Adventures in Self-Love: Your Diet Can Be an Act of Self-Love

RIOT CUPCAKE 700pxI was originally going to call this post “Your Diet Should Be an Act of Self-Love.” But let’s ditch the ‘shoulds,’ shall we? They don’t promote a very loving way of thinking. Instead I’m going to talk about how we can feed ourselves self-love and why what we eat plays a vital role in the relationship we forge with our sweet selves.

The way we eat says a lot about how we feel about ourselves. It’s no wonder that many of us have a complicated relationship with food. We’re inundated with advertisements depicting impossible bodies and being told that the only way to obtain our “dream bodies” (read: the body society thinks we should have) is to get on this restrictive diet or partake in that obsessive fitness fad. We see  the ‘it girl’ on our favourite TV show gorging on hamburgers and pizza while staying supermodel thin and we think there’s something wrong with us when our body doesn’t react the same way.

But the truth is, most of us know how to live healthily: eat sensibly and exercise regularly. Of course that will look different for each of us and just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it’s easy. But we’re never going to find the answers in crash diets or at the bottom of a bag of potato chips.

It turns out that self-love is at the root of a healthy diet. When we take better care of ourselves, we’re less likely to binge eat. It makes sense: they call it emotional eating for a reason and if our emotions are relatively balanced, we probably won’t engage in this kind of behaviour. But studies show that if we’re burnt out or not sleeping well, we’re more likely to reach for a bag of cookies to soothe our frazzled minds.

Does it work?

Of course not; we end up feeling sick and guilty. But it can feel like an impossible cycle to break.

2There’s a cyclical pattern between self-love, our emotional well-being, and the way we eat. How we feel effects what and how much we eat and in turn, what and how much we eat effects how we feel. It’s no exaggeration that we are what we eat. Food is fuel for our bodies and the building blocks for our cells, but it also effects us on a mental and emotional level. You might find that some foods cause you to feel vibrant and energized while others leave you sluggish and foggy. Or perhaps you haven’t made much of a connection between what you eat and how you feel, but I promise the more you tune into your body and pay attention to your diet, the more clear these connections become.

Most of us eat for many reasons other than sustaining our bodies. We eat for pleasure or comfort. We eat to celebrate or to grieve. We eat to numb ourselves or to savour a tantalizing flavour. There’s nothing inherently wrong with any of these reasons for eating, but it means that over time most of us have disconnected with our natural hunger. Becoming more mindful about what we eat can be as simple as slowing down, chewing thoroughly, and savouring each bite. There’s even a Mindfulness Diet and trying one of their mindfulness eating exercises is a great place to start.

I started to clean up the way I eat about six years ago. It hasn’t been a completely linear journey. I started by dabbling in healthy eating and have bounced from obsessively eating only clean foods to emotionally eating my way through a bag of crisps every night to a healthy balance and back and forth, back and forth.

I feel pretty comfortable with my current eating habits. For the most part I eat clean, whole foods. And when I don’t, I’ve made a conscious choice to, so I don’t feel guilty about it.

But rather than feeling restricted by a healthy diet, changing the way I eat has introduced me to so many new foods. My diet is much more diverse now and over time my palate has changed immensely. It’s hard to believe that the girl who once loathed any vegetable that wasn’t a carrot covered in ranch dip, now craves raw kale salads and scrambled tofu. But it’s true. Foods I used to love, especially candy, now taste artificial and sickeningly sweet. I still eat dessert, but now I generally prefer dark chocolate or a whole food, vegan recipe.

And when I do decide to indulge in a decadent slice of cake or over-the-top chocolate treat, I try to make sure it’s the best possible quality. I savour every bite and don’t make myself feel bad about it.

3Some people decide to give up certain unhealthy foods completely or to eat 100% clean all of the time. Other than being a vegetarian, I don’t tend to be that restrictive (anymore). But it’s all about figuring out the balance that works for you. Everyone’s different and no one knows your body as well as you do. See what feels good for you and remember that even if you decide to set some rules, they don’t have to be set in stone.

