging in the suburb of Redding yesterday.

During the course of their mission the firefighters came across an unlikely pair of animals impacted by the fire.

A cat and a chicken huddled together in the doorway of a domestic residence for mutual safety and support.

It turned out that the duo had survived one of the most devastating fires in the region’s recent memory by taking solace in each other’s company.

METRO GRAB - taken from yubanet without permission Cat and chicken form unlikely friendship during fires in Sacramento https://yubanet.com/regional/grass-valley-firefighters-on-the-carr-fire-rescue-an-unlikely-pair-of-friends/ Yubanet.com
(Picture: Yubanet.com)

Both the cat and the chicken each had burns that would require extensive treatment. Luckily, the responding unit managed to find a dish and provided the two shell-shocked companions with fresh water as other firefighters searched for a way to get the pair to the safety of the SPCA.

After considerable reassurance, the brave firefighters managed to usher the unlikely couple into an animal carrier so they could remain together on their journey to the SPCA, who received the pair and provided immediate care.

All the relevant parties have been relieved to gain assurance that both the both members of the odd couple are expected to make full recoveries from their injuries.

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Couple who met over coffee plan to get married at Starbucks

(Picture: Cascade News)

A former barista is going to get married at the Starbucks where she and her fiance fell in love.

26-year-old Joanne Macdonald and Jonathan Craig, 37, will have their ceremony at the Union Street branch in Aberdeen, where they first met two years ago.

Joanne was working part time as she studied midwifery, and Jonathan kept popping in during his studies for exams as a chartered financial planner.

He said: ‘To be honest, I was completely oblivious at first – it was my friend that said she liked me.

‘She would often come across on her break and we got chatting.

‘That’s really where it all started – the early days of our relationship were in that Starbucks.’

The couple, from Bucksburn, Aberdeen, say their friends and family love their choice of wedding venue, while their reception will take place at the city’s five-star Marcliffe Hotel.

FROM JOHN JEFFAY AT CASCADE NEWS LTD 0161 660 8087 / 07771 957773 john@cascadenews.co.uk / www.cascadenews.co.uk Syndicated for Aberdeen Evening Express Please observe online embargo 1pm today, Thursday 2 August 2018 With pix A FORMER barista is to wed at the Starbucks where she and her fianc? fell in love Joanne Macdonald, 26, and Jonathan Craig, 37, will have their civil ceremony at the Union Street branch in Aberdeen. Their eyes first met across the crowded coffee shop two years ago.
(Picture: Cascade News)

The Starbucks branch will close from noon to 3pm and is allowing the couple to decorate the branch with fairy lights and curtains.

The chain’s regional manager Cindy Ross said: ‘We are delighted to be hosting the ceremony for Jo and Jonathan.

‘Jo was a barista here and that’s where she met Jonathan so it was an important place for them.

‘When she approached us I was over the moon.’

Jonathan said: ‘We knew we didn’t want to get married in a church – it’s just not something that really suits us.

‘Instead, we wanted somewhere with a real meaning to us.

‘We were looking to do something a bit different.

‘That’s how we came up with the idea of marrying in Starbucks.

FROM JOHN JEFFAY AT CASCADE NEWS LTD 0161 660 8087 / 07771 957773 john@cascadenews.co.uk / www.cascadenews.co.uk Syndicated for Aberdeen Evening Express Please observe online embargo 1pm today, Thursday 2 August 2018 With pix A FORMER barista is to wed at the Starbucks where she and her fianc? fell in love Joanne Macdonald, 26, and Jonathan Craig, 37, will have their civil ceremony at the Union Street branch in Aberdeen. Their eyes first met across the crowded coffee shop two years ago.
(Picture: Cascade News)

‘It was my fiancee that first suggested it.

‘I was initially worried because it’s not the biggest of spaces so I wasn’t sure it would work – but we’re keeping it small and it’s worked out.

‘Starbucks were really open to the idea and seemed very enthusiastic. They’ve been brilliant – so helpful and really on side.’

Jonathan says that he’s fully aware Starbucks is an unusual choice for a wedding – and ‘disbelief’ is a common reaction when he tells people where he’s getting married.

He explained: ‘The hardest people to win over were our parents who are a bit more traditional.

‘It took a little bit of persuasion but they’ve come around now.’

As the day comes closer, the couple are completing the finishing touches for their dream wedding.

Jonathan said: ‘The nerves are definitely kicking in.

‘We’re really coming down to the nitty gritty – it’s all becoming very real.. But we’re both so excited for the day.’

MORE: Trying on H&M jeans: Is H&M sizing a danger to people with body dysmorphia?

MORE: Couple have elegant Jurassic Park themed wedding

Model shares what it was like to pose with her stoma bag out for the #AerieREAL campaign

Model with a stoma bag posing for American Eagle
(Picture: Aerie)

Earlier this month lingerie brand Aerie was praised for its latest lingerie campaign which included people with disabilities.

The brand chose models with crutches, type 1 diabetes, and a woman with inflammatory bowel disease, who wears a stoma bag, to wear its items.

Aerie’s campaign has been a huge success with many people on social media congratulating them on being inclusive of those with visible disabilities.

One woman who’s totally over moon about the campaign is Gaylyn Henderson, the woman with the stoma bag who actually modelled for the brand.

Gaylyn is 33 and is from Atlanta. Though this is her first campaign, she’s been modelling for a long time and has had her stoma bag for ten years, due to Crohn’s disease – a form of inflammatory bowel disease.

(Picture: Gaylyn Henderson)

She told Metro.co.uk: ‘I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease when I was 14 years old and struggled immensely for over a decade due to the severity of my condition.

‘I adapted my life to live while being in excruciating pain some days and in pain most.

‘Crohn’s disease took my health in every way possible. It distorted my mental and physical health.

‘I became oblivious to the fact my quality of life was gone. Over the course of my life, I’ve had several surgeries, procedures, and multiple hospitalisations, with the overall goal of restoring my health and quality of life.

‘My latest surgery I had a total proctocolectomy in which they removed my entire colon leaving me with an ileostomy.

‘I held on as long as I could to my colon because if it didn’t work then what next?

‘I was still striving to be “normal” by clinging to the very thing that was killing me.

(Picture: Aerie)

‘But it came a time that I had no choice, and it was the best thing that has happened to me. There is absolutely no way I would want to go back other than to do it sooner.’

Gaylyn says that looking back, she can’t believe that one of the sole reasons she didn’t want a stoma was because of the stigma.

She decided to do something about that lingering stigma. She didn’t want others to suffer like she did because they were worried about what other people might think.

And so, she started a blog for other women with stoma bags, called Gutless and Glamorous.

She said: ‘I didn’t want others to suffer unnecessarily as I did because of the negative stigma surrounding having and living with an ostomy.

‘There is little to no positive awareness or programs specifically targeted at increasing self-worth as it relates to living with an ostomy.

‘So, I started Gutless and Glamorous. The mission of Gutless and Glamorous is to empower those living with or contemplating ostomy surgery due to illness or injury and to erase the negative stigmas and misconceptions of living with an ostomy.’

(Picture: Aerie)

Gaylyn explained that she landed Aerie’s campaign after the brand did a callout on social media.

She said: ‘Aerie posted an open call on their social media to be featured in their new bra campaign.

‘I thought to myself oh this would be pretty cool, but never thought I would actually be chosen.

‘I submitted a video for the open call and I was chosen!

‘So to have this opportunity is surreal! For Aerie to give me this opportunity, I’m beyond grateful and thankful they would give someone like me a shot!’

Gaylyn says she was ‘very excited’ to be featured in the campaign, something which she says is ‘amazing’.

‘I have struggled with self-acceptance due to illness and the devastating physical and psychological effects that illness can cause,’ she said.

‘I understand all too well the magnitude of what this campaign means and how very special it is!

(Picture: Aerie)

‘Many, myself included, have never seen a model with an ostomy. For the most part, in mainstream media it’s often referenced as having an ostomy in a negative connotation.

‘Society can make a drastic impact on a person’s decision to receive an ostomy and can have a drastic impact on a person living with an ostomy.

‘Even though ostomy is lifesaving surgery many are reluctant to receive them because of the negative stigma.

‘All of these factors combined makes it that much more significant that Aerie recognised how having a model with an ostomy has the ability to change and save lives!’

According to Gaylyn, the response to the campaign has been amazing so far, and she’s been moved to tears by the love and support she has been receiving.

She said: ‘Having the support of an influential brand like American Eagle to promote positive ostomy awareness has already changed lives and I know this because of the feedback I am seeing and receiving!

‘The messages, the kind words, the repost and shares, it is humbling and truly amazing!’

Gaylyn says you should never let a stoma bag stop you from stepping into the modelling world.

She said: ‘Do not let “no” stop you. Do not let somebody else’s no limit your possibilities.

‘Do not let somebody else’s view of what beautiful is dictate how you view or feel about yourself.

‘Keep going, keep living your truth, anything truly is possible.’

