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? 

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DEE107 3/15/2021
EVILCECIL 3/15/2021
Good article. Thanks. Report
JUNETTA2002 2/24/2021
Good article Report
CD3802882 1/5/2021
I really have very little interest in celebrities and their fad diets. Report
JAMER123 6/29/2020
Forget the celeb diets. I set it up to my needs only. Report
I have no use for celebrity-based anything (eating plans, lives, lifestyles, paparazzi problems, politics, etc. {least of all any of the Kardashians and anyone related to them}). I take care of me and my needs depending on information and discussions with my Dr., who knows my exercise and health goals, and by listening to my body. Report
thanks Report
I'm not interested in what a celebrity has for lunch, nor am I interested in the luggage. Report
When did adds become part of Sparkpeople articles? I don't see any relationship between diets and packing... Report
Thanks for the great article! :) Report
Good info - thanks. Report
I agree too many different diets out there & we as a society believe everything Report
So much garbage Report
Great! Report
If a celebrity advertises a certain diet I ignore it. I don't do anything they get paid to advertise for. I know what makes me burn calories and I know how to eat well...don't need to stinkin' celebrity telling me how to do it! Report
I never believe in what they say Report
I need to see a video of someone filling their packing cubes. Report
love this Report
good article Report
Not only do I not like the idea of celebrity diets, I don't really even like it when ordinary people tell me what to eat because my pet peeve is unsolicited diet advice. You know like when you're having a perfectly good salad mixed with protein and you decide to do something crazy like put dressing on it. And the dressing is within your calorie budget for the day. But some well meaning friend, who has never had an issue with her weight says, you should try just using vinegar and oil. And you want to tell her she should eat with her mouth CLOSED. (Just sayin...) Report
what did packing cubes have to do about unrealistic diet expectations? Report
Good article. Report
I enjoyed the article Report
Thanks for an interesting article Report
Thanks for this! I don't consider myself a follower of what celebs do, but it is interesting to read. Report
good stuff Report
good stuff Report
Great article
This is a great article. Report
Great article Report
It started off as a really good story that was helping me with being realistic about my eating. Another story came up and it didn't relate to the first. But I like what was said about diet expectations. Thanks Report
This was a weird article. I am with so many that wondered what packing cubes had to do with what the title of article was. I don't get how they work, the packing cubes. They look like suitcases not cubes.
Celebrity need to merchandise themselves to keep in public eye. So what is published and what is real can be 2 different things. Or several different things Report
As has been said...not sure why the packing info is in the diet blog...but good info... Report
I think this could be true. When I see what my young niece's are going through to meet diet expectations, I feel for them. It really shouldn't be that hard. Report
The celebrities also are paying mega bucks for personal trainers to keep after them and cooks to prepare the right meals. Does anyone still pack crazy anymore than travel? Cubes? its looks like just a soft sided suitcase. Marketing? Just call it something else to get people to buy it. Report
Be obscure clearly.
- E. B. White Report
Interesting way of traveling and it sounds like it really works. I travel in a camper so the packing is different but the same. As far as the celebrities and their eating, what works for them doesn't work for everyone else. Find your focus area and go with it. DIETS don't work. Healthy eating does. Report
Maybe this should have been in two separate features? Well, I'm just interested in the first part anyway, but I'm *very* interested in some of the issues, even though I'm not sure if I understand what the problems are.

People do strange things, always have, always will, with and without celebrities' diet snapshots.

Meal planning is to be prepared for events, including stocking up on things that are so good that you don't have to turn to chocolate. It can also be smart to not buy Cheez-Its if you often hear its siren song.

Not having a nutritionist and a chef is just a lame excuse - cooking a simple, healthy meal doesn't take much time or knowledge or mental effort. Youtube has lots of exercise videos for free. You get out what you put in. You don't have to think about being healthy all the time - it doesn't sound healthy, and if you are doing that, I can understand the need to rant.

How our food environment has become, is worth a rant though. I can't believe donuts and candy is offered for free at people's workplace?! Report
Hum this is NOT new. Everyone "THINKS" that if they could just follow their favorite star that they too could look just like them. They do not realuze that it is hard work. I like sparpeople, I plann my food before I actually make it. It is very hard work but persistently being good will get you to end result. Hard work and dedication. But what in the heck has packing anything go to do with it????? Report
What's cubes got to do, got to do with it.
What's cubes, but an unrelated section.
What's cubes, got to do, got to do with it.
Who needs to pack for celebrity section? Report
This is not new. It's not a trend. This has literally existed since movie stars have. Magazines in the 1920's were filled with diet tips and "what does *insert name of star* eat to keep her figure?" What I would say is new is the popularity of what male stars do to get "fit," for example the Marvel Studios men. But of course, we're far more open about men having eating disorders these days. So, make of it what you will.

thank you
How do you backpack with a suitcase? I can see the cubes if you are traveling, but not in a backpack. Report
If we all had the same resources it might look differently for everyone. Report
I doubt that any of the "what xyz" eats during the day is real. Just go Google "How Princess Kate stay (so) thin" and you'll get over a million hits. None of them show Kate exercising or with food, none of them cities a real source just something like "a good friend" or "a royal insider".
I don't know why so many people set store in what celebrities allegedly eat or do for exercise. Report
Interesting! Report
Know that the darkest night is often
the bridge to the brightest tomorrow.
- Jonathan Lockwood Huie Report
great article Report
In 6 million years, I could not give a flying care about what any celebrity does or doesn't do, eats or doesn't eat, or anything else related to them! They do not live in my reality--and I do not live in theirs. Who cares???! Report