The Problem with ‘‘What I Eat in A Day’’ Posts

Why I'm not interested in what other people eat in a day

Zeynep Demirelli

12/2/20211 min read

I realized that I spend a lot of time in the Explore section of Instagram. As it is tailor-made for me, it only shows me the things that I am interested in. Or at least what Instagram thinks I am interested in. I see many posts on; recovery tips, food freedom, health at every size movement, body positivity, and so on. Oh, and lots of ‘‘What I Eat in A Day’’ posts.

And Instagram could not be more wrong, I am really not interested in what other people eat in a day.

For those who do not know, ‘‘What I Eat in A Day’’ posts include a picture or a video of everything a person consumes in a day. It is quite popular among influencers and celebrities but also people who are recovering from an eating disorder.

Most of the time accounts that post this kind of content sincerely mean no harm. It is usually to show others struggling with an eating disorder how a recovering person eats in a day - mainly to encourage people to do the same. I am sure they are helpful for at least some, but I believe that they do more harm than good.

Let me explain why.

Each time I see a ‘‘What I Eat in A Day’’ post, I cannot help but tap on it. I just have to look (on second thought, maybe this is why Instagram keeps showing me these posts). It never ends with a glance.

I scroll through each slide nervously to see what they have consumed throughout the day. I think about their macronutrients, trying to figure out how many calories each meal has. Bonus points if the post includes a picture of their body, if it does not, I neurotically search for one in their profile. I try to make a link between their body and what they are eating, then move on to comparing what I eat and how my body would look if I ate like that. That never ends well. It evokes competitive feelings and disordered thoughts even in me, a fully recovered person. So I cannot imagine the effect it may have on a person who is actually currently struggling with an eating disorder.

Moreover, these posts are an unwanted reminder of what I am actually eating in a day. For me, the most difficult part of the recovery was getting rid of the constant hyper-awareness of what I put in my body. Such posts are a call to my old disordered self, who kept track of every food and constantly thought about what to (and not to) eat next. They are also a call to my inner voice, who judged me for my food choices. It took a lotof therapy sessions, willpower, and time to get rid of my disordered self. However, it takes a glimpse of a post of ‘‘What I Eat in A Day’’ to bring it back.

Thankfully, my therapy sessions have armed me with different skills and techniques to deal with any kind of trigger I may face —so this situation does not bother me for more than 5 minutes. Yet I know for a fact that it may be quite problematic for some people.

One last —and the most important reason why they are not helpful is that simply every body is different. What has worked for someone may not work for another at all. Some people may find themselves eating more in recovery, while others may eat less. Everyone has their own list of safe foods and fear foods, which may influence what kinds of food they will eat while trying to recover. It all depends on the needs of the person and the subjective experience of their disorder. Although sharing experiences with each other helps us feel less alone and less crazy, I believe that any kind of information that may trigger the slightest urge of competition should be omitted. How much weight we have gained or lost during recovery, for example, should be kept to ourselves; just as what we eat in a day.