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Airbnb is offering the chance to win a night on the Great Wall of China

Airbnb are offering the chance to win a night on the Great Wall of China
(Picture: Airbnb)

When it comes to picking your holiday destination The Great Wall of China might just edge the weekend break in Margate.

It’s just the knotty fact of it having been closed for overnight stays for the past few thousand years that might prove the issue.

Not anymore, as Airbnb have announced the possibility for four lucky winners to take a place (each with a plus-one) in their custom-designed eco home situated along a section of the ancient structure.

It’s hoped that the initiative will help promote sustainable tourism in China, alongside the Wall’s ancient heritage.

The winners will find themselves perched high above the ground in a unique bedroom created within a centuries-old tower with 360-degree views. After sundown, they will then enjoy a multiple-course gourmet dinner alongside traditional Chinese music experience.

Airbnb are offering the chance to win a night on the Great Wall of China
(Picture: Airbnb)

The next morning is set to involve a sunrise hike through the surrounding Chinese countryside while taking a crash course in the Great Wall’s heritage, history and conservation efforts from official historians.

Following that, there will also be the chance to learn traditional crafts like Chinese seal-engraving or calligraphy

Chairman and Co-Founder of Airbnb China, Nathan Blecharczyk, spoke of pride at ‘working with historians and preservationists groups in Beijing to bring this once-in-a-lifetime experience to the world.’

Airbnb are offering the chance to win a night on the Great Wall of China
(Picture: Airbnb)

‘We are so proud to partner in this truly collective effort to highlight such an incredible landmark that now serves to unify people rather than divide them,’ he added. 

For a chance at winning a stay, you’ll just need to tell Airbnb why it’s so important to break down barriers between cultures and how you’d like to build new connections.

The deadline for entering is 11 August, 2018, and you can give yourself a chance through the listing page for the Great Wall on Airbnb.

If you win, you’ll be flown in from anywhere in the world, but you’ll need to promise to respect the neighbours, ditch any loud music, and refuse to give into the temptation to scale, skip, or run along the length of the wall.

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Cancel Christmas, a Brussels sprout shortage is looming

(Picture: Getty)

We are sorry to say that Christmas must be cancelled.

Not because our world is now a burning furnace where a summer’s day means hellish temperatures of over 30 degrees, but because we may be facing a shortage of one of the key ingredients of a Christmas dinner: The humble Brussels sprout.

HuffPost reports that the three months of super dry, hot weather we’ve been experiencing has created an environment that’s less than ideal for planting sprouts.

On Wednesday the National Farming Union held an emergency summit to discuss to impact of the heat wave, declaring that we could be at risk of a sprout-free Christmas.

Sprouts aren’t the only vegetable struggling in the heat. Shortages of broccoli, cabbage, and potatoes have all been predicted thanks to the increase in temperatures. Even peas are in trouble.

But the problem for sprouts is that demand increases so sharply in Christmas that they need to be harvested at exactly the right time.

Consumers could pay up to 1000% more for their sprouts depending on where they shop
(Picture: Getty)

‘With sprouts, you are trying to hit peak production around Christmas which is why it’s so difficult,’ said Jack Ward, chief executive of the British Growers Association.

Ward also warned that if the current trend for freezing winters and extremely hot summers continues, we could be facing a British farming crisis, with more vegetable troubles on the horizon.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had trouble with Brussels sprouts.

In both 2017 and 2016 Brussels sprouts shortages have been predicted, in large part due to Brexit and a difficulty getting seasonal workers.

In 2017, however, farmers declared that the rumours were overstated and their Brussels sprouts supplies were completely fine. Think back to last Christmas – did you have trouble getting hold of some sprouts?

Here’s hoping that this year’s worries will be just as easily swept away and we’ll be able to fill our plates with sprouts this Christmas.

But regardless of what we’re feasting on in the festive season, we probably should be keeping an eye on that climate change thing people have been banging on about. Maybe if Christmas dinners are affected, world leaders and the general public will finally take global warming seriously.

MORE: Morrisons is now selling wonky flowers to join their wonky veg

MORE: Ramen pizza – with a noodle crust, boiled egg, and broth – is now on offer in New Jersey

MORE: Oh, now there might be a pea shortage

How mental health issues are preventing couples from having sex

(Picture: Erin Aniker for Metro.co.uk)

Unconsummated relationships, where couples don’t have sex due to difficulties, trauma or sexual dysfunction are not often spoken about.

Usually, the couple feel embarrassed to discuss their sexual difficulties – but they are not alone.

According to an AXA PPP survey, a third of Brits are fearful of getting naked, largely due to body image and self esteem issues.

But nerves around body image aren’t the only reason couples aren’t able to consummate their relationships.

Why aren’t couples having sex?

Sarah-Jane Otoo, psychosexual therapist at Priory Wellbeing Centre Birmingham, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘Unconsummated relationships including marriages are largely unspoken about and the reasons behind them are often complex.

‘Some of the most common reasons are from a psychological viewpoint and include a general lack of education around sexual intercourse, fear, anxiety, shame and/or past trauma.

‘In addition, sexual dysfunction like erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, performance anxiety in males and vaginismus in females has been reported in several studies as well as vulvodynia, an often unbearable pain when the genitals are touched’.

Relationships expert Ben Edwards expands on this, telling us: ‘Post-traumatic stress and the psychological damage from past sexual abuse, low self-esteem or unhealthy relationships can be very hard to overcome.’

We must not overlook the impact of sexual trauma and mental health issues.

Aubrey Good has bipolar disorder, which dramatically affects her sex drive.

‘I can sometimes see a decreased or lack of libido, due to my bipolar disorder,’ Aubrey tells Metro.co.uk. ‘During periods of depression, my self-esteem tends to plummet.

metro illustrations
(Picture: Erin Aniker for Metro.co.uk)

‘Mixed with decreased energy and an increase in apathy, my body rejects physical intimacy in favour of seeking emotional nourishment.

‘I suffer from frequent bouts of hypersexuality. I am unable to receive any satisfaction from sexual intimacy and am often in pain or discomfort because of this.’

Aubrey takes medication, but like many taking pills for their mental wellbeing, has found that this has an effect on her sex drive, too.

‘A medication increase has caused me to have loss of libido,’ she explains. ‘Gaining weight from medication has contributed to my struggles.’

For Aubrey, the key is being able to communicate with a partner who understands her struggles.

‘Libido changes are a chronic challenge,’ says Aubrey. ‘Maintaining open dialogue with my partner has helped to ease the anxiety.

‘Sex is an emotional act as well as physical; we discuss the struggles and have seen progress. Therapy has also been a relief. Our strong emotional connection has allowed us to make it through.’

For Emma (name has been changed), anorexia has brought on issues with intimacy.

‘My body image is awful,’ she tells us. ‘I am embarrassed and ashamed of the way I look and it takes me an extremely long time to feel comfortable with men.

‘It’s been the cause of many of relationships endings. Ironically, my eating disorder started at age 19 in large part due to a guy telling me I was overweight so it’s something I’ve never shaken off.

woman with many faces
(Picture: Erin Aniker for Metro.co.uk)

‘I had a lot of negative thoughts about my body during sex so wasn’t able to enjoy the moment, don’t enjoy being touched or looked at, and have difficulty relaxing.

‘If I had eaten too much, was having a bad day or  stressed, then the eating disorder symptoms would creep in and I wouldn’t be able to have sex.

‘Counselling has helped me somewhat and taking things very slowly so I build up trust.’

Kate Moyle, a sexual and relationship psychotherapist, explains that anxiety is a common factor for a lack of sex in a relationship.

‘Every couple is unique and will have their own reasons and experiences for not consummating their relationship,’ she tells us. ‘These situations are often linked to some form of anxiety around sex which can in some instances impact sexual functioning. Some people may struggle with intimacy.’

For Sarah, 35, who has borderline personality disorder, that anxiety comes from a lack of self-confidence as well as a lingering shame around sex.

‘My husband and I have been together for 16 years, married for 12,’ Sarah tells us. ‘I always felt very prudish talking about sex due to my family background, before, during or after.

‘I was told not to have sex before marriage, so it always felt dirty and wrong.

‘My mental health issues mean my self confidence is rock bottom. I’m at my heaviest weight and although occasionally I enjoy sex, I mainly do it so he doesn’t leave me.

‘We had marriage counselling which helped for a while, but nothing really helps.

‘My husband manages to stay with me. He says he misses not having more sex but he says it would never be a cause to leave me. I wish I could be more confident.’

So what can you do if you need help with psychosexual issues?

The main remedies are psychosexual therapy, counselling and working on communication, touch and intimacy.

(Picture: Erin Aniker/Metro.co.uk)

Sarah Jane Atoo says: ‘It is important to remember that not one person in the relationship has the “problem”; you are both impacted. Psychosexual relationship therapy can be beneficial to help support couples that are experiencing problems with sex.

‘People may choose to enter therapy individually; however  it is often advised for couples to enter therapy together. By giving them a safe and confidential space, they may be able to come to a place of understanding.’

Ben Edwards recommends understanding each other’s reasons for a lack of sexual desire or drive, and to avoid blame or shame.

‘When working with my clients on their relationships, I  encourage them to understand each other’s “why”,’ he states. ‘We all have our reasons for wanting certain things and you must communicate this to your partner.

‘Lack of communication could be detrimental and to your partners own self-esteem. When it comes to abstaining from sex, the last thing you want is for a partner to harbour feelings of rejection because of an emotional barrier.’

It’s crucial to have a safe space where both parties feel comfortable talking about difficult issues.

‘Doing this work with couples is about opening up a safe space and the hopes and fears to do with sex to be discussed,’ explains Kate. ‘It’s important to see what has been tried and not tried and the ways that couples express intimacy.

‘Integrating touch slowly and becoming more comfortable with each other in  states of undress is also a gradual process.

‘I aim to help couples understand desire and arousal so that we can try and get them to a place where they can meet sexually.’

To talk about mental health in a private, judgement-free zone, join our Mentally Yours Facebook group.

Need support? Contact the Samaritans

For emotional support you can call the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123, email jo@samaritans.org, visit a Samaritans branch in person or go to the Samaritans website.

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The vegan hair salon guide to London

James cutting hair at WhiP Hackney
James cutting hair at WhiP Hackney (Picture: WhiP Hackney)

For many, being vegan is a lifestyle choice, not just a dietary choice.

Not only do we shun animal products in the fridge, but we have to keep an eye out for them in beauty products, too.

It’s easy enough find things like vegan cleansers, vegan moisturisers and vegan eye creams, but how can you be sure that your hairdresser is using vegan shampoo and conditioner on you?

Going to the hairdresser can be a minefield as a vegan, it really can.

While there aren’t many 100% vegan hair salons, more and more salons are wising up and offering vegan hairdressing services – including vegan colour, hurrah – which takes the worry out of your mind.

We wanted to show how choosing a vegan cut and colour doesn’t mean compromising on quality – whatever you can have done with non-vegan products, you can have done with vegan ones -so we sent a mixed bag of vegan and non-vegans out to test some of London’s vegan salon services.

We’ve let you know if the salon has vegan furniture, fully vegan products, and vegan snacks, so you can make your own mind up about which one to visit.

Here’s how we got on, listed in no particular order (except for number one, as it’s the only fully vegan salon on the list *winks*).

1. The Rabbit Hole, Hammersmith

The Rabbit Hole vegan salon in Hammersmith, London
(Picture: The Rabbit Hole)

‘The Rabbit Hole is for serious vegans. It’s the OG vegan salon, opening in 2012 as London’s only fully vegan salon.

‘Hairdresser Dori has a reputation among vegans, who are happy they can go somewhere safe in the knowledge that every single thing in the salon is cruelty-free and vegan. She’s not jumping on a bandwagon – she really gives a sh*t.

‘It’s the kind of place you go to for a cruelty-free hair cut and come out with a dozen plant-based recommendations for places to visit in London and wherever else you’re planning to be.

‘I went in looking pretty raggidy after a session of hot yoga and came out tamed – my curls buoyant and my dead ends cut off.

‘But more than that, I came out feeling really inspired to continue on my vegan journey by hairdresser and owner Dori, who has been a vegan for over 10 years and who told me about all the best places to visit on my upcoming trip to Iceland.

‘The products smelt gorgeous and made my hair look great; everything used in the salon is organic as well as being animal product and testing free. Oh, and excellent coffee and biscuits.

‘Despite living over an hour away, would definitely visit for another cut.’

Are all products vegan? Yes.

Is all furniture vegan? Yes.

What about snacks? All vegan!

Find The Rabbit Hole at 6A Charleville Road, London, W14 9JL 


2. WhiP, Hackney

The interior of WhiP Hackney hair salon
(Picture: WhiP Hackney)

‘WhiP is set in the heart of Hackney, and is a little oasis of calm off the bustling Morning Lane.

‘This place is decked out how I’d like my house to look, full of second hand and upcycled furniture, and amazing vintage mirrors – each one is different (check them out in the phto at the very top of the article).

‘I was offered a local vegan beer or gin cocktail as soon as I got there, but turned it down and had a herbal tea instead. Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t dead, kids.

‘I sat down with stylist and co-owner James and he talked me through what I wanted (to make my bob great again), before I plonked myself at the hella cool sink area and had a hair wash and head massage.

‘There’s loads to look at while you’re getting your hair chopped, with all the knick knacks and cool furniture, so I wasn’t surprised when James told me that it gets used a lot for location shoots.

‘They’ve also got great music pumping – not the hectic tinny club music vibes of mainstream chain salons – thanks to both directors having music industry roots. WhiP also has a mini record shop inside, and it’s even used as a performance space for live music and DJs, as they want it to be a fun place to hang out, rather than just a salon.

‘The owners try to be as eco-friendly as possible, right down to the cleaning products they use, which is a massive plus point for me.

‘I should point out that the salon is opposite vegan mecca Temple of Seitan, so it would be rude not to treat yourself to a ‘chicken’ wrap and some mac and ‘cheese’ after your cut.

‘I was really happy with my new ‘do (I trusted James to cut it shorter than I’ve ever had it), and went straight out for dinner afterwards, rocking my new swishy, shorter hair.

‘If you have Afro-Caribbean hair, keep an eye out as they’ll be offering a vegan organic service for your hair type in the future.’

Are all products vegan? Yes. They use Evo and Oway.

Is all furniture vegan? All chairs are fake leather except a vintage armchair that they borrowed from a friend.

What about snacks? Vegan beer and gin is available, as well as non-dairy milk for hot drinks.

Find WHiP at 7 Morning Lane, London, E9 6ND. They also have a branch in Homerton.


3. Rococo Organic Salon, Clapham

Rococo salon, Clapham
(Picture: Rococo Organic Salon)

‘When I first heard of a vegan salon offering haircuts, I wasn’t sure what it actually meant but everything was explained and shown to me in what has been one of my best salon experiences.

‘The folks at Rococo Organic Salon were so super, not just because their products are organic (duh), cruelty-free, and ammonia-free, but because of their amazing hospitality.

‘I was stupidly late but they were amazingly chill about it. My stylist Barbara walked me through what she was doing and did a strength test – my hair is surprisingly strong, which was news to me. She did this by wetting it and pulling it with two hands as hard as she could and it didn’t tear, so yay!

‘Then she washed my hair using a non-fragrant shampoo and conditioner made from natural ingredients. There are different products available for different hair types and she chose the one best suited to me.

‘The wash was the best part as she sat me down on a massage chair and gave me the most relaxing head massage. Oh, and did I mention the range of complimentary drinks available?

‘You can get juices, coffee, herbal teas, and 10 different fruit teas like Bora Bora or Secret Garden (you’ll have to try them and see what’s what).

‘I didn’t colour my hair but Rococo offers a pretty awesome vegan colouring system that even pregnant and new mothers can do without fear of harmful chemicals.

‘I would definitely go back!’

Are all products vegan? All products are cruelty-free, and the majority are vegan, bar six styling products which contain either beeswax or a honey derivative. These are clearly labelled and stylists are aware of them.

Is all furniture vegan? Yes.

What about snacks? They offer loads of herbal/fruit/green teas, coffee and fruit juices. It’s best to give them a heads up if you’re vegan, and you can let them know when you register as a new client, so there’s a note on your file.

Find Rococo Organic Salon at 16 Webb’s Road, London, SW11 1XJ.


4. Glasshouse Salon, Hackney

Glasshouse salon, Hackney
(Picture: Glasshouse)

‘Glasshouse Salon is situated in Hackney’s creative hub Netil House, and the salon fits into the building well. It has a really lovely vibe, it’s laidback while also being cool, and not at all intimidating like some salons are. It’s also pretty small, which I really liked, as it makes it cosy and friendly.

‘I was offered a drink as soon a I sat in the chair, and had a fancy pour over coffee with almond milk. I really do appreciate proper coffee.

‘I’m vegan myself but have always been a bit confused about vegan hair dye, and assumed you couldn’t lighten your hair with vegan products – not sure why I assumed this as it’s just not true. I was here to cover my first batch of silvery greys but still wanted a balayage effect, and my lovely stylist Mel confirmed that she could indeed give me that sunkissed look, using their vegan products.

‘The salon uses Organic Colour Systems, which works in a different way to more mainstream lines, as it contains more natural ingredients, so is less harsh on the hair. Conventional hair dye is applied to dry hair, but this organic colour is applied to wet hair, as it needs the shaft to already be open (rather than a load of chemicals busting it open). A heat cap is then put on your head, so the warmth opens the hair shaft even more, allowing the colour to penetrate. This is a great time to get your book out.

‘My stylist Mel talked me through organic haircare while she washed my hair, which inspired this article on organic shampoo and conditioner. There’s a lot to learn about how natural ingredients work differently to synthetic ones.

‘I really loved the way Mel did my hair (I often hate the way hairdressers blow dry my hair, as I usually let it dry naturally) and it still looked good the next day (again, it usually doesn’t when a hairdresser has loaded it with synthetic styling products).

