Ever heard of a fakeaway?
Exeter based Latoyah Egerton never expected to become a well-known food, drink and lifestyle blogger when she bought the latoyah.co.uk domain name five years ago. Initially, she used it to keep her favourite recipes in one place for easy access and to enable her to share them with friends and family. In just five years, this grew into a professional business that has so far welcomed over nine million website views.
Latoyah’s blog, Sugar Pink Food, features healthy, easy, home-cooked recipes with a sprinkling of her everyday life and lifestyle. Her posts on social media show her love for food as well as her relatable self-deprecating humour, joking about things like social distancing from the fridge. Latoyah’s followers were able to access free healthy food and fitness challenges like the ‘Lockdown rescue challenge’. Some feedback from these challenges included ‘First time in a very long time that I have stuck with it. That is thanks to this group. Lost 9lb so far!!’, ‘So nice to be part of such a friendly group of people‘ And ‘Loved seeing everyone’s meals inspiration. I lost 2 stone 6.5lb, the 6.5lb whilst taking part in the May challenge’.
Curious about the amazing growth of her blog, I caught up with Latoyah one humid Thursday evening over Messenger.
“I noticed my website taking flight when I posted a new recipe and the visitor numbers reached two hundred a day,” said Latoyah. “This was now going beyond my family and friends. In the beginning, I didn’t know much about social media, but I have taught myself along the way.” The gradual growth was boosted by several National (Food) Blog Award nominations over the years.
“I simply love food,” smiled Latoyah. “I mean, I LOVE food. I love cooking it, making it, baking it, tasting it and eating it. Whether I have made it myself, or if I am eating in a restaurant, I LOVE FOOD. Yes, I’m that girl that takes a photo of EVERYTHING I eat. Since starting the blog and eating even more than I already did, I found I put on weight. This is when my weight loss journey started. I found a new love of creating low calorie, healthier versions of popular dishes”.
A lot of people think that eating healthily can only be achieved by cooking from scratch daily with fresh ingredients. Yet quite often, after a long day at work, the last thing you want to do is start cooking! With this in mind, Latoyah has developed several batch programmes, including ‘7 Slimming friendly freezer meals in under 1 hour’ and ‘31 Slimming friendly freezer bag meals in one batch’. She challenged herself to create a whole month of meals, working really hard, testing and writing many recipes before finalising the special post. These 31 dishes have four servings in each and work out at £1.15 per serving.
Latoyah’s Fakeaway recipes made national headlines and BBC spotlight, as the effects of Lockdown forced people to look at their weight and eating habits. Crowned ‘The Queen of Fakeaways’, Latoyah explained how anyone, in their own kitchen, could create a healthier version of McDonald’s McMuffins to KFC chicken, for half the cost and the calories. And she provided the shopping list!
The great media attention showed Latoyah the less uplifting side of her fame as a food influencer too. Some people replied to the articles with nasty comments about her looks, weight, and worse.
“The first time I read one of these trolls’ comments, it really shook my confidence,” said Latoyah. “Outraged, I made a screenshot and shared it with my followers, and an outpouring of support followed. Which was nice, since blogging can be quite an isolated profession. I put myself out there, showing people the meals that I have developed, made and photographed in my own home. It’s not staged, it is real and that involves being vulnerable, like using a megaphone in an empty room. It showed me that lots of people might not ‘like’ my posts on Facebook, but they do care and appreciate what I do. I have learned not to read the comments, stay positive and connect with members of Sugar Pink Food community in closed Facebook groups. After all, we are better served supporting and uplifting each other.”
Latoyah has worked with numerous top brands that include most major supermarkets, creating a series of ‘Healthy Shopping list and meal plans’. She has combined the recipes into a book that she sells through Amazon.
“I love to find out about people using my recipes, and it’s great if they email me pictures or tag me in photos of their meal. The other day, one of the members of my Sugar Pink Challenge group shared how she takes my recipe book shopping with her because it fits in her handbag and it’s easier than writing a list. I love this!”
Written by Karin Venema
Images by Sugar Pink Food