Social Media Pitfalls
For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you know that I went on a rant a couple of days ago. I made the mistake of watching a YouTube video that was filled with misinformation about nutrition and weight loss. My number one error was watching that video; I know I am not in the position where losing any weight would be acceptable or healthy. But truth be told, I was drawn in - and I worry for others who are drawn in as well.
I have listed a couple of key points below regarding WHY watching these types of videos on YouTube (or Instagram) can be harmful, both physically and psychologically. I also know that I am in no position to tell you, my readers, what to do. But please keep these points in mind as you navigate your way through the ups and downs of social media.
Most YouTubers and influencers are NOT professionals
I'm all about living a healthy, active lifestyle. But when it comes to decisions about what foods you "should" or "shouldn't" be putting in your body, please seek help from a dietitian, nutritionist, or a doctor. Currently, I am very lucky and have access to a dietitian that I don't have to pay for, but I know that isn't the case for everyone. Professionals can charge a very expensive hourly rate, but I promise you even one or two sessions with a qualified dietitian or nutritionist will be so incredibly worth it. After all, it's your health we are talking about.
YouTubers and influencers are quick to give out nutrition and weight loss advice, but please remember that the majority of them are not qualified to do so. A lot of them may spew out misinformation and myths that when applied to your lifestyle, may not give you the results you want, or even worse, may result in consequences for both your body and mind. So please, take their "recommendations" with a grain of salt. Do your own research before applying any kind of new "strategy" to your lifestyle.
This whole "What I Eat in a Day" trend...
I think what frustrates me the most about these kinds of videos is that sometimes we fail to remember that EVERY BODY IS DIFFERENT. What I eat, as someone who struggles with anorexia and is in recovery, may look VERY different than what you eat. Athletes, who train 20 hours per week, will have diets matched to enhance performance, which may also not be relatable. There are so many factors that go into what someone eats on a daily basis: activity level, allergies/intolerances (i.e gluten), deficiencies (i.e. low in iron), health concerns (i.e. high cholesterol, eating disorder); so, comparing one person's food intake to another's food intake is literally like comparing apples to oranges.
What works for one person will not necessarily work for someone else, which in my opinion, makes these videos sort of irrelevant. I understand the intention, though. People who HAVE lost weight, for example, want to share with others what worked for them, and I get that. But HOW they lost weight might not be done in a healthy way (i.e. see above point - they are not professionals) and every body has different needs. While "What I Eat in a Day" videos may give you food inspo, bear in mind that consulting a professional will probably be your best bet.
Instagram vs. Reality
When it comes to social media, the line between truth and falsehood may become a little blurry. Like anything else you see on Instagram, what is represented on someone's feed may not necessarily correspond with reality. For most of us, we don't have the time to create the most exquisite presentation for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I know that for myself, when I come home from work after a long day, making my food look "pretty" is the last thing on my mind.
I get it, though. Everyone likes pretty pictures of food. On social media, those images get more likes, comments, and engagement. If you are into food photography, that's great. It really is an art, and I admire your creativity. But for those of you who haven't mastered the art of plating, please don't judge yourself. Food doesn't always have to look good, especially given the nature of our busy lives. What you see on social media, for the most part, has been edited, curated, and carefully thought out, even with regards to food posts. The number one goal should be feeding yourself well, and taking care of your nutritional needs. Whatever you do next with your food is up to you.
I just want to emphasize that in no way am I criticizing or judging anyone on social media. I really do see the intention behind the content these influencers put out there, and by no means do I think that they are doing anything maliciously. In writing this blog, I just want others to be aware of the information they are getting online. Just like you would advise a student not to rely solely on Wikipedia when doing an important research project, I would like my readers to do their own proper research before embarking on any sort of lifestyle change.
On a different note, "Happy Thanksgiving" to my Canadian readers! There is always so much to be thankful for (including our bodies, in any way shape or form!). Try and practice gratitude towards yourself and your body this holiday season. You won't regret it.