Here are some ideas for cultivating a more loving relationship with food:

heartFocus on adding things in, rather than subtracting. When I tell myself I can’t have something, I generally want it even more. Instead of denying yourself, think about what healthy additions you can make to your diet. Adding 2 litres of water, a green smoothie, and large salad to your daily routine will do wonders for the way you feel, but start with whatever feels comfortable. You might feel inspired to make more healthy changes and over time your cravings will start to change.

heartGo on an elimination diet. If you suspect you might have a food intolerance, experiment by not eating gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, fast food, or alcohol for 23 days. Mind Body Green offers a good primer on how to execute this.

heartKeep a food diary. Many of us are in denial about what and how much we’re eating. Those ‘occasional treats’ might not be so occasional. Keeping track of everything you eat and how you feel afterwards, even just for a few days, will help you get a better picture of what your diet really looks like and how it’s effecting you.

heartEat things you already like. Trying to eat healthier doesn’t mean you have to force yourself to eat kale if you hate it and you don’t need to stock up on every superfood on the planet. Focus on eating more of the healthy foods you already enjoy and add in new things when and if you feel like it.

heartChoose your treats wisely. Make them worth it. I used to mindlessly mow my way through milk chocolate candy bars, but now I much prefer a beautiful handmade dessert or a small piece of expensive dark chocolate. They’re more satisfying so I eat less of them and even though they’re not technically healthy, they’re made with real ingredients rather than a lot of processed garbage, so I don’t end up feeling ill after eating them.

heartWrite your food philosophy. Getting my thoughts down on paper is the easiest way for me to get clear on how I really feel about something so that I can tune out all of the garbage that my inner critic wants to throw at me. Write out a manifesto of everything you believe about food and eating and how you want that to manifest in your own life.

1heartReplace your “trigger foods” with a healthier alternative. I can’t be trusted around a bag of salt and vinegar chips. I either have to forgo them altogether or accept that I’ll eat the whole bag, which usually makes me feel ill. But kale chips and roasted chickpeas give me that crunchy, salty fix without the terrible gut pain.

heartPlan your meals. I don’t do this religiously, but when I find I’m slipping with my food choices, it’s the first thing I do to get back on track. Having a plan for the week makes it easy to stick with eating foods I love, that also love me back.

heartChange your thoughts. Often we rationalize eating unhealthy food choices by saying that we don’t have time for something healthier or we berate ourselves for having a treat. Try thinking about food differently. You could choose a mantra like, “Food is the fuel that helps me thrive.” And when you eat something less healthy, make it a conscious choice and tell yourself that it’s a pleasure you’re choosing, not something to feel guilty about.

heartClear out your cupboards. If there are foods you’re trying to avoid or you’re trying to makeover your diet, remove the temptation and make room for all of the awesome, delicious foods you do want to eat.

heartPrep on the weekends. If you have healthy meals and snacks on-hand throughout the week, it makes it a lot easier to stick to your guns rather than opting for frozen pizza or a bag of crisps day after day. I like carving out time on Sunday to make a big pot of something and a few snacks, like hummus or kale chips, so that they’re easy to grab when I’m busy or tired after work.

heartFall in love with food. Self-love is all about romancing yourself, but it’s easy for food to become habitual and for cooking new dishes to feel like a chore. Allow yourself to really enjoy food and create rituals around eating that make you feel good. Visit a weekly farmers’ market to buy your veg. Challenge yourself to try one new recipe each week. Take yourself on a date to a restaurant you’ve been meaning to try. Plan a dinner party and invite your favourite people. Try a vegetable you’ve never eaten before. Make food fun and take the time to really enjoy it.

And there are times on any self-love journey that we’re going to need to ask for help. If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to deal with it all on your own. And you shouldn’t have to! Confide in a friend. Enrol in counselling. But please, please, please don’t suffer in silence.

We’re all at different places on our self-love journeys and no two people are going to have the same relationship with food. If there are changes you want to make, just take a small step that feels good for you. Here are some more resources to help you get started.

Recommended reading:
Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr
Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan
The Anti-Diet by Rosie The Londoner

Homework (totally optional, of course): The ideas in this article are all things that have worked for me, but you might have other ideas. I’d love to hear them in the comments! Rather than pressuring yourself to change your diet and feel completely differently about food overnight, commit to one simple change. Choose one from the list above or make it something you’ve been meaning to do for ages. Think of it as an experiment. Try it out for 30 days and see how it feels. You can always give it up after if it doesn’t work for you. The more small changes you make, the more things start to snowball and pretty soon you might find that your relationship with food has completely changed.

