Trigger Warning: This story mentions eating disorders and dangerous eating habits. If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, call 1- (800) -931-2237 or visit NEDA.
You can pretend you want to, but the facts are real: TikTok is a lot of fun. If you brush the copycat dances aside (sorry!), There are still plenty of good things in the app, and Eating TikTok is a great place to start. However, there is one insidious subsection that is cause for concern. Any day or any hour, you will find an alarming number of videos about foods that align with harmful dietary trends and often glorify unhealthy eating habits.
A quick scan of # WhatIEatInADay – a hashtag with 3.6 billion views – can immerse you in a sea of videos in which young adults, mostly women, eat dangerously low calories per day and refrain from a hyper-restrictive diet with huge Ice cups feed coffee, warm lemon water and five cashews. Or you'll see the other end of it, where someone is supposedly eating multiple servings of rich, decadent, high fat, sugar-soaked junk food. It's literally a festival or a famine.
Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, you are likely to be eating most – if not all – of your meals at home. They also cling to social media with their fingertips to feel like they are still connected to the community and connected to the world outside the same four walls. TikTok put these two facts together and made you hungry for food content on the platform. But everything they serve isn't necessarily good for you. You need clever tips and tricks to navigate the darkness of social media soup and pick the bites that work best for you.
The good, the bad, and the hungry
Yes, there are the good ones, like @ hannahbreadtoks bread baking videos or @ bobbysrey's gentle opening line, "Hey guys, here's another cake decorating video" to soothe your troubled soul, but there are just as many bad ones to counter that: videos who promote things like such as radical fasting, severely restricted diets, bizarre snack hacks like using peppers instead of bread, or dipping carrots in mustard instead of french fries in ketchup. There are also dangerous habits emanating from a healthy place, e.g. B. considering the nutritional value of your food and then going extreme, which leads to orthorexia.
"Orthorexia is an extreme fixation on food purity and the constant preoccupation with healthy eating," explains Angie Asche, RD, certified sports diet specialist at Eleat Sports Nutrition in Lincoln, NE.
What makes navigating between fine and malicious content more complicated is the strength of the TikTok algorithm. It can be a non-stop delivery of millions of malicious videos to loyal young audiences, says Olivia Napoleon, a registered nutritionist at the Renfrew Center in Radnor, PA.
"Those unhealthy behaviors on TikTok, portrayed as 'normal' eating habits, can be so dangerous," she says. "Most promote the deprivation of energy and nutrients for your body, which can lead to metabolic changes, a slowdown in metabolism, the breakdown of your body's organs and muscles, and other serious complications."
Of course, unhealthy eating trends aren't limited to social media. There is a long history of fads that quickly caught the spotlight before being bumped by the next new clean, the next potion, or the next food to remove from your plate. Whatever it takes to look good remains the mantra for many who are willing to try anything but the sink to achieve the "perfect" body. Social media – and now the pandemic – only made things worse, says Claire Mysko, CEO of the National Eating Disorders Association.
"Social media has created an environment where diet information can be shared further and further than ever before," she says. As a result, the comparison engine works with overdrive and it is almost too easy to mimic behaviors. "This can often tighten or create complicated relationships with foods that sometimes lead to eating disorders," says Mysko.
It's bad intel for me
Gen Z was basically born with social media mixed into their milk. They often trust their friends through a random conversation head on cable messages. They go on the internet and social networks to get their news and information from colleagues, influencers, celebrities and companies they follow online. They are following on the heels of these trendsetters "regardless of how dangerous and unfounded these trends may be," says Mysko.
TikTok's content isn't filtered through the typical systems that can weed out malicious or bogus messages, says Alyssa L. Booth, a licensed professional counselor and intuitive nutritionist based in San Antonio. "These influencers put young people at risk."
One way to avoid falling into these precarious Intel traps is to carefully curate your feed on TikTok. Follow reports that promote body positivity (like @brittanilancaster, a 23-year-old who shares her recovery journey from eating disorders). Look for more Registered Dietitians (RDs) and check out their videos. This changes the algorithm so that your "For You" page shows more TikToks with information that is actually evidence-based, says Aja Gyimah, a Toronto-based RD. "We are nutritionists and we are regulated by professional bodies to ensure that the information we make available to the public is backed by science and evidence."
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And most of these experts on TikTok are there for fun too. They know that no one has the tolerance for dry, finger-waving lectures. See Gyimah's cute video beat up unhealthy eating habits.
While you won't be able to completely erase every negative or harmful food culture message – it is still the internet, after all – you can take steps to keep changing the algorithm your way, says Kim Greene Murachver, RD, Certified Intuitive Nutritionist and Owner of Greene Nutrition in Acton, MA. “Click 't Interested' in these videos and don't follow the reports that evoke negative thoughts about yourself and body image,” she says. And if you're not sure if the video is causing internal negativity, Greene wonders: does this help? If not, then it has to be done.
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You can also limit your time in the app at any time. Set a timer and when it runs out, sign out and get involved in something that makes you feel comfortable inside and out. Take a walk, have a nutritious snack, or … practice one of these TikTok dances offline!
Nicole Blades is a writer, speaker, journalist and certified personal trainer. Her work has been published in the New York Times, Runner & # 39; s World, Women & # 39; s Health, Writer & # 39; s Digest, MarieClaire.com and now Delish.
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