Social media influencers set a dangerous precedent for healthy eating

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The average Instagram athlete curates their daily posts like a diet: they’re around 34 per cent training tips, 19 per cent lengthy motivational posts, 47 per cent healthy recipes, and they show no sign of anything resembling real life.
 
As social media’s healthy living community continues to grow, it sets a dangerous standard for those in search of accessible self-improvement strategies. Their detailed training and eating logs are well-intentioned, but they ignore the core principle of healthy eating: one size doesn’t fit all.
 
For those tuning into athletes’ Instagram stories every day, influencers represent a path to personal improvement. If taken the wrong way, that’s perhaps the most problematic part of their online presence.
 
These accounts are flawed when it comes to acknowledging reality. Only a handful of people can pair months of physical activity with consistently nutritious meals—it often takes a privileged life to do so because of the hours of commitment and financial stability necessary.
 
This creates a fertile ground for injuries. While going for a morning run might be realistic, assembling a nutritious breakfast before class might not, whether due to time constraints or limited grocery budgeting. 
 
If imbalanced training becomes a consistent habit, the statistics don’t bode well. 
 
For women, poor eating habits coupled with intense training are widely known to create energy deficiencies, menstrual disturbances, and bone loss—all contributors to serious injuries. While men don’t exhibit identical symptoms, the results are often similar. Both show the importance of understanding your needs.
 
The responsibility to ensure dangerous habits aren’t adopted is something we’ve also had to consider at The Journal.
 
Earlier this winter, we acknowledged our influence as a media outlet before publishing a story on eating disorders in athletes. We asked ourselves if we should detail the eating habits of those who’ve suffered from disordered eating. Considering those readers who may’ve seen these habits as a weight-loss method, we realized that including details could be damaging. 
 
It’s this level of awareness that feels absent from social media influencer’s content, which harkens back to the idea that everyone’s needs are different.
 
It’s nobody’s fault Instagram has become a go-to cookbook when buying a book is costly and internet recipes are complicated to navigate. And for what it’s worth, it’s encouraging to see athletes undertake a form of social contribution.
 
However, social responsibility is still a responsibility. It’s critical for influencers to understand the stock people take in the information they spread. 
 
When our attention is fixated on the world’s best, it’s up to us to understand our needs—not theirs—above anything else.
 
Matt is The Journal’s Sports Editor. He’s a third-year English major.
 

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