“I can’t eat like that and look like her”

MICHEL: But I can’t eat like that and look like her. [gestures to Lorelai eating a rich omelette]

Michel surely speaks for most of the audience at this point: it drives many fans up the wall that Lorelai lives on sugary, fatty food and still looks amazing – thanks to the magic of television. In reality, Lauren Graham has reportedly been on a diet to stay slim since she was eleven years old (so if you want to look like Lorelai, start dieting at the beginning of puberty).

Sure it’s fiction, but sometimes people ask how Lorelai could eat such an unhealthy diet and remain slender in real life. The average person definitely wouldn’t, but here are some ways it might be possible, in any combination of factors:

1. Genes. Around 5% of the population are lucky enough to be genetically predisposed to remain slim no matter what they eat. Lorelai could be one of those fortunate few. These people tend to remain around the same size as adults as they did in high school, and Lorelai still wears clothes from when she was 17, so it seems possible.

2. Coffee. Lorelai drinks massive amounts of very strong coffee every day, and coffee is known to speed up the metabolism and suppress the appetite, leading to overall weight loss. Furthermore, it is a diuretic, so that coffee drinkers can keep off the “water weight” that doesn’t actually weigh much, but gives a bloated, puffy appearance.

3. She burns up all the excess calories. Although Lorelai rarely does any formal exercise, she walks a lot around Stars Hollow, and she is later said to have an extremely brisk natural walking pace. She is also a very busy, animated person who may be burning up excess calories through everyday physical movement without even thinking about it. This would also give her a reasonable level of very basic physical fitness – Lorelai seems to accomplish all her daily tasks with ease, and rarely seems tired.

4. Binge eating. Lorelai may binge on huge quantities of unhealthy food once or twice a month, but in between eat very little. To outsiders, it would look as as if she was eating 5000+ calories a day, but it could average out to as little as 1200 calories a day, and some days she might eat only eat 400-800 calories. Her fridge often seems to be empty, suggesting there’s a lack of food constantly at hand to tempt her. Those snacks that Sookie makes her at the inn, such as muffins and omelettes, could be all she eats on some days thanks to her appetite-suppressing coffee.

5. It’s all talk, no action. We constantly hear about Lorelai’s huge appetite, but we never actually see her eat anything much. She’ll sit down in front of a burger and fries, but be suddenly called away or storm off before she takes a bite. Or she and Rory will have a table filled with sugary snacks, then in the next scene the table will be cleared and the snacks are gone. Did they eat them all? Or just take a handful and put the rest away? Lorelai and Rory always have tons of leftovers from their junk food binges, suggesting they don’t really eat that much in one sitting. People with big appetites don’t usually have leftovers – they eat everything at once.

6. She’s “skinny obese”. Even if Lorelai is eating far less calories than it looks like, there’s no denying her diet is generally unhealthy (luckily she gets more nutritious food at Friday Night Dinners and from Sookie). People who eat poorly but maintain a normal weight by whatever means can have what is called “skinny obesity” – they look perfectly fine, but their internal organs are surrounded by toxic fat. Michel does warn Lorelai that her diet could kill her, but she isn’t concerned. On the other hand, there’s no evidence that Lorelai’s poor diet is making her unwell: she’s energetic, vibrant, looks healthy, and never seems to have any illness more serious than a headache or allergies.

(See here for more on the purpose of junk food in the themes of Gilmore Girls).

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