Instagram Food Trends - Creative or Careless?

Social media sites are often characterised by certain aspects of their user community. For example, when you think of Facebook, it’s hard not to associate it with middle aged women posting cringe-worthy status’ and making embarrassing comments on their children’s posts. When you think of twitter, you think of wannabe politicians with witty replies and jokes. Instagram can be deftly characterised as well; you think of c-list celebrities selling substandard products, glowing fitness models, and eccentric food trends. We are currently witnessing a new age of technology, and never before has the way we eat been impacted by social media in the way it is today; and Instagram food trends really are changing the way we eat. From cloud eggs to charcoal ice-cream, it is so important to recognise the way in which these trends impact us and our bodies.

(img: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/297870962841049748/)

Dietician Amanda Baker Lemein explains why we are so impacted by Instagram food trends: ‘Instagram food trends provide aesthetically pleasing images that also promote a certain lifestyle…Because all of us are on our phones throughout much of the day, it's another way to connect with other people seeking to live this lifestyle.’ Clearly it’s a positive thing that users are wanting to make lifestyle improvements, with many of the trends being healthy and clean eating trends, however the idea of a ‘healthy’ choice can often be misleading. Therefore, through just seeing a post on Instagram, people are left uninformed, and their healthy intentions thwarted.

The problem lies in this misinformation. If you scroll past a deep-fried oreo dish covered in a sugary drizzle and want to try it out, then you will know this is unhealthy, and accept treat of delicious deep-fried goodness is just a once-in-a-while food. However, many so called healthy food trends are not good for you, yet users may incorporate these into their regular diets all in the name of ‘health’. Take avocado toast for example; when you see pictures of the green deliciousness on your feed, riddled with clean-eating hashtags, you may think this is a healthy breakfast. Yet, a smashed avocado on 2 pieces of bread with bacon, can have upwards of 25g of fat and  500 calories. For a person trying to limit fat or calorie intake, a misleading list of ‘#health #cleaneating #healthfood’ hashtags can be thoroughly damaging.

Not So Great Instagram Food Trends

I’ve already mentioned avocados, but what are some of the other damaging Instagram food trends that pose as healthy meals when they are in disguise?

  • Smoothie Bowls: They look delicious, sound nutritious but these oversize bowls can really be loaded with sugar. Dietician Gillean Barkyoumb comments, ‘These bowls are usually two to three servings, covered in toppings like granola and chocolate shavings, and have WAY too much sugar to be considered a balanced meal’. A smoothie bowl can certainly be part of a balanced diet, but Instagram posts don’t indicate what ingredients have been used or portion sizes at all, making it problematic for a health-conscious consumer. The calorie and sugar content makes these oversized acai bowls unhealthy, and misleads users into a false sense of wellbeing.  Image result for smoothie bowl instagram(img: http://stylecaster.com/smoothie-bowl-recipes-from-instagram/)

 

  • Charcoal Trend – the charcoal trend is a really cool one; nothing says hipster like an instagrammed charcoal ice-cream. While charcoal food certainly does have some health benefits, such as aiding in digestion, many people don’t know about charcoal’s absorbing quality. Activated charcoal is so absorbant it is sometimes given to counteract medicinal overdoses. Therefore, if you are on medication, consumption of activated charcoal can make medicine, such as the contraceptive pill, ineffective. Image result for charcoal icecream instagram(Img: https://buzzanything.com/last-summer-nyc-goths-finally-got-the-black-ice...)

 

  • Love of Healthy Fats – Avocados fall into this section. Too much of anything good is bad, and healthy fats are highly demonstrative of this. Homemade peanut-butter protein balls, paleo cookies and anything avocado are marketed on Instagram as high in healthy fats, and as such users see this as a great alternative to junk food. While it is certainly better than consuming lots of saturated fat, these fats are still bad for you in over-consumption.

