The Problem with “What I Eat in a Day” Videos
Updated: Jul 12
At first thought, one might think that “what I eat in a day” videos are inspiring, motivational, and the perfect way to promote healthy eating. Many health conscious influencers and creators enjoy promoting the way they live and eat. However, many of these videos promote diet culture and create a false reality of daily food intake.
The food diaries created by influencers have been filling social media platforms such as TikTok, Instagram, and Youtube. Scrolling through TikTok, viewing video after video, it is easy to see that these short food diaries are putting too much focus on calorie intake and eating little to nothing each day.
Many young influencers are in competition with one another to make their diets look as flawless, healthy, and as low-calorie as possible. In reality, food is fuel and our diets are not a health competition. These videos are not “healthy meal insp” if we are basing our dietary needs off of someone else’s; we have different diets and needs. There is no diet or day of eating that could make us all look a specific way. With the toxic diet culture and food diaries taking over the internet, many individuals are starting to have an obsession with their diets. This can lead to many negative effects and mental health issues.
I am someone who has been caught up in the never-ending video stream of “What I Eat in a Day” diaries. Over quarantine, my For You page on TikTok began to fill up with endless amounts of these videos. I began comparing my diet to the influencers I saw sharing their daily diets, some eating as low as 800 calories or less each day. I felt as if there was something wrong with the way I was eating because my meals looked nothing like theirs.
This created a lot of stress and anxiety in my daily life. I was trying to live up to this standard of “healthy eating” that was taking over social media. Food was all that I was thinking about at this time. My mind was always adding up calories, comparing what I was eating to social media, and if my daily food intake was not perfect like theirs, it created endless anxiety in my life.
Alexa, also known as afternoonsnak on TikTok and the_balancedbite on Instagram, is passionate about this topic and inspires her followers to form healthy relationships with food. She also shares recipe ideas through her social media posts. She created her accounts as a way to hold herself accountable and create a different relationship with food: more creative and inspiring, and not viewing food in a negative way. Alexa explains how with “What I Eat in a Day” videos, and social media in general, we assume we are seeing the full picture, when that is not the case.
“With social media, the problem is what we are viewing, we are never getting the full picture.” she says. “ We are viewing carefully crafted content through a screen.” She explains how as humans we often compare ourselves to each other and what we see. “With food, it is so easy to see even if you don't come from a restrictive background,” she said. “We internalize everything. We forget our different needs and genetics.”
It is easy to compare ourselves and our diets to what we see online. The root of the problem is the emphasis we are placing on our bodies and what we put in them. In reality, food is fuel and our diets are not something that should be compared and placed at the center of everything.