Instagram’s Effect on Health

The influence that Instagram possesses over our society is overwhelming and almost mind-blowing. A simple photo sharing social networking outlet that did not even exist 5 years ago, has been consuming the lives of many, playing an impactful role in shaping many different facets of society. Instagram has played a vital role in creating and sharing the latest trends and the hottest spots, and has allowed users to acquire new information, form communities and a support system, all while enabling people to think differently. Instagram has even allowed for users to turn Instagram into a career and business for themselves. The photo sharing social networking application was released only 5 years ago, is now estimated to be worth $35 billion and has a usership of over 400 million monthly users, proving its vast popularity and influence.

With over 70 million photos shared per day, Instagram sees an influx of images daily, spanning all different categories. But one of the most beloved and posted about topics on Instagram is without a doubt, food. Instagram has generated an obsession with posting images of food, and people now feel the need to document their meals.

 

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It’s impossible for me to scroll through my feed without seeing countless images of ‘food porn’. However, these images aren’t only limited to decadent desserts, or fried goodness. There are endless accounts dedicated to posting pictures of healthy dishes and recipes. Some of these accounts encompass an array of healthy recipes, but some focus on more niche eating habits and diet/lifestyles. There are thousands of accounts dedicated specifically for vegan, raw, vegetarian, paleo, and gluten free food and recipes. There are accounts that focus strictly on green smoothies, or how to eat healthy in New York City. Instagram fosters many different types of communities, and is a place people look to find others with similar interests. The health food community on Instagram is rapidly growing and influencing other users to alter their lifestyle.

 

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People utilize Instagram as a portrayal of their best self, even if it may not necessarily be a completely accurate or true representation. The notion of “we are what we Instagram” has consumed our generation of millennials, and has lead to an increasingly large emphasis and value placed on self-image and concern as to how we are viewed by others. Instagram is an outlet that enables its users to manipulate they way others perceive them, making it a platform to expose the best version of oneself. Brian Hanley of the Huffington Post further explains: “it offers cyber stages on which to perform new roles and shed old skin. It provides a medium through which to transmit specific information that emphasizes our redeeming qualities while concealing our character flaws.” People put their best foot forward on Instagram, which includes looking ones best, and who wouldn’t want to appear as somebody who lives a fit, attractive healthy, lifestyle? The constant pictures of perfectly toned figures, and clean, colorful, fresh food present on Instagram, influences and motivates viewers to be more conscious of their lifestyle. This in turn causes more ‘#fitstagram’ posts and pictures of healthy meals, furthering the cycle, resulting in even more people hoping to emulate a healthy lifestyle, and appear their best.

 

 

THOUGHTS BY HEALTH MINDED INSTAGRAM USERS

Ella Woodward, a certified Instagramer, with over 600k followers says “There’s a huge demand for healthy recipes. Eating healthy makes you feel so amazing, it’s not totally surprising we’re all so excited about it!” Another Instagramer, Alissandra Maffuci, whos account is dedicated to recipes revolving around spiralized vegetables shares her thoughts on Well+Good, “If you’re thinking about eating a bag of chips and you see someone on Instagram eating frozen grapes instead—right away you think about how you can do that, too. It’s an instant way to get inspired to be healthier on a daily basis.” Sarah Britton, founder of My New Roots, a website dedicated on how to make healthy choies every day, also runs the companies Instagram account and explains “Seeing so many delicious-looking, healthy ideas motivates me. And I think the more that nutritious food becomes part of our daily conversation, the more mainstream it will become.”

With the infinite amount of photos and hashtags being added to Instagram each second, it’s difficult to comprehend the extent to which healthy food exists on the photo sharing platform. To help better understand, in March of 2015, the “#CleanEating has nearly 15,000,000 posts on Instagram and #GreenSmoothie has almost 640,000”. And these numbers only continue to grow. Below is a collage of my own pictures of healthy food that I have posted on my account.

 

 

 

INTERVIEWS

Babo Market

Babo is one of my favorite, go-to spots here in Ann Arbor thanks to its healthy choices and delicious, clean tasting food, and pleasant atmosphere. Like their website states, the babo mission is to provide our community with better for you foods that taste amazing in an environment that will make our guests feel really yummy on the inside, and I believe they succeed in doing so. The food at Babo is locally sourced, and is the closest alternative to a healthy, home cooked meal while away at college. While I was at Babo the other night, I asked the manager a few questions about the ‘grocerants’ (grocery + restaurant) concept and her thoughts on Instagram and its effects on the industry. The manager complied but asked she remain anonymous and would not let me take her picture 😦

Do you think Instagram plays a role in Babo’s business model and attributes to its success?

