What happens when we start eating to earn a few likes and comments on our feed?(Shutterstock)
What happens when we start eating to earn a few likes and comments on our feed?(Shutterstock)

The Instagram diet: Is eating for ‘likes’ and ‘comments’ healthy?

Our Instagram feeds are full of beautiful food shots, and most of them are indulgent, calorific and thus unhealthy. So, are we eating to satiate our hunger or are we eating to show off to our hundreds and thousands of followers.
By Meenakshi Iyer | Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 27, 2018 01:49 PM IST

Food on Instagram is all about excess. Do a quick search for the term #foodporn and you’ll find images of loaded freakshakes (yes, those super-indulgent monstrous milk shakes that come topped with all things sugar and chocolate), massive thalis, humongous burgers, and more.

Have you seen the Dara Singh Thali? I am sure you have, on your friend’s Instagram feed. It’s the one that has over 40 different dishes from paranthas to naan, murg musallam rice, lamb curries, chaats, appetisers, soups and more. Offered by Mini Punjab at its two outlets in Mumbai, the thali is a perfect excuse to earn some serious bragging rights on social media.

A screen grab from Instagram of people posing with the Dara Singh Thali.
A screen grab from Instagram of people posing with the Dara Singh Thali.

Makes me question, are we eating to satiate our hunger or are we eating to show off to our hundreds and thousands of followers. Here I admit that I am part of this seemingly innocent but outright scary trend. Much to the annoyance of fellow diners, every time I eat out, I bring out my camera, go click click and then settle in to take a bite. This impulsive need to document every meal sometimes leaves me with a cold soup or a soggy sandwich.

Eating for the gram

But what happens when we start eating to earn a few likes and comments on our feed? Health bloggers from across the world have been talking about this issue for a while now, bringing attention to the impact of food trends like #foodporn on our lifestyle. It’s not healthy when you want to dress up a plain bowl of smoothie by adding double the quantity of fruits, peanut butter, chocolate chips to make it look appetising. Similarly, eating larger-than-necessary portions of food, just so your followers can ‘like’ your photo is unhealthy.

The Stake Out Burger (Woodside Inn)
The Stake Out Burger (Woodside Inn)

At Woodside Inn, a popular pub in Mumbai, the Stake Out Burger is a popular choice of order for such pursuits. It is 5.5 inches tall, weighs about 700 grams and comes with super-sized meaty patties of chicken, pork, tenderloin, bacon, onion rings and fries. Manager Sean Pereira says, “People order this burger, so that they can upload a ‘before’(eating) and ‘after’ (eating) photo on social media. I have usually seen groups of people share it, but I have also seen singles eating it one go. I don’t know how they manage it.”

The burger could easily be 2,000-2,200 calories. That’s more than the permissible limit for a person’s daily calorie intake. Nutritionist Raheela Hasan calls out on this trend as a marketing gimmick. “Eating such high calorie meals tend to make you feel bloated because of the high levels of sodium and soda in the meal.”

A healthy dessert at Izaya in Mumbai
A healthy dessert at Izaya in Mumbai

Cheat, but do it right

Hasan also adds that once in a while indulgences are not harmful. “I understand that people want to eat out at least once a week, but if you make good choices, you will enjoy the experience more,” she says. So, even if you do want to thulp down a king-size burger or a calorific freakshake, share it with friends. And if you want to avoid that guilty feeling the next day, follow these two tips by Hasan. “Have a shot of black coffee before the meal. It helps increase your metabolism. And after the meal, squeeze a lemon in your mouth or wash it down with hot water.”

Ultimately, eating right is about the choices we make: switch to brown rice for white, maida bread with whole wheat one (from a trusted bakery). And if you do want to indulge, opt for smaller portions, sharing plates and healthier alternatives.

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