What was the last thing you ate for dinner?
Whether you cracked open an at-home meal kit and got to cooking or went through a drive-through for your favorite fries and shake, you probably weren’t thinking about recording your not-so-eventful food festivities. On the contrary, for many Gen Z content creators, their meals are the most exciting part of their day. Regardless of what and where they are eating, young people are documenting and sharing their daily eating habits online.
The act of recording yourself and what you eat in a day is (unsurprisingly) called the “What I Eat In A Day” trend. #WhatIEatInADay has amassed 12.2B hashtag views on TikTok, and 751K posts have featured the hashtag on Instagram.
Generally, the trend opens up with the creator showing their entire body as they transition into pictures or videos of what they ate on that particular day, along with an audio explanation. Whether someone is kicking their day off with a green smoothie and oatmeal bowl or downing a whole pizza at 11 am, participants of this trend aim to show off their day’s cuisine.
While the trend is still in full swing on For You Pages and Instagram feeds, it was at its peak in 2021. During this time, “What I Eat in Day” videos were highly associated with the health and fitness community. Highlighting calorie counts, strict portions, and expensive health foods were a few reasons this trend had become controversial. To gain insight into how Gen Z views this trend in 2022, we asked The Receipt–our research network of 5,000+ Gen Zers from around the world–how they feel about it. We found that while 49% of respondents feel neutral about “What I Eat In A Day,” there are also some mixed sentiments as 20% feel negatively toward it, compared to 30% that feel positive. Is this surprising? It might not be, given the evolution of the hashtag from last year until now.
As this content has maintained its popularity, the types of videos have shifted in style. Gaining control of a hashtag seemingly exclusive to those who live an unrealistic and overly aesthetic lifestyle, young people are showing up with their unphotogenic wraps and bowls of grocery store ice cream.
5 Gen Z creators shaping this trend include @jellybean.celine; @thehungryfoodie; @natalienoriegaa; @snackeatingsnacks; @stephpappas. What do these 5 Foodies have in common? Their average pallet. They may throw in a fancy dinner or bougie brunch but keep most of their content centered on realistic dishes, normalizing an average diet; potentially influencing a new outlook on this trend.
Regardless of what food content circulates online, it’s important to remember that everyone’s diet and relationship with food are different. With this in mind, there are some perks to this trend. “What I Eat In A Day” videos can be a great way to learn about new food brands, recipes, and cooking tips–all while feeding your eyes! On the flip side, they have the possibility of directly (or indirectly) promoting diet culture and negative body image.
Overall the “What I Eat In A Day” concept isn’t solely harmful. It has its pros and cons, as most Gen Z trends do. Given the popularity of this type of content, the hashtag doesn’t seem like it will die out any time soon. Instead, it’s on course to continue growing into a more inclusive online space encouraging all body and lifestyle types to join in on the trend.