Babo: Instagram i important in regards to almost everything these days. We live in an Instagram obsessed world, especially amongst college age students- which is our main audience. I know I always look at restaurants Instagram accounts before going there and I think many of our customers do the same. Babo’s Instagram page is important for our business, but so are our customers’ accounts. We attract new customers through other people posting pictures from here.
We get people who come in all the time and say they saw somebody post a picture of our food on Instagram, or they’ll ask oh I saw a picture of the chickpea salad, do you guys have that today? Instagram is an excellent tool to promote a business, but only if its done right.

Describe Babo in a few words

Babo: Local, seasonal… and unique

Do you think Babo’s Instagram account emulates those characteristics?

Babo: I am not in charge of the Instagram, we have somebody separate for that. But I think our account successfully matches our mission and places a large emphasis on local and seasonal food and pictures. I am even impressed by our Instagram and I love when our customers post their own pictures and show their own takIMG_4648e on the restaurant. Aesthetics are huge for us at Babo, which is part of what makes us special. We want to create a welcoming, pleasant environment. People love to make their food look good on Instagram, and we try to go for the same concept in the market.

Have you had to change anything about the market to better fit the customers’ needs?

Babo: We actually recently just doubled our seating since we noticed the demand has grown significantly. But we haven’t changed much of our options or choices, it seems to be working for us.

What is it about Babo that you think people love the most?

Babo: It seems that the majority of our customers come here for the hot and cold bar, since there is nowhere else that offers something like that around here. I think we’re truly unique and we work hard to provide customers with exceptional service. Besides for the prepared foods, our juice cleanses and organic groceries are what really draw in the customers. We know people are busy and that everybody is always in a rush these days, so we try to provide quick and easy service in a comfortable, relaxed atmosphere.  

What would you recommend tonight?

Babo: The miso honey glazed salmon is a must.

 

 

 

Here are some pictures I took at my latest trip to Babo, documenting my experience:

 

 

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(I took the managers recommendation, the miso honey glazed salmon was delicious)

 

Sakara Life

While scrolling through Instagram in search of new healthy food accounts, I stumbled upon Sakara’s Instagram and immediately followed them, not realizing what it was. Coincidentally, a few days later I received a text from my friend telling me about this new company, and to look them up on Instagram. When I went to look them up I realized I was already following them, so then I decided to do some research and visit their site. I was impressed and intrigued about their organic meal delivery service, a concept different from anything I had previously heard of. I thought the founders of the company, Whitney and Danielle, would make for an interesting interview, since their business is unique and different than most.

Sakara’s Philosophy: We believe that what you put into your body forms the building blocks for the rest of your life and affects your relationships, career, happiness, and ability to create. We believe in simplicity in all areas of life, especially in food. Fresh, natural, local meals, prepared with loving hands using the healthiest, most hydrating and nourishing ingredients possible. The Sakara Life centers on the idea of making the right choices for your body because you want to, not because you have to. Sakara is not just about eating clean – it’s about living clean.

 

“We’re here to make you feel beautiful in your body and to empower you through food.”

 

 

Interview with Whitney (pictured on the right), co-founder of Sakara Life:

Do you think that social media has helped build and grow your brand? And in what ways?philosophy2.jpg

Absolutely. A lot of our traffic stems from Instagram, we get inquiries all the time about our company from people who say they saw or heard about us from Instagram. Our Instagram account also helps us build hype around the brand and get our clients excited about new recipes. We post special deals, contests and giveaways on our Instagram page, which generates excitement and interest. We use this as a way to reward our clients and thank them. Interacting with our customers is important to us and Instagram is an efficient and successful way to do so. Our Instagram page is extremely important to our brand and we work hard to make sure it flows with our philosophy and what we believe in.

 

What impact do you think Instagram has on the healthy food community?

Running Sakara’s Instagram account I am very aware of the tight knit health community that is present on Instagram. People are extremely supportive of one another and each other’s different companies and ventures. Instagram is a tool to attract new people. The visuals on some of these accounts are fantastic, prompting to follow and continue exploring. The tempting and alluring pictures on Instagram draw more users to the community of health conscious eaters. Instagram shows people that a plant based diet can look good and taste good too.

What role do you think Instagram plays in the success of your business?

This is a fast past and always moving industry and Instagram is one way to keep up. Instagram has allowed us to work with other people in the industry and participate in collaborations with other users and bloggers. I think our company would not be nearly as successful if it wasn’t for our Instagram account. It’s not only an app for fun, but it’s also an important business tool. Like I said before, much of our traffic comes from the app and Instagram has really allowed us to spread the word and further grow our brand by attracting new clients and engaging with our customers. Instagram is also a way in which we have been able to create a brand identity and remain consistent and further our image.

Do you think Instagram has helped turn more people to become aware of what they eat and help promote healthier food decisions?

