If you’ve never heard of the infamous “What I Eat in a Day” (WIEIAD) posts on social media, consider yourself better off. If you’re unfamiliar with what this is, it’s basically a post sharing what a particular person eats in a day, as the name suggests. Nowadays, social media is crawling with posts like this, with everyone and their mother feeling like they’re being helpful by sharing exactly what they eat in a day. But the truth is (at least in my opinion), posts like this can actually be more harmful than helpful in the long run. Here’s a few reasons why.
One Size Does Not Fit All
This is perhaps the most obvious reason why WIEIAD posts are not helpful. Because everyone is different. What works well for one person might not work for another person. Everyone has to figure out a system that works for them and fits in with their own lifestyle. Not to mention, people have different food preferences. Just because Sally on Instagram says that she eats brussels sprouts every day doesn’t mean you should if you hate brussels sprouts!
Setting preferences aside, there is still the fact that everyone’s biological needs are different. Calorie needs are based on many things, including height, weight, activity level, metabolic rate, etc. What one particular person needs in a day is not necessarily what others need.
Though most people have eating patterns, it’s still pretty rare for 2 days, let alone every day, to be the same. When people look at a WIEIAD post, they assume that this is how this person eats on a daily basis. Obviously, this is not the case (at least I hope not, or that would be a pretty boring diet). What about weekends, or work parties, or going out to eat with friends, or family dinners? None of these (very normal) occurrences are accounted for in these posts.
Not to mention that, in most cases, these posts are inaccurate simply because the people sharing them often want to be portrayed in a certain way. So their WIEIAD posts are often exaggerated to portray a certain online persona. Social media is known for only showing a person’s “highlight reels,” and these posts are no exception. I’m not saying this is the case in every instance, but it is definitely true for the majority of these posts. No one wants to advertise their off-day where all they did was sit on the couch and eat comfort foods. But the important thing is, sometimes those days are totally necessary and an important part of someone’s self-care routine! Yet, these days are never what we see in WIEIAD posts.
The aim of WIEIAD posts is usually this: to help others who want to look like you know what you eat and try to eat the same so they can look like you. Most of us have fallen into this trap before – following someone on social media because we want their figure/lifestyle/etc, and falling prey to posts like this. This creates an absolutely toxic environment around eating. Goodbye intuitive eating or eating things because you enjoy them or your body needs them. Hello restrictive, overly specific diets filled with things that work for other people. This can be especially detrimental for people who are prone to crash dieting, restrictive eating, or eating disorders.
So in general, if you’re thinking about posting a WIEIAD post, I would advise against it. Even though your intentions may be good and you might only be trying to help people, they generally do not help to promote healthy habits or attitudes towards food. And if you’re thinking of using someone else’s WIEIAD posts to help guide your next diet, I would definitely say don’t. You are so much better off working with a health care professional/dietitian to come up with eating patterns that account for your likes, dislikes, lifestyle, and needs.