How the “What I Eat In a Day” Trend Perpetuates Harmful Diet Culture

By Julia Kemp

From weightloss pills to extreme calorie counting, diet culture has existed in the lives of everyday people, specifically young women, for centuries. Though the concept of dieting has evolved over the past few years from constant recommendations for new diets to a more subtle, “body positive” approach, dieting goals and unrealistic body standards continue to exist in the minds of almost every young person in America. The “what I eat in a day” trend on TikTok is one instance in which young social media-users continue the diet-culture conditioning of our appearance-obsessed society.

“What I eat in a day” videos consist of a Tik Tok creator sharing their meals throughout the day. While some videos under the “what I eat in a day” hashtag feature creators who are recovering from eating disorders and wish to share their journey toward healthy eating, most consist of thin, conventionally attractive people sharing their microscopic portions of “healthy” foods. Though most of the videos do not explicitly feature the words “calorie,” “diet,” or “weight,” these videos perpetuate ideas of toxic diet culture nonetheless. These creators who display their damaging eating habits directly followed by clips of their ideal lives and bodies harmfully show the impressionable youth of TikTok that attractiveness can be defined by what you eat. The creators’ grotesque solutions to the body image issues of their audiences online lead people to extremely harmful eating disorders and self-loathing. 

When it comes to immensely unsafe practices like extreme dieting, unqualified users on TikTok should not have the platform to preach harmful eating practices to the millions of people who religiously view TikToks as facts. At the end of the day, creators of videos under the “what I eat in a day” hashtag simply boast of their flawless diets in order to mask the body insecurities that lay in their own mentalities. These creators use “what I eat in a day” videos as a crutch; they place their own traumas with food to the minds of other food-obsessed users, and the passing of unhealthy eating habits and unrealistic body standards simply leaps from screen-to-screen of every young person on TikTok.