Melissa and Jasmine Hemsley are the sisters behind London-based food company Hemsley+Hemsley. They began in business by supplying nutritious, home-cooked food to a variety of clients all over the world. A blog for British Vogue followed, which was I first discovered them.
Finally, I thought, someone’s making sense about food, neither one extreme myth (eating raw is sustainable in an average working life) or the other (healthy food is boring and too expensive). Also, whether it be ‘the fashion body’-where you sustain your 13-year-old body with the breasts of a 17-year-old, ‘the porn body, ‘the Kardashian curves’, or the ‘disappearing actress’, our media culture reflects, fetishizes and puts our bodies into boxes and in the process encourages us to be reduced and defined by them. I’m not against ‘cleanses’ and juicing necessarily, but for many, this is a way to regain control, to force the ‘good’ food pendulum that just swung uncontrollably over to the dark side.
We all know what it’s like to feel fat, bloated, lethargic-even depressed from the effects of addictive ‘trigger foods’ like sugar, white flour, starchy, or processed food. This out-of-wack body state encourages more sugar/refined carbs craving so it’s understandable that we’d want to ‘do what the actresses do to get ‘red carpet ready’ – juice cleanse! Let’s get back to ‘good me’!
This is seen as ‘healthy’. But is it- and does the end-game ‘look the way you should’ and what underlying issue around food is temporarily avoided by abstinence? Is there a way to be satisfied with food without guilt or gaining weight?
Personally I don’t believe diets work. Losing weight quickly has little to nothing to do with your body getting to its own (not someone else’s) ideal weight, or maintaining that slimmer body- or you being happier for that matter. One ‘diet’ normally leads to another, and the yo-yo-ing plays havoc with your metabolism as your body gets resistant to fewer calories. This can make the idea of ‘food’ so powerful as the starved state can get preoccupied with ‘rewarding food’ (sugar/salt/fat produces dopamine in the brain, the ‘pleasure’ chemical). Plus it’s exhausting, it uses energy that could be used to actually enjoy living, it’s anti-social and can make you a pain in the arse to be around! But many of us haven’t been introduced to an alternative way of ‘being’ and doubt everyone’s conscious of any ‘guilt/reward/guilt’ process in action. It doesn’t help that our food advertisers collude in making this dysfunctional attitude to food ‘normal’. Yep, they know about that dopamine thing, and their products are loaded with the addictive salt/sugar/fat/combo. I think it’s safe to say, if it’s advertised, don’t eat it!
If food were defined by nutrition, rather than calories, then snack/convenience foods would not be classed as food at all. Such corporations are incredibly wealthy and can afford to buy the friendly advertising in between your favorite TV shows, sponsor movies-even sponsor sports events and this is the one that really gets me-buy their way into being the food provider of hospitals (what has caused many people to end up there in the first place-lifestyle) and schools. Start the ‘trust’ with these ‘foods’ early-Ronald is a sweet cartoon character who has also sponsored many childrens playgrounds.
My favourite food quote is from the brilliant author and ‘food & eating awareness’ activist Michael Pollen: “Eat food, not too much, mostly vegetables” (watch him nail it here in his talk ‘How cooking can change your life’ ) and although I’m not religious, the older I get the more I think there’s a lot to be said for the idea of ‘saying grace’ at the table, even simply as a conscious, personal thought.
I genuinely think we’d all be so much happier if we ignored the advertisers, celebrity diets and took a running jump away from anything titled ‘how to get the Victorias Secret Angels body’. Getting back to eating more mindfully, to enjoy and appreciate our food and our bodies, lead a life free of guilt rather than being on the Master Cleanse one minute and guilt-laden, trigger foods the healthy and happy and take food into a more functional and loving place.where it’s at. It may even make us slimmer, but the main point is to be
The Hemsley+Hemsley philosophy
“Melissa and I realized that despite loving to cook and eating ‘healthily’, we were still suffering from everyday ailments such as acid reflux, painful bloating, IBS, eczema, and being constantly exhausted from the stress of our jobs,” explained Jasmine. “We started to research and read everything we could get our hands on, but we couldn’t find just one ethos that we could live by. After many months of using ourselves as guinea pigs, we finally found a way to eat that made us feel vibrant, strong, and healthy.
So in 2010, the sisters started up their eponymous business supplying organic food to private clients. Recipes are free of grain, gluten, and refined sugar whilst encouraging the use of high-quality organic saturated fats, and the Hemsleys are keen to point out that they are “anti-diet, anti-deprivation and anti-guilt”.
“We offer a modern twist on a back-to-nature way of eating that has infinite health benefits for today’s over-worked, under-nourished generation,” they said. “We don’t believe in depriving ourselves of treats and successfully transform sweets and baking into something delicious without any of the nasty sugars and refined nutritionless flours.”