‘What I eat in a day’ – the newest addition to toxic diet culture
Written by Mikalya White – student dietitian (Masters of Dietetics, Deakin)
It’s common to see a breakdown of food diaries on social media these days. However, is the daily vlog of “what I eat in a day” negatively affecting people?
If you’re wondering what a vlog is, it’s essentially a daily video diary where people are constantly updating their social media following on their life.
If you have scrolled TikTok or Instagram and this type of video has come across your feed, it generally flows in the same way. A person posing in front of a mirror and then a series of meals that they have eaten throughout the day.
Seems harmless right? False: the answer is it can be extremely harmful.
Let’s discuss one of the main issues and that’s comparison.
A major concern of sharing content around food intake is the impact it is likely to have on those watching. I scrolled through roughly 10 different ‘what I eat in a day’ videos and a lot of the comments reflect the same things: if I do this, will I look like that?
The short answer is – probably not and that is perfectly okay.
A short 1-minute video on what a person is consuming throughout the day is likely not a complete representation of their diet nor a balanced intake of food groups. Most of the time these influencers do not have a degree in nutrition and therefore do not have the qualifications to being giving advice on food to their followers.
As for the comments on posts being left by followers, a lot of it is expressing guilt and even shame due to the comparison they are making to themselves.
As someone who is active online, it is worth considering that all online creators are often promoting themselves or their ‘brand’. They look to gain a certain amount of engagement from followers daily to ensure they can support themselves – that isn’t the issue here. The issue is that as a result of promoting their ‘look’, there seems to be a lack of responsibility for how it affects those subscribing to the content.
Followers are likely to start trying to incorporate food habits or diets into their life that are predominantly based on another person intake, without realising that often these ‘diets’ are unsustainable, inadequate, or even financially impractical. This often results in feeling guilty or ashamed in their inability to meet standard of what they presented as a ‘healthy lifestyle’.
A lot of misinformation is spread online regarding diets and fads and following what one influencer eats in one day only adds fuel to that fire.
The notion that if people were just able to ‘control’ their food intake then they would be able to alter their body shape to match that of their favourite influencer speaks volumes about the negative impact of diet culture and why it is a dangerous trend that needs to stop.
It’s important to note that there are many factors that influence what you may or may not eat in a day, here are a few:
- Hunger cues
- Food types
- Food satisfaction
- Food availability and accessibility
- Cost of living
- Activity levels
It’s not to say that isn’t some benefit in sharing food recipes or ideas online as an inspiration for a meal. However, if you are promoting your brand through your food habits recklessly, even if it is unintentional, then you are contributing to an already dangerous and damaging diet industry.
Some important things to note when scrolling your feed
- One day does is not a representation of someone’s diet.
- Everyone eats differently. Different amounts. Different foods. Different times.
- It is okay if what you eat in a day isn’t the same as someone else.
- Food can satisfy needs that aren’t nutrition related.