Anxiety Ayurveda Culinary Medicine Future Mental Health Naturopathy Nutrition OCD Uncategorized

Insta-gate!

Instagram!

I love it. I really do!
One can pass a few minutes having a quick flick through the home feed, or lose hours (not that I’ve even been on there quite that long) updating your own profile, exploring others in-depth, finding new accounts to follow…or quite frankly, as some may do… just browse to pass the time.

As the world seems to have been gripped by snapping, posting, sharing, commenting, networking, stories, emojis and hashtags….
I truly was shocked to learn that Instagram was only launched 9 years
ago – the anniversary of which is October 6th.

Surely it has to have been around for more years than that?
A simple App couldn’t be given such priority – and have this much importance, impact, and influence?
And all in just a few short years! 

But,
What is Instagram?
What does everybody do?

No, they aren’t trick questions.

“Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service…”

…with the word Instagram now officially dictionary published as a verb!!!

I’m not too sure why I’m shocked at this – I think it just goes to show what has become! I mean, even “to Google” is included!

What’s its meaning?! I hear you screaming at your screen…
Instagram: “to post a picture to the Instagram photo-sharing service”

So, basically, pretty much everyone with an Instagram account posts photos and videos.

However, this just isn’t enough.
The majority are on a quest!
A quest for post likes, comments, followers. recognition, approval…
and perhaps for some…
A quest to go viral.

and all this comes in the form of?

The perfect Photo!

Users spend hours applying make-up, styling their hair, positioning objects, travelling, posing, snapping (with their camera and… at each other) just to achieve what society has deemed to be an Instagramable photo.

and yes – even though I thought I’d made it up (damn!) it is an awful, oh, I mean…official, word too… unfortunately! 

Instagrammable, “to snag an Instagrammable moment”

Ghees, what has our beautiful world and beautiful language come to!?

Yes, I’m honestly the first to admit that I do take photographs of my dishes, but for 4 very important reasons.
Well, 3 very important, 1 is just… a very annoying reason!

1. I always think one should appreciate and take pride in what your eating – if it looks beautiful and is fresh, healthy and delicious, your body will be fully satisfied – mentally and physically.
As I obviously have a great interest (and experience) in photography, design, making etc. I truly do appreciate beauty – be it in Nature, an Object or even words.
Before every meal, take a few photos – just for myself – as I’m simply proud of how the dish looks and wish to capture the moment.
It also allows me to look back and remember any lovely – and not so
lovely – combinations too, for potential future meals.

2. Whilst the images are also a form of record for this reason, they are serving a completely different purpose.
Not only is it a record of my progression – and yes, most definitely slips
too – they also help my anxiety. A few months ago, I frequently got distressed, thinking that I’d had/not had the right lunch – in terms of ingredients – for example the wrong flavour of Ryvita. So, by taking a photo, it helped relieve this panic, as I could look back and see exactly what I had. 
* This method has also helped me greatly in the past – and will do in the future – with serval things…*
For example, I’ve taken a quick snap of:
– The number of grams displayed on my kitchen scales as proof that I havnt had too much… or too little!
– The hob unit in my Uni Flat just before leaving, so I could look back during the day and be reassure I did turn it off.
– An object/book that I’ve got ‘stuck’ with going back again and again to see until it felt right, or I’ve seen/read everything completely.

3. Again, this reason closely links to my previous point, but, the proof is not for me.
This truly is not an excuse! * but, given the nature of an Eating Disorder, there (at least for me) is always that quiet (sometimes loud), niggling voice that says don’t eat… don’t eat… you can get away with it.
Now, I know this is completely pointless now, as there is no proof what so ever that I actually ate the food, BUT, to me, having photos is proof to others that I am preparing proper, healthy, honest foods – regardless if they believe me (or my Mum – as she always sits with me) or not.
This slight paranoia actually goes back to my first admission to Osborne Ward. I used to wake before everyone else, having my breakfast alone on the ward, with just the night staff over at the desk. Even though it was difficult me for, I was always so cautious to sit facing them to ensure they could see me eating. On my second admission, I began taking photos as proof what was in my bowl, as even if they saw me chewing, there was no saying what was in there to start with!
However, having discharged myself from the services, I have no one to prove anything to anymore – that that I did then!!!
But, it’s stuck!
 
4. Okay, number 4 is my ‘reason’!
Yes, this makes it even more irrational as reason number 3 (are you keeping track? :)) but, at the moment, I feel I need to do it.
The majority of people would be most content with 2-3 photos, perhaps 4, but… no!
Hello OCD!
* It’s so ironic that by doing something for one reason, it actually compounds another…! *
It just has to ‘feel right’ to me, before I can start eating, which results in me needing to take in excess of 10 images (usually 13/14) from all different angles, ensuring I get every single element in the close up shots!

This repetitive act happens basically every time I take a photo regardless of it’s subject.
It genuinely drives me up the wall, but especially so with meals, as I fear if I don’t, I won’t enjoy what I’m eating as that niggling voice will be there, chattering away at me.
The last little point is also a very important aspect of ALL my reasons! *

My iPhone is seriously just a mass of photos, showing different angles in sets of 3 or 4!

