Why are “what I eat in a day” videos harmful?
Updated: Nov 19
I was genuinely tempted to make the title of this post "What I eat in a day videos are harmful" and leave it at that. Because the extent of my opinion is summarized by this title. For once, I will go for black-or-white (!) and forgo any nuance: WIEIAD videos are harmful, and I do not recommend them to anyone in eating disorder recovery.
But just in case you are one to appreciate arguments or seek to understand why these might be contributing to your struggles in recovery, here is more.
Why are WIEIAD videos harmful?
Meg and I discuss our thoughts about these videos in our latest YouTube episode and I wanted to expand on some of these.
WIEIAD videos focus on looks
The body shape and size of the content creator is most likely on display from the start (saying “hi!” in a full-length mirror or “fake waking up” in bed then getting out gracefully wearing minimal clothing) and the food they eat is also visually pleasing (cute breakfast bowls, colorful smoothies, perfectly presented dishes). In ED recovery, we try to move away from this hyperfocus on how everything looks to get in tune with how things feel and what they give us access to in terms of living life. So basically, the opposite.
WIEIAD videos often promote disordered behaviours
From ridiculously small portions, to BS “nutrition tips” sprinkled throughout the videos and intense exercise regimens, these videos often provide us with yet another example of diet culture in action. I have VERY rarely seen a WIEIAD video from a human with an actual normalized eating and movement pattern, living a relatively “normal” life.
Not only do these videos promote unhealthy behaviours, they can skew someone’s perception and understanding of proper portion sizes and/or healthy (for real) movement habits. I understand that you may struggle with connecting to a “sense” or “intuition” when it comes to feeding yourself, but this really isn’t the place to find the education to figure that out.
WIEDAD videos lead to comparison
Even if someone was sharing their very normal relationship with food and movement in a video, the reality is also that for those in recovery, it is very easy to fall in the comparison trap. ED’s are very competitive in nature and you might already struggle with looking at those around you for pointers about how you eat and whether that is “ok” – we don’t need to add to your struggle. (Especially consider the point made above.)
WIEIAD videos lack individualized and/or sound guidance
These videos aren’t made by qualified and specialized professionals. No such professional would ever give specific guidance about your nutritional needs without getting to know you. No professional would directly or indirectly suggest that eating and moving in a specific way would lead to a defined body-based outcome.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach to eating or moving. And there is no such thing at “following this one plan and getting this other person’s physique as the outcome.” That’s a delightful (sarcasm) mix of diet culture and greed. Do yourself a favor and spend your money and attention on other sources.
So what other alternative do you have to those WIEIAD videos?
The most obvious one is working with a dietitian on a 1:1 basis. This is how you can get the most qualified and personalized recommendations. I do realize that this is not financially accessible to everyone, but I can’t emphasize enough that if portion sizes, adequacy, hunger, fullness, gentle nutrition, etc. feel a little fuzzy to you, then working with such a professional will be key in normalizing your relationship with food, movement and your body.
Other tips for finding supportive information:
Follow qualified and specialized dietitians and nutritionists on social media – there is a lot of content now available for free online. Here are a few accounts I highly rate:
Read books and articles about the RAVES framework and about intuitive eating for ED recovery
Listen to podcasts lead by or interviewing specialists in the field
Join online groups like The Recovery Collective for monthly meal support sessions!
Do you need food inspiration because you are in a rut in recovery?
Search for recipes! Many ED specialized dietitians have blogs that include helpful recipes.
Do you need help with figuring out what your needs and genuine preferences are?
Work with an ED dietitian.
Food and movement are individual.
Different bodies. Different days. Different needs. Different paths.
My name is Anne-Claire Jedrzejczak and I am a certified eating disorder recovery coach, mental health advocate and recovery survivor.
I guide others every day through their disordered thought and behavioural patterns in order to help them build a fuller more authentic life - aligned with what they value and dream of.
If you are looking for a weight-neutral practitioner with practical tools to complete your existing team or build one with you, please do reach out through the contact form on this website!