‘My Glasshouse experience was proof that good hair doesn’t have to cost the earth or any animals, and there’s no excuse for not making your beauty experience cruelty-free.’

Are all products vegan? All products are cruelty-free, and the majority are vegan, bar six products  which contain either beeswax, a milk derivative or a honey derivative.

Is all furniture vegan? All furniture is vegan (fake leather), except the grey cushions on the chair at the entrance, which are made with a sustainably sourced wool.

What about snacks? They offer vegan teas and dairy-free milks for coffee.

Find Glasshouse Salon at  Netil House, 1 Westgate Street, London, E8 3RL.


5. Muku, Dalston

Muku hair salon Dalston
(Picture: Muku Dalston)

‘I was a big fan of Muku the moment I arrived, mostly because of the array of plants and excellent minimalist interiors, but the entire experience lived up to the first impressions.

‘Great magazine collections, a quiet salon that doesn’t feel too frantic or overwhelming, and nice teas on offer.

‘On to the actual hair bit – I had my hair done with salon manager Susana, and I was amazed that I was able to get the colour I wanted (bright purple at the roots, and lavender on the ends) with all vegan products – they have vegan options for all colours, and bleach.

‘It made me think that I should just make a commitment to stay vegan in terms of hair from now on – if I can get my hair looking snazzy without harming any animals, why not?

‘I have only a few complaints, but they won’t be applicable to everyone. First off, my ears got dyed bright blue despite wearing having tiny shower caps placed over them, which was a bit annoying. The colour also left stains everywhere I went for a week and a half after the initial dye session (which doesn’t usually happen when I get my hair dyed).

‘I ruined a T-shirt, left stains on my pillow, and even a quick nap would result in a swipe of purple wherever I rested my head. When I washed my hair the water ran bright purple, which was a tad alarming.

‘I didn’t have the best fading experience – usually my hair will fade to a pink-y tone, but after Muku it went from a faded blue to a plain grey.

‘Overall, would go again – the cut was spot-on, too – but will just be a tad cautious about colour pay-off and making sure my hair looks great weeks after the session.’

Are all products vegan? No, some have animal derivatives in but salon manager Susana is vegan so only uses vegan products on her customers anyway. However, all shampoo and conditioners used are vegan.

The vegan products the salon uses are from Fudge, Directions, Salerm and Pureology (although it’s helpful to know that Pureology is now owned by L’Oreal who have murky animal testing credentials).

Is all furniture vegan? Yes (the leather is fake leather).

What about snacks? They provide juices, plant-based milk for hot drinks, and vegan beer.

Find Muku at 491-493 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4AU. They also have branches at Shoreditch High Street and Commercial Street.

6. Karine Jackson Hair and Beauty Salon, Covent Garden

Karine Jackson salon, London
(Picture: Karine Jackson)

‘Karine Jackson Hair and Beauty salon is a three minute walk from Leicester Square underground station, and on arrival I’m offered a range of drinks, with vegan milk options.

‘Karine herself is cutting my bushy, rather matted and perpetually unloved locks.

‘She appraises my hair from behind thick-rimmed specs, her own unfussy blonde curls shaking as she expresses disapproval at my penchant for bleaching my hair myself with cheap peroxide.

‘Karine starts by placing a laminated board of colours under my chin, and as she moves it from cool to warm colours, my face lights up. Now I know which colours I can dye my hair and look radiant, rather than drained.

‘She tests a strand, from the top of my head downwards, to see where my hair is dry or brittle. It turns out, to the surprise of no one concerned, that it’s dry at the ends where I’ve had successive home-bleach dip dyes in all colours of the rainbow.

‘After an Organic Colour Systems Aquaboost shampoo to add protein and moisture to my tragic locks, Karine asks me how I usually wear my hair.

‘On learning that it’s either ‘down or up’, she understands that I’m all about the no upkeep look, and trims the ragged ends and adds layers, while offering low maintenance tips perfect for someone who doesn’t want to do much to their hair.

‘Karine started using Organic Colour Systems in 2007 when a client who had been diagnosed with cancer asked her to look into natural alternatives. Organic Colour Systems is a vegan, UK-based brand with a small carbon footprint that sponsors Greenpeace and bears the PETA logo. So, in ethical terms, it’s an absolute dream.

‘It’s great that salons like Karine Jackson offer a vegan service, because if you don’t eat any animal products for ethical reasons, why would you use hair treatments, dyes or cosmetics that have been tested on animals?

‘I come away from the salon with hair that feels light, bouncy and full of movement. I get why people enjoy going to the hairdressers because I feel like I’ve been delivered a healthy shot of endorphins.

‘Even better, no animals were harmed so that I could have a lush salon experience.’

Are all products vegan? No, some have animal derivatives in but if you ask for the vegan service, these won’t be used on your hair.

Is all furniture vegan? Yes (the leather is fake leather).

What about snacks? Look forward to vegan cookies, dairy-free milk for your hot drinks, and soft drinks.

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Commitmentphobia: Why millennials don’t want to settle for one person

Hmm, who am I swiping right on today? (Picture: Ella Byworth/Metro.co.uk)

We’re hanging out. We’re seeing each other. We’re fun buddies. 

If there’s one thing the millennial generation has successfully mastered, it’s how to avoid romantic commitment.

And why bother, when there’s plenty more swipes in the dating app sea?

Much like fast fashion, casual dating is all about supply and demand – with the added benefit of not having to deal with baggage or heartbreak.

A recent survey by online dating website eHarmony reveals that 25% of British singletons openly admit to commitmentphobia – fear of settling down – with casual dating listed as the driving factor.

The modern culture of dating and f**king with no strings attached is clearly affecting people’s attitudes towards romance.

Other key reasons for a fear of commitment that participants listed included uncertainty over whether a partner was right for them (39%), fear of opening up and potentially being hurt again (38%) and a lack of confidence in their own ability to maintain a successful relationship (35%).

Interestingly, nearly one in 10 singles admitted that the overflow of options on dating apps makes it harder for them to be with just one person.

Ollie Jackson*, 30, a creative consultant from London, has been single for just over a year.

He explains that his commitment issues have caused problems in previous relationships and that dating apps have been a hindrance in his love life, too.

‘It’s a tricky one, but ultimately I think it comes down to questioning your own decisions as to whether you think you’ve made the right decision or if you should look for something different,’ says Jackson.

Why does everyone want a goth girlfriend?
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘Modern dating methods don’t help. By having more choice, it makes it even harder to commit to one person, especially when most of the dating apps are so throwaway.

‘It can seem like you’re stalling or that you’re not interested, when that’s not the case at all.

‘People also often assume that men who have a fear of commitment are players, but that’s really not it.’

And it’s not just singles who can’t settle down – those in relationships are suffering from commitmentphobia, too.

Almost 25% of those who are currently in relationships are scared to settle down and put a ring on it.

Not great news for the wedding industry.

Jenny, who recently turned 30, says: ‘I’ve loved once before and gave it my f**king all, and I don’t want to be hurt ever again – that’s why I’m afraid of commitment.

‘My fears are causing problems in my current relationship, but we’re still together.

‘I met my boyfriend on Tinder – if used properly dating apps can be effective but there are some traditional elements that I feel are lost in current media, such as gentlemanly behaviour and dating before sex.’

According to the study, there are some key indicators that could be related to unconscious issues with commitment, such as hiding how you really feel from your partner (26%), drinking, smoking or taking drugs (19%) and avoiding talks about getting engaged or married (15%).

But not all are so unaware of their commitmentphobia.

Oz, 27, a marketing manager from the US, has never maintained a long-term relationship and lists myriad reasons why.

‘Anything long-term is very scary to me,’ he says.

How to talk to a woman you don't know
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

‘Compare it to a typical corporate job – working every single day for the rest of your life, doing the same thing over and over again – it’s just something I can’t do.

‘The fear of the future is always there.

‘Women are pickier when it comes to relationships, but once they settle, they settle. Men have more of a consumer mentality; they get bored of someone, and they want the latest and greatest.’

This idea that men are less likely to settle down is reflected in the results from the study.

When looking at how commitmentphobia affects the genders, it showed that 16% of men are afraid of commitment, compared to 10% of women.

‘I feel that as a woman, I empathise more with women who hurt after a breakup, than with men,’ Jenny says.

‘In my view, women are usually left with more to carry, whether that’s children or just another notch on the bedpost.’

Modern dating mediums have also had an effect on etiquette for both genders, with new – horrible – courting methods such as ghostingshadowing and orbiting, along with flirting via social media, taking over the dating sphere.

Clémentine Lalande, co-CEO of the dating app Once, tells Metro.co.uk: ‘As easy as it is to find a date or hook-up on an app, it is just as easy to get rid of them and find someone else.

‘Millennials live in a society with a disposable attitude and a disillusioned expectation for everything to be perfect.

‘Your phone breaks? Buy a new one.

‘Your date says one thing you don’t like? Ditch them and swipe to find a new person in a matter of minutes.

‘They have grown up in a world of 140 characters, quick texts, next day delivery and instant communication. It’s not surprising it is a generation of short attention spans with quick expectation and even quicker disappointment.

