A Rant Against Unrealistic Diet Expectations

By , Alicia Capetillo, Editor at SparkPeople
Every month The Go Get It Guide is your destination for motivation, musings on random goals and probably pop culture references. It's a space where we'll sort through the PR pitches and news, then share our honest thoughts on what's happening in the health and fitness world, what's on the horizon and just what we think of that video the internet obsessed over last week. Check in each month to Spark, Sweat, Smile, Savor and Shop with us!

Spark: No, I Really Don't Care What Cher Eats for Lunch

There's a trend that's been popping up all over the internet the last few months and, before you ask, no, it has nothing to do with using the weirdest item in your home to apply makeup. No, this trend is worse because it simplifies a complicated issue by trying to make us think, "Celebrities: they're just like me!" But, I mean, they're not.
As editor of SparkPeople, I make it my mission to stay on the up-and-up with the latest and greatest in health, fitness and nutrition. To keep up, I follow several outlets on social media. A few months ago, I started to notice this framework, over and over and over again: "What [Insert Popular Celebrity Who Probably Has a Bangin' Bod] Eats in a Day." A quick search and you can get an intimate look into the breakfast, lunch and dinner plates of everyone from Nicole Kidman, Shay Mitchell and Cher to Misty Copeland, Gigi Hadid and Wonder Woman herself. Also, the Queen. Oh, and the Kardashians, obviously.
Now, I understand the intrigue angle. These days, access to celebrities is unparalleled. Fans eat up as many workout, baby, vacation, behind-the-scenes set, shopping photos as they can, so why should their diet be any different? The trend to disclose the "everyday diet" of celebrities is problematic, though, because at its core it is implying, "Eat like this and you could look like her or him! Wouldn't that be great?" In a single week back a few months ago, I noted four "What I Eat in a Day" articles. With so much conflicting nutrition information out there, the last thing we need muddying up the waters is a one-day food plan that works for a specific celebrity whose personal lifestyle and nutrition requirements are otherwise unknown.
First rant: Is this a Nickelodeon cartoon? Does every celebrity have a closet filled with the same outfit to wear every single day? I know it's meant to be a snapshot of their diet, but the idea that people would eat the same thing every day is absurd. Some weeks you meal plan, other weeks you get a flat tire on your way to work and then you have a stressful meeting with your boss and miss lunch and by the time you get home the only thing you can think about is diving headfirst into whatever chocolate treat you can find. That's life.
Furthermore, many celebrities have the luxury of having personal chefs at home or at the very least a nutritionist who has advised them on how and what to eat to reach their personal health goals (not to mention personal trainers and boutique studios) two points that are absent in most of these articles. If I had the cash to hire a chef to cook in my tiny apartment kitchen, you can bet my abs would be popping, too. Sadly, I don't, so I have to consciously make the time and have the energy to create healthy dishes myself before that box of Cheez-Its in the pantry starts calling my name. So much of healthy living is about having the mental toughness to recommit to the decision to be healthy every single day, every single hour. It's sometimes saying no to the office donuts and opting for a piece of fruit as a snack, or deciding to run to the grocery store to get salad ingredients instead of pulling out that takeout menu. When the decision is taken out of your hands, courtesy of an assistant or a chef, sticking to a healthy diet gets a little easier.
That's not to say that these same celebrities aren't worth admiring for their grit and commitment to their profession. I'm a huge fangirl in a lot of aspects and I'm regularly impressed by Instagrams of stars knocking out pushups and pullups (I see you, Shay Mitchell!), showing off biceps courtesy of CrossFit or committing to getting strong and healthy for an empowering role. Keeping up with Hollywood standards of beauty and health is no easy feat and I'm sure I couldn't keep up with the rigorous training and nutrition schedules as gracefully as some of these ladies.

