While scrolling through social media or going down a YouTube rabbit hole, you’ve probably come across “What I Consume In A Day” videos. In these posts, you typically get a compilation of the poster’s meals, snacks, and beverages for the day they’re posting about. Sometimes there’s nutritional guidance or a product endorsement in the post, and frequently, you’ll see a selfie in the mirror or an excessive depiction of toned abs.
These videos are highly engaging and can provide entertainment and recipe suggestions, but for those susceptible to disordered eating behaviors, they can also pose a threat to mental well-being and one’s connection with food and their body. Continue reading to comprehend why nutrition experts recommend avoiding them.
The Emergence of “What I Consume in A Day” Videos
“What I Eat In A Day” content is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it has been present for decades. In a 1952 Pageant magazine interview, for example, Marilyn Monroe explained her daily exercise and nutrition routine. Glimpses into what famous individuals consume have always been a key feature of entertainment media. Then, as blogging gained popularity in the early 2000s, food and health bloggers began sharing their meals and snacks in an online diet diary format.
This trend transitioned to YouTube in the 2010s, as users posted and monitored their food intake, before ultimately spreading to social media platforms like Instagram and TikTok, gaining even more momentum in 2020. Some of these videos garnered millions of views. In addition to utilizing these videos as a means to engage and expand their audience, influencers have also used them to endorse products in partnership with brands, generating income in the process.
Some influencers utilize these videos to convey positive and inclusive messages (for instance, a day of meals for an intuitive eater or a realistic portrayal of life as a new mother). However, in certain cases, there is an element of “if you eat like this, you can resemble this.” For instance, a common cliché in this genre is the initial shot of toned abs.
Alex d’Elia, RDN, is a functional and integrative dietitian who specializes in mental health. When asked about the allure of these videos, she states, “People want guidance, and they enjoy visual content. I also believe that individuals inherently appreciate seeing structured versions of what they could potentially do. Nutrition can be perplexing, so observing what someone perceives as ‘an authority’ caters to that sense of satisfaction. As a society, we have become highly visual, so if someone presents us with a video demonstrating what to do, it will be more appealing and captivating.”
She also mentions that due to social media algorithms, the more of these videos you consume, the more likely the algorithm is to show you similar content in your feed.
While these videos are not inherently negative, and many of them are well-intentioned, there has been concern for quite some time that they have the potential to trigger unhealthy eating habits and negatively impact people’s relationships with food and their bodies, particularly for those who are more susceptible.
How This Trend Could Harm Your Connection with Food and Your Body
Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and owner of Chelsey Amer Nutrition.
She advises, “We all appear to have a fondness for witnessing what others consume, but videos titled ‘What I Consume in a Day’ that kick off with a self-portrait in the mirror displaying well-defined abdominal muscles or that emphasize someone’s physical appearance insinuate that ‘if you have the same diet as me, you can resemble me.’ However, that is not how it functions. You can meticulously adhere to your favorite influencer’s dietary regimen, yet your physique will still appear and feel dissimilar.” While these videos imply, she remarks, “‘that anyone can resemble me by adopting this eating pattern,’ but each of us possesses our own hereditary blueprint that governs our body dimensions.
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