By Andi Cwieka
For Unwind magazine
Junior dietetics major Taylor Chan has more than 1,000 Instagram followers.
Her page isn’t filled with smiling pictures of her in a bikini or snaps of her friends on a night out.
Go to her feed and you’ll see colorful quinoa salads, stacked breakfast sandwiches and unique desserts.
Chan is a healthy-food blogger who runs the blog and Instagram account foodandfearless.
“I really love taking pictures and I really love cooking,” Chan said. “So I thought [Instagram] would be a good way to inspire other people and prove to people that it is possible to eat healthy and while in college and on a budget.”
Foodandfearless is one of many in the ever-growing number of health and fitness Instagram accounts. A quick Instagram search shows you everything from bikini competition fitness accounts to food gurus dedicated to eating 100 percent vegan.
Clearly these accounts are popular – well-known instructors such as Kayla Itsines or Blogilates have upwards of 1 million followers. But what do these accounts accomplish for their users? And do they live up to their followers expectations?
“For me, it’s motivation,” says senior English and French major Stacia Odenwald. “It’s nice to see something [healthy] occasionally on my feed.”
Odenwald’s favorite Instagrams include Brittany_Dawn_Fitness and Passion2beFit – both of which showcase the uber-toned physiques of the users, along with workout clips, meals and even a “cheat” snack such as donuts or frozen yogurt.
“What attracts me to a good fitness Instagram account is the perception that the person isn’t perfect,” Odenwald said. “If the person always eats perfectly clean meals and has a perfect six pack, that can be kind of a turn-off.”
Many fitness accounts use their Instagram like a diary, posting pictures of their meals, their workouts or other daily activities, and even writing long captions when a personal issue arises.
“I think people start healthy Instagrams because they love to work out, but also because they want to motivate other people to work out,” said senior history and secondary education major Rebecca Kneebone. Eventually, the accounts evolve as the fan base grows.
“I imagine having [a fitness Instagram] can also hold you accountable,” Odenwald said, in terms of staying committed to healthy habits.
As a dietetics major, Chan has a more specific taste. She likes to follow accounts that specifically feature that the user is a registered dietician, she said.
“I look for accounts that promote positive messages about food, and have lots of color,” Chan said.
As an Instagram user who knows both sides, both following and owning a health account, Chan said she tries to emulate the type of account she likes to follow.
“I think that having good morals behind your page is what drives having a good Instagram page,” Chan said. “For my page I try to have a message of all-inclusive diets, positive uplifting messages and a good attitude.”