It’s hard to admit, but I am a very competitive person, I struggle with comparison, and have a rocky history with food. When I see a ‘what I eat in a day post’ or even an image of what someone had for a meal, it can send me in a downward spiral of needing to one-up what’s on their plate. Even if I have no connection to that person I can’t help but compare.
We are surrounded by so many stories of what is the best way to eat that it can be easy to lose touch with what your body is actually in need of. The constant bombardment of what someone else’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack looks like means I am making choices based on being better than them. So much so that I stop listening to my body.
Your internal cues are being tuned out by what you see others eating.
There is also the layer of feeling like you are not eating the right/best/healthiest way, thus harming your body. Guilt or even shame for eating certain foods can occur, which can further damage your relationship with food. This is especially true when you are working on cultivating a positive relationship to food whether it comes from struggling with disordered eating or finding your food allergy footing. Your internal cues are being tuned out by what you see others eating.
What I eat in a day meets food allergies
Now tack on multiple food allergies. Sometimes you can’t help but compare what you can’t or can have with others. A meal that contains my allergens may look much more beautiful than the simple and safe option, so of course you can’t help but feel emotional.
There are two things going on. First, I still tend to moralize food by making it good or bad. Hence my issue with comparing and ultimately judging. The second, experiencing negative emotions towards food as a sense of missing out or longing can occur.
With the popularity of sharing food on social media it is very hard to escape plate comparison. I am guilty of sharing in the past and even now when I cook something I am proud of, I share it. But where is the line? When do you see inspiration and when does it cause harm?
What an expert says about what I eat in a day
We have asked Registered Dietiant Alida, our Health Contributor, to weigh in on the what I eat in a day phenomenon, to get an expert’s point of view.
Words from Alida:
“Social feeds are a highlight reel – our happiest moments, best angles, and most beautiful plates. Just like unrealistic beauty standards, lots of food and eating experiences we see shared on social media aren’t reflective of normal, everyday realities.
It’s not realistic or normal for every meal to have 15 different ingredients and be beautifully plated. If this is the only thing you are seeing and it becomes your new standard for what healthy, perfect eating looks like, you’ll get yourself into a situation where what you feel is right or best is conveniently unattainable. The result? Feeling badly about yourself, and maybe even skipping meals (I can’t make it perfect so might as well not even try).
We also have to remember that what we are seeing on social media isn’t the whole story. While your favourite influencer might be posting smoothie bowls, extravagant brunch spreads, and superfood salads, ask yourself what could be missing? That ham and cheese sandwich they had for lunch? Pizza or burger night? Frozen dinners and canned soups? These foods can all be part of normal eating, and nothing to be ashamed about. Just because it’s not insta-worthy, doesn’t mean it’s not healthy or worth-eating.
When we are unsure of what we need and what’s best for us, it’s common to turn to others to set an example, maybe even a standard, for whether or not we are doing it ‘right’. The truth is we have to come to terms with what is right and what is best for us can (and probably should) be different from those around you. It can be so hard to listen to ourselves and trust ourselves, especially when we are trying to find our footing. And it’s exactly what we need to do if we want to finally get to a place of feeling good about food and leading a truly nourished life.” – Alida Iacobellis, RD
As I continue to work on my need to compare and heal my relationship to food, we have taken a pledge here on Zestfull to help our readers find joy and a healthy happy connection to food. This means we will try our utmost not to tell you what you should eat. Instead, we want to inspire you to fall in love with food and see all its possibilities.
Kortney is your typical atopic triad who manages asthma, eczema and multiple food allergies. Kortney is a co-creator of the online community Allergy Travels and co-host of The Itch Podcast. She wants to spread joy in a community that can easily see the hard side of life with atopic disease and believes that you can have a full life with food allergies, it may just be lived a little differently!