This is a fascinating story of resilience. I’d never heard of Jack Monroe before – her story is inspiring on so many levels.
Although Jack Monroe has experienced tough times and severe trolling, she has found a way to turn extreme negativity into personal strength, while testing her professional abilities, and championing good food for bad days…
While many people across the UK were busy celebrating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics back in 2012, Jack Monroe was writing the essay that would mark the beginning of her career in the public eye. Hunger Hurts was an honest and heartbreaking depiction of a single, starving, and suicidal mum living in poverty, and explored the day-to-day struggle of keeping herself and her son fed and healthy, with very little means.
Jack’s words resonated with others finding themselves in a similar position, and during the eight years that have followed, she’s developed the popular budget recipe website Cooking on a Bootstrap, regularly speaks on poverty and austerity issues, and supports the Trussell Trust food bank charity. She’s now also in the process of writing her seventh cookery book, to sit alongside her other titles including Tin Can Cook, Vegan(ish), and A Girl Called Jack.
“I recently got to the point where I was being harassed and bullied quite badly, and I had to make a decision as to whether to involve the police and lawyers,” she reveals.
“I would get up in the morning and read everything mean that was being said about me, and use that as something to flagellate myself with, and prop up the negative thoughts I have about myself. It became a compulsion, I had to see what was being said.”
Jack made a conscious decision to delete all social media apps, and has replaced scrolling with exercise. “I hate exercise though!” she laughs. “I’m naturally a sloth-like person when I’m not bouncing around the kitchen. But now, instead of scrolling, I go on the rowing machine, or if I find myself thinking about mean things that have been said about me, I’ll literally stop and do 50 crunches, or go to lift some weights.
“It’s stopped me from going down a rabbit hole of negative self-talk, and burns off the rage. It releases endorphins, and distracts me.”
Jack says that as well as the mental benefits, it has changed her in other ways. “I’m physically fitter than I’ve been at any time in my life. I’ve literally taken that external negative talk, and turned it into my own personal strength.”
‘Good Food For Bad Days: What to Make When You’re Feeling Blue’ by Jack Monroe, with foreword by Matt Haig (Bluebird, £7.99)