Nutrition majors use Instagram to promote healthy living

Brittney Olson was scrolling through her Instagram feed one day when she searched the hashtag “#healthyeating.” She was trying to find some ideas for dinner recipes that were nutritious and tasty, but what she stumbled upon soon became a new hobby – food Instagrams.

“I found a lot of good ideas from looking at a lot of these pages,” Olson said. “It’s not just something where you can make food look pretty, but it also holds you accountable.”

A food Instagram account is one in which users take photos or videos of a dish they have made at home or tried at a restaurant and try to make it look as aesthetically pleasing as possible. The trend has taken off recently and been mentioned in Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post and Business Insider. Saveur Magazine described it this way: “What was once an industry for insiders has become more democratized, allowing chefs, home cooks, food writers, purveyors, and consumers to all inhabit the same digital sphere.”

Some popular food Instragram accounts:

  • User @dad_beets's food Instagram account

Users promote their accounts by adding trending hashtags to their captions and tagging the brands of the ingredients they have used. Many also tag other food Instagram accounts to gather attention from like-minded users.

One niche group of food Instagram accounts post about “clean eating” to show others how they can eat healthy foods and prepare them. Olson, who will graduate from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in August with a degree in dietetics, says her account (@realfiggingood) falls into this category.

“I try to keep a balanced, yet realistic type of meal,” she said. “I always like to have three macronutrients, a protein, a carb and a healthy fat. You need them all so that you’re not excluding any foods.”

Making it look good is a large part of the work behind a post. Users rearrange the food and try to incorporate certain foods because of their color or texture. UNL graduate Taylor Schueth, a nutrition, exercise and health sciences, went to the length of buying a wooden platform to place all of her dishes on before taking snapping a photo for her good Instagram, @eatwhole2feelwhole.

“I just went to Hobby Lobby and picked one up after I saw other bloggers doing it,” she said.“I’ve noticed that the better the picture, the more successful the post in terms of likes or followers.”

Schueth, who majored in nutrition, exercise and health sciences, said she started her account to promote her services as a dietetic aide and future registered dietician. She hopes that by posting links to her account on a website or blog,  her clients will be able to see how they can prepare food in a simple way.

“I’m really interested in the overweight generation and one of the reasons behind that is that people say they can’t find the time to cook and eat healthy,” she said. “I want to show them that it’s easy and that it’s fun.”

Both Schueth and Olson say that for all of their posts, they try to advocate for body positivity, which for them is simply another component of promoting a healthy lifestyle.

“I have always been passionate about health and nutrition plays a huge part in that,” Olson said. “Having a food Instagram is a preventative way to get people to feel good about their health instead of having to work with a diagnosis after the fact. Eating nutritious is important and if you make it look good, people are more likely to eat it.”




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