Social media is notorious for being the perfect location for breeding eating disorders, negative body image perceptions, poor mental health status, and so much more. Yet, Instagram foodies have utilized their platforms to showcase realness and vulnerability, and also promote health and wellness in a positive light. 

As someone who has personally struggled to establish a positive relationship with food in the past, I cannot deny the struggles associated with scrolling through an Instagram feed and encountering internal feelings of comparison, expectations, and lack of satisfaction. Just as it is crucial to surround yourself with supportive people in your everyday life, it is also essential to follow those who elicit a positive influence in our everyday feed.

Sharing Realness

A picture is worth more than a thousand words, but behind every picture there is also reality. It is difficult to remind ourselves of this when we see an image that makes us want to compare our reality to what we believe to be that of others. Authenticity and vulnerability are not often expressed on social media, but when they are, they foster a sense of connection and relatability. Crystal Tan of @realwithcrystal establishes her presence on social media by sharing her aesthetic plant-based meals along with the realities and stresses we all encounter in our daily lives. As a college student herself, she not only shares the struggles of balancing school stress with health and fitness, but she also does so in her own personal struggles with her gut health. I truly appreciate this as someone who enjoys being able to empathize with someone else's thoughts and feelings. Creating a community for yourself on social media not only cultivates positivity, but it also encourages you to understand that you are never alone in your day-to-day hardships.

Spreading Positivity

When we scroll through our feeds, it is always nice to experience inspiration and give ourselves a break from our current realities. Amy of @theveggiepalette never fails to lighten up my day with her unique healthy eats and artistic skills. What makes Instagram great is that foodies like Amy can showcase their skills and create things that are beautiful, abstract, and representative of themselves. As a way of displaying her uniqueness, Amy starts with a photo she finds inspiration from, and digitally manipulates it to create her own art. With each piece of art, her captions represent her goals to touch at least one person with a little extra love and establish positivity in the world. Her work is not only something I personally admire, but also reminds us that food has so much meaning, and can be interpreted in a variety of ways. There is a beauty in crafting an Instagram page, but there is always a reality behind each post—and @theveggiepalette exhibits the best of both worlds with her one-of-a-kind photos and captions. 

Rejecting Diet Culture

One of the things that I always struggled with was restricting myself from foods that my body was craving and establishing an overall positive relationship with food. It can be so easy to become influenced by a single snapshot, either in positive or negative ways. Nat Rosay of @wakeupandsmelltherosay is a healthy foodie I admire not only for her delicious everyday loaded oatmeal bowls, but also for her dedication to rejecting diet culture—a system of beliefs that supports weight loss, thinness, and food restriction. She encourages her followers to listen to their bodies by eating intuitively, and she never fails to fuel her body—eating to satisfy her own hunger without living up to the pressures of calorie counting or macronutrient tracking. Just as it is important to remember that inspiration and comparison are two separate entities, it is also important to realize that everyone's body and energy intake are different, and Nat Rosay acknowledges this.

While it is a challenge to avoid comparison both in our everyday lives and when we are scrolling through our social media feeds, we can alter who we choose to surround ourselves with by cultivating positivity and support in our community. Healthy foodies in the health and wellness niche on Instagram are not only sharing the recipes to their food creations but also trying to establish a positive influence on social media. Social media doesn't always have to be looked at in a negative light; through the mindset of what is considered reality vs. ideal, I hope you will be able to grow and flourish in both your everyday lives and presence on social media.