Diet pupil and dietician focus on TikTok’s impact on physique picture | Arts & Tradition
Editor’s Note: For those struggling with body image, eating disorders, or eating disorders, registered nutritionist Staci Belcher recommends resources available from the Nutritional services in the University Health Center as well as in National Eating Disorder Association.
Quarantine hit. Doors closed. Students have retired to their bedrooms and their phones have been lit with the infamous 15-60 second viral challenges that include the TikTok app. For many, these challenges have consisted of content that threatens to destroy their healthy relationship with food.
Although TikTok was a ubiquitous distraction for college students in a time of blockade, its creators embraced trends like “What I Eat In A Day,” which had deleterious effects on those struggling with body image, eating disorders, and eating disorders .
Damage is done
“You could look at someone’s body, you could look at what they’re eating and say, ‘I have to do this,’ said Melanie Ng, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Foods and Nutrition at the University of Georgia.
While there is TikTok content that is helpful to users, videos that promote “ideal body type” and diets that consist of minimal food have usually gained favor, giving way to harmful physical comparisons that may not intended by the developers.
“It’s really triggering to see things like this and not know that there is another, better, and safer way to love yourself that isn’t about what these people are promoting,” said Ng.
Registered nutritionist and nutritional counseling coordinator, Staci Belcher, emphasized that in those 15-60 seconds of information from TikTok, a balanced diet is usually not proven.
“This is incredibly unhelpful when trying to figure out what works best for your body and when you are bombarded with what other people eat or do to take care of their bodies,” Belcher said.
TikTok’s algorithm further escalated negative body image as users couldn’t customize their feed as precisely as they did on Instagram or Twitter, increasing the likelihood of a triggering video popping up unexpectedly.
“If someone clicks on a YouTube video and isn’t interested for the first 15 or 20 seconds, they’ll click. But with TikTok the damage is done, ”said Belcher.
Over the past year, Belcher has received feedback on TikTok and its negative impact on student body image and eating disorder experience.
Filtering the feed
Although TikTok has added trigger warnings to Eating Disorders Videos, the content of Eating Disorders continues to slide through the cracks and seem harmless but persist in its harmful effects on users.
Ng’s advice is to be skeptical as you scroll through TikTok as the videos are likely to be more nuanced.
“I made a commitment to unfollow accounts that made me feel kind of wrong and instead follow accounts that were more attuned to how I wanted to see food in my body,” Ng said.
Despite the onslaught of harmful nutrition trends, a small army of dietitians like Belcher and body positivity advocates are trying to combat nutritional culture on the TikTok platform with the hashtags #bodypositivity and #antidiet.
“There is another way. There are people who are spreading this other message that you don’t have to eat like someone, you don’t have to exercise like someone, you don’t have to be a certain size to love yourself, to love your body and to be healthy Said Ng.