There are times that being a woman is really, really hard.

When you’ve got period pains in a big meeting, for example, and all you want to do is go foetal, each mention of the word ‘sales’ another slow, silent stab into your womb. Or when you walk out of the house and realise you’re wearing tights that are just a little bit too roomy, and you have to spend the rest of the day trying to hoik them up (official term) without anyone noticing. At one point of the day, you’ll excuse yourself into a corridor and have to do a tights jiggle, bringing them well above your tummy button in the hope they’ll stay for the rest of the day. They never do.


There are other times that are hard, too. When you worry about things your male counterpart at work probably has never considered – your skirt length, how frizzy your hair is, whether you’re wearing the right shoes if you end up going to the pub after work, whether you should believe the latest Mail Online argument that dark chocolate and red wine are, in fact, good for you. Men have it easy with the concept of wearing a suit every day to work, they really do.


And, of course, there’s the added, very London pressure of ‘latest’. Keeping up with the latest – latest trends, latest fitness classes, latest ways to get your endorphin high. Keeping up on what’s in fashion in the health and fitness world, in particular, is a challenge. You’ve only just figured out how to make courgette spaghetti (although you don’t yet have the confidence to call it ‘courgetti’ in front of your girlfriends, just yet) and damn it, there’s a new trend, like putting zucchini in your oats (zoats?) and you’re miles behind. It’s hard to keep up, especially when the battle is between you and a vegetable aisle in Waitrose.


And all these things get an awful lot worse in the summer, when suddenly we’re bombarded with the concept of bikini looks, summer bodies (as if we don’t have bodies in the winter, too?) and the sudden desire to shed our skin like a snake because we know we’ve got to get our upper arms out in the pub garden.

I just want to say something. Real quick. And then I’ll be done.

The phrase ‘Eat Clean’ should be stripped from our vocabulary. Food is not dirty. It’s an emotionally-laden, damaging term, a bully, if you will, throwing its weight around in the playground telling you that your lunch isn’t worthy enough. Food is food. Small plates and large plates, starters and mains, the occasional Eton Mess, food is something to be celebrated, loved, adored. We need to reign in this obsession with the spiralizer, before things spiral out of control.


Balance is fine. It’s ok if you go for a run from time to time, and you go for a Pain Au Chocolat once in a while, too. These things aren’t going to kill you – in fact, they’re going to make you a brilliant, varied, diverse person, who has a sense of balance and appreciates the finer things in life, like butter, chocolate and flaky pastry. I know it can seem like, from Instagram, the people you idolise don’t live this way. But be careful that you don’t miss out of real life while you’re finding the perfect filter for your bee pollen adorned smoothie.

As the more sensitive sex, women must be careful with the way we talk about health, lest it becomes unhealthy. It’s a dangerous time for health trends – you can lose hours pouring over Instagram looking at everyone else’s Downward Dog, gym session and morning smoothies – and those hours can turn into an obsession with health and purity, also known as Orthorexia. It’s our duty as women to look after each other, to support each other’s decisions and to allow us, also, room to breathe. Take comfort, from the fact that not all women look like supermodels in Lulu Lemon, and real women eat, too.


So in the spirit of supporting each other, this week at  About Time we are running a #TakeComfort week. Expect a comfort food-inspired week of editorial, everything from London’s best banana bread to fantastic Sourdough dishes. #TakeComfort in each other, in joy, in carbs, and stop freaking out if you’re not clean enough. #TakeComfort in the fact that it’s OK if you’re not a Size 8 gym bunny. And if you are, well done, but take it the fuck off Instagram, OK?

Join the debate @abouttimemag #TakeComfort by tweeting your favourite comfort food dish