What’s your relationship with food like right now? Are there any changes you’d like to make to your diet?

Love, superfood salads, & chocolate frosting,



Images via Tukru (you can buy this awesome illustration as a print or on t-shirts!) and New York Times Magazine.

London gives me rose-coloured glasses.

IMG_4353Today’s #RadicalSelfLove prompt is “Your City.” Even though I’ve lived in London for less than a year, I feel completely at home here. There’s something about this city that makes everything feel more possible and walking along her streets constantly inspires me to make the most out of life. Even when I’ve had a hard day, I feel so blessed to be living here and just wandering around London is enough to fill me up with an overwhelming sense of joy.

Yesterday, my gorgeous friend Soops and I decided to have a tourist moment and soak in the city while taking a stroll along the Thames to snap these photos. I hope I never lose the sense of wonder I feel when I see Big Ben looming around the corner or the giddiness that comes over me while watching red buses speed from one side of the river to the other. It was such a lovely evening, which we ended with mini bottles of Prosecco and a good natter in Victoria Embankment Gardens.

Here’s a look at what I wore…

2014-07-17-09-50-36_decocollage2014-07-17-01-25-25_decoIMG_44322014-07-17-01-07-28_deco (2)I’m wearing a black t-shirt (brand unknown), floral skirt c/o RareLondon, crystal necklaces c/o GalaxyRoxJewellery, Toxic Mermaid ring c/o GalaxyRoxJewellery, heart-shaped glasses c/o PunkyPins, a vintage belt, and Frye engineer boots.

Let’s talk about this skirt for a minute! When RareLondon offered to send me a piece from their collection I was instantly drawn to the technicoloured rose print on this midi-length pencil skirt. When it arrived in the mail I was really impressed with the quality and fit. RareLondon’s clothing are super affordable, so I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised. And when I debuted it yesterday, I received compliments from my co-workers, friends, and strangers on the street!

Although it’s quite a feminine piece, I liked giving it a more edgy look by styling it with my favourite boots and some sparkly accessories. But I think it could easily be paired with a nice blouse and heels for an evening cocktail date. Okay, let’s be honest, I wear motorcycle boots on cocktail dates. But still, versatility for the win!

What’s your favourite thing about your city? Do you love where you live or is your heart drawing you somewhere else?

Love, motorcycle boots, & starry-eyed daydreaming,



Photographs by Soops, check her out on Twitter and Instagram.

Being a Riot Grrrl in the 21st Century

kathleen2In May I went to a DocHouse screening of The Punk Singer and it’s now been released on iTunes and in select theatres across the UK.

Growing up as a punk rock kid who had Bikini Kill on regular rotation on my iPod, I was really looking forward to the film. But I had no idea just how gripping it would be. I left the cinema feeling completely inspired – to make more art; to find new ways to contribute to feminism; to never, ever shut up. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since.

The documentary by Sini Anderson focuses on the life of Kathleen Hanna – lead singer of Bikini Kill, Le Tigre, and now, the Julie Ruin. As the co-founder of the Riot Grrrl movement, she helped bring together punk and feminism and sparked an international movement of women raising their voices. From opening an art gallery when her art was rejected by the college she attended to recording an album in her bedroom,  she’s a woman who exudes the “do-it-yourself” ethos that Riot Grrrl was all about.

kathleen1Kathleen describes having a difficult upbringing being raised by a sadistic mother and a sexually abusive father. By the time she attended Evergreen Green State College in Olympia, Washington, feminism was already integral to the work that she was creating. She started performing spoken word because “she had things to say and no one had ever listened to me before,” but was advised that no one listens to spoken word and that she should start a band instead.

Throughout her life Kathleen has created for herself what society has denied her. When Evergreen decried her art too explicit for the college, her and her friends started an art gallery. When the mainstream media declared feminism “dead” Kathleen and her friends refused to accept this, because they were “feeling it”, “living it.” And they continued to live it – publishing zines, creating music, and designing clothing that demanded their voices be heard.

