Instagram is home to some serious clean-eating food porn. Scrolling through your feed can make you want to run out and drop some cash on a matcha latte or an acai bowl, but is it really worth getting sucked into the pretty colors and the gorgeous photography?
Time to drop some knowledge—not everything you see on Instagram is as it seems (shocking!), and following so-called “clean eating” feeds is not always the way to get killer abs and endless energy. This time of year, when diets run rampant and everyone is ready to jump on the “healthy eating” bandwagon, arm yourself with the knowledge of which social media trends are worth skipping.
We’ve all seen the girl holding a green juice and showing off her killer abs. You immediately start to wonder if you should be setting aside $10-plus per day for a fancy juice. Don’t waste your money. “You don’t have to buy your juice at an expensive juice bar for it to be good for you,” says Amy Gorin, MS, RDN.
If you’re looking for a beverage with benefits, opt for something that has protein and fiber that won’t spike your blood sugar, like a good old-fashioned smoothie. You may be thinking, But a smoothie doesn’t have 10 different kinds of fruit and veggies in it. We hear that, but why not add those veggies to your plate rather than try to sip them through a straw? You’ll get the beneficial fiber that's otherwise broken down during the juicing process.
Here's a simple formula I recommend for smoothies to get plenty of protein and healthy fats in your filling drink—1 1/2 cups frozen fruit + 1 tablespoon healthy fats (like hemp or flax seeds) + 1 cup protein (can be from milk, yogurt, or protein powder). Gorin also suggests using 100-percent fruit juice in the smoothie, instead of a sweetener like honey or maple syrup. We also like adding one date for a hint of sweetness. Need some more smoothie inspo? We got you with these five-ingredient beauts.
With more than 9 million posts on Instagram, #keto doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. But are “fat bombs” and a healthy keto diet synonymous? “I cringe every time I see a recipe touted as a fat bomb because it’s generally super high in calories and devoid of the beneficial antioxidants and phytochemicals needed from fruits, veggies, and high-quality carbs,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RD, author of The Protein-Packed Breakfast Club.
In other words, there’s a healthy way to “fat bomb” and a not-so-healthy way. Even though butter, cream, bacon, and loads of cheese are technically “allowed” on the keto diet, that doesn’t mean you should load up your cart with all the bacon cheeseburger essentials every time (sans the bun, of course). Instead, try a “fat bomb” that embraces healthy fat ingredients, like nut butter, almond flour, olive oil, and avocado. Here are some fat bombs we can get down with.
Fancy Infused Water
Remember the days when you just had to choose between still and sparkling? Now the water options include cactus, aloe, maple, and who knows what will pop up next. Toby Amidor, MS, RD, and Wall Street Journal best-selling cookbook author, says to ignore the hype over these amped-up waters. “Aloe water claims to energize, while maple water says it helps with thyroid and bone health, but there is very little research to back up any of the claims,” she says.
In other words, don't waste your money. If you like the taste, go for it, but it's not a magical elixir to undo a bad night’s rest or a crappy diet. The best thing to chug is still good old plain water. “It’s the best calorie-free option to help you stay hydrated,” Amidor says. If your taste buds need a little pick-me-up, opt for a sugar-free flavored seltzer. After all, #lacroixwater is definitely trending.
You’ve likely seen the girl with the flat stomach boasting about how “skinny teas” offer amazing weight-loss results! Don’t fall for the hype. These diet teas usually include an herb called senna, which is also used as an over-the-counter laxative. The National Institute of Health says senna is likely safe when taken in the short term but unsafe when used for long periods of time. Using a laxative-type supplement to lose weight can not only cause diarrhea and dehydration, but it may also promote disordered eating.
Instead, cozy up with a mug of green tea, herbal tea, or black tea. Heck, even kombucha is worth throwing in there. As a matter of fact, research suggests that drinking green tea in combination with eating a healthy diet can aid in weight loss without any nasty side effects. Plus, a meta-analysis found that drinking black tea may lower bad cholesterol levels in healthy adults. Doesn’t that sound better than drinking a laxative?
Latte art makes us stop and double tap every.damn.time. There’s nothing prettier than a gorgeous handmade heart in a cup of green matcha tea, but buyer, beware. Matcha lattes taste amazing, but some coffee shops create that memorable taste using hidden sugary ingredients, like flavored milk or syrups. On its own, matcha is an antioxidant-rich green tea with an earthy taste. It picked up steam as a health beverage because it contains a compound called ECGC, which may help break down fat.
Let’s just say that pure matcha tea is an acquired taste, and it’s not naturally sweet. Next time you order a matcha latte for the 'gram, chat with your barista about what’s in it. Opt for just milk or unsweetened almond milk and see if you still enjoy the drink.
The base of these good-looking bowls is that royal purple superfood, the acai berry. Packed with antioxidants that have been linked to reducing the risk of several diseases, the acai berry on its own is definitely as good for you as you think, but it’s also quite sour and tangy. In other words, the thing that makes acai bowls taste so great is not the acai, it’s the add-ins and toppings. First, the acai is usually blended with some sort of sweetener to make it taste good. Then it’s covered in sugary additives, like honey, granola, or sweetened coconut flakes. In other words, acai bowls can be a real calorie and added-sugar bomb.
You don’t need to avoid them entirely, but just make sure you check the ingredients before going all-in. Start by making your own lighter version at home. Trader Joe’s actually sells pure blended frozen acai, which you can mix with unsweetened almond milk, some leafy greens, and a drop of honey. Top it off with your favorite fruits, a dab of nut butter, and seeds like hemp and chia for that much-needed crunch.
We think you’re smart enough to know these are total BS, but with celebs like the Kardashians promoting them, it’s worth saying again. Hey, guys, don't expect a lolli to make you skinny! And on top of that, do not fall for crazy products that are meant to suppress your appetite. Having a hunger for food is natural. Go ahead and eat a regular lollipop when you want something sweet, and oh, I don’t know, exercise and eat well too.
If Instagram can help motivate you to make healthier choices, that's a win. But just do some digging to make sure what you're ordering at the juice bar or coffee shop is actually doing you some good and not wrecking your eat-less-sugar goals. We leave you with this: A matcha latte at Starbucks can pack more than 30 grams of sugar. No wonder it tastes so damn good.