There is one thing in life I am sure of: I do not care what you ate today. Or yesterday. Or what you plan to eat tomorrow.
I should preface this by clearly stating that I have no problem with food itself. Food is fine. Food is GREAT. I’d even go as far to say it’s critical for human survival.
But, just as I do not need to know how many times you urinated today, or what you dreamt about last night, I have no interest in reading about your ‘day on a plate’.
This week, I found myself yelling at my computer screen, as I was confronted by a sponsored article that has crept into my news feed approximately 32 times. The title read, “This is exactly what Anna Heinrich eats in a day.”
But… why would I want to know that?
The way the headline was posed, was almost as though this was a question I had actually asked. As though they’d finally uncovered the answer to the universe’s most compelling question, and I was going to run around to all my friends and excitedly exclaim, “GUYS – AFTER ALL THESE YEARS OF WONDERING, WE KNOW. WE FINALLY KNOW. IT’S SALAD WITH PROTEIN THAT ANNA HEINRICH EATS FOR LUNCH!”
Heinrich is a criminal lawyer and a blogger and an all-round pretty impressive chick. Why are we talking about what she eats? Why do we need to talk about what anyone eats? Why on earth is that interesting?
That’s the thing about recounting what celebrities eat in a day; it is literally never surprising.
It’s always a smoothie for breakfast, with kale of course. Protein and salad for lunch. Fish of some sort for dinner. A trillion litres of water, and two and a half almonds as a snack. If they are being really ‘naughty’ they’ll have a square of dark chocolate, which they hurriedly justify by explaining, “I go to the gym everyday, so sometimes it’s important I treat myself.”
Which brings me to my next problem with these recounted diets: there is a very good chance that they’re a little bit bullsh*t.
Ask anyone what they ate in the last 24 hours, and their memories become very selective. Just like your Facebook timeline and the stuff they edit together in reality TV show promos, the ‘what I eat in a day’ article is a closely curated highlight reel of healthy eating.
If you’re in the business of #fitspo and #cleaneating, that boring piece of burnt vegemite toast you shoved in your mouth on your way out this morning? Not going to make the highlights.
Meshel Laurie talks eating disorders on the Nitty Gritty Committee. Post continues below.
Apart from being boring and potentially untrue, the public announcement of what someone physically placed inside their mouth over a 24-hour period, can be harmful.
Inevitably, we end up comparing our worst day with their best, and we walk away feeling bad about ourselves.
If I search ‘What I eat in a day’ on YouTube, I am presented with 22 and a half million results.
The first page includes “SUPER CLEAN Hawaii prep – What I eat in a day” and “What I eat in a day as a model.”
Whether they’re intended to be or not, once you post a video on the Internet that will be overwhelmingly consumed by young women, the information becomes instructive.
To suggest that it’s just a harmless insight into their everyday lives is naive.
In one profile I read, “Her favourite snacks include raw almonds, raisins, coconut water, kale juice, lemon juice and of course lots of water.”
Excuse me, but her favourite snack is literally water.
When we are inundated with (overwhelmingly) women filming what they eat in a day, writing about what they eat in a day, and talking about what they eat in a day, the very act of eating becomes performative. Not to mention competitive.
It also reinforces the idea that one's health is visible to the naked eye.
Profiles of diets are almost always accompanied by a number of images of the subject looking thin and toned. "Just eat what's on this page, and soon enough you'll look like me," they whisper to the reader.
Case in point: The article featuring Heinrich ends with, "'I eat well the majority of the time, and [if I’ve indulged] I make sure I’m not too hard on myself. I don’t feel guilty, I exercise every day and I pay attention to my portions,' which, we think, is a philosophy we can all learn from – don’t you?"
Why are we learning about nutrition (philosophy?) from someone's 'day on a plate'?
So 20-year-old bloggers, women struggling with eating disorders themselves, and highly curated celebrities, have become the experts on health, and our diets have never been worse.
The problem today, is that we're obsessed with food. Whether it's eating too much, too little, or attributing a moral value to everything that enters our mouth - we're obsessed.
And, in my opinion, the rise of the 'what I eat in a day' formula is doing far more harm than good.
Do you read those 'Day on a plate' stories?