Image result for avocado toast instagram

(https://www.brit.co/healthy-food-instagram-chefs/)

  • Extreme Cleanses – We’ve all seen detoxes and cleanses on Instagram; some of them in the form of liquid diets, others through eating nothing but fruit. However, any extremity when it comes to eating is bad for you. Such cleanses can leave the body deficient of nutrients and have a negative effect on your body.

Image result for juice cleanse instagram

(Img: https://anappleaday.net.au/whats-good-juice-cleanse/)

  • Oversized Food – When you see models posing with an entire pizza or a loaded stack of 15 pancakes, its easy to believe its possible to eat huge volumes of food regularly and be a size 6, with 0 acne and appear to be the epitome of health. It is important to remember such drastically large portions are not healthy, especially of unhealthy foods.
  • Image result for emily ratajkowski pizza(Img: http://www.instyle.co.uk/news/emily-ratajkowski-white-lace-dress-italy)

Its Not All Doom and Gloom

While Instagram food trends can have a negative impact on the way we eat, there are also many positives to the trends.

  • Meal Prep – Having a Sunday afternoon to prep your food for the week rather than sitting and watching Netflix, is certainly a productive change. The meal prep trend is currently huge on Instagram, inspiring users to plan their meals and prepare them in advance. This is great in terms of health – you’re more likely to make healthy choices if you plan them in advance, rather than reaching for a fat-laden ready meal when you’re hungry and can’t be bothered to cook. Furthermore, its great for your bank balance too, saving lots of money on impulse buys.Image result for meal prep instagram(Img: http://mealprepxpt.com/25-inspiring-meal-prep-from-instagram/)

 

  • Cooking From Scratch – Following on from the meal prep trend, cooking in general is now seen as a great skill thanks to instagram. Those who upload photos of their cooking inspire others to reach for a chopping board rather than their phone for pizza delivery on a Friday night. Just like meal prep, its great for your bank balance too!Image result for cooking instagram(img: https://www.brit.co/celebs-who-cook/)
  • Nutritious Veganism – Discourse on veganism has often centred around the nutritional deficits that can possibly occour if you don’t consume animal products. However, vegan instagrammers have changed the game! As vegan foods have become a trend, pictures of vegan meals are subliminally educating users, helping identify what a balanced and nutritious vegan diet might look like. From Naturally Stefanie to Delciously Ella, vegan bloggers are helping educate, doing so while enjoying tasty and cruelty-free food.
  • Bhudda Bowls – Food bowls are one of the most notorious Instagram-worthy foods. They’re aesthetically pleasing but also extremely nutritious; from a Hawaii-inspired fish bowls to vegetable and rice poke bowls, they are fun, fresh and full of flavour. Image result for vegan instagram(https://www.pinterest.com/pin/428193877055850293/)
  • Fermented Foods – Instagram has been loving fermented foods. From sauerkraut to kombucha, or kefir to kimchi, fermented foods are all over our Instagram feeds. Fermented foods are known for digestive benefits, and often are low calorie too! Image result for kimchi(img: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/quick-kimchi)

How Can You Make The Most Out Of Instagram Food Trends

As with all social media, there are good points and bad points. Instagram really does affect the way we eat, and as such it is important to really understand such trends and make the most out of them. So how can you do this?

1. Follow dieticians and credible health professionals. They will be able to inform you on whether choices and trends really are healthy or not – if they’re eating it, its probably not too bad! Find them using hashtags like #dietitian, #dietitiansofinstagram, and #rdchat

2. Use your Intuition; if something seems too good to be true, it probably is! If something is marketed on Instagram as healthy, and delicious, just google it first to see what dieticians are saying about it.

3. Use the 'save' function on Instagram, to help you remember healthy recipes or meal prep that you want to try

4. Everything in Moderation – remember most things are fine in moderation. If you want to eat the unicorn toast, you eat it, just not everyday as a mid-morning snack. Make healthy choices and you will feel better, look better and help contribute to the great parts of Instagram’s food trends.

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