‘With slow dating becoming a growing trend though, I expect this to change once a quality over quantity approach is realised, and people invest time and commit to each conversation, date and relationship.’

So, if you’re stuck in a vicious circle non-committal relationships, what should you do?

‘The rise and ease of casual dating has undoubtedly had an impact on people’s ability to commit,’ said psychologist Emma Kenny.

‘With so much choice, it’s understandable that many people think a better option will always present itself.

‘By engaging in commitmentphobic behaviours that keep a partner at a distance, even those of us in loving relationships may be short-changing ourselves.

‘If you think you might be suffering from commitment issues, I’d encourage you to pause and reflect.

‘Communicating the worries or experiences that may be affecting your ability to commit to a friend, loved one or even a therapist, could be a wonderful opportunity to start afresh.’

*Some names have been changed, as requested by those interviewed.

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13 ways to practise self-care when you’re a busy parent

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

Self-care has become a bit of a buzzword as far as mental health is concerned, and no one would dispute the need for us to look after ourselves, whether or not we have a diagnosed mental illness.

But often, self-care is associated with pampering – think long bubble baths, scented candles and spa days – and if you’re a parent, finding this sort of time for yourself can be virtually impossible.

‘Because self-care has become synonymous with luxury, parents often feel it’s completely unattainable, but this is the time when you need it most: when you’re time-starved, energy-poor and stressed out of your mind,’ explains Suzy Reading, author of The Self-Care Revolution: Smart Habits and Simple Practices to Allow You to Flourish.

So how can you fit self-care into your day when you’re running around after the kids?

1. Fuel yourself properly

Many of us survive parenthood on coffee, biscuits and our children’s leftovers, but we need to nourish our bodies if we’re to have a healthy mind.

‘It can be easy to forget to eat properly, but make a point of eating and drinking regularly, and fuelling yourself with the good stuff: plenty of veg, grains and protein, and lots of water to stay hydrated,’ says Anna Williamson, author of Breaking Mum and Dad: The Insider’s Guide to Parenting Anxiety.

2. Max your morning shower

Mindfulness – the art of grounding yourself in the here and now – can be difficult to make time for when your mind is always on your child’s needs.

I’ve started making my morning shower my time to be mindful, standing under the jets and focusing on the sensations of the water hitting my skin, the sound of it splashing in the tub, the scent of my shower gel.

It turns a routine activity into an act of self-care that sets me up for the day.

3. Improve your posture

Taking a moment to correct your posture can literally shake you out of your slump, so try to pay attention to the way you stand.

‘The way you hold your body has an impact on your mind, your energy levels and your sense of confidence,’ explains Suzy.

‘Stand tall and take a few breaths, looking up to the ceiling and stretching your arms out to the sides as you breathe in, and letting them fall as you breathe out: it’s simple but potent.’

4. Hug it out

One of the great things about parenthood is that you have cuddles on tap, so when those little arms open up for a hug, make the most of it.

To get your feel-good hormones pumping, a cuddle needs to last seven seconds, but the average hug only lasts 2.4 seconds, so make a point of holding onto those squidges for a bit longer to give your mood – and your child’s – a boost.

5. Get outdoors

It’s scientifically proven that spending time in nature benefits both mental and physical wellbeing, and having kids gives you the perfect opportunity to get outdoors, whatever the weather.

‘Staying cooped up at home for too long results in bored children and a frazzled parent, so let off steam by getting togged up in weather-appropriate gear and go for a walk together,’ Anna suggests.

‘Splash in puddles, run in the sun: just embracing the outdoors can make everyone feel happier and freer.’

How/exactly when I realised family must come first (Jamie Roberts)
(Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

6. Make connections

Parenting can be an isolating experience, so make a point of having some social contact with the outside world every day, whether you’re going to a baby group, chatting in the park or simply sharing a joke via Messenger.

‘When we plug in we feel a sense of belonging, and just sending a text to someone you love will help you feel more connected,’ says Suzy.

7. Curl up with a book

Once you’re a parent, time to yourself is at a premium, but when you have a few minutes’ peace, seize the chance to lose yourself in a book.

I cherish the escapism that comes from getting stuck into a juicy novel and transporting myself to another world.

And you don’t need to feel guilty about it: research has shown that kids who see their parents reading are more likely to become keen readers themselves, so it has benefits for the whole family.

8. Make the most of bathroom breaks

We parents often joke that the only time we get a few minutes’ peace is when we’re on the loo, but it’s true – so make the most of your trips to the toilet.

‘Having a child robs you of the luxury of a peaceful loo break, but when you do have a moment to go – and you will – instead of rushing, use the time you’re sitting down to breathe slowly and deeply,’ Anna says.

‘It’ll help calm any angst and briefly reset you.’

9. Do a toy tidy

Housework is often seen as a necessary evil, and this can make us feel bitter and resentful when we’re picking up toys and washing the dishes.

‘Instead, try to reframe cleaning as an act of self-care,’ suggests Suzy. ‘Your physical environment has a powerful impact on your sense of wellbeing, so creating a sense of harmony and order by clearing away the clutter can help you feel calmer and more in control.

10. Laugh your socks off

That old cliché about laughter being the best medicine rings true; it really does have a striking impact on your mood, and when you have kids, there are plenty of opportunities to laugh out loud.

Embrace the tickle fights, unwittingly hilarious comments and moments of slapstick: laughing away your stress and seeing the funny side of life will help you keep parenting in proportion.

11. Do some micro-pampering

OK, so you may not have time for a massage or a mani-pedi, but you can still practise self-kindness on a daily basis, even if it’s in tiny bursts.

‘Things like putting on a piece of jewellery given to you by someone you love, or taking a moment to lovingly apply some hand cream, can give you a boost,’ Suzy says.

‘There’s nothing wrong with taking 60 seconds where the world waits for you.’

12. Calm yourself with music

Many of us stop listening to music when we have kids, but making a playlist to listen to when you’re cleaning the house or driving to and from childcare can help you feel more grounded.

‘It’s proven that calming music can help reduce stressful thoughts or behaviours, so play something relaxing around the house or in your car to keep yourself in a relaxed state,’ says Anna.

13. Celebrate the small wins

Our definition of success changes when we have kids, and it can be dispiriting to find ourselves incapable of achieving much, based on our previous standards.

But while your accomplishments may be small, it’s important to give yourself credit when you achieve a goal, even if it’s just putting a nappy on a recalcitrant toddler.

‘Set yourself realistic targets, and praise yourself when you achieve them,’ advises Suzy.

‘For the sake of your mental health, make it a habit to savour the good things in life, and say, “I appreciate me.” It’s not indulgent: it’s essential.’

I started a business on a first date, and now we’re married and the company is worth millions

Radha Vyas with co-founder and husband Lee Thompson in Osaka, Japan (Picture: Radha Vyas)

I was in my 30s and working as a fundraising consultant when I first came across Lee on Match.com in 2012.

I’m adventurous by nature and his profile stood out. All his pictures were taken in exotic locations, and the fact that he was a photojournalist peaked my interest.

It turned out we only lived a few streets away from one another, so we met nearby and spent the whole evening trading travel tales.

A few glasses of wine in, I mentioned to Lee that I had a business idea I’d been turning over in my mind.

I never planned to talk about it on a first date, but somehow the stage was set that night and it came pouring out.

At that point in my life, all my friends were starting to settle down and start families.

I still craved adventure – the kind of crazy, exciting travel that jangles at your soul – but I couldn’t find people to share it with.

I tried joining an organised group tour and it left me feeling flat. There was no-one like me; everyone was in their 20s and wanted to party the whole time.

I realised there was a huge gap in the market to bring together solo travellers in their 30s and 40s.

My vision was to create unique adventures that captured all the thrill of backpacking with boutique hotels in the mix.

Lee happened to be in the same situation as me. In his early 30s, his friends were also peeling off to begin family life while he still adored travelling.

He instantly recognised the value of my idea and we started brainstorming our first adventure products that very evening. It was the first step on the journey towards our business, Flash Pack.

(Picture: Radha Vyas and Lee Thompson)

Some of our earliest dates involved going to trade shows – not your average setting for romance but it had to be done.

We quickly became inseparable so, in one sense, it felt like the most normal thing in the world to be researching a business together.

At the same time, it was risky, as we knew that we were putting a good relationship on the line if we weren’t able to make it work.

We had a lot of discussions about our ambitions, happiness and values.

Our first challenge came when we planned a pilot trip to Sierra Leone, four months after we met. It was the hardest travelling I had done in ages.

We ran out of money in a cash-only economy and almost ended up homeless one night in Freetown. But we were also let loose in a beautiful country with unspoiled beaches and the friendliest people.

Even though it was tough, we had the time of our lives. It was a pivotal moment that proved how much we had in common, including a love for travel.

In January 2014, 13 months after our first date, Flash Pack went live.

(Picture: Flash Pack)

The first year was difficult. We both have strong personalities, so we disagreed over how to do things. We had taken on a lot of financial risk with the business and also buying a flat together, which inevitably caused stress.

