Navigating the Clean Eating Foodie World of Instagram

Navigating the Clean Eating Foodie World of Instagram

While rummaging through Instagram this morning, I started to think about all these foodie pictures of what folks post for breakfast. And snacks. And then I started to think more. The RD in me started counting the calories in some of the photos and I am like dang, there is about 800 calories in this “smoothie bowl” for breakfast. 

I will say this, I love Instagram foodie photos for inspiration and to say, “ohhh that is very pretty…” but I think it is possible to be mislead by the whole sprinkle of this and sprinkle of that. Long story short but if I was a non-active 35 year old woman (okay, perhaps let’s pretend I do yoga twice a week and use the elliptical 3 days), I certainly do not need all of these add ons. I mean, have you seen photos of melted nut butters (heaping spoonful) and some already drenched on the stack of buckwheat pancakes, some maple syrup, a bunch of crushed walnuts, a sliced banana around the plate, and a random sprinkle of pumpkin seeds? One, this isn’t necessarily what I have time to make in the morning (possible feeling of guilt because I don’t have this ability) and second, how much of this do I eat? Because ya’ll seem perfectly happy with eating the whole thing but my waistline is pretty sure I probably should not.

I am not saying those ingredients are bad for you!! Each of them are, in fact, let’s be realistic — eat the things you love in moderation. But, what I am saying is, it is important to not be mislead to the notion that all of these things are right for you just because they are associated with a “healthy” or “clean eating” IG account. In addition, there is more and more discussion on eating too healthy, the intrigue of social media influence on eating healthy, and the pressures to do so (would this be considered the stepford wife thing of today?).

Let’s do two exercises of  recent photos seen on IG. It was a smoothie bowl with the ingredients:

  • 1 sliced banana (120 calories)
  • 1 sliced up (“clean”) energy bar (200 calories)
  • 1 heaping spoonful of nut butter (~180 calories)
  • 1 small swirl of jam (~60 calories)
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt (depends on type, but let’s go with ~170 calories)
  • cacao nibs, 1 oz (180 calories)
  • 1/2 cup blueberries (40 calories)
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds (180 calories)

Total Calories = 1,130 calories

The author of this post? Most certainly not a highly active individual, but rather someone healthy and holistic. My point is, this seems to be a lot of calories for most people at breakfast. I don’t have complaints about the ingredients, but as a whole, this is pretty hefty.

Now let’s look at 2 slices of hefty avocado toast:

  • 2 slices of hearty sprouted toast (~210 calories)
  • 1 whole avocado, sliced looking really pretty (320 calories)
  • 2 eggs sunny side up (~140 calories)
  • 1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese (~90 calories)
  • sesame seeds, salt, pepper (1/2 tsp ~25 calories)
  • a few cherry tomatoes (don’t worry about it)

Total Calories = 785 calories

The author of this post? Just a girl that loves avocadoes and eating clean and has 25K followers. Let’s say a friend trying to lose weight is following this and tells me she eats this for breakfast, my first thought is to cut it in half or, let’s take away some toppings or sub some out. You really don’t need a whole avocado (although it looks amazing in photos and secretly I would like to bathe in avocado).

I guess what I am trying to say is, from my perspective is, when you look at these photos, also consider the end product and perhaps question if this should just be for inspiration or should you follow that post to a T. Also, instead of relying on Instafamous IG foodie accounts that claim to be the ideal resource for healthy eating, talk to a registered dietitian to really figure out a blue print of what is best for you. We love all of these foods, but to perfectly honest, even as a marathon runner, I don’t eat close to 800-1,000 calories for breakfast. I do eat all these foods, but I eat them throughout the day in different ways. NOTE: yes, some of my clients DO eat this or more for breakfast, but they are elite or highly active athletes (or weight gaining). 

Let me be clear though, for those out there doing these beautiful photos, I do applaud you for making these photoshoots (do you throw the food away after, do you eat it, do you share it, I am always so intrigued…?) and having the time to do it because in real life, my plates are so messy and probably dog hair fell onto it. Thank you for your inspiration and passion for food. At the end of the day, to the follower, just ask yourself ultimately how would you follow that same concoction?