- Olympian Eileen Gu previously told the New York Times that TikTok influenced her eating habits.
- She said she struggled with eating enough, comparing her meals to “what I eat in a day” trend videos on TikTok.
- Experts say the curated “clean” eating routines can be misleading and promote disordered eating.
Freestyle skier Eileen Gu, who won a gold medal in women’s big air freestyle in Beijing, previously told the New York Times that she struggled with under eating last year, influenced by TikTok diet videos. Since working with a nutritionist and eating more, her mood and performance have improved, she said in the interview.
“Being skinny isn’t really that great if it’s compromising your strength,” Gu said. “I just wasn’t eating enough, or I wasn’t eating the right way. I was counting calories and thinking about food all the time.”
The 18-year-old said she “got stuck” on the video app in the early months of the pandemic, watching popular “what I eat in a day videos,” in which influencers share details of their daily meal routines.
Gu, who is also a model, said she later realized the videos influenced her own eating habits, prompting her to compare her own food choices, as though it were a competition.
“I was looking at what the girls were eating, and then I looked at what I ate in a day, and it looked like so much,” she told the Times.
Gu said she later began working with a nutritionist once a month, and started eating at least 2,000 calories a day, sometimes more.
She said her appearance and weight didn’t change, but she felt better able to handle long training sessions.
“I feel so much happier and healthier,” Gu said.
Experts say TikTok diet trends may contribute to unhealthy eating habits
Dietitians have called out the “what I eat in a day” trend as misguided, since nutritional needs are personal, and the healthy range of calories can vary widely. Following an influencer or celebrity routine “might actually be completely opposite of what the person needs,” registered nutritionist Rhiannon Lambert previously told Insider’s Rachel Hosie.
People who post their daily diet may be well-intentioned, however, the posts can be misleading, since they often depict a carefully-curated routine of “clean” eating that isn’t realistic or healthy for many people previously told, dietitian Tai Ibitoye Insider.
The content can also falsely imply that following an influencer or celebrity diet may help people achieve a similar physique. Body size is influenced by many factors, and it’s unlikely an influencer’s routine will be appropriate for all of their followers.
Some creators have taken an anti-diet approach to the trend, replacing conspicuously healthy green juices and salads with pizza and ice cream.
Other influencers, who have previously shared their daily eating habits, have since moved away from the trend, concerned it could have unintended effects on the viewers.