Hint: It's not good.
When the full-length trailer for Netflix's upcoming four-part series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life debuted earlier this month, longtime fans of the show were happy to see Lorelai (Lauren Graham) and Rory (Alexis Bledel) back in Stars Hollow and just as we remembered them: Fast-talking, always ready to drop a perfect pop culture reference, and completely, totally addicted to junk food. The trailer is only two minutes long, but during that time we learn the girls have recently binged on Pop-Tarts, Tater Tots, mini powdered donuts, tacos (to be fair, they were organic), and hot dogs, as well as Chinese, Greek, and Italian takeout in one sitting.
In other words, the Gilmore diet is basically a long list of everything you're supposed to eat in moderation: sugar, sodium, saturated fat, refined carbs, empty calories, and ultra-processed foods packed with artificial ingredients.
"As viewers, seeing Lorelai and Rory indulge in their carefree diet indulges us, too, even though we know these eating behaviors don't work," says nutritionist Wendy Bazilian, DrPH and author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean. We asked Bazilian to explain what would happen to your body if you ate sugary baked goods for breakfast, greasy takeout for dinner, and nutritionally devoid snacks in between, and what advice she'd give to Rory and Lorelai if they were her clients.
You'd have a lot less energy
It's no wonder Lorelai and Rory rely on multiple cups of coffee to get through the day—their eating habits are sapping their energy. Of all the not-so-great foods the Gilmores eat, Bazilian says the fried fare is the worst. "Too much fatty, fried foods can make us feel sluggish," she says.
Lorelai and Rory wouldn't give up French fries from Luke's Diner or cartons of fried rice from Al's Pancake World without a fight, so Bazilian would tell them to pair their meals with fresh produce, which will give them important nutrients they need to stay alert throughout the day. "I'd beg them to at least put something that isn't fried on the plate as well," she says. "If it's pizza, for example, can we go with thin crust, lighter cheese, and add some vegetables? Or if they're getting a burger, can they at least put some lettuce and tomato on the bun?"
In addition to making you feel tired all the time, eating fried foods as often as the Gilmores would increase inflammation throughout your body, not to mention add hundreds of empty calories to your diet, says Bazilian.
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It would take a toll on your skin
In real life, the Gilmores probably wouldn't be able to eat the way they do and maintain their blemish-free complexions, Bazilian says. "While the research is slim on the impact of fried foods on acne, there's no question that frequently eating fried food alongside other nutritionally devoid foods has a negative impact on your skin's health, not to mention your internal organs," she explains.
Lorelai and Rory may also look a little older in the real world thanks to their steady diet of Pop-Tarts and other sweet treats. When you eat more sugar than your cells can process, it triggers a process called glycation; sugar molecules bind to collagen and elastin, ultimately making the skin look more haggard.
To get the flawless skin that Graham and Bledel have as they portray the Gilmores, load up on plenty of leafy greens (they contain vitamin K, which may brighten skin), antioxidant-rich blueberries (they may help prevent sun damage and wrinkles), and avocados (omega-3 fatty acids have been linked to healthier skin). You might also consider adding probiotics, krill oil, and vitamin D3 to your diet, all of which may help you get a radiant-from-within complexion.
You'd gain weight
"It's hard to believe that the characters' physiques would stay as lean and healthy-looking as they appear on the show based on their diet," says Bazilian.
It's no secret that an unhealthy diet can lead to weight gain. But even if you're blessed with a super-fast metabolism that lets you eat whatever you want without gaining a pound, a poor diet can still have consequences for your health. According to a 2008 study, one-fourth of the normal weight population may be "skinny fat," meaning they look healthy but have high levels of body fat and inflammation, putting them at risk for diabetes and cardiovascular problems.
But Bazilian says a few simple swaps could help Rory and Lorelai trim calories on their favorite foods without having to give them up entirely. Take tacos and burritos, a Gilmore go-to: Bazilian suggests filling the tortilla with cabbage, black or pinto beans, fresh tomatoes, avocado, and a lean protein like grilled chicken or shrimp, but skipping refried beans, extra rice, and sour cream.
"Load up on veggies," she says. "If there are sautéed veggies like peppers and onions add those, then add extra lettuce, extra tomato, pico de gallo, healthy dollop of avocado, and a light sprinkle of cheese."
Your pearly whites would be a lot less white
Hot Tamales, Red Vines, Twizzlers, M&Ms—the Gilmores love their candy. (And who can forget Lorelai's infamous candy sushi party?) But as any dentist will tell you, candy is terrible for your teeth. And sticky candies are even worse, since they stay in between teeth for a long time, allowing the bacteria in your mouth to feast on deposited sugar.
"There's nothing redeemable in candy, it's just sugar, carbs, and artificial colors," Bazilian says. "Candy should be a supplemental treat, not a main entree."
And then there's all that coffee. Although the Gilmores' drink of choice does offer health perks—antioxidants in the beverage have been linked to longer lifespans and may help protect against type 2 diabetes and Parkinson's—it also can stain your teeth over time.
Eventually, it would start to impact your overall health
"Just because you can survive eating this way doesn't mean you can thrive in the long-run," says Bazilian, adding that the effects of poor diet usually start showing up in a person's 40s. "Some people are able to eat unhealthy their whole lives, and then all of a sudden, they're forced to make a change. I'll have clients come to me and say, 'I've always eaten like this, what gives?'"
Usually, Bazilian explains, something triggers an awareness in her clients that their eating habits are no longer working as they once were; they're no longer able to use the same hole in their belt, for example, or their doctor tells them their cholesterol levels have gotten too high.
Bazilian knows how challenging it can be to completely rewire your habits and cravings, so she tells us that she'd recommend Rory and Lorelai start out by making a few strategic nutritional "upgrades." "There's research to suggest that adding nutritious foods to your plate may do more to improve your health than simply eliminating the less-nutritious foods," she explains. "And adding fiber-rich foods like fresh produce, beans, nuts, and seeds will help replace cravings for less-healthy foods."