Can you really get fitter with Twitter?

The concept of tweet-what-you-eat (TWYE) is simple. Using the popular micro-blogging site Twitter, users tweet about what they eat, every time they eat. Matt Lucas and Stephen Fry have both tried it, but reports warn that it can lead to obsessive behaviour and eating disorders.

The National Centre for Eating Disorders (NCFED) say that the new craze is a phase that will soon become boring, and that it is not a responsible diet.

“It can introduce competition to see who can eat the least. This is not helpful since what we need to eat depends on many things such as our physical makeup and level of activity,” they say.

The only way to stay fit and healthy is to eat a healthy, balanced diet.

“Diets and faddy eating don’t keep weight off for very long, and the only way stay at a healthy weight is to eat a nutritionally rich diet, starting with breakfast,” the NCFED say.


The new craze encourages dieters to 'tweet' every time they eat. Photo: Anneka James
    The Verdict

— Stephanie Bolton, The Linc’s lifestyle editor, tried ‘tweet-what-you-eat’ for a week to see if it changed her eating habits.

I thought TWYE sounded a fun, harmless way of looking at what I eat, and if that made me eat healthier, then great. However, firstly the actual TWYE site requires you to note down not only what you’ve eaten, but the calories as well. I’ve never been one to count calories and although a ‘Calorie Counter’ is available, I found it complicated to install.

Instead, I used the basic Twitter site to post when I ate, every time I ate (just as you’d do with the TWYE site). It’s simple, but not very effective if you’re looking to actually lose weight.

Rather than making me see what and when I ate, so that I could make healthier choices or snack less, I just found that I quickly became guilty every time I ate.

I’d be out in a beer garden soaking up the sun and just fancy a chocolate bar, for instance. Whereas before I wouldn’t have thought twice about it, I actually found myself considering whether or not I should give in to temptation, only to have to Tweet all about it later on.

Having said that, I only ‘cheated’ once. I’ll admit, I had a sneaky Crème Egg one night and, wanting to be able to savour the last one of the year, I didn’t Tweet about it. I didn’t want to feel guilty.

After spending a week writing down everything that’s passed my lips (except for said Crème Egg), I can see how such a craze could lead to obsessive behaviour and even eating disorders, especially if you are counting the calories.

Maybe if I’d have continued tweeting for longer I would’ve begun to change my habits, but it’s much better to be able to eat guilt-free and not have to tell the world exactly how many sausages I ate at yesterday’s BBQ!

If you are concerned about eating disorders, contact the National Centre for Eating Disorders on 0845 838 2040 or visit www.eating-disorders.org.uk

To check out Stephanie’s Tweets, visit twitter.com/StephanieBolton.

One Response to Can you really get fitter with Twitter?

  1. Janna says:

    I developed an eating disorder from counting calories and being rigid about writing down what I would eat and when. This was not the only factor of course, but it certainly took on an addictive quality for me. I think it is a little extreme to think that tweeting can lead to eating disorders. Factors that contribute to eating disorders are: emotional eating, perfectionism, fearful or obsessive personality, excessive talk about food, diets and weight in the childhood home, and society constantly bombarding us with unattainable ideals for thinnness.
    (I went to many different treatment centers for my eating disorder, but the one that ultimately helped me was a little place in Texas, called Hope Grows Recovery.)