Is the “what I eat in a day” trend helpful or harmful?

By now we are all well aware that social media is far from reality, but when we are in the depths of our streams, it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. This is the case with one of the biggest trends currently invading our feeds: “What I eat in a day”.

When I first discovered the trend, I felt palpable confusion. Getting a play-by-play of the creators’ carefully crafted meals left me wondering what a healthy diet looked like me. As someone recovering from years eating disorderI was sensitive to this unique approach to diets. BBelow, I break down the trend — what it is, why it can be harmful, and how I’ve learned to make peace with the proliferation of diet journals. And if you also feel uncomfortable with this trend, know that you can always redefine your relationship with it.

What is the “What I eat in a day” trend?

Watching a short video of someone detailing the meals and snacks they’ve eaten in the past 24 hours can feel dry and, truth be told, rather boring. However, the personal content of the “What I Eat in a Day” videos is a huge engagement driver for many online creators. Looking through the #WIEIAD hashtag, you’ll see short videos recapping everything that person ate in a day, from their morning cup of coffee to their after-dinner dessert (if there was one). Today, the #WhatIEatInADay tag has amassed more than 12.8 billion views on TikTok.

As with online video content, this trend started on YouTube. This dates back to the early 2010s, when users started tracking their meals (and often their calories). A few years later, videos began to shape a major part of the wellness conversation, with the vegan and fitness communities leading the charge. Daily Diet Diaries began to surface on YouTube in abundance, and this content spread from fitness to more general lifestyle areas. With the rise of TikTok and the creation of reels, these quick videos have set the stage for an even easier way to deploy “What I Eat in a Day” content. Thanks to social media, we we can now follow and recreate other people’s diets for ourselves.

Why the social media trend could be damaging:

Most of the foods and meal plans featured in “What I Eat in a Day” videos aren’t inherently harmful, and many tout the benefits of nutrient-dense, satisfying choices. However, this content can lead to obsession and prevent us from choosing the foods we really want and need.

“Many of these videos promote eating culture and disordered eating behaviors. Watching these videos, people may feel embarrassed and anxious about what they eat in a day, compared to these curated videos, Chelsea Kronengoldcommunications manager for the National Eating Disorders Associated, shared with Health Line. For example, viewers may believe that eating larger portions than shown in a video is a mistake and therefore consider reducing their intake.

These videos are often created with good intentions. Some videos even emphasize the importance of flexible feeding styles or how to eat more sustainably. But just because your favorite influencer eats a certain way, even if it’s healthy, doesn’t mean you should too. While I appreciate the nod to inclusiveness with disclaimers like “intuitive and non-restrictive”, it can still lead people to think there’s a right way and a wrong way to eat. . Remember: our days and our diets are different, and one person’s nutritional needs are not exactly the same as another. What intuitive eating looks like for one person will, by definition, be totally different for another.

Registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert shared with Business Intern this what someone else is eating – healthy, sustainable, realistic or not –could be the complete opposite of what another person needs. And just because the FDA uses the 2,000 calorie per day mark as standard nutritional advice, your needs could fall above or below that threshold. So when calorie counts come into play, the experience of watching “What I Eat in a Day” videos can become all the more confusing and potentially damaging to viewers.

How #WIEIAD can be used for good:

Be curious about your intentions to watch.

Although I criticize the trend, the What I Eat in a Day content has helped me discover fun food brands, try new recipes, and learn the aesthetic pleasure of matching Tupperware. Watching the videos for inspiration beyond nutrition and meal planning, I’ve come to enjoy them. And that’s what it’s all about – the intent you bring when you tap on a message or hit play on a video.

While we may still look and feel inspired, we need to stay grounded in our truth, knowing that whatever we eat is perfectly fine, as long as it meets our unique and personal needs. As with all social networks, I ask that you be curious and critical of the content you consume. Some questions that may be useful to ask:

  • Does this video make me feel like I need to change the way I eat?
  • Do I feel bad about myself or my eating habits after watching?
  • Do I feel inspired and excited to try new foods and make new recipes?
  • Does the designer make me feel seen because their budget or body type is similar to mine?

Watch to inspire you, not to put you down.

If you get a serotonin boost every time you watch a video with colorful fruits, vegetables, snacks and sweets, by all means, enjoy it. And if you’re tired of your same old breakfast routine or are guilty of doing the same for lunch every day, there’s no harm in letting a recipe or video be the catalyst for your own creations. Seeing how others eat can be beneficial. If you see a meal that looks tasty and want to try it your way, go for it! Just be sure to recognize that not every meal of the day has to be exactly like theirs. If you’re starting to feel bad about the way you eat, maybe it’s time to stop watching.

Online food content can help you learn more about yourself and develop a sweeter relationship with your eating habits. As someone with a big appetite for novelty, I find immeasurable joy in discovering the best avocado slicing hacks and diving deep into staple recipes from other cultures. JJust as food is fuel, it is also pleasure and an opportunity to connect with people and the world around you.

So seek inspiration, then put down your phone and eat, cook and create in a way that feels most real to you. And if it’s really pretty and you’re proud of it, feel free to take a picture or take a video. Remember that the above rules apply: your plate doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s.

What to read, follow and listen to for your inclusive wellness journey

About Keith Johnson

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