If you haven’t stumbled onto the girl dinner side of TikTok, buckle up – you’re in for a somewhat bizarre, and yet relatable, ride that has unsurprisingly sparked some debate on whether the trend is safe for young girls. 

 

What is girl dinner? 

Women across the country have taken to social media to share their cobbled together, mixed and matched meals that they call girl dinner. 

Charcuterie plate? Girl dinner. Some hummus, some pretzels, some chocolate and two leftover pieces of sushi? Girl dinner. A bag of popcorn you were snacking on while figuring out what to cook, but finished it and don’t feel hungry anymore? Girl dinner. 

But no matter the ingredients, each girl dinner has something in common: it’s not what you would expect a meal to look like. And it comes with its own theme song! (And a filter.) 

@chloecleroux But like how do they know? #girldinner #snackgirls ♬ original sound – karma carr

 

What are the risks? 

As the girl dinner trend has swept the nation over the past month, some on social media have brought up concerns about the practice’s safety, especially when it comes to impressionable young girls. There’s a risk that after being exposed to girl dinner videos, women of all ages could begin to feel that eating a full plate of food is too much, says Cooper University Health Care nutritionist Evelyn Arteche. 

Evelyn Arteche Cooper University

Cooper University Health Care nutritionist Evelyn Arteche

“There is a healthy way to do girl dinner, but what we’ve seen it morph into is the problem,” she says. “For example, eating a bag of popcorn is not a suitable replacement for dinner. Our bodies don’t produce energy, we get it from food. And if you’re cutting back on nutrients for the sake of having a girl dinner, your body is going to be affected.”

Aside from feeling tired because you haven’t eaten enough, cutting back on eating in an unhealthy way can also make it harder for you to recover from injury, weaken your immune system and affect your brain function. In extreme cases, it can even cause cardiovascular issues.  

A safe girl dinner

As Arteche said, there is a healthy way to do girl dinner, and she’s seen plenty of videos showing viewers how. She encourages her own patients to follow the My Plate method: at least half of your plate should be veggies – to help get your recommended serving of 3 cups a day – plus 3 ounces of protein and some carbs. (A reminder, you should be eating 2 to 3 servings of carbs per day, a serving could be a baked potato or ⅓ of a cup (uncooked) of rice.) 

And for parents who are worried about their kids feeling pressured to eat one of those unhealthy girl dinners, Arteche says education is key. “Make sure your kids understand what is enough to eat,” she says. “Young girls between ages 10 and 18 need from 1400 to 1800 calories per day, even more if they’re active. And educate them on what will happen if they aren’t eating enough. When they understand their options and how food affects them, kids and young adults do want to eat healthy.” 

Arteche adds that while girl dinner has gotten out of hand in some cases, she’s all for what it stands for at its core. “I would prefer the term small dinner, that’s something that I always recommend,” she says. “If you’re making sure you get all of your nutrients and proteins, etc., having these thrown together meals is perfectly healthy.” 

August 2023
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