Formed with three of her college classmates, Bikini Kill became the voice for a generation of young, punk women who felt disenfranchised by society and by a subculture that seemed determined to shut them out because of their gender. Their lyrics were bold and brazen and as their front woman, Kathleen represented those feelings through her own aesthetic. She often danced on stage in her underwear or emblazoned her skin with Sharpie inscriptions of “incest” or “slut.”

kathleen3In response to the violence of the punk scene and the unwelcoming environment gigs often created for women, the band instituted a “girls to the front” policy. If women were being harassed or fights broke out, Kathleen would call the perpetrators out from the stage and encourage the audience to step in. Although violence still happened at their shows, they were taking control of the space and insisting that this kind of behaviour was not okay.

Kathleen stopped performing suddenly in 2005 after a gruelling tour with Le Tigre, stating that her heart was no longer in it and that she had said everything she needed to say. It wasn’t until the release of The Punk Singer that the real reason for her “retirement” became public: Kathleen was ill with a debilitating but undiagnosed illness. It would take five years before she had an answer: Kathleen has late-stage lime disease.

Even in the throes of her illness, her passion for creating music could not be quelled. It was during this time that she began writing a new album and the Julie Ruin was formed. And while she recently had to stop touring due to her illness, I have no doubt that the world hasn’t seen the last of this amazing woman.

riot-grrrlAlthough many have found fault with Kathleen’s particular brand of feminism, I think there’s still so much to be learned from the way she lives her life and from the riot grrrl movement as a whole.

Riot grrrls refuse to accept the status quo. They work to dismantle patriarchal bullshit and create new norms.

Riot grrrls raise their voices and speak out against injustice.

Riot grrrls support each other and lift one another up.

Riot grrrls embrace the fact that life is full of contradictions and they live theirs proudly.

Riot grrrls control their own narratives – even when someone’s talking smack about them.

Riot grrrls create their own culture and wear their politics on their clothing.

So whenever you’re feeling uncertain about how to be your most badass self, ask “What would Kathleen Hanna do?”

You better believe she’d follow her heart and make shit happen. Every. Damn. Time.

And check out The Punk Singer - it’s seriously inspiring!

Wild-eyed & full of love,




Images via Kat Asharya, Aaron RichterAlly Bailey, and Pat Graham.

Tattoo Talk: An Interview with Toni Moore

toni1Toni Moore, 28, Bristol, South West, Forever Bound (Private Studio)

I was initially drawn to the diversity of Toni’s work .Whether it’s a colourful Disney character, a realistic portrait, or a large blackwork piece, every tattoo she makes is artfully executed and beautiful. Today she’s sharing her own experiences as a tattooist and how she went from being an apprentice to opening her own studio earlier this year.

How long have you been tattooing?
Nearly 7 years

How old were you when got your first tattoo & what was it?
16, black and grey dragon on my back. which has since been laserd and covered.

Do you have a favourite tattoo of your own (ie. in your collection, not that you’ve tattooed)?
I love all of them for different reasons, although completeing my backpiece was a good time and one of my favourite tattoos due to the hard work that went into it. I originally had a large piece covering most of my back  (the dragon) which I had lasered and covered. Matt Diaf from the Jolie Rouge in London did an amazing job and I’m so happy with it.

toni3How did you get started in tattooing? What was the journey that brought you from there to here?
I got myself an old skool style apprentiship just after my 20th birthday, in a seaside town in North Devon. The studio was called 14tattooing. I worked my ass off for two years, properly starting at the bottom and learning how to run a studio and work reception.
Once I started tattooing I was offered a job at Modern Body Art in Birmingham and was lucky enough to work alongside one of my favourite artists, Jo Harrison. This was a really important time in my career and I got to work with and learn from some incredible artists.
I then traveld down to Bath, to be closer to home, where I worked for 4 years. I took a bit of time out and worked part-time in a studio called Imperial Tattoo with a great bunch of guys who were really supportive in what I wanted to do…..And earlier this year I decided to open my own shop in Bristol, which has been open for about a month and is where I am currently based.

