Mornings have always been nutritious cereals and fruit, rather than Lucky Charms or Pop Tarts like the other kids who would beg their parents in the grocery store. Lunch was a healthy and mindfully packed box that I knew I was better off eating than those frozen chicken nuggets that had been sitting in the lunch line all day. I knew my food was backed by love and nutrition, that my parents would never give me anything that made me feel sick. I knew that vegetables were amazing for me: carrots made my eyes see for miles ahead. Pasta the night before a soccer tournament gave me energy, allowed me to run my fastest up and down the field. My daily glass of milk made my small bones grow big and strong.
The Betrayal of Food
Why have the same foods that built my body up, suddenly become so toxic in today’s society? I have never just mindlessly believed the foods I ate when I was younger were healthy, but have actually reaped the benefits of them throughout my life. My eyes are sharp, bones are strong and know that a grain cereal starts my day on the right track. I am now, though, culpable to the belief that the same perfectly nutritious foods I grew up on, have somehow transformed over time to ruin lives, bodies, and minds. For example, it seems like milk has basically become the cause of everything bad in life, and refined carbs make you sick and run down.
Then, for some reason, certain foods have also been deemed pure magic. Chia seeds, apple cider vinegar, and avocados are considered miracles. They can cure any human body and undo any damage if you simply just eat them. I’ve had days where I’m hit with a wave of wanting a quick fix, to transform my already pretty healthy diet, into something remarkable. I’ll toss a couple fistfuls of chia seeds on top of my smoothie and call it a day. These types of foods are so healthy for you, but so are thousands of other foods that we are so fortunate to have access to. Most foods can fuel the body just as well as a piece of avocado toast. However, for some reason, a culture of trusting certain foods to transform lives has been created and spread like wildfire over social media. Instagram accounts run by college-aged influencers, validating their nutritional knowledge by the amount of followers they have, has created a community where some foods are praised as life saving, while others are seen as absolutely toxic.
The Social Media Diet Plan
Its diets like Veganism, Whole30, and specifically the concept of Food Combining that have rooted the fear of certain food groups into the minds of its cult followers. Food Combining is not a list of certain foods to eat, or a restrictive plan to lose pounds. Food Combining is a way of eating derived from Western philosophy that states certain foods must not be paired and eaten with others in order to maximize nutrition, digestion, and a sound state of mind. The path Food Combining has taken from Eastern Asian medicine to American girls on Instagram is fascinating. It has been promoted by influencers through ebooks, and posts drawing out its strict rules. Fruit first, always, in the morning. (Fruit is not digested well with other foods, so you must eat it 30 minutes before anything else in order to maximize skinny-ness). Grains can be eaten with vegetables. Meats can be eaten with vegetables. (However, meat makes you gain weight so it is not encouraged). Grains and meats cannot be eaten together, period. (If you eat a piece of chicken and some rice on the side, your stomach will become insanely bloated). It is as if eating is now about tip toeing around food to gain the perfectly sized waist, rather than fueling to gain a healthy and happy body. On paper, food combining sounds absolutely ridiculous, but people truly preach this way of eating.
Food Combining, The Newest Fad
Food combining to me is insecurity and unhealthy. It is the girl who is searching for an answer, and the idolized instagram model profiting from it. It is the girl who loses “inches” off of her stomach in 28 days because she has followed this eating plan perfectly. She believes it is fat she is losing through fueling her body right, when she is actually just losing weight because she is hungry all the time. It is the instagram model that has become obsessed with the perfect image. Her life is easy and beautiful. Expensive smoothies, fad workouts where it is believed you can sweat off the pounds, and preaching that eating dairy is a sin. You have to buy this certain kind of bread that really isn’t bread at all, drink only 100% alkaline water because tap water will poison you, and surround your mind and daily efforts around not just what you eat, but specifically how you eat. How could this ever possibly be considered healthy? Food has made society scared and obsessive through these “diets.” It has created a relationship with food that makes people think they have to wean out the poison in order to be healthy. Eating is not about fueling the body anymore, but about keeping up with whatever society has defined as perfection. A skinny waist, aesthetically pleasing posts on social media, and an extreme lack of body fat is what we now crave.
It happens to everyone.
At one point, I definitely fell for the fad, too. I think to an extent, it is impossible not to. Doesn’t everyone want the perfect six pack abs that these influencers are posting? If they can have it, so can I. Maybe it was because it seemed to be an easy and healthy fix for bloating and indigestion, or maybe it was because the lifestyle these girls sold was so much more than just making absolutely sure you didn’t eat meat and grains at the same time.