The Gilmore Girls are stocking up for a film night. On their shopping list: Red Vines, marshmallows, jelly beans, cookie dough, chocolate kisses and peanut butter.
“We are going to be so sick. It’s amazing that we still function,” says Rory as she and Lorelai fill up their basket at Doose’s. And yet, they still find room for takeaway pizza. It’s a phenomenon. (“It’s a lifestyle. It’s a religion.”)
With Netflix’s revival Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life about to plunge us all back into the world of Stars Hollow, where mother and daughter continue to exist on the kind of diet that would make Jamie Oliver weep, I thought it was about time to try… the Gilmore Girls diet.
For one thing, as a Brit, I was curious about all the enticing American snacks they eat. For another, I was morbidly curious about what it would do to my health. And, above all, I’ve always wanted to be a Gilmore Girl – could this bring me one step closer?
I begin my diet on a Saturday, so I can build up to Friday Night Dinner as the grand finale. An apple a day helps you work, rest and play, but everyone knows that Lorelai doesn’t eat apples unless she’s pregnant (and, dear readers, to the best of my knowledge I am not with child).
So it is goodbye to the fruit bowl and hello to Twinkies, marshmallows and instant macaroni cheese.
First step: coffee. Lorelai is on her sixth cup of the day when we meet her in the first episode of season one, so it’s fair to say coffee is so important to the Gilmore Girls that it’s almost a character in itself.
The first kink in my diet plan is that I hate coffee. But I am nothing if not dedicated, so I wince my way through a mugful.
Next up: pop tarts. Lorelai describes her first pop tart as a transcendent experience: “I opened the little silver wrapper, and I took a bite, and I thought nothing had ever tasted so good. I thought it tasted like freedom. It tasted like I was my own person. The pop-tart tasted like freedom and rebellion and independence.”
So do they taste of freedom? Well… my first pop tart tastes like a very sweet strawberry-flavoured mince pie. It’s not quite the same but i can live with that.
Next up in my voyage of discovery through the junk food of America is instant macaroni cheese. I’m actually quite excited about this one because I LOVE macaroni cheese. I totally identify with Paris Gellar’s excited “hay MUCHO mac and cheese!”
But it’s a shock to see how ORANGE the cheese mix is. It’s almost glowing. Once the pasta’s cooked, you add milk and butter along with the Donald Trump-coloured contents of the packet and serve.
This is a visual representation of my thoughts on this meal.
Dinner: Leftover Indian takeaway. Lorelai would surely approve.
I start off with eggs, toast, bacon and mushrooms, which feels a bit too “full English” and not enough “American diner” for this diet, so I have a second breakfast of pop tarts and coffee.
I decide to redeem myself by going for an ultra-American snack: the twinkie. It’s sponge cake filled with chocolate – what could go wrong?
Everything. EVERYTHING can go wrong. This snack is not food. It tastes of chemicals. There are 13 E-numbers. The filling bears not even a passing resemblance to chocolate. What the hell, America? This is what you like?
To see how other Brits react to this “food”, over the next few days I dole out twinkies to unsuspecting friends and colleagues. A cross-section of responses:
“Oh dear lord”
“Do I have to finish this?”
“I don’t think I can swallow this”
Discouraged, I turn to a staple of the Gilmore diet that I know and love: pizza. I can totally see why this is one of Rory and Lorelai’s main food groups, and why Emily and Richard are so impressed when their granddaughter heats them up a frozen pizza when they are left without a maid.
With a side of crisps and cookie dough ice cream to follow, I am living the Gilmore dream.
At this point I decide to pull out the scales and see how I’m doing. It’s quite a shock. I cannot possibly have put on 2.5 kg (5.5 lb) in less than two days?! Turns out the scales are broken (panic over).
A novel excuse for being late to work on Monday: I’m scouring the shops for a cherry Danish.
It seems British supermarkets don’t really do cherry Danishes. Vanilla Danish it is! With coffee. I have a pop tart, and another coffee. And another coffee.
