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Why You Shouldn’t Follow Every TikTok Trend

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Social media, like TikTok and Instagram, make it easy for you to follow every fitness and nutrition trend without lifting a finger. Whether you like it or not. If you follow the right people (and ignore the right people!), over time you’ll pick up lots of helpful tips for a healthy lifestyle. When it comes to nutrition, however, you shouldn’t just accept all the information you see in reels, for example. These posts often lack sound background knowledge. The recommendations made are often generalized or misinterpreted and can turn out to be either unhelpful or even counterproductive.

To prove this, a team of scientists focused on the Mediterranean diet as an example. We’re pretty sure you’ll have heard of it. This diet recommends foods that are minimally processed and primarily plant-based. Vegetables, fruit and legumes such as lentils play a major role and it goes without saying that olive oil features heavily. Switching to this diet is relatively simple, which is why the Mediterranean diet has quickly spread worldwide. The reasons behind the diet, however, often seem to be unclear and lead to confusion and misleading advice, especially on social media such as TikTok, as a current study by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN) demonstrated. Since the summer of 2021, when the trend #mediterreandiet first went viral, there have been countless videos with instructions and advice. A team of researchers led by Margaret Raber, DrPh, Assistant Professor at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the US Department of Agriculture and  the Baylor College of Medicine, Texas, have analyzed the first 200 videos about the Mediterranean diet trend.

They found that although 78% of the videos analyzed at least conveyed vague health-related information, only 9% corresponded to the definition of the Mediterranean diet in its original sense. Unsurprisingly, tips posted by users from the fitness and health sector were comparatively higher in quality than the rest.

This concerned just 53% of the videos, however. The other 47% originated from TikTokers whose profiles and content didn’t give the researchers any clues about their qualifications or their fitness or nutrition background.

While the Mediterranean diet is derived from the traditional eating habits in Mediterranean countries, not all Mediterranean culinary preferences are included. Many of the videos referred only to foods that, although popular in some Mediterranean countries, do not strictly count as part of a #mediterreandiet. These included red meat, candies, and processed foods, for example.

What does this mean for you?

Social media remains an easy and convenient way to be inspired, share ideas and follow new trends. In spite of this, you should view any health-related content with caution. Above all, you should always be mindful of who is sharing the content and what qualifications they hold. This does depend on the nature of the content, of course. If it’s just a recipe with harmless ingredients that appeals to you, go for it! But if the content concerns nutrition or promises that this or that trick will help you lose or gain weight, then you should always view the post critically and seek the advice of a professional you trust, such as your family doctor, nutritionist or personal trainer.

Our conclusion

You’re not always in control of which supposed tips and tricks TikTok shows you on your For You page, but you can make sure you only follow trusted sources that you’ve carried out a little background check on. You can also find a good mix of fitness and food trends on our foodspring channels on Instagram, TikTok and Facebook.

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