Oct. 26. 2018
Written By:
McKel (Hill) Kooienga
McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

McKel Hill Kooienga, MS, RDN, LDN

Founder of Nutrition Stripped and the Mindful Nutrition Method™

What do you eat in a day? Well, I’m about to do a tell-all for what’s on my meal plan.

By far one of the most common questions I get from new readers or people in our community is, “What do you eat in a day?”. There are obvious pros and cons to these “what I eat in a day” types of content that many people share on the internet, but can it become too much clutter for your own mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing?

First things first, if you’re unsure what this type of content is—it’s basically a public food journal delivered in written content on a blog, or people share them as Instagram stories, or on their social media channels like video on YouTube. Oftentimes, people who share these will do them weekly, monthly, and for the avid user, they share daily.

Are What I Eat In A Day Posts Promoting Healthy Relationships With Food?

First things first, it may feel difficult to even define what a healthy relationship with food looks and feels like. Let’s start there by sharing what healthy relationships with food might be like—as they’re different for everyone.

Having a healthy relationship with food could mean that you enjoy foods that you understand are promoting better health outcomes. For example, recognizing that eating enough protein per day contributes to maintaining lean muscle mass or that eating healthy fats can be good for cardiovascular and brain health.

It can also mean that you feel little to no guilt, shame, or regret around your food choices. That you may be more mindful during the times you do eat, slow down to enjoy the food for what it is. Eating until you’re comfortably full and eating again when you feel physical hunger. Giving yourself open relationships to all foods—not identifying something as clean/dirty or good/bad or on/off limits. Not planning a makeup meal or assigning planned cheat days to binge/overindulge. Focusing on nourishment for the body.

If you check back here, I’ll be sharing a full article about what a healthy relationship with food might look like.

Potential benefits

In my professional opinion, tracking your food whether that’s in pictures to show the internet or in a journal, can be a great tool to keep yourself accountable whenever you’re making changes to your eating habits.

It can provide accountability, excitement, motivation, inspiration, and most importantly a community to connect with and share your journey with.

If you’re new to healthy eating, it can be a way to follow along with other peoples’ health journeys and see what they’re up to for support or education. Or if you’re looking to share your own, it could be a way for you to practice healthy cooking and to have something to look forward to teaching others!

Potential challenges

If and when tracking food intake in whatever capacity you are using it, becomes a stress, an obsession, a reward, or it becomes a feeling or an action that holds a lot of emotional weight to it—then you might need to take a break. This goes for both people who share that content and for people who engage with that content.

I’ve worked with many clients over the years who have either recovered from eating disorders or disordered eating habits by using food journals as a way to keep accountable for their changes in diet. Again, under proper supervision, this can be a great tool for accountability, but if it becomes a stressful action or a compulsion, then it might be negatively impacting your mental wellbeing.

What I’ve noticed since social media has taken the health and wellness community by storm in the past 5 years, is that it can add fuel to an already burning fire for some people. It gets tricky when taking note of everything you eat and drink is then put on social media for a rating—are people commenting on how “healthy” I’m eating, are they liking my post because I’m doing a good job?

Whatever intention behind your action, is being rewarded (whether that’s positively or negatively) directly related to your food choices, which then impacts your relationship with food in some capacity.

For example, if we look at Orthorexia in the past several years, social media can be a tool that encourages it for those who are already experiencing or it may be a trigger for others. Orthorexia, although not a formally diagnosed eating disorder, has been in literature since 1998 and is an obsession with eating proper, healthy foods that are often communicated as good/bad or clean/dirty food choices.

Orthorexia isn’t just about the foods being eaten, it’s about the mental, emotional, and behavioral connections that are pursuing this lifestyle—often of perfection or “right way” versus balance and truly a healthy relationship with food.

What I Eat In A Day

So, back to the question of what I eat in a day.

I eat whole foods, sometimes I skip meals because I am busy and stressed, I eat healthy fats to keep me full, I go out to eat with my fiance for a really nice meal, sometimes we get takeout, I eat dark chocolate every day, I love squeezing in greens into smoothies, I grab drinks with friends and enjoy the menu, I love eating huge salads, and there are days where I eat about two servings of vegetables for the day.

I have a healthy relationship with food and can recognize these behaviors around food are part of living a life, a healthy life where some days or weeks I’m taking greater actions towards bettering my health. And days or weeks where I’m not making the best choices for my health because of whatever reason and can use strategies I know work for me, to take care of myself.

The fact is, what I eat, doesn’t matter.

