Please, Stop With The Celebrity Food Diaries

Photo: MediaPunch/REX/Shutterstock.
Julianne Hough eats four chocolate covered almonds for dessert. I know this because Hough is the latest celebrity to detail her daily menu for People. I also know that Hough doesn’t mention carbs in her diet, which is interesting, because we sort of need carbohydrates to live.

You know what else I know? That it’s time we ditch the idea of the celebrity food diary.

“What This Celebrity Eats In A Day” is one of the internet’s most click-baity forms of voyeurism. It’s a natural progression of our need to know everything about our favorite celebrities — what they wear, what their homes look like, and how they work out. So why wouldn’t we want to know that Kendall Jenner chugs cup after cup of Kusmi Detox Tea and snacks on apples while prepping for Fashion Week? Celebrities — they’re just like us!

Except they’re not. And the effects of a seemingly innocent food diary can be major. Celebs are one of our more prolific sources of “fitness inspiration.” Paparazzi are constantly snapping them in sports bras strolling out of the gym, looking not the least bit sweaty and carrying designer water bottles. When we see celebrity bodies, and then are told what they eat on a regular basis, it’s easy to fall into the idea that if you eat nothing but grilled chicken and oranges, you’ll have the body of Hough.

“That’s not how bodies work,” Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, an intuitive eating coach and dietitian, says. “Every body has different needs and a differently genetically determined shape and weight range, so portions that may be right for one person just aren’t enough food for another person.” Harrison also says that changing the way you eat is dieting, even if you don’t think of the change as a diet. And that's a big, dangerous deal. “Dieting increases the risk of developing eating disorders,” she says.

For those who are already suffering from eating disorders, checking out one of these diaries can throw them into a serious spiral. “Anyone who reads [celebrity] food diaries can end up emulating some of the disordered behaviors celebrities may have, and adopting some very unhealthy beliefs about food,” Harrison adds. Seeing that a certain fit celebrity has eliminated an entire category of food from their diet can easily lead someone to believe that food is the cause of their body dissatisfaction.

So many of these diaries are taken out of context, too. Putting aside the fact that celebrities tend to have trainers and chefs who prepare them all manner of “healthy” foods, I am 100% sure that they do not eat the same thing every single day. (Unless that person is The Rock, who is slowly but surely chipping away at our cod population.) Does Jennifer Lopez eat her kale salad on her birthday, or does she, like me, go to Chipotle and get extra guac on her burrito? Does she always eat a chocolate chip cookie for dessert, or does she sometimes go for a snickerdoodle, because snickerdoodles are superior? These little snapshots literally tell us nothing about the celeb’s overall health. It’s like spending an hour in Berlin on a layover and then going home and telling everyone you’re an expert in German sausage.

Our relationships to food can be majorly influenced by outside sources — and celebrities are one of the most powerful of those sources. Plenty of folks are already made to feel inferior because of the bodies these celebrities have. Why make it worse by way of organic broccoli and poached salmon? “These food diaries do a lot more harm than good,” Harrison says. We couldn’t agree more. So we vote to retire them, the same way McDonald’s retired pizza. Neither idea was very good, anyway.
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