Why the ‘What I Eat In A Day’ trend on TikTok can be problematic for your mental health

Although ‘What I Eat In A Day’ videos may appear innocent, they actually point to a serious issue with body image and the diet business. Picture from Pexels

Although ‘What I Eat In A Day’ videos may appear innocent, they actually point to a serious issue with body image and the diet business. Picture from Pexels

Published Apr 18, 2023


The ‘’What I Eat In A Day’’ concept, according to Huffington Post, first gained popularity on YouTube, usually as a video series on a food and/or health and wellness content creator's channel.

These videos may serve as a source of inspiration, especially for recipe and meal planning. They might, however, also disseminate incorrect information that could be detrimental to our physical and mental well-being and could even cause eating disorders.

The ‘’What I Eat In A Day’’ videos on Tik Tok are essentially brief video snippets of people talking about tales about the food they consume on a daily basis. These videos are made by a variety of people, including regular people, athletes, celebrities, models, nutritionists, medical professionals, personal trainers, and others. They may frequently be found on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube.

@stephpappas #whatieatinaday ♬ mario sound - mandycap

Several individual YouTube videos have millions of views, while the hashtag #WhatIEatInADay has received billions of views across all social media networks. Sadly, the daily posting trend and the popularity of these vlogs may give the impression that they are more significant than they truly are.

The most active users of YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram are between the ages of 15 and 35, according to figures from Psychology Today. Additionally, eating disorders are more prevalent in this age range than in any other. For instance, a 2020 study emphasised the detrimental effects of social media on middle school kids' attitudes toward food and eating. The study amply demonstrates the rise in middle-aged and older adult populations using social media platforms for health information, which has the potential to be harmful when the source is less knowledgeable.

It's simple to get sucked into the world of social media, making it difficult to tell what is genuine and what is made up for likes. These ‘’what I eat in a day’’ posts frequently convey the idea that if you consume the same foods, you'll have the same outcomes. However, they just provide a portion of the story. The issues with eating or low self-esteem that can be hiding underneath these expertly manicured posts are unknown to followers.

Ingrid Schloss, a licensed dietitian, health adviser, and nutritionist, offers the following commentary on these ‘’What I Eat In A Day’’ posts and explains why she believes they can do more harm than good:

They might give out inaccurate nutritional advice

There are a lot of ‘’What I Eat In A Day’’ videos made by people with no professional training or credentials in nutrition or health. This suggests that they could not be disseminating information that is reliable, supported by science, or adheres to sensible nutritional requirements. This might encourage unsafe or even unhealthy eating patterns.

Schloss urges you to think about your motivation for watching if the material in the movie is making you feel worse rather than good, even if it is coming from a licensed source.

They might set unrealistic expectations

Only a portion of a person's diet during a brief period of their life is revealed in the ‘’What I Eat In A Day’’ videos. However, you may conclude from watching this movie that the steady, sustainable diet shown here accounts for all the time spent off-camera, and this is most likely inaccurate.

Schloss recommends realising that eating healthfully entails paying attention to your body's changing dietary requirements. ‘’Observe your preferences over time as well. Pay attention to what makes you happy and pay attention to your hunger and fullness signs and practise intuitive eating’’, she continues. Intuitive eating is a research-backed technique for balanced eating and overall health that involves not adhering to another person's body's demands or preferences, according to Schloss.

They promote harmful comparisons

These videos make it simple for us to contrast our appearance with that of someone that may have a different genetic make-up when we act on this flawed reasoning, especially when we try to imitate others who we look up to or want to be or be like. It can lead to guilt and worry, which can make us reject our bodies.

Unfortunately, trying to alter your eating habits by imitating another person can result in dangerously low weight or binge eating. For those who are currently suffering from disordered eating or have a history of it, movies that show what one person eats are particularly alarming. Any statements that support the idea that there is just one correct way to look are unhelpful and unsupported by science.

They may be triggering to people predisposed to eating disorders

The impulse to diet, binge eat, eliminate certain meals or food groups, overexert, or engage in other unhealthy eating behaviours may increase after seeing "what I eat in a day" videos. Influencers who post about their eating habits sometimes conceal eating disorders. Others could assert that they have overcome an eating disorder, but they might actually still be dealing with disordered eating and thought patterns. In any case, they might unintentionally be giving detrimental counsel.

‘’Use extreme caution before watching these videos if you currently or previously had an eating disorder. Find a new passion to pursue as if your life relies on it -because it does - if the internal voice of your eating disorder becomes stronger while or after viewing’’, cautions Schloss.

It is crucial to treat the information in these videos as creative content rather than as gospel truth if you choose to watch them. Each person's eating habits fluctuate over time because eating is a flawed activity. Schloss petitions you to keep in mind that you are unaware of the deep, intricate, and human story that lies behind the video clip.

Regardless of the content creator's post, don't forget you are unique. Therefore, it's crucial to avoid altering your eating habits in response to videos that ignore your biology, age, heredity, health, history of illness, and nutritional requirements.

Your best resource for understanding your body's demands is the truthful, individual lessons you have acquired from qualified medical practitioners. Recognize what you need to do to properly nourish yourself, and do it for yourself.

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