Listen, we love TikTok as much as anyone. Where else can you find cute puppies, nifty fashion hacks and amaze book recommendations (that TBR list has never looked better) all in one place? But much like a lot of the info you find on the internet, not everything on the app should be taken at face value—especially nutrition videos.
Over the last year, the wellness community on TikTok has exploded. From healthy grocery guides to protein powder advice, there’s no shortage of content under the nutrition hashtag (which has picked up over 3 billion views).
No doubt this wealth of virtual info has its benefits. For one, it’s easier than ever to find inspiration and motivation for eating better and moving more (and a big yes to that!).
TikTok also gives doctors and other health professionals a way to speak directly to teens who otherwise might not be able to access a wide range of experts.
But the ease of creating content on the app also allows unqualified individuals to make false (and sometimes dangerous) claims about nutrition. Case in point: When an influencer with no medical background (you know who you are) suggests that consuming only green juice for a week is the key to optimal wellness. (Spoiler alert: It’s not.)
Misleading advice like that can lead to unhealthy relationships with food. “Many popular social media accounts focus on restrictive diets and grossly underestimate the amount of food teens need,” explains Dr. Lauren Muhlheim, owner of Eating Disorder Therapy LA. “This portrayal can trigger an eating disorder.”
Alicia T., 13, says “What I Eat in a Day” videos on TikTok often make her feel self-conscious and guilty about the amount of food she eats. “I know it’s dangerous to cut calories, but when I see other girls doing it, it makes me wonder if I should try it, too,” she shares.
And Alicia certainly isn’t alone. There are millions of girls like her who are falling victim to that dangerous comparison trap on social media. The habit can wreak havoc on your mindset—and your physical health.
Of course, this isn’t to say that every single food-centric TikTok is harmful, but you have to be smart about what you, well, consume.
So how do you separate fact from fiction on your feed? We’ve got a few solutions to make sure you’re only getting the best advice.
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