I think Instagram has definitely made people more interested in eating healthy. All the pictures and recipes make it easy for people to incorporate mindful eating into their lifestyle. It has helped show people that healthy food can be food porn too and look just as beautiful. Instagram has contributed to people’s awareness of self-image, which also makes people more conscious of what they eat in the desire to look better. All the pictures of beautiful people on Instagram make girls place a large focus on appearance and our company does not promote unhealthy, unrealistic body images or goals. This is a negative affect of Instagram and it can contribute to and cause many girls to suffer from body issues. Our company promotes loving yourself and we believe that’s the most important thing.

 What do you think the future of Instagram holds for Sakara and other businesses focusing on clean eating and healthy food options?

At this rate, I think Instagram will only become more popular and a more integral part of business and marketing. Our brand is still in the beginning stages and we will continue to use Instagram and other forms of social media as a medium to further grow Sakara. Our hope is to continue inspiring more people to live a healthy lifestyle and live clean.

 

 

Instagram acts as more than just a photo-sharing platform, but also as a portal to influence and shape people and their lives. The app affords motivational components and can inspire users to live a healthier lifestyle. All the amazing pictures and recipes of plant based or organic food combined with the images of perfectly toned bodies make users think that if they ate these meals, and incorporated these healthy recipes into their life, then maybe they too, can look like these pictures, and reap the benefits of a well balanced, healthy lifestyle. It’s easy to get off track, but logging onto Instagram is a constant reminder and reinforcement to make smarter decisions when it comes to what one chooses to put into their body. Instagram has the ability to provide instant motivation, support, and ideas for health conscious users. Because of the constant reminder, the endless amount of recipes and information on health, the strong sense of community, and the pressure to look a certain way, Instagram is able to influence and inspire users to eat healthier.

 

 

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Thoughts on the Online Comment Section

Online comment sections do more harm than good. The initial intent of the comment section was to create a sense of community, to connect with others around the world, and to maintain reader engagement while allowing users to voice their opinions and generate discussion. But unfortunately, comment sections have turned into an outlet for hate, spam, bullying, and harassment. Various news outlets, such as Popsci, have recognized the harmful effects of the comment section and opted to delete the feature, as they felt it no longer was serving beneficial to its users and was causing more damage than it is worth. The problem isn’t necessarily the comment section itself, but the way in which people utilize it. The bullying and harassment causes people to feel under attack and unsafe, and the misinformation in comments skews peoples perceptions and decreases the validity of the article.

The anonymity behind the comment section affords users to feel more comfortable posting absurd comments and attacking the writer or other commenters. An article written for the New Yorker, on the psychology of online comments, stated that “the editors argued that Internet comments, particularly anonymous ones, undermine the integrity of science and lead to a culture of aggression and mockery that hinders substantive discourse.” The article goes on to say: “One of the most common critiques of online comments cites a disconnect between the commenter’s identity and what he is saying, a phenomenon that the psychologist John Suler memorably termed the “online disinhibition effect.” The theory is that the moment you shed your identity the usual constraints on your behavior go too.” The well-known issue of cyber bullying isn’t just limited to social media sites and high school users on Facebook and Twitter, but actually spans much wider than that through the affordances of the detrimental comment section.

The brutality seen in the comment section on many sites is shocking and is difficult to comprehend how much hate exists. Comments such as “blacks [are] farm animals who “were not and are not wanted in this society” occur much too frequently, and these idiotic, uneducated remarks are not only hurtful, but also lessen a sites credibility. Not all comments look like this, but as Derek Mead, editor in chief of Vice’s tech site, said ““What’s the point of writing out a detailed thought when it’s sandwiched by cursory garbage?”

The comment section brings out the worst in people, and is a platform for sexism, homophobic rants, discrimination, racism, wars regarding religion, and harassment in general. Robert Steele, a journalism scholar, revaluates the comment section: “I recognize the value of citizen dialogue. But when the comments are poisonous … you have to go back to the issue of why you would allow the dialogue.” The concept of the comment section allows for a diffusion of responsibility among readers and creates unnecessary, uncivil, banter amongst Internet trolls and close-minded critics and bullies.

