I’ve just read an article about the 100 most influential foodies in the UK. There were TV chefs and head of supermarkets on the list, but it should come as no surprise that the list was full of food bloggers and instagrammers, the foodsetters. These people have a huge amount of influence on the world of food. There was a huge increase in the sale of avocados last year, no doubt in part because avocados seem to be mentioned in nearly every other post on wellness blogs. Food blogs do really have a cult like following.
Now of course I realise the irony of me talking about food blogs cults on my own food blog. Probably not the wisest move to openly admit that I’m trying to get you to join my cult. Maybe I’m trying some reverse psychology type thing, or maybe not! But I admit I’m part of this cult, I really do LOVE food blogs and the instagram accounts that go with them. You are looking at the person who regularly sits and ‘reads’ recipe books, front to back. I’m obviously not the only one. We are the generation that will happily sit and drool over beautiful photos of food that we’ll probably never even make the effort to cook. We like to eat with our eyes, there’s a reason it’s called foodporn.
But we are not just following them for their photos, they’ve built their followings by telling us what to eat and what not to eat. They capitalise on food confusion. In a world where anyone can label themselves a food expert, we end up with so much advice it can be hard to know what to believe anymore. Their healthy eating rules seem to offer up a clear path to wellness.
But what really qualifies them to give food advice. Some call themselves nutritionists, some claim to have cured their illness, but we’ll just as easily follow someone who just says they feel better on their diet. The most important qualification seems to be an attractive millennial with a like-worthy instagram account. The problem is that a lot of what they are saying isn’t always true. Gluten is being demonized without proper cause. A lot of the time it’s more based off pseudoscience and myths that have been passed around the internet than any real evidence. They may have the best of intentions encouraging healthy eating, but with great power comes great responsibility. Diet can have a significant impact on health so giving diet advice without regards to the consequences can be irresponsible. Diet is not a one size fits all policy, what works for one person won’t work for everyone. People may end up making changes that are bad for their health, such as cutting out entire food groups, which if not done properly can potentially lead to nutritional deficiencies.
To be fair a lot of bloggers state that they aren’t trying to get you to eat their diet, but this is a bit of a mixed message when they are also telling you about the wonders of coconut oil or why gluten is toxic. After they’ve built a brand on the back of their version of a healthy diet, it can seem like an empty disclaimer.
We shouldn’t be following diet advice just because we like someone’s photos. I’m not going to stop looking at foodporn but I’m getting my food advice from somewhere else.