Now, although my photos serve a personal purpose, I have occasionally shared a few, but simply because I am exceptionally proud of it’s appearance, combination and… I really enjoyed it! 
I hope others may find it interesting and also maybe take a little inspiration from it too.

In the world of Instagram, there is a recognised mantra of,
“If you didn’t Instagram it, did it even happen?”

which, regrettably, even though I just, well, keep mine, this very sentence has reaffirmed my 3 reasons, as it truly is how I fear people may react, should I not be able to show them a photo of my food.

*

Slightly digressing…

Whilst I know the following examples are not food based, it truly is interesting – and puts it into perspective – how the mindset and need for social validation takes such precedence, with there being an ever growing number of stories highlighting how people have taken this mantra on, with varying degrees of success.

Many have travelled to amusement parks and not gone on any rides, or visited locations and not fully enjoyed their holiday – just because they were so intent on capturing their surroundings… they ran out of time.

However, not being content with a selfie with our Queen, others are going a step further!

Although not dictionary worthy (as yet, I’m sure!) ‘Instagram boyfriends’ are gaining momentum, being those who do anything – “from being made to lie in the road, to having to get a piggy back off a mate”, all to achieve the perfect shot that their girlfriends desire.

But,
There have also those who are frighteningly, taking this to the extreme…

… with reports of people risking their lives to take selfies – such as at the edge of an active volcano – and even losing their lives from “accidentally shooting themselves” while taking photos with a loaded gun!

“If you didn’t Instagram it, did it even happen?”
All I can say is – are the opinions of OTHERS, worth your life?!

*

However – food based or not – a good proportion of ‘Instagramable Photos’  are in fact completely false anyway!
And it still doesn’t actually affirm it ‘even happening!’ 

Be it the location the person is at, the context in which they shoot/angle/crop the image, apply filters or over exagerate…
It’s skewed!
Which, is my point exactly!

Reading several articles, research papers and statistics, food photography in particular truly is a global topic of interest.

A 2017 study showed that “69 per cent of millennials take photos of their food before eating” when out with friends, family, or even on ones own.

“Snapping pictures of the meals and snacks we eat is a key part of eating out for many millennials, but it may be ruining the dining experience for everyone.”
This is not “just because of the disruption and incessant camera flashes of photographing food” but “Instagram is actually influencing the food we eat and the environment we eat it in.”

Whilst foods intended for Instagram can be anything from those that are aesthetically-pleasing, to others that are utterly crazy, “more often than not, these dishes are no more than Insta-bait” with the soul intention to go viral.

* To be honest, whenever I see any, they always look absolutely sickening, either in combinations used, quantities, or – dare I say it – being damn right messy! 
And, as for “If you didn’t Instagram it, did it even happen?”…
there is absolutely no proof the poster even ate what was in the photo!!! *

This has caused restaurants and such to start serving all matter of concoctions, such as “rose gold cappuccinos and sugar-laden “freakshakes”
However, even though many might see them as attractive (or think they do because they feel they should!!!) the majority are “sickly sweet and bad for your health.”

From being strict and exact with what I eat, I’ve become increasingly conscious of this very point, recognising how wrong, misleading and actually detrimental these photos are to ones enjoyment and well – IF they are consumed – ones health! 

As a result, US chef Alvin Cailan actually took a stand, announcing he would “no longer make “Instagram food” as he found his photogenic dishes were compromising on flavour.”
He now only creates foods – such as his “anti-instagram’ doughnuts” that simply taste good, prioritising “substance over style.”

Whilst some may have taken this approach, it’s really only the minority, with social networking once again ruling our lives.

It truly is such a shame.
The 21st century approach, mindset and way of living has even managed to highjack the fundamentals of life, turning it into yet another competition, act of judgement and form of acceptance.

During my research into this, I came across an incredibly interesting article that went into the topic of portion sizes to quite some depth, as well as other points too.
From many months of personal experience, I’ve learned a great deal and have a growing knowledge of a wide catalogue of information on food and nutrition. 
The various documents and such I’ve read have contributed to this, with them also reaffirming my own opinion of what the world is conditioned to achieve and see.

Like I said earlier – it’s all skewed!

I’m only partly sorry for such a long Blog, as I really don’t want to scare you away or put you to sleep! 
But – along with my interest in Physiology…
I honestly can’t explain the level of fascination I have in every aspect of food and what our bodies require for optimum health.

To which…
With my hand on my heart, I honestly do believe and truly feel, is the key to my recovery!

If you may recall my previous Blog on ‘over-hyped’ foods? … this is the Post I made reference too at the end.
Although, given all I have learned – and continue to do so – this is actually now Blog 1 of 3 (possibly more) as I want to share further readings – in addition to more of my own journey and discoveries – on a few other important points. 

I seriously do hope you’ll join me – and as you have made it to the end, Thank You! 
But, just incase I did lose your interest…
I’ll make sure #2 of this series won’t be my next Blog posting! 🙂

Until next time.
E x

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