How do Rory and Lorelai do it? Why don’t they have to pee all the time? Do they have perpetual coffee breath? How much is their coffee budget? These are some of the questions that go through my caffeinated brain, which is annoying because I’m trying to focus and… my heart rate is all over the place. I guess you have to ease into the Gilmore lifestyle gently?
I may have had a giant burrito for lunch that almost sent me into a food coma, but when my boyfriend asks what I want for dinner, there’s only one appropriate response: tacos.
I got ya, Rory. I got ya.
By this point I am feeling oh so sluggish. My face has attained a sheen of oil when I wake up in the morning. My teenage back-ne is back. Oh to have that freakishly clear Gilmore complexion.
Donut and a pop tart for breakfast, sandwich lunch, meatloaf dinner. I’m saving myself for a big day tomorrow.
Today’s the day everything gets meta: along with my Lane Kim stand-in, I have planned an evening of watching Gilmore Girls while eating like a Gilmore Girl.
First: copious amounts of Chinese food from my local takeaway. They’re no Al’s Pancake World – after all, they only serve one kind of international cuisine – but they do deliver a feast.
After stuffing ourselves, we look dubiously at the piles of junk food arranged in front of the TV. Where have our appetites gone?
And yet, half an hour later we are mid-way through I Jump, You Jump Jack, surrounded by empty wrappers, feeling sick yet content. This is the best bit of the Gilmore Girls diet so far.
At the end of the evening, my mum and I also find ourselves sitting across from each other surrounded by ice cream and takeout boxes.
Remind you of anyone?
I am stumbling across one problem: eating like a Gilmore is crazily pricey. As Rory says in season one: “It’s expensive to slowly rot your insides, isn’t it?”
So instead of going out for a burger (a Gilmore Girls diet must-have meal), it’s time to take matters into my own hands. I must become Luke, make a burger, and then transform back into Lorelai to eat it.
I try to serve myself/Lorelai dinner with a surly attitude, but it’s hard to keep a straight face when you’re two different people at once.
Lorelai may dread Friday Night Dinners, but I sure am looking forward to eating something that is not slowly clogging my arteries and setting me up for Type 2 diabetes. I wake up feeling sick and I arrive at work feeling sick and so, so tired. Still, there’s time for one last meal of enchiladas.
And then it’s Friday Night Dinner. Maybe it’s the Martini speaking, but: SALAD. I love salad. Salad is my best friend. Particularly this salad, which is the first green thing to pass my lips in a week. Dean may have joked that salad is “a quaint dish sometimes used to precede large quantities of pizza,” but I’m very glad this salad is followed by roast chicken, potatoes and veg. It’s glorious.
Would I recommend this diet?
Now, I’m not the healthiest person in the world. I can’t remember the last time I consciously exercised. I ate half a bag of Maltesers for breakfast this morning, and I rarely get my five a day. But the Gilmore Girls are on another level. If you look at their diet, they should be more prone to scurvy than a 17th century sailor.
Some critics have argued that it could be damaging for viewers to see these two characters eat unholy amounts of food while remaining stick thin, and that it sets an impossible standard. (Side note, I don’t think I’ve gained any weight – though my scale begs to differ.)
But I have always admired the Gilmore Girls and their approach to food: when people around me were saying “Oh I shouldn’t eat that” and calling cake a “guilty pleasure”, it was wonderful to grow up watching a series where the female characters so unapologetically loved food – not as a way to impress men, but because food is great.
Still, as I devour my salad and veg, I know this diet is not for me, and it’s probably not for you either, unless you want to reduce your life expectancy by several years.
I have, however, learned several very important things:
- Twinkies are awful.
- Instant macaroni cheese is pretty instant, but doesn’t taste like cheese.
- You need green things in your diet or you feel terrible.
- The best way to watch TV is with someone else, while consuming your body weight in takeaway and snacks.
- It’s quite fun to flip burgers while in character as Luke Danes.
- Coffee: actually tastes okay. Lorelai may have a point on this one.
Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life will be released on Netflix on 25th November