Navigating Food Trends in the Age of Social Media

The digital world is buzzing with all kinds of wellness tips, superfoods, and nutrition trends – but which information is evidence-based and appropriate for you and your family?

It can be difficult to navigate the wellness world with all its diet trends and health fads. Luckily, once you know what to look for, it can be easy to figure out what’s helpful and what’s not. Let’s break it down!


Identify the Claim

Nutrition emphasizes overall wellness, not just one or two foods. Websites or articles that claim that a certain food is the key to perfect health may be misleading. Examples of misleading headings or social media posts might sound like: “Eat 3 cups of blueberries per day for quick weight loss!” or “All you need to be healthy is kale!”


While “superfoods” like blueberries and kale can be great for the body, it’s more important to focus on eating an overall balanced diet than specific foods. There is no scientific basis behind the term “superfood”, although it can be a fun way for kids to identify healthy foods.

Understand who’s writing or sharing the information. The easiest way to check if something is useful information is to see if the author or blogger has legitimate credentials. Here’s a list of some common ones:

· RD or RDN – registered dietitian that has gone through at least 4 years of training!

· MD or DO – physician

· MPH – public health expert

· PT – physical therapist

Check if the information is evidence-based. The Internet is a place for all kinds of opinions. However, not all the information posted online is scientific. You can determine if something is fact or opinion online by checking where the information was published: is it a university or hospital website? Is it a blog run by a credentialed or experienced team? Is the post trying to


Eating for the Mind and Body

Create positive connections with food. Link food to positive emotions and experiences, such as helping in the kitchen and eating together. Be careful with associating food with physical appearance. For example, although maintaining a healthy weight is important for all ages, it can be harmful to emphasize eating to lose weight instead of eating for well-being.

Talk about the “perfect body”, and other social media trends. Children are constantly exposed to messages about physical appearance on TV and social media. Teach kids that healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes and help them identify positive role models.

The enormous amount of nutrition advice that is available online can feel overwhelming, and in some cases, it can do more harm than good. Finding trusted sources of nutrition information is important for both adults and growing children.

Sources:

Superfoods or Superhype? Harvard School of Public Health

Food Trends John Hopkins Medicine

Teach Kids Body Positivity Northwest Primary Care


About the Author: Ayesha Mohammad is a dietetic student and intern currently earning her BS degree in nutrition science at the University of Chicago in Illinois. She has a passion for public health and is currently working on research linking nutrition to cancer risk in urban populations. She hopes to help address health disparities across the globe.

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