The war on body image – Sweet potato hash browns with spinach-scrambled eggs and charred asparagus

11733513_10153549174234758_728257806_n With a calm in the social media storm, I think it’s finally safe to speak about Protein World-gate. For those of you that have been hiding under a rock or are too cool to have let it bother you, I’m talking about the aggressively sexist body-shaming campaign that Protein World released asking London tubers if they were “Bikini Body ready” alongside a photo of a model with an impossibly perfect body.  The adverts triggered an enormous internet reaction of women protesting against being made to feel insecure. This resulted in a petition of over 70,000 signatures, #Everybody’sReady trending worldwide and series of vandalised adverts all with the same general message: None of us will ever look that perfect, now stop making us feel bad about ourselves. After the uproar caused from the bikini body ready advertisement it became clear that people are no longer willing to feed the media’s obsession with the perfect body. From Sophia Bush’s war on Urban Outfitters and Dove’s real beauty campaign  and even the creation of an obese Barbie, it seems that fat-shaming/fit-shaming is slowly becoming unacceptable. Even fad diets are becoming less popular, with a general shift away from diet foods towards natural, healthier meals.

The war on body image has been a long time coming. Only 5% of women naturally possess the “perfect bikini body” type portrayed in the media, so it’s unsurprising that around 92% of women dislike how they look. With so many men and women feeling pressured to look amazing, it could be that the psychological damage done is irreversible. One great way to feel more body confident is to exercise. You may think this is due to physical changes in how you look but actually the simple act of exercise and not fitness itself can boost your self-confidence, regardless of change in fitness or appearance. So exercising makes you feel better about your body even if you don’t see any change in how you look.

It’s really interesting that even though exercise may not directly help you to lose weight, it does indirectly help with weight loss psychologically. Exercise improves body image and make you feel more confident in your appearance. In turn, positive body image enhances effectiveness of weight loss programs based on diet and exercise. So the benefits of exercise on weight loss are actually more psychological than physiological! I

mportantly, it’s been shown that when we exercise simply for the purpose of losing weight, the psychological advantages tend to diminish. If you spend your whole work out counting calories or figuring our how much extra cake you’re allowed to eat you lose the enjoyment and confidence boost that comes with exercise the whole process. It requires a delicate balance of enjoying the benefits without becoming obsessed with losing weight or overtraining. Exercise should be primarily for pleasure with any physical improvements an added bonus, rather than the main motivation.

Of course that’s way easier said than done. With calorie counters on every machine  and the majority of workouts taglined with the promise of “a perfect body in only 12 weeks”, it’s hard to maintain the view that exercise is more about feeling good rather than looking good. One way around this is to exercise socially or as a fun activity rather than by yourself. Team sports or yoga with a friend can take the pressure of any weight loss goals and consequentially mean you’ll enjoy yourself a whole lot more. Alternatively, you could set yourself fitness goals so that you are working towards being stronger or faster, again removing the focus away from weight. All I know is that I’d prefer to run around playing frisbee in the garden than counting down the seconds and calories on a treadmill.

This recipe is really high in protein, so makes a great pre or post work-out meal. It’s much better and cheaper to eat natural protein, which gives us even more reason to boycott all things Protein World. We are all “bikini body ready”, now we just have to believe it!

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Sweet potato hash browns with spinach scrambled eggs and asparagus:

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 x sweet potato

1 egg

2 tablespoons plain flour

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cumin

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 punnet asparagus

1 courgette

1 handful spinach

4 eggs

almond milk

For the sauce:

1 cup Greek yoghurt

1 Teaspoon dijon mustard

1 Teaspoon tahini

1 Tablespoon pesto

1. Hash browns: Grate the sweet potatoes into a bowl and mix with egg, flour, cumin and paprika. Season well

2. Heat 1 tablespoon coconut oil on a pan. When the oil is hot enough, fry a large spoon the hash brown mixture and press into a patty shape. Flip after 3-4 mins. Take off when both sides are brown and crispy. Repeat until all the mixture is used.

3. Fry the asparagus and courgettes in coconut oil for around 5 mins or until slightly charred.

4. Mix the eggs with almond milk and season well. Heat the eggs in a saucepan, stirring frequently. When the eggs begin to cook add the spinach and continue to stir. Take off the heat until eggs are cooked to your liking and spinach is wilted.

5. For the sauce, simply stir the ingredients together in a bowl and season well.

6. To plate, place two hash browns in the centre and top with the eggs. Add a few asparagus and drizzle the sauce on top. Place the courgette slices around the side of the plate or serve in a bowl if you don’t want the faff!

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