Teenage girls turn to Instagram to develop healthier relationships with food


For many people, the desire to lose weight can go from a healthy lifestyle meant to shed much-needed pounds to one that is filled with obsessive calorie-counting and extreme weight loss techniques even once the weight is lost. In fact, what once began as a healthy intent can easily turn into an eating disorder; according to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), about 20 million women and 10 million men suffer from a clinically significant eating disorder at one point during their lifetime and upwards of 57% of adolescent girls take part in detrimental dieting behaviors such as fasting or taking laxatives (1).

However, Instagram communities that foster a sense of positivity with one’s relationship with food are on the rise, and they’re being credited for keeping teenage girls from heading down such a dangerous path (2). Rather than turn to sites that encourage unrealistic body types or extreme weight loss fads, many young girls are learning to love, not loathe, their relationship with food thanks to the popular photo and video network.

How Instagram helps people develop healthier relationships with food

On Instagram, they post pictures of healthy foods containing nourishing ingredients such as cacao nibs, cinnamon, fresh fruits and steel cut oats. With some having followers well into the thousands, teenage girls with accounts titled “nourishandevolve” and “healthforhappy,” create works of art with their foods, making them as stunning to look at as they are to eat.

“As a comparison to other trends, I think this lifestyle really resonates with other people and stands out because it is finally something that seems realistic for everyone, and doesn’t involve restriction,” says Claire (healthylivingaus), who is 17 years old. “Life’s too short for restrictions and we all deserve to be nothing but happy (2).”

Fifteen year-old Lin (tumblinbumblincrumblincookie) agrees. She explains that her involvement with the healthy eating Instagram trend began while she was in the process of recovering from an eating disorder. She now realizes that ” . . . all food is good for you” and enjoys making nourishing foods like hot chocolate oatmeal or fruits topped with cacao nibs (2).

With so much negativity surrounding diets, especially ones with a body-shaming focus that is only intensified with unrealistic media portrayals (can anyone say, “airbrushing?”), it’s refreshing to see communities like this growing. Hopefully they continue to inspire others, not just teenage girls, but people everywhere who need to focus on a healthier relationship with food.

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/get-facts-eating-disorders

(2) http://www.buzzfeed.com/katiejmbaker/teenage-girls-instagram-healthy-food