As a generation, millennials are making a conscious effort to invest in their health through diet.
Part of this is a reaction to seeing firsthand–whether in our lives or in those around us–that poor diet can lead to debilitating chronic health conditions like diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
While chronic illness is on the rise, social media is on the rise as well. the digital age enables us to easily access a wealth of cutting-edge health research.
The thoughts of top experts are just a click (or tweet) away! Tips on how to be healthy have never been more accessible.
So what do millennials, social media, and kale smoothies have in common?
According to this study, millennials are drinking “functional beverages,” like kombucha and kale smoothies, more than any other generation. As a kale-loving millennial myself, this is part of the reason why I affectionately dub us the “kale smoothie generation.”
Kale has a host of heath benefits that support living a healthy lifestyle. For example, it’s a nutrient superstar, jam-packed with calcium, vitamin K, beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin C, and it has been shown to prevent cancer.
What better way to be healthy than by starting your day with kale for breakfast, right?
Here’s where it gets interesting:
We’re not only drinking kale smoothies; we’re using social media to let everyone else know that we’re drinking them.
Want proof? Look no further than Instagram. There are over a million photos on Instagram tagged as green smoothies/kale smoothies/ green juice. For the record, I’ve contributed my fair share and will continue to do so. Kale smoothies are basically the poster child of this “healthy” social media movement.
Let’s get real, we not only care about being healthy, but we also care about other people knowing when we make healthy choices.
You’ll likely see a kale smoothie on your favorite blogger’s perfectly curated Instagram page. Her manicured hand holding a kale smoothie represents everything she appears to be: healthy, fit, happy and chic.
But what you’re not seeing is the McDonald’s she ate at 2am last weekend. Social media allows us to project the best image of ourselves. But we are the only ones who can hold ourselves accountable and know when we’re truly leading a healthy lifestyle.
Likewise, not all kale smoothies are what they appear to be. In fact, many prepackaged ones are made with pesticide laden vegetables and have as many grams of sugar as a candy bar. Health-wise, you might be better off eating boring old scrambled eggs (although, they definitely wouldn’t get as many likes on Instagram).
I’m certainly no exception when it comes to painting a healthier picture of my life on social media. When I Instagram a photo of a green smoothie, I’m making a statement that I’m investing in my health. It shows I made a conscious decision to forgo a less healthy option for a nutrient dose of fruits and veggies (or “salad in a glass” as my dad likes to say).
For the record, I do genuinely like how kale smoothies taste and make me feel physically. That’s the reason I drink one every morning. But, I share photos because I like getting validation from other like-minded people on social media.
Drinking a kale smoothie also helps justify less healthy behavior.
While logically I know drinking a kale smoothie does not, in any way, negate the fact that I spent 10+ hours in front of a screen today, it does make me feel better about my day knowing I had a serving of kale before 9 am.
Should I stop taking photos of my kale smoothies, turn off my computer/phone/iPad and get outside today? Absolutely. But will I? Not a chance, girl! Have you seen my Instagram? It’s just one more kale smoothie pic away from gaining more followers!
In all seriousness, I do think the kale smoothie generation is faced with a difficult task: Looking at the bigger picture of when we’re actually investing in our health versus when we’re just appearing to do so online.
Ask yourself this: What would you do differently to better your health if no one ever knew but you?
Be real, do you actually like kale smoothies? Do you get social media induced thumb jams from typing on your iphone, too?