At this point, most of us are pretty well aware of the diet culture lurking on Tik Tok from “What I Eat in a Day” videos to fitness plans touting magic weight loss and “that girl” wellness brands. Recently, diet culture has been increasingly taking on a sneaky form on social media in the form of “healthy hacks.” This advertises “healthy” versions of food and drinks, usually reducing their overall caloric values.
Often this looks like a “healthy” Snickers bar (e.g. dates and agave), “healthy” pizza (e.g. ground chicken or cauliflower crust) and most alarmingly the recent “healthy” coke trend (e.g. balsamic vinegar and seltzer water). Yes, you read that correctly. People are drinking VINEGAR and convincing themselves it’s like Coca-Cola.
These “healthy hacks” videos frequently go viral on Tik Tok prompting influencers, celebrities and our peers to try them out and react online. However, the narratives around these videos are hugely problematic and damaging in implying that the original food or drink – pizza, candy, pasta, soda, etc. are bad, wrong or “unhealthy.”
The existence of the “substitute” makes us feel guilty for eating the original version. In reality, food has no morality. It’s not good or bad, it simply is. It’s diet culture that tries to make us think otherwise. You’re not shameful for choosing the regular cheese pizza when a cauliflower version exists. (This all is caveated by if you have a diagnosed medical condition, such as celiac disease, that prevents you from consuming items such as gluten).
Given the way in which social media algorithms prioritize this kind of content and the viral reaction it receives, they’re likely here to stay. And you may even find them amusing or intriguing enough to try (I’m still scratching my head about the Coke one….). If that’s the case, I encourage you to look closely at your motivations for doing so and judgments with the following journal prompts:
- Am I simply curious about the taste of this or am I only doing it because of how it impacts my body or making myself smaller? What are my motivations for doing so?
- What meaning do I attach to this food on its own? How can I restructure that?
- Who profits off this substitution – is it a specific food company, person or brand?
Life is too short to eat powdered peanut butter and pretend it tastes just as good. Reclaim the JOY food can bring. If you’re interested in exploring your relationship with food and your body, schedule a free consultation with a therapist in our practice by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
By: Maddy Weingast, Assistant for Wildflower Therapy LLC