Girl dinner - a nutritionist's thoughts

'Girl dinner' is taking over TikTok as the latest food trend. But what is it, and is it just disordered eating in disguise?


What is girl dinner?

It all started with one woman posting her 'dinner' board of bread, cheese, grapes and gherkins. The premise of it is the food you eat when alone because you want to/your kitchen is empty, etc. And others followed suit with their dinner boards. Think charcuterie boards full of salami, cheese, crackers, etc.

As with all trends, some looked super picturesque with salami flowers and curated cheeses. And others completely went the opposite way - ramen, Cheetos and even a single can of corn under #girldinner. Trends followed including 'husband meal' - a more high protein affair that can't be eaten when your wife is present, 'mom dinner' of leftover kids food and more…

And there's been great debates on gender differences and what this means under the patriarchy… but I'm not even going to comment due to a woeful lack of expertise. But from a nutritionist's point of view, I have some thoughts…

Is it just disordered eating by another label?

One of the defining characteristics of girl dinner is very small portions - one person shared a can of coke, and another a glass full of ice cubes. And although this is just a snippet into someone's entire day of eating, if it becomes a battle of one-upping each other on how little you can eat for dinner, it can be a slippery slope.

If you are someone who's undereating and restricting, it can seem validating to see such things pushed out on the algorithm and celebrated in the comments.

And if you see someone with a beautifully curated dinner and yours doesn't seem as such, that's where comparison might come in - what you should/shouldn't be eating. As soon as should/shouldn't come in, we are no longer following what we want to eat, what leaves us feeling satisfied and what works with our life.

Snacks do not equal a meal

Recently, American fast food chain Popeyes introduced a 'girl dinner menu' which consisted purely of sides. But a side isn't a meal (unless you're eating tapas or sharing small plates). If we equate the two, it becomes too easy to say "I shouldn't eat anything for a while after this meal" despite the fact that it may be unfulfilling. Because we feel that we've eaten a complete meal - which we may have not.

I am a big fan of eating small meals instead of one huge meal but that's what works with my life and I know my hunger cues, what foods satisfy me, etc. And these are small meals composed of a range of components using gentle nutrition - not snacks. 

Is it that serious?

Any discussion on a topic like this should always include the caveat that this was probably intended as a joke or light-hearted commentary. But, with disordered eating and for those who are struggling with their relationship to food, it can be easy to read into such trends and start the comparison cycle...

It is easy for a trend to become a bit of a shield to promote disordered eating behaviours such as restrictive eating, small portions, etc. I was around on Tumblr when there was a massive clean-eating trend which seemed positive but it caused long-term effects for many... I'd love to hear your thoughts on this trend or any like it.

The important thing to remember is that trends come and go but our relationship with food and with our bodies is long term. Want to work on your relationship with food and movement using the intuitive eating framework? Book a discovery call with me now.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

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London, Greater London, SE21
Written by Kacie Shoulders, ANutr
London, Greater London, SE21

Kacie Shoulders is an associate nutritionist and yoga teacher based in South London. She takes a HAES approach to working with clients and focuses on Intuitive Eating and movement.

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