Welcome to our special section, Thrive on Campus, devoted to covering the urgent issue of mental health among college and university students from all angles. If you are a college student, we invite you to apply to be an Editor-at-Large, or to simply contribute (please tag your pieces ThriveOnCampus). We welcome faculty, clinicians, and graduates to contribute as well. Read more here.
K fine! I’ll admit it. I get a lot of my information about “healthy eating” from the ‘gram.
And can you blame me? The photos some of these foodie-Instagrammers post are so freakin’ beautiful. Seriously, these people can make a kale salad look better than eating Ben & Jerry’s straight from the pint (okay maybe not, but close!).
But alas, I know that my practice of scouring social media for how to “stay healthy” or “get fit” is probably not, like, the best thing in the world. Especially since a lot of the information on the internet is super contradictory, and each body reacts to certain eating behaviors and exercises in a different way.
The truth is, given that scrolling through Instagram is unlikely to be removed from my daily routine (it’s part of my job to know what’s going on in the world, k?), I wanted to find out how I could best navigate the popular trend of promoting this so called “healthy living” on social media and not get indoctrinated with false info. So, I did what any Insta-obsessed girl would do: I reached out to the Instagrammers themselves. Read below for what they had to say. And oh yeah, you’ll definitely want to give them a follow once you’re done.
“A lot of Instagram accounts are all image based. You get a picture of this plate, and what this person looks like. You have an image of them, so you associate that eating this way equals looking like this. I don’t think it means you can’t post what you’re eating, I just think we have to be more conscious about the associations that we assume.
“As far as social media goes, I personally don’t post a lot of what I’m eating. Part of that is because I feel like I’m eating things that aren’t all that interesting. If I’m going to post things, I would want it to be reflective of what I actually eat. I think a lot of times when you see these perfectly curated photos of food, they’re beautiful, and that can be inspiring and a cool recipe. But, I think when everything looks so plated and specific and measured out, it can make you feel like the only way to eat healthier is to eat those things, or less [other foods].”
“I think the first thing for people to remember is that me and the other people who are on here posting food, we are taking 30 minutes to one hour to style the food and then to photograph it in a way that is both mouth watering and aesthetically pleasing. Remember that these recipes, even if they may not look like the picture, they’re still going to taste really great and fresh. You don’t have to have a beautiful, colorful bowl that has meticulously placed cucumbers in order for it to be healthy.
“It really does come down to just having a balanced meal. That can be as simple as some brown rice, sweet potatoes, broccoli, chicken or salmon. It doesn’t have to be so beautiful with all these fancy ingredients. Just remember that social media is not real life. Even the food is curated. Not just the outfits and the beauty industry.”
“90 percent of us aren’t certified healthcare professionals. At the end of the day you should always consult your doctor. I know that people just say that to save their butts a lot of the time, but it’s so true. Whenever I have a question about a supplement that a brand is reaching out to me about I’ll always ask my doctor.
“I think people need to remember that people love looking at beautiful things. That’s just kind of the nature of humans. But you also need to be aware that comparison is really easy. You can take the picture or recipe as it is and just leave it at that. You don’t need to reach that level. The point is that you enjoy the food that you’re eating and that it entices you to actually try the recipe. It’s supposed to be enjoyable visually and maybe it’ll inspire you to try something new.”
“I love food. I think that you should have a piece of chocolate everyday. I think that you should do things that you enjoy. Of course, to reach goals it takes effort and it can be difficult, but if that comes at the expense of your mental health, your social health, your spiritual health, any of those things, then what’s the point?
“If you find yourself insecure looking on social media, unfollow the accounts. You don’t need to be bombarded with that every day. A lot of these people on Instagram, they’re job is fitness and health. Their career and their life are their bodies. Not everyone is going to look that way. Everyone’s body is different. You should never be comparing yourself to others.”
Subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving.
More on Mental Health on Campus: