We’ve all either done it or been exposed to it countless times. There’s no avoiding it. Food pictures are everywhere. Floating around Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, being tagged up with hashtags that continue to gain momentum thanks to a surge in healthy eating trend.
Social media is often criticized for contributing to mental health issues. With millions of people giving you a highlight reel of their ‘best bits’, it can understandably cause people to assume that this will cascade into an anxiety and a generation whom all feel inadequate.
However – in a bid not to digress and dilute this article with my own opinion, I’ll go back to the recent research that counters the negative argument of social media.
Research from the University of Washington examining the impact of Instagram on eating habits suggest social media may in fact have positive influence on healthy eating habits.
The study outlines that uploading pictures of what you eat not only allows you to visually log and track your diet, but also provides a platform for accountability, which is a crucial element for diet longevity and adherence.
The study collected and examined qualitative data from 16 thorough interviews with individuals who regularly record and expose their eating habits to their followers and extended social reach using hashtags on Instagram.
A common theme shared by interviewee test subjects highlighted how valuable the sense of community is in allowing them to remain on track with their dieting protocol. The platform brings together individuals with this mutual and often demanding goal of eating healthy foods and avoiding ‘junk food’.
Furthermore, the social media platform allows for users to create numerous accounts, allowing users to host their dieting log on a profile that doesn’t bombard friends and family with constant food pictures, only exposing their diet to people who are genuinely interested and want to help.
The sense of community at users disposal and being able to visually log food intake has led to many people switching to utilize this means of eating healthy, as opposed to others apps such as myfitnesspal.
This study utilised qualitative protocol to examine the effectiveness of social media as a tool for a healthy eating, however to examine the true effectiveness of the support of a social media community some quantitative data would be necessary. Quantitative data with regards to dietary goals may include body composition, body weight, lipid profile examination and anatomical measurements. This would paint a clearer picture of the rate of physiological change as a result of a social media induced dietary adherence