If Flash Pack failed, we were in trouble as we had both given up our careers.

We worked 80-hour weeks and made a lot of sacrifices, neglecting friends, family and our personal lives. And yet – slowly, magically – our gamble paid off.

That gut feeling we had about solo travellers in their 30s and 40s turned out to be right.

We began to build up a movement of like-minded people searching for challenge and escapism, just as we had been. Our trips became a way for travellers to connect with other, mostly single, professionals and share adventures together. In an age of screen addiction, we made the group dynamic a priority, fuelling friendships all over the world.

Four years in, and we are now a multi-million pound business with 300% year-on-year growth and over 130,000 Flashpackers in more than 15 countries worldwide.

Like any start-up, we still have peaks and troughs. It’s hard to lift each other up when things go wrong. But the highs are intoxicating and there’s no better feeling than sharing it with your partner… and we also found time to get married along the way.

I’m always interested in people who take risks in their lives.

You have to be passionate about your choices; even if you’re scared, push past your fear and refuse to accept things that make you unhappy.

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Most men’s penises grow less than two inches when erect, says study

(Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

Most men’s penises are showers, not growers, new research by scientists at the University of California declares.

But even showers experience a bit of growth.

Researchers studied 274 men for the study, tracking the length of their penises when flaccid and when erect.

To measure length when erect, the men were injected with a substance that causes blood vessels to expand, while they were also shown sexual simulation on a screen (so porn, basically).

They found that 74% of the men were showers, which the researchers measured as a growth of 1.57 inches or less when aroused – so a bit of growth, but nothing to write home about.

The remaining 26% were called growers, increasing by an average of two inches or more when erect.

So just to clarify, before anyone races to the comments and declares that every male person they know is a grower, it’s not the case that the majority of men don’t see any increase at all in size when they’re erect – just not an increase considered to be significant by the researchers.

That means that the research comes with some caveats.

(Picture: Getty/Metro.co.uk)

The researchers haven’t revealed the full range of growth, handily dividing men up into more brackets than just above or below a two inch increase. That means we don’t know how many men saw a growth of under an inch, or how many saw a growth of more than 3 inches. The researchers haven’t shared data on how many men saw no growth at all when erect, which is what we’d usually define as a shower.

We’ve reached out to the researchers to find out this key information, but haven’t heard back yet.

So if you question their definition of a shower and a grower (which we do), perhaps the more accurate finding is that the majority of men’s penises grow by less than two inches when erect.

Race, relationship status, smoking, and diabetes were found to have no impact on how much the men’s penises grew when erect, and the researchers found that men over 55 were more likely to be showers (again, meaning a smaller amount of growth) than growers.

It’s thought that this is due to older males having higher levels of inflammation in their bodies, meaning reduced blood flow and tissue elasticity.

The size of a man’s flaccid penis doesn’t impact his average growth when erect, either, but growers tend to have larger erections than showers.

Growers had an average erect length of 6.1 inches, while showers had an average erect length of 5.1 inches.

We still don’t know what causes someone to be a grower rather than a shower, so that particular mystery rages on.

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People share their experiences of living with dyspraxia

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

Developmental co-ordination disorder, commonly known as dyspraxia, is a condition that affects movement and co-ordination.

While dyspraxia does not affect intelligence, it can make daily life difficult.

According to the NHS, it can affect co-ordination skills – such as tasks requiring balance, playing sports or learning to drive a car – and fine motor skills, such as writing or using small objects.

If you have dyspraxia, you may have problems in the following areas: co-ordination, balance and movement, learning new skills, day-to-day living skills such as cooking meals or dressing, social situations, dealing with your emotions and being organised.

Dyspraxia is often diagnosed in childhood, but some people are undiagnosed until they reach adulthood. Boys are more likely to be diagnosed with dyspraxia than girls. It can run in families and it is thought that you are at a higher risk of developing it if you were born prematurely.

Unfortunately dyspraxia is often a poorly understood condition, and sufferers can feel isolated.

People with dyspraxia may also have other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, dyslexia or autism spectrum disorder.

Here, people share how dyspraxia affects their daily lives.

Jessica, 23

‘I was diagnosed with dyspraxia in Year 2 of primary school.

‘One of my teachers noticed I would spell a four-letter word four different ways in an essay but could spell ‘diplodocus’ right every time.

‘My parents took me to get diagnosed. Academically I wasn’t doing poorly so the school wouldn’t have got me tested.

‘I found things like catching balls in P.E. hard and just things such as taking directions literally. So when the swimming teacher said ‘put your nose to the bottom of the pool’ I would dive down and actually touch it to the bottom of the pool.

‘It isn’t something which I really notice now, being a bit clumsy and mixing things up is just part of me.

‘Some things just take longer to learn, but it has never meant that I couldn’t do anything.’

Kitt, 38

‘I was diagnosed when I was 26.

‘I’m always covered in bruises as I constantly walk into things. I often fall over and trip down the stairs.

‘Journeys on foot can be doubled due to the fact that I only cross roads at crossings. I can’t judge distances so I can’t tell when it’s safe to cross by myself.

‘I’ve also accidentally grabbed people’s breasts or head butted them when going in for a handshake.

‘I sometimes feel overwhelmed by positional information to the point where I just have to sit down and close my eyes.

‘I’m very slow with tasks involving both gross and fine motor skills but if I allow myself time then I have found that I’m able to develop some surprisingly precise skills – I am a paper cut artist making some very intricate hand cut work.

‘It’s all been about understanding that I need time to do some tasks and discovering that when I’m able to have that time, I can actually achieve great things.’

Lynn, 56

‘I was a case co-ordinator in a housing association working with young people. I was asked to be mobile

‘They asked me to consider buying and using a [motor] scooter. I knew I’d been unable to stay on a scooter and would surely kill myself or someone else on the roads.

‘Having to be mobile put stress on me and I contacted The Dyspraxia Foundation who were incredibly supportive, they encouraged me to go to my doctor for a diagnosis but they would not diagnose because it was an employment issue. I would have to get a private diagnosis.

‘Thankfully work requirements changed and we were then required to be positioned on sites and not to move around, [so] the mobile option in my contract was changed.

‘On a day to day basis, dyspraxia doesn’t affect my organisational skills but I do find negotiating left and right a problem, and using public transport in that my balance can sometimes feel a bit off and it’s difficult getting on and off.

‘Work opportunities can be limited due to the fact that I can’t drive and obviously harder to reach places can be a challenge.

‘The Dyspraxia Foundation encouraged me to focus on my positive skills – being creative, persistent, thinking outside the box, caring for others, and getting things done. I kind of knew a long time ago that I was making the most of these, but it felt good to put it all in perspective.’

Rachida, 30

‘I was diagnosed with dyspraxia when I was 17.

‘I’d always excelled academically, and although I had (and still do have) rather terrible handwriting, that was really the only issue.

‘One of my teachers took me to one side and asked why I had failed to write enough in a timed essay.

‘I replied that I just hadn’t had enough time to get everything out of my head on to the paper, and that I fully understood the task, and knew exactly what to write.

‘I told my mum, who decided that something wasn’t adding up.

‘We contacted an educational psychologist, who tested me for various conditions and he finally told us that I have dyspraxia.

‘After hours of researching, everything started to fit into place – the handwriting, the clumsiness, my rather amusing walk, the feeling of being overwhelmed, and I felt comforted that I could get support for things that I’d spent years dealing with.

‘I’m a writer by profession and I also run a PR & marketing agency, so dyspraxia hasn’t held me back at all. However, I do have to be very organised and make sure I keep on top of things.

‘I am always bumping into things, smashing glasses, dropping drinks, and bruising myself because I can’t judge my distance. In fact, I had around 250 driving lessons, and finally passed on attempt number five.

‘Having dyspraxia certainly can make things harder, but because it’s not as widely known or understood as dyslexia for example, people often don’t see it as a real condition – because they can’t see it, or because it’s funny when someone is accident-prone.

‘There really needs to be more awareness.  It also absolutely does not need to hold you back from striving for your dreams, it’s a small part of you.’

Carly, 29

‘The main problem I have is clumsiness and this affects pretty much everything I do.

‘When I’m washing up for example, I don’t lift the plates high enough and I knock them together on the draining board.

‘I walk into things a lot, and doing make up is another thing I find quite difficult. I also find wearing heels hard because I feel self-conscious when I’m walking in them. It all used to affect me a lot, especially when I didn’t know what it was.

‘I’m more used to it now so I know why I’m always covered in bruises (from the doors and frames I walk into) and when I wash up I make sure I just pick the plates up higher.

‘I have just learnt to live with it rather then fight against it.’

Visit The Dyspraxia Foundation for more information on dyspraxia in children and adults.

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Beautiful photo series shows women breastfeeding around the world


New York-based photographer Tina Boyadjieva has created a gorgeous collection of photos that shows women feeding their babies in different countries across the globe.

Commissioned by Lansinoh for World Breastfeeding Week, the photo series seeks to normalise the natural process of breastfeeding.