Nor does watching anyone else’s “what I eat in a day” posts, matter. They don’t. You’re a unique person, your nutrition goals are different, your support system, your stress levels, your exercise, your mental health, your emotional health, your spiritual health—all of these things are different.

You are a uniquely beautiful person, so to take what someone else (who is different than you) is eating, and apply that directly to your lifestyle as well, does a disservice to your health. I ask that as a loving question for you to think on if you’re engaging with this type of content.

Learning about nutrition and educating yourself about actions you can take to promote better health, is fantastic. It’s empowering and it’s unique to you and your lifestyle, so try to let that be your guiding light or compass about what to eat.

At the end of the day, if you love this content and it inspires you and you have a healthy relationship with food, then go for it! Just be mindful that if you are the person sharing it, to make sure your intention behind it is good, educational, and take a minute to think about who you might be talking to.

What You Might Think I Eat In A Day

Maybe you look at the Nutrition Stripped Instagram and think I, McKel, pack my day with green smoothies, salads, vegetable-rich one-pot meals, healthy desserts, no wine, limited coffee, etc., etc., etc.

Our social media channels typically share new recipes, articles, or things from the website which are professionally styled and photographed by yours truly. Therefore, my meals every day do not look like those pictures you see on our website or social media channels!

I try to share as much as I can when I cook from home (when I have the time and energy), and it’s not always pretty—actually, it looks like a bunch of stuff in a bowl! I would like to share more of these moments with you outside of IG stories so you can see the other side of what some meals look like, but in the meantime, just know that what I personally eat in a day and the new educational articles or recipes we share on the website, aren’t in real time of my real life.

What I Actually Eat In A Day

I’m just like you. I have busy days where I forget to drink as much water as I’d like, I have social events to attend, and days where I don’t want to think about cooking a meal. On the other hand, I also have days where I can’t seem to leave the kitchen because I’m on a roll making meals, or that I take breaks right when I start to get hungry for lunch, or that I take a couple deep breathes before each meal to be present.

Do any of these scenarios ring true for you? If so, great, you’re not alone and you’re a complex human who is living life and doing the best they can. Just because nutrition and health is my profession, doesn’t make my own skillset, strategies, and knowledge a golden ticket for taking “optimal” actions.

A tool that has really been transformational for me, is good ole’ meal planning! Thank the NS vibes for meal planning, because if I didn’t meal plan on the weekend, it would be really difficult for me to practice what I preach! Meal planning has been a savior for me when it comes to making a couple meals on the weekend so I know I can rely on a meal that’s nourishing and easy to whip up.

Most of my meals like lunch and dinner come from these meal prepped foods to make it easy, and breakfast is normally a quick smoothie on the go or if I have a slower morning I’ll make hot oatmeal with fruit compote which is so delicious!

What I’ve found works best for me and my lifestyle is aiming for 3 hearty meals a day, I’ll snack in between if I’m hungry, I’ll hydrate as much as I can (it’s easy to do when you love drinking tea), and I really love sweets so adding in chocolate, fruit, or whatever I like during the evening is kinda a must-have for me.

Questions To Ask Yourself

Whenever you stumble upon these “what I eat in a day” posts from anyone on social media, that includes professionals too, just ask yourself a couple things! First things first:

  • Why am I engaging with this content or seeking it out?
  • Am I looking for inspiration to eat healthy to nourish my body?
  • Am I looking for comparison because I feel like I’m not “doing enough”?
  • If I’m sharing this with people, am I looking for validation that I’m doing it “right” or am I looking for a community to support my new habits?
  • How does engaging with this make me feel? Do I feel inspired, happy, ready to cook or do I feel guilt, shame, lack?
  • Is this content nourishing me in any way? Emotionally, physically, mentally?
  • What action will this encourage me to take or not to take? i.e. will it guide you to cook healthy meals out of nourishment or fun? Or will it guide you to cook healthy meals out of comparison or “shoulds”?

You’ll notice some of these questions are very similar with slight tweaks to help yourself check-in with your mental, emotional, and spiritual health when you’re looking or sharing this type of content.


Do you enjoy sharing this content with your communities or do you watch/read other peoples “what I eat in a day” posts? How do they make you feel if you engage with them? I would love to learn from you what your experience is with this kind of content/education.

If you ever need any help or support with establishing a healthy relationship with food or just figuring out how to eat healthier to improve your health, then I’m an email away! Check out my coaching programs here.


Resources that may help:

If you or someone you know needs guidance, please share these resources.

  1. http://www.heretohelp.bc.ca/factsheet/eating-disorders
  2. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline