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Olwen Anderson's Blog

The illusion of fancy food on social media

Saturday, May 06, 2017
Breakfast with mushroom(Yes, I know, I have my own Instagram account, here, where I share what I'm cooking and eating. But, just like the article you're about to read points out, you don't get to see the 'train wrecks'. The photo here is one of my better looking breakfasts; and yes, it had gone cold by the time I'd posted it on Instagram. So enjoy the pictures but please don't think my food is perfect - it's often not.) 

When you want to improve your diet I can understand how the fabulous food portrayed on social media could feel overwhelming and seem expensive; because many of the spectacular looking meals on social media sites like Instagram include some exotic, hard-to-obtain and pricey ingredients in a dish that’s taken hours to prepare. Then you can fear you’re missing out as you fork through your own, less photogenic dinner.

Social media can ignite some genuine food anxiety, perpetuating the illusion that everyone else is tucking into stunningly attractive healthy meals all the time. But many of those photos you’re admiring actually take ages to arrange and photograph, and could certainly have gone cold by the time the photographer picks up their cutlery. The reality of life is that sometimes your meals can look like a train wreck when they land on your plate. Another, although hidden reality, is that you only get to see the finished product when the photographer thinks it’s worth sharing. Which isn’t all the time.

Another fallacy perpetuated by social media and advertising: that in order to eat healthy you have to include exotic, expensive and fashionable ingredients. If you can afford to live that way, fantastic; but most of us have a budget. Instead, reach for some of the great recipe books devoted to showing you how the plain, inexpensive foods our grandparents and great-grandparents accessed can be made into delicious and yet healthy meals and snacks. Or google ‘budget healthy food’.

The short cut to saving money with food is to keep in mind that the more hands your food has passed through before it gets to your table, the more you will pay for it. For example, if you make your own yoghurt in bulk at home, then add fruit you stewed yourself, the price you pay for that snack will be less than buying a snack-sized tub at the supermarket. Same for home-made salads, cakes, even bread. The more of the work you do yourself, the less you pay. 

A once-a-week food preparation campaign will help ensure you’ve always got healthy food on hand, and having a meal plan for the week will save you from having to make decisions when you’re tired.
So enjoy those food photos on social media – they can inspire you to focus more on eating healthy food; but don’t let them deter you from your quest to eat healthy.

If you enjoyed this article you might find my meal plan helpful. It's here.



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