Boyadjieva travelled to 19 countries including Sri Lanka, Uganda, Peru and Argentina, to photograph nursing mothers from different backgrounds and ethnicities and talk to them about their experiences of breastfeeding.

Her purpose was to show that no matter where you are in the world, feeding a baby from your breast is a ‘universal’ experience.

(Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)

In the UK, despite the 2010 Equalities Act making it illegal to ask a woman to stop breastfeeding in public, a government study found that although 72% of the British public outwardly support public breastfeeding, over half of nursing mums will cover up and and 34% feel embarrassed and uncomfortable about feeding in public spaces.

The benefits of breastfeeding according to the NHS:

  • Breast milk is perfectly designed for babies.
  • Breast milk protects babies from infections and diseases, such as leukaemia and sudden infant death syndrome.
  • It provides health benefits for the feeding mother, including lowering the risk of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoperosis, cardiovascular disease and obesity.
  • Breast milk is available for the baby whenever they need it.
  • The act of breastfeeding can build a strong emotional bond between mother and child.

Michelle Lyne, Professional Education Advisor at The Royal College of Midwives, said: ‘Evidence clearly shows that breastfeeding in line with WHO guidance brings optimum benefits for the health of both mother and baby. The RCM believes that breastfeeding also has a positive impact on mother-baby relationships and nurturing of maternal and infant mental health.

‘For women who choose to breastfeed it is so important that they feel supported not only by midwives, but by their family and friends too. Women should not feel guilty or embarrassed about breastfeeding in public and as a society we must continue to develop a culture of positive support for women who wish to breastfeed.’

World Breastfeeding Week will be taking place from August 1st to August 7th and this year’s slogan is ‘Foundation of Life’.

According to the World Alliance for Breastfeeding action, this is because in a world ‘filled with inequality, crises and poverty, breastfeeding is the foundation of lifelong good health for babies and mothers’.


Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Silvina, from Argentina, said: ‘I breastfed my eldest 15 years ago and now am breastfeeding my one-year-old.’ (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)


The United Kingdom

Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Sophia, from the UK, said: ‘We had some difficulties during the first couple of weeks. He’s now 5 months old and we both really enjoy it’. (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)



Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Suyia from Kenya told Tina: ‘My baby is two years old’ (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)



Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Gulsah lives close to the Bulgarian border with her parents (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)



Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Cecilia says: ‘All of this is new and different. As an expat, I’m learning it all at once – the culture, the language, the nuance. Right now, it feels like home’ (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)

North America

Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Daria from New York said: ‘She is my first child. As a medical professional and a mother I believe breastfeeding is important for health and bonding. I think society, in general, should be more supportive and accepting to mothers’ (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)



Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Leandra and her baby in a popular alley covered in socio-political street art (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)



Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
According to Hilda, breastfeeding provides a wonderful connection. She said: ‘I love the connection. I also think it is the way a baby really gets to know her mom both emotionally and even physically — through her senses’. (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)



Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Sylvia was photographed in her kitchen, an important space for women in communities with no electricity or running water (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)



Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Juma breastfeeds her baby in a colourful street (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)



Mothers around the globe have posed for a touching series of photos while breastfeeding their children, in a bid to normalize the practice by showing what it looks like in different corners of the world. Photographer Tina Boyadjieva, who is based in New York City, traveled to 19 different countries, including Sri Lanka, Israel, Argentina, and Germany, to take snaps of mothers and their little ones.
Maryluz, from Peru, says that breastfeeding is now ‘a part of [her] everyday life’ (Picture: Tina Boyadjieva)

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Cultural-appropriation of food is not OK so I won’t be watching Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JULY 25: Gordon Ramsay speaks onstage during the National Geographic portion of the Summer 2018 TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotelon July 25, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
(Picture: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

The last few weeks have been a rollercoaster for those of us crying out for more diversity in the food industry and food programming on TV.

First, there was the bolt-out-of-the-blue passing of Anthony Bourdain – a man whose death triggered a massive outpouring of grief from people of different ages and backgrounds around the world.

One reason was that, unlike many other white male chefs, Bourdain didn’t just bluster into a foreign country and act like he knew best. He didn’t patronise or exoticise. He allowed different cultures and cuisines to speak for themselves.

And he did it mesmerisingly, in his own inimitable style.

Then, more recently, we mourned the untimely passing of Jonathan Gold, the exquisitely talented, much-loved restaurant critic of the Los Angeles Times.

Gold had encouraged locals in his city to look beyond their meat-free burgers and farm-to-table dinners, and go searching for chicken feet in hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurants and lentil doughnuts in mom-and-pop South Indian breakfast joints.

Bookended by these two events was the distressing case, in London, of racist social media activity by a chef at the critically acclaimed Thai restaurant Som Saa.

What these events did, collectively, was put the words ‘cultural appropriation’ back on the table.

This oft-used term is frequently misunderstood and misused. For the record, it isn’t to do with cooking the food of a culture other than one’s own – it’s about cooking it without understanding and respect, and then profiting from it.

So when Eater broke the news about Gordon Ramsay’s upcoming TV show on Twitter last week, no wonder it triggered a social media storm.

of 'Mars' speaks onstage during the National Geographic portion of the Summer 2018 TCA Press Tour at The Beverly Hilton Hotelon July 25, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California
(Picture: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

According to the press release, National Geographic’s Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted, scheduled to air next year, promises ‘three key ingredients: unlocking a culture’s culinary secrets through exploration and adventure with local food heroes; tracking down high-octane traditions, pastimes and customs that are specific to the region in hopes of discovering the undiscovered; and, finally, testing Ramsay against the locals, pitting his own interpretations of regional dishes against the tried-and-true classics.’

Let’s look at all three elements.

The first two are about a sweary, loud-mouthed chef with little understanding of a country’s cuisine, traipsing around with a camera crew, ‘discovering’ their centuries-old ‘culinary secrets’, traditions and customs.

And let’s not forget the bit about ‘local food heroes’ – but why not ask the said heroes to front their own TV show? Why does it take a white chef to ‘discover’ their cuisine and present it as if it were a spectator sport?

Let the experts speak about their own food, let them tell their own stories and please, let’s not turn this into entertainment to prod, poke and point a finger at.

The ‘undiscovered’ has remained undiscovered – to a foreign audience anyway – precisely because the so-called ‘natives’ have been given little opportunity to talk about it.

It’s the third part of the statement that’s had everyone riled though.

Once again, we have a white chef wading into the culinary waters of a country he has little understanding of and telling them how to cook their food better.

Haven’t we been here before? With Ramsay’s own Gordon’s Great Escape, and Rick Stein and the Hairy Bikers’ many jolly japes.

Yotam Ottolenghi, on the other hand, is the only UK chef that I can think of who’s handled other people’s cuisines with sensitivity. His Mediterranean Feast, for instance, was exemplary food TV.

It’s shocking that in the wake of Bourdain’s death, TV programmers – especially of the calibre of National Geographic – continue to commission this sort of arrogant, mind-bogglingly out-of-touch rubbish.

Instead, why not ask more people of colour to talk about their own cuisine?

We had Ken Hom and Madhur Jaffrey teaching us how to cook Chinese and Indian food back in the 1980s – and although there have been a few non-white cookery presenters since then, there’s not nearly enough, and nobody with that level of authority and depth.

Why haven’t we moved forward? What, then, is Bourdain’s legacy?

If, on the other hand, this is how ‘natives’ choose to reveal their ‘culinary secrets’, Gordon Ramsay: Uncharted could indeed be a highly entertaining watch.

National Geographic's statement:

In wake of the criticism, National Geographic issued a statement reading: ‘We are disappointed that the announcement of our upcoming series with Gordon Ramsay was taken out of context. With National Geographic’s storied history of exploration, our plan with this series is to celebrate and learn about local cultures around the world.

‘In partnering with Ramsay – a well-known adventure enthusiast – we are going to fully immerse viewers and give them a glimpse into surprising and unexpected cultures and local flavours. We have not gone into production on the series yet, so this perspective is premature. We’re looking forward to working with Ramsay, who’s been making food and travel documentaries for well over a decade, to share the series when it premieres sometime next year.’

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Lidl is now selling 5kg boxes of wonky fruit and veg for just £1.50

Lidl To Sell 5k 'Wonky Veg' Boxes Of Imperfect Veg For Just ?1.50 Lidl
(Picture: Lidl)

Lidl is following in Asda and Morrisons’ footsteps by selling slightly damaged fruit and veg at a discount.

The supermarket will now sell 5kg boxes of imperfect fruit and vegetables for £1.50 across 122 of its UK stores in a food waste reduction initiative.

Boxes will be sold from 8am to 10am this week, as part of the It’s Too Good to Waste trial.

Anything unsold will go straight to charity.

If the trial is successful, Lidl will consider rolling out the wonky fruit and veg box to all of its stores, which could save an estimated 10,000 tonnes of waste per year.

The store has already pledged to cut food waste per store by 25% by 2020, and their recently released figures show that average food waste per store has already fallen by 13.3%.

