Misinformation in “What I Eat In a Day” videos may be downright harmful to your health
With the proliferation of social media and the advent of videos, memes or pictures going viral, we have created a whole new genre of influence – the “influencer”. While most of these are harmless entertainment, dieticians and nutritionists have raised concerns that some of the information that is being sent out to the wider world about food intake may cause greater harm than good.
Viral content may contain unverified sources of information. Some may even contain downright false content. This leads to concerns that people watching such content may follow their proffered advice and end up consuming foods that are harmful for them and/or not consuming foods that benefit them.
For example, we literally have thousands of “What I Eat In a Day” videos flooding our feeds on TikTok and Instagram Reels which health experts have cautioned could lead to an unhealthy relationship with food.
For one, many of the “What I Eat In a Day” posts showcase low-calorie menus that aren’t enough food for most people.
Secondly, TikTok and Instagram Reels users often start their daily eats videos with full-length clips of their bodies which can create the subliminal message that “‘if you eat like me, you can look like me.
Colleen Reichmann, PsyD, a Philadelphia-based clinical psychologist and co-author of The Inside Scoop on Eating Disorder Recovery, once said that for the vast majority of the time, the videos feature thin, able-bodied, younger white women—women with an immense amount of “body privilege.” The videos then end up promoting a specific type of body that is unattainable to the vast majority of people.
This creates the misplaced belief that how one looks is determined by what one is eating when ultimately body shape is largely determined by genetics, not food or exercise.
Another issue with social media is that it rarely puts out the full story. We may see a wafer thin model eating copious amounts of fast food without seeing the other side where he or she is exercising like a fiend. Or we may see a person only eating a small portion of food without seeing him or her tuck into a full meal once outside the camera frame.
While we can’t go on a social media blackout to block stuff like “What I Eat In a Day” videos, we do have to be mindful about what we watch and ask ourselves periodically if what we watch is actually hurting our health?
Are we starving ourselves because we are watching videos on portion control without considering our own weights and heights in comparison with the influencer in question? Are we binge eating fast food or chocolate because we have just watched a video of our favourite influencer eating the same?