When I started writing this blog post, it was because of a single interview I saw on SELF titled "This is Exactly What Gigi Hadid Eats In A Day." The topic was Gigi Hadid, the bona fide super star model with abs I envy and a "cool girl" charm that makes you think she'd be a great friend to have offering advice while you try on 100 things in the dressing room. In the article—which also quotes a Harper's Bazaar article—they discuss how Hadid will "often grab a burger for lunch" and "admitted to having a soft spot for cereals like Lucky Charms and Froot Loops," which is great, except that's not exactly how it was before she was a household name. A 2014 episode of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," showed Gigi and her mother Yolanda slicing a super small sliver of graduation cake to eat. The episode rubbed a lot of people the wrong way due to the way the two dissected just how tiny they could make the piece of cake to get a taste.
It is well-known that Hadid is dedicated to training, including vigorous boxing workouts, so her body is well-earned, but reading the article felt like an oversimplification of what it takes to get healthy. Yes, eating the occasional burger or bowl of Lucky Charms is cool. This life is about moderation and the simple joys of sometimes chowing down on a brownie. "What I Ate in a Day" articles take a complicated, sometimes frustrating journey and turn it into a fluffy piece that is ignorant of individuals who are consciously working against cravings and making hour-by-hour decisions in the interest of their future health. So the next time you read that so-and-so celebrity really loves pizza, but balances it out with organic salmon caught daily by their in-home fisher in the stream that runs along their 140-acre property, take it as entertainment and get back to working toward your goals here in the real world.

Shop: You'll Wonder How You Lived Without This Travel Essential 

Are you the kind of person who really loves to-do lists? Do you get giddy at the idea of a perfectly organized sock drawer? Have you ever uttered the phrase "A place for everything and everything in its place" after tidying up? Does the thought of a suitcase in disarray send shivers down your spine? If you answered an emphatic "Yes!" to any of those questions, then, boy, have I got a type-A product for you.
A few years ago, my boyfriend and I decided to throw caution to the wind and embark on a backpacking journey through South America. As rookie backpackers and first-time vagabonds, we found ourselves getting a quick education on the importance of practical travel gear in the months leading up to our departure date. Microfiber towels, versatile layering pieces and multifunctional backpacks were all must-buys. It was at one of our many shopping trips to our locally owned outdoor gear retailers, though, where I fell in love with packing cubes for the first time.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

For the unfamiliar, packing cubes are exactly what they sound like: mesh and nylon squares that come in a range of sizes and can be zipped closed after tucking your shirts, pants, pajamas, socks and underthings inside. The concept of trying to cram months' worth of clothing items into a backpack is no easy feat and the logistics of how I would get to my t-shirts or shoes without completely destroying my neatly packed shorts and toiletries had been haunting me for months. Packing cubes saved me from freaking out back then and continue to keep me cool, calm and collected on every trip I take these days.
Now, before I leave for a trip, I lay out the clothes I plan to bring next to my packing cube, fold, roll and place the item inside the cube. Always one for overpacking, I typically use the largest cube for t-shirts and dresses and can fit roughly two columns, six rows of apparel using the rolling method, for a grand total of 12 pieces of clothing. Oftentimes, I'll lay an undershirt or a light jacket right on top before sealing it up and throwing it into my suitcase. Being responsible for squeezing just three items into your bag—as opposed to maneuvering, folding, refolding, tearing your hair out, re-maneuvering—will save you from frustration and pre-trip packing breakdowns.
Not only is the space-saving bananas, but my favorite result of using packing cubes is that you always know exactly where everything is, making unpacking and repacking your bag so ridiculously easy. Rather than sorting through a bunch of items jam-packed into your suitcase, you can just grab the cube you need, pull out an item, rezip and toss it back in. No accidentally unfolding and having to refold clothes, no digging to the bottom of the bag to find that shirt you need. Plus, if you're really on top of your agenda, you can pack outfits instead of having "drawers" like I prefer. If you know you'll be active during the day and more dressed up at night, pack activewear in one cube and your going-out-to-dinner gear in another.
The cubes elicited the envy of fellow backpackers in hostels all over South America back then and I have since introduced friends and family to the genius that is packing cubes. Each and every one has been so pleased that they promised to name their first born after me.
Thank me later.

Do articles about celebrity diets grind your gears? Do you find them motivational or unattainable?