 

 

A Look Into The Crunchy Radish

 

-17.jpgMiranda Hammer, author of the Crunchy Radish, is a successful and influential blogger and dietician who lives by the quote “you are what you eat”. Miranda shares her passion for healthy meals and clean eating with her loyal readers and thousands of Instagram followers. Her blog is dedicated to wholesome recipes revolving around a heavily plant-based diet, including all the essential nutrients and vitamins one needs to lead a healthy lifestyle. Miranda, who wouldn’t go a day without her two favorites: avocado and nut butter, describes her meals as simple. She says “most of my meals are vegetarian or vegan with a focus on whole grains, legumes, and plenty of produce.  I always try to have a balance to my meals of complex carbohydrates, plant-based protein, and antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables.” She also believes in avoiding processed foods, and eating seasonally and using organic ingredients. Miranda expresses the importance of a balanced life style, and says: “to me wellness is about balance-not leading a life in which you feel deprived or defined by your dietary habits and lifestyle. It’s important to fuel your body naturally and cleanly, but I also think that it is essential to be able to occasionally treat yourself. Eat out in restaurants, order dessert, or have that extra glass of wine every now and then. Having a sense of balance and not kicking yourself when you “slip up” creates an environment of wellbeing.”

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Aside from operating her blog and curating different recipes, she is also a certified nutritionist and works with clients to build a healthy and wholesome nutrition plan. She has been featured in magazines such as Self, Lucky, Cosmopolitan, Shape, Vogue, and other Condé Nast publications. She is often featured on Refinery29 and writes articles and generates content for the popular fashion, style, and beauty site. Miranda describes herself as creative and motivated, which is clearly demonstrated through her self-branding, innovative recipes, and alluring food photographs.

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Miranda received her BA from Marymont Manhattan College and received her masters from NYU, going on to work at the New York Methodist Hospital and Montefiore Medical Center in New York City. During her years at school, she also worked in the restaurant industry, where she learned about food service, cooking, and presentation, all contributing aspects to her successful blog and wellness consulting.

Check out two of my favorite and easy recipes from the Crunchy Radish below:

Spaghetti Squash 

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Brussel Sprouts

 

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Fitbit Activity Tracker

Over the past few years, technology and health have become increasingly relevant in our society. People now care more than ever before about eating clean, and living a healthy lifestyle. And at the same time, technology has been adapted in an infinite amount of ways and has become integrated into nearly everything. Because of this, it is only logical that the technology and the fitness world have teamed up to create the new sensation that is the Fitbit, which allows users to track their activity.

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Fitbit dashboard

The Fitbit, a wearable activity data tracker, monitors personal metrics. It has the technology to track steps taken, monitor the quality of sleep, account for calories burned, and measure the intensity and duration of physical activity. With over 19 million users, this activity tracker is helping to shape and grow the health conscious community, as people are becoming more aware and interested in their own activity and wellness. The Fibit provides people with information that isn’t otherwise readily available, and has helped to instill and enforce the importance of fitness and overall health.

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The Fitbit measures the most popular forms of activity amongst users

This innovative technology can also wirelessly sync and connect to applications on your smartphone, which can allow you to further log food, activity, water intake and, weight. Fitbit partners with over 30 fitness apps, and is commonly used with popular apps such as myfitness pal, weight watchers, and loseit! The Fitbit allows for its users to connect, share, and compete, all with the motivation to become healthier and lead a more active lifestyle. The Fitbit fosters competition amongst users to lead a more active lifestyle, but also within oneself, motivating users to be the healthiest version of themselves. Technology has enabled the fitness and health conscious community to grow immensely, through multiple outlets. Between heart rate monitors, smartphone apps, the Internet and online videos, Instagram, and now the Fitbit, technology has played an important role in raising awareness and interest in health and fitness.fitbit-force

Data Visualization: Mind Your Peas and Cukes

As Shazna Nessa states in Visual Literacy in the Age of Data (Source), “we are living in an increasingly visual world, peering into screens of different sizes with incrementally superior resolutions at every device upgrade”. For this reason, I think infographics, data visualizations and visual art are crucial in people’s understanding of information in such a time where photographs and images are so significant. Therefore, data visualization is a powerful tool in journalism and in the media as a way to efficiently and conveniently convey information and will only continue to become increasingly prevalent with the modernization of technology in the media and news.

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This data visualization effectively depicts the ranking of the healthiest and most nutritious vegetables. While this graphic includes a great deal of information, I believe it is laid out clearly and in an organized, easy to understand manner. The vegetables are listed in order, with the most nutritious vegetables at the top of the list, as a list format without a scale. The vegetables were also given a score and the calories, vitamin K, lutein, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber levels are also shown. As Nessa says, “many data visualization forms may look novel and interesting but if
average visual literacy is not taken into account, the message and the story will get lost”. This visual remains simple and the creator did not add unnecessary and confusing imagery or ideas, allowing the reader to easily follow the main point of this graphic, fulfilling its purpose. However, I do recognize that with data visualization, shortcomings may occur. Perhaps data visualizations are used to condense information allowing the reader to quickly consume the main ideas, but at times important information may be left out as a result. It’s difficult to include everything the reader must know, all through the use of visuals, which is why text is still important and will always remain necessary in journalism.