Food for Thought: Are we all Insta-nutritionists now?
This week, for work, I was lucky enough to attend a players’ menu sampling event, hosted by the head nutritionist of one of the world’s most famous tennis tournaments. I know, woe is me.
The afternoon saw guests served plate after plate of, as you can imagine, not only delicious, but also nutritionally complete and sustainably sourced fuel. The 12 miniature portions were laid in front of us lucky diners. We in turn diligently took out our cameras to document the food from various angles, before updating the Snapchat Fam.
The foodie highlights for me, as the reluctantly loyal vegetarian of the table, included tomato and mascarpone risotto balls (complex carbohydrates, calcium), tofu and kale stir fry (protein, vitamin K), and fregola pasta with seeds (magnesium, immunity). Amongst the meat and fish options were scallop ceviche (lean protein, vitamin C), salon gravlax (omega 3 fatty acid) and water-bathed black bream with olive oil (antioxidant, anti-inflammatory).
The nutritional commentary was equally enjoyable! Contrary to what I previously believed, for example, I learnt that adequate carbohydrate consumption is imperative for building muscle mass; without it protein can’t do its job as it is converted to energy. What’s more, fat intake plays an incredibly important role in developing strength, endurance and recovery. Without it, hormones levels become unbalanced and muscles can become inflamed and sore.
I learnt a lot – but I was expecting to. What did surprise me, however, was the nutritional knowledge and understanding of the guests in attendance, none of whom were trained dieticians, professional sportspeople or medics.
“So is tofu a complete source of amino acids?”, one asked.
Another guest got there before the nutritionist had time to respond. “Yes, it is. Fermented soy bean curd is one of the few sources of complete protein for vegans.”
And so it went on…
It begs the question: when did we become so clued-up on nutrition? What led to the sudden increase in knowledge of and attention to what we put inside our bodies?
Whilst there are certainly a whole host of complex socio-economic factors that have given us luxury of spending more money and time to spend on our diets, I’d also suggest that visual social media platforms have had a significant and long-term impact on people’s understanding of what goes into their bodies.
Just take a look at the tags: #eatclean (30.6 million images), #fitspo (29.9 million images), #cleaneating (22 million images), #healthychoices (11.3 million images), #glutenfree (9.7 million images), #wellness (6 million Instagram tags images), #eatcleantraindirty (2.1 million images), #eatlocal (1.1 million images).
Instagram has been criticised for perpetuating unrealistic body goals. For me though, this turns a blind eye to one of the often forgotten-about, positive side-effects of us all focussing our lenses on healthy, colourful food (#coloursnotcalories). The players’ menu tasting event this week certainly seemed to prove this true!