Christian Hartnagel, chief executive of Lidl UK, said: ‘Proportionately, we sell the most fruit & veg in the sector, but we know from our data that fresh produce is one of the biggest contributors to food waste in stores.’

Of course, Lidl isn’t the first store to launch the discount initiative – it’s following in the footsteps of Asda and Morrisons, which have launched similar products – though these supermarkets’ wonky veg boxes are double the price of Lidl’s at £3.50 and £3.

(Picture: Victor de Jesus/UNP)

Morrisons is continuing to try to cut down waste, as it’s just launched a wonky flowers range.

Morrisons is selling the bouquets due to the current hot weather and dry conditions, which have stopped some flowers developing properly.

Usually, the store would just chuck them out but now they’re trying to put them to good use, by selling bouquets of the misshapen flowers for £3 – £2 less than a regular bouquet.

The first wonky bouquet will be made up of British sunflowers and statice with shorter stems because of the lack of rain.

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Doggy hot meal kits are going to be a thing

(Picture: Getty/YaDoggie)

If you’re a dog owner, you might have wondered whether your precious pup ever gets bored of the biscuits in their bowl.

Seeing as most dogs scarf their dry food down without a moment’s hesitation, the answer is probably not.

However, if you’re a particularly extra dog person and you want to give your canine companion the gourmet dinner you think they’ve always dreamed of, YaDoggie’s Fresh Food Meal Kit might be the answer.

Billed as a ‘fun, simple way to cook healthy, human-grade food for your doggie’, the meal kits come in two flavours (salmon and turkey) and can be heated up in slow cookers or multicookers like the Instant Pot.

The YaDoggie meal kits promise to be so high-quality that you could eat your dog’s food (if you were so inclined) and claim to improve weight management and digestion, increase appetite and energy levels, and give your dog a glossier coat.

The hot meal kits are still at the Indiegogo crowdfunding stage, and there’s a month to go before YaDoggie needs to reach its target of $30,000 (around £23,000).

What goes into each kit certainly looks fancy, with ingredients like brown rice, walnut oil, sesame oil and kale.

Is YaDoggie going to create a generation of hipster pups?

Pet owners who subscribe will have the meal kits delivered to their doors, and can either feed their dogs exclusively on the new products or offer a mixture of dry food and meal kits.

If you pledge $45 (£34.60), you can claim two packs of the fresh dog food, a packet of dog jerky and some InstantPot accessories including a sealing sing, silicone lid and ceramic inner pot.

Pampered doggos need their kale, sweet potato and wild Atlantic salmon dinners!

You can find the crowdfunding page for YaDoggie’s fresh food kits here.

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Grandma says she’s saved thousands by renovating her dream home with leftover scaffolding boards

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: CAROLYNE KING AT WORK HELPING RENOVATE HER DREAM HOME WHERE SHE USED HER HUSBAND'S OLD SCAFFOLDING BOARDS AS DECOR) This innovative grandma saved herself thousands on renovating their 'dream home' - by decorating it with her hubby's old SCAFFOLDING BOARDS instead. Carolyne King, 54, never thought the damaged old boards that husband Roger kept bringing home from work and piling in the yard of their Bristol home would ever be of any use. The grandmother-of-four thought they looked a mess until one day the idea hit her that they might look nice sanded down and whitewashed as her bathroom window sill. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 660 8596
(Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

A very wise grandma saved herself thousands of pounds by renovating her dream home with old scaffolding boards.

Carolyne King, 54, never thought the damaged old boards her husband Roger kept bringing home from work would ever be any use.

Then she came up with an idea: Those boards could look lovely sanded down and painted white as a bathroom windowsill.

The results were so impressive that Carolyne decided to use the scrap timber to re-do her entire bathroom. She then used scaffolding boards all over the house, even building an airing cupboard and creating storage under the stairs.

The boards were mostly used for decoration purposes, but also to create storage in the kitchen and living areas.

The couple bought the two bedroom bungalow for £435,000, but now think it’ll be worth lots more after being transformed into a four-bedroom dream home.

The house now has two floors – yes, Carolyne built a new storey – four bedrooms, four bathrooms plus an outside bathroom. Those bits weren’t done with scaffolding boards, obviously.

The transformation took three years in total, with a large part carried out by Carolyne, a retired painter and decorator, who spent hours every day building the new storey and using the scaffolding boards for decoration.

Carolyne reckons she’s saved thousands by using leftover wood and doing it all herself instead of calling in a professional to renovate the two-bedroom home.

And it looks pretty snazzy, too.

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: CAROLYNE KING'S BATHROOM BEFORE SHE USED HER HUSBAND'S OLD SCAFFOLDING BOARDS TO RENOVATE IT) This innovative grandma saved herself thousands on renovating their 'dream home' - by decorating it with her hubby's old SCAFFOLDING BOARDS instead. Carolyne King, 54, never thought the damaged old boards that husband Roger kept bringing home from work and piling in the yard of their Bristol home would ever be of any use. The grandmother-of-four thought they looked a mess until one day the idea hit her that they might look nice sanded down and whitewashed as her bathroom window sill. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 660 8596
The bathroom before. (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)
PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: CAROLYNE KING'S BATHROOM AFTER SHE USED HER HUSBAND'S OLD SCAFFOLDING BOARDS TO RENOVATE IT) This innovative grandma saved herself thousands on renovating their 'dream home' - by decorating it with her hubby's old SCAFFOLDING BOARDS instead. Carolyne King, 54, never thought the damaged old boards that husband Roger kept bringing home from work and piling in the yard of their Bristol home would ever be of any use. The grandmother-of-four thought they looked a mess until one day the idea hit her that they might look nice sanded down and whitewashed as her bathroom window sill. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 660 8596
The bathroom after. (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

Carolyne, from Frampton Cotterell, Bristol, said: ‘I know we would have saved thousands [by using the boards].

‘It’s taken a long time but when you compare the before and now, it’s amazing.

‘Everybody who comes in here, friends and anybody that visits for any reason, they’re like ‘oh my god, it’s like out of a magazine’.

‘I love it. It does look good, even if I say so myself. I’m really pleased with it.

‘It’s a long story. We bought a rundown bungalow four years ago, and moved in last year. Every time we wanted to do something it was more money, more money.

‘We were on a budget and we wanted to move in and finish it. We were buying so much and it was so expensive.

‘The boards came from my husband’s yard. Basically some that were damaged that they can’t used for health and safety reasons he brought them home.

PIC FROM Kennedy News and Media (PICTURED: CAROLYNE KING'S LIVING ROOM AFTER SHE USED HER HUSBAND'S OLD SCAFFOLDING BOARDS TO RENOVATE THE FLOOR) This innovative grandma saved herself thousands on renovating their 'dream home' - by decorating it with her hubby's old SCAFFOLDING BOARDS instead. Carolyne King, 54, never thought the damaged old boards that husband Roger kept bringing home from work and piling in the yard of their Bristol home would ever be of any use. The grandmother-of-four thought they looked a mess until one day the idea hit her that they might look nice sanded down and whitewashed as her bathroom window sill. SEE KENNEDY NEWS COPY - 0161 660 8596
The living room after Carolyne’s renovations. (Picture: Kennedy News and Media)

‘Between myself and the odd job man we said why don’t we use some boards for the window sill.

‘The boards were filthy. I had to sand them down, whitewash them and varnish them all up. They looked so good whitewashed we decided to do the whole bathroom in them.

‘I don’t know what kind of wood it is – whatever they use for scaffolding boards. But they are very worn and very old, so again it gives it that real rustic look.

‘It’s not everybody’s taste. A lot of people like modern [styles], but I’m not a modern person. I like the rustic-y worn out look.

‘Obviously we had the boards free as they were old boards and my hubby owns the company.

‘I can’t really put a price on how much we saved as we used so many and did the majority of the renovation ourselves, which was really hard work.

‘He’s not very pleased we haven’t got many boards left.

‘I can’t believe the amount of people that actually like it and were saying how fabulous it was.

‘It was derelict before. We look at it now and see the garden we look at it and think it’s all come together so well.

‘It’s our dream house because we built it exactly how we wanted it. It’s everything we want.’

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International Beer Day: Two London bars are giving away free pints of beer this evening

people, men, leisure, friendship and celebration concept - happy male friends drinking beer and clinking glasses at bar or pub
(Picture: Getty)

Attention, Londoners: You can get free beer tonight.

We repeat, you can get FREE beer tonight.

Old Blue Last in Shoreditch, and the Sebright Arms in Hackney, are both giving away free beers to celebrate International Beer Day, which is today.

Both bars are giving away free pints from 6-8pm this evening, so if you haven’t got after work plans, you know what to do (or, if you do, you could, you know, always cancel them).

But FYI – you can’t just go into the bar and demand free beer.

To get one, you’ll have to download a print off a voucher and offer it to the bartender in exchange for your pint.

Oh – and one more thing. Don’t expect to get drunk on free beer (unless you’re a total light weight), because each voucher only entitles you to one pint. And you can only print off one voucher.

Don’t bother using all of your printer ink on multiple vouchers, because it won’t work.

To get your free beer, you can print off a voucher here.

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