Did you have an artistic background before you started tattooing?
Drawing has always been my thing, and the only thing I’m any good at.

How have your thoughts about tattoos and being tattooed changed over time (if at all)?
I love it even more now than I ever have. It’s hard work and consumes more of my time than I originally thought it would but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s my life.

toni2How would you describe your style of tattooing?
I don’t really feel that I have a style. I like to be able to do a little of everything. A lot of my favourite tattooists can put their hand to most styles and I love that. I really enjoy putting lots of detail into a piece – lots of tiny lines, layering colours, getting as much into a piece as I can. I also have a huge passion for lettering.

Who or what influences your work?
There are so many talented artists out there at the moment: Jeff Gogue, Victor Chil, Big Meas, and Jason Butcher are just a few. And I’m lucky enough to live in such a great city and be influenced by some incredible local artists, such at Chris Guest (Bristol) and Tom Bagshaw (Bath).

I’m really loving having my own shop too, with all my trinkets and treats on the walls to inspire me everyday.

Thank you so much, Toni! Your work is so wonderful and it’s so wonderful to hear how far you’ve come.

To see more of Toni’s beautiful tattoos, take a look at her portfolio and you can keep up with her most recent pieces on Instagram.

Love, gossamer wings, & butterfly kisses,

The Expat Diaries: Let’s talk about money.

IMG_4254It’s the thing I hear over and over again: “I’d love to move abroad, but I could never afford it.”

There’s no doubt that the beginning of any expat journey takes a significant infusion of cash, but I’m here to tell you it’s probably not the insurmountable amount you think it is.

Of course, depending on where you’re moving to and the class of visa you’re applying for, your costs will vary. You can easily get information about visa fees and cost of living with some quick Googling.

I’m living in England with a Youth Mobility Scheme visa, which only costs £180. Anything more long-term is inevitably going  to cost more.

One of the stipulations of this visa is that you have £1800 (around $3,300 Canadian) in savings before you apply. This is to make sure you can support yourself when you arrive and start looking for a job. But let me be clear: £1800 is not going to get you very far in London.

I saved up £2700 to have an extra buffer and was still surprised by how quickly it drained from my bank account. Finding a flat requires paying your first month’s rent + a month’s deposit and there are usually agency involved as well. Plus  you need to factor in transport, food, startup items like bedding and toiletries, plus a little extra so that you can actually enjoy the city you’ve moved to! And once you do get a job, it could be a few weeks before you see your first pay cheque. So my suggestion would be to sock away enough money for a couple of month’s, plus the deposit on your flat, if you can.

When you add it all up, it might seem like an impossible amount of money. Truth be told, I’d never accumulated that much money in my life and I wasn’t even sure I could do it.

But if you want this bad enough, you make the sacrifices and you figure it out. You get creative. You make it work.

IMG_4281I was lucky to be able to move back in with my mom rent-free. In truth, it was hard not to feel like I was taking a step back. I’d gone from having my own apartment in Toronto and than galavanting across Europe to living at my mom’s house in my hometown. But I remembered why I was doing it. Saving hundreds of dollars on rent every month meant that my savings kept growing steadily.

Moving home might not be an option for everyone. It might take you longer than the 10 months it took me to save up for your move.

But just start by figuring out how much you need to save and then work backwards to figure out how you’re going to get there. Are there expenses you can cut back on? Can you get an evening or weekend job for a few months? Do you own anything you can sell (you’re going to need to purge belongings before you move anyway)? Every day challenge yourself to think of new ways you can make or save money. Could you start selling your art? What if you gave up your daily Starbucks habit?

Commit to making it happen and you’ll figure out a way.

It was hard wiring my savings to my new English bank account and watching it get halved by the exchange rate.

I felt really tense about money when I first moved here. My job hunt was slow-going and I was in constant fear that I’d have to move home due to lack of funds before I found one. I was stressed about even making basic purchases, but also wanted to make the most of my time in London in case I didn’t have long.

But the money didn’t run out. Within a month I found a job with an organisation that I adore and since then I’ve been promoted twice! Which is another great reminder to lean into the uncertainty. Trust that it’s all going to work out. You’ll find a way.

Love, pink piggy panks, & silver dollars,

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