“Girl dinners,” a TikTok trend sweeping social media this summer, might sound like a fun night out with friends — but it’s actually a potentially dangerous food practice that’s sparking concern among doctors and nutritionists.
Using the hashtag #GirlDinners, some Gen Z women are sharing photos of what they’re having for dinner, with many of the “meals” coming up drastically short in terms of calorie count or nutritional benefit.
Some of the more substantial “girl dinners” follow a charcuterie theme, including a spread of nuts, cheeses, olives, sliced meats and breads or crackers.
Others, however, are far more limited.
Some “girl dinners” recently posted to TikTok include plain hamburger buns, M&Ms poured into custard, a jar of peanut butter and deep-fried pickles wrapped in cheese. One poster even shared a can of Coke Zero as her “dinner.”
While some of these options may have been shared in a joking manner, some experts are concerned the trend could influence some girls and women to adopt unhealthy or disordered eating habits.
“While it may have started out as quirky or strange food combinations, recent examples of the ‘girl dinner’ trend online have been showing minimally nutritious or nonexistent ‘meals,’” said Tanya Freirich, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Charlotte, North Carolina, in an interview with Fox News Digital.
“Unfortunately, it seems like the wonderful and health-promoting focus on body positivity in our media and society has been replaced with an unhealthy obsession with ‘thinner is better’ in recent years,” added Freirich, who practices as The Lupus Dietitian.
Experts are concerned that promoting limited-calorie or nutrient-deficient dinner choices could lead some women down a path to disordered eating — particularly if they already have an unhealthy relationship with food.
“Anorexia, an eating disorder that involves extreme restriction of food, is a mental health disorder associated with five-to-six times the risk of death in comparison to the general population,” Freirich warned.
“It is not a laughing matter or a joke that should be spread on social media.”
“There’s nothing wrong with making use of a seemingly random collection of ingredients in the pantry — but a diet soda or cup of ice does not make a meal.”
“Glorifying and spotlighting disordered eating habits as acceptable may only contribute to the normalization of those habits,” she added.
Lindsay Allen, registered dietitian nutritionist and owner at Back in Balance Nutrition, LLC, in Tampa Bay, Florida, said these trends are “painful to see.”
She told Fox News Digital, “Young women are especially prone to the negative effects because they are still developing and they need extra nutrition.”
“Vitamins, minerals, fatty acids and protein, among other things, are the key building blocks we need for robust health and achieving the best version of ourselves,” she added.
“It’s time to normalize eating real food.”
So what should a healthy “girl dinner” or “woman dinner” look like?
Freirich recommends a balanced meal with 50% of the plate filled with vegetables, 25% consisting of a source of protein (beans, lentils, chicken, fish, eggs, etc.) and 25% carbohydrates (rice, potatoes, pasta, etc.).
“If you’ve had a history of dieting, it can be hard to check in with your body’s hunger cues rather than diet ‘rules,’ but ideally, you should eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satiated,” she said.
“There’s nothing wrong with making use of a seemingly random collection of ingredients in the pantry, but a diet soda or cup of ice does not make a meal,” Freirich added.
“Nourishing yourself with food is a form of self-care and love.”