My experience with Instagram
Instagram as a source of inspiration
I love Instagram and I especially love looking at food photos! In the last 3 years, I’ve followed hundreds of amazing accounts showcasing fresh vegetables and fruits, healthy meals, fun healthy desserts and snacks, and delicious bowls and salads. My favorite hashtags are #eattherainbow, #realfood, and #eatyourveggies.
I also enjoy following travel pics as they inspire me and make me dream. I think they also more than inspire me, they influence me on my actual travels and I do plan some of my trips based on some Instagram advice and a lot more research of course.
Fitness is also big on Instagram, running pics are popular too but I do have to say that I am choosy in those I follow because I am not into “the perfect body culture” and I find it often resorts to that.
In the healthy food world, I follow some other health coaches, naturopaths, holistic nutritionists, dieticians, nutritionists, fitness buffs, chefs, doctors, healers, food companies… I love reading about different people’s food journeys, their ups and downs, their inspirations, their diets, etc.
Instagram on balanced eating and living
These days, there is a huge Instagram trend on balance and I think this is very healthy! I love how some healthy foodies or fitness junkies will post one day about green smoothies and the next day a tall stack of pancakes: #balance, #everythinginmoderation, #norestrictions
And most of all, body acceptance is now a trend, one that I find very healthy as well. People are stirring away from restrictive eating, they are embracing their bodies, their curves, their stretch marks, or so they say. I love every effort that is made in that direction and I love reading the different journeys on these posts as well: #bodyacceptance, #selflove
Instagram is not a good source for research; you don’t need to be an expert to have an Instagram account and give expert advice
Now, of course, like many others, I can also see the dangers in Instagram. If you don’t know much about healthy eating and you follow people who you believe to be healthy, it is easy to be misguided and to be influenced to eat unhealthy foods thinking they are healthy. We have to keep in mind that people will go to any lengths to make their pictures look good. I’ve noticed, for example, that anything with chocolate gets more likes. Dark chocolate in moderation can be healthy but a smoothie bowl that is garnished with 3 chocolate cookies is no longer very healthy. So be knowledgeable first, before scrolling on Instagram, and then use it as inspiration and not education. Unless you follow someone that you consider a good source, a specialist, and you know you can trust their evidence based information.
Vegan, gluten-free, paleo, or keto; these are not synonyms for healthy
Then, it is important to remember that people eat in different ways for different reasons. It is possible that some vegan foods, gluten free foods, or paleo approved foods can be unhealthy. These labels do not make foods automatically healthy. The best example is that Oreos are vegan but they are mostly processed food that contain a lot of sugar, inflammatory oils, and additives.
I also find that if something is gluten free, there are good chances that it is made with white rice flour, potato starch or corn starch. These flours are less than healthy because they are highly refined and they will make your blood sugar spike. There are many very healthy gluten-free foods but that tag alone is not enough to mean healthy.
Paleo diets are often very healthy because they feature unprocessed foods, mostly vegetables and sustainable meats. There are also some paleo desserts that can be made that are low sugar and unrefined but if you start following paleo dessert accounts and start making paleo desserts every day, you may be consuming too much sugar even if it’s unprocessed sugar or too many nuts or nuts flours even if nuts can be extremely healthy in moderation.
Watch out for portion size
Portion size!! I cannot stress about this enough! I love making smoothie bowls but when I make one healthy portion, my bowl looks empty! On Instagram, the bowls are always overflowing making them look lush and decadent. My new trick to make my smoothie bowls look fuller is that I use these cute mini-bowls and then I can fill them closer to the top. I’ve come across a lot of recipes on Instagram that require 2-3 bananas on top of more fruit for one smoothie portion. I love fresh fruit and I recommend it to all my clients but we have to be mindful of our portions. One to 2 fruits per portion is more than enough because of the natural sugars they contain. One banana and 1 cup of berries for example would be excellent or even half a banana may be enough to give just enough sweet taste.
This all depends of course on who is eating it, how tall they are, how much exercise they do… The same goes for pasta, I see these huge bowls of pasta or what they call “gluten-free” pasta and although I don’t think pasta is necessarily unhealthy, portion size matters, don’t believe the photo!! The stack of pancakes is also very beautiful and mouth-watering and even if it’s made with wholefoods, wholegrains, nut flours and so forth, one tall stack is too much for one person!
Don’t compare yourself
I mentioned above that balance is now popular on Instagram. People are striving for balance in the way they eat as well as in the way they live. This is positive because too much restriction doesn’t make people happy. That being said, there are all these people that claim to eat pizza, donuts, and ice cream but who still look like supermodels and I believe there is something false about that as well. I agree about not stressing about food and not striving to be perfect because that can lead to eating disorders and unhappiness. But let’s be realistic and understand that healthy eating is important for our health and moderation means moderation. Not caring and eating pizza all the time can seem liberating to some but if you are sick and left with no energy, you will not be in a better place.
Take it for what it’s worth
Instagram is good in moderation!! Just like food! I love scrolling through, being inspired, getting ideas, seeing beautiful colors, and learning little tidbits about other people, other cultures, new foods, new destinations, new restaurants, and new recipes. I don’t believe everything I see and I try to not compare myself to others. And sometimes, I have to put my phone down and enjoy a little bit of real life…
A few accounts that I really enjoy:
Healthy desserts (to be enjoyed in moderation once in a while):
Easy vegetarian and vegan meals:
Travel and food photography: