Moving out of home is one of the biggest steps in any young adult’s life. It is a time for independence and change.
Most young people want to have a healthier lifestyle and the maze that is the internet and social media is where most people start to gain inspiration.
But, who do you trust? The hot Instagram model with the six-pack telling you to add protein powder to all your meals, or the reality TV celebrity who stopped eating carbs and thinks you should too?
Navigating through this conflicting information is hard enough, now try adding an already busy schedule, your new-found independence and the desire to have a social life.
This is why there is a need for sensible, credible advice to cut through the misinformation.
Young adulthood is not only a time for independence, it is when we foster habits that define our future health.
In fact, taking steps to improve diet quality and overall health during this pivotal life stage can minimise the risk of long-term chronic diseases.
Simple steps such as eating enough fruit and vegetables and reducing how much sugary drinks, deep fried foods, chocolate and chips you eat is a good starting point.
However, many young adults do not realise that what they eat now can impact their future health and they prefer to see it as a problem for them in the future, rather than an investment in their future health.
Poor diet, such as those low in fruits, vegetables, fibre, and high in saturated fat and refined sugar, is linked to a range of chronic health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and some cancers. So, starting adulthood on the best nutritional path sets young people up for a healthier life.
Many young people may want to improve their diet but struggle to overcome some of the barriers to implementing the necessary changes.
Potential barriers include finding time in their busy schedules, not knowing where and how to start making changes, a lack of education on why healthy eating is important, uncertainty about what to cook or difficulty affording to eat healthily.
In fact, the over-saturation of social media with “health gurus” and their overly simplified opinions on how to be healthy, can sometimes make these barriers appear harder to overcome.
Some of the misinformation spread by these social media influencers includes blanket health statements such as “you need to cut carbs” and “eat only organic”, or they promote introducing certain “superfoods” into your diet or to eat only foods that are Insta-worthy to be healthy.
All this extremism can make healthy eating appear unachievable and give people the wrong information about a healthy, balanced diet.
Misinformation spread on social media includes blanket health statements such as 'you need to cut carbs' and 'eat only organic'.
Go on any social media site and you will see that young adults have a passion for food and health. Hashtags for #InstaFood and #Fitspo are always trending, but are they showcasing the healthiest options?
Sometimes a nudge in the right direction is all people need to help them navigate their way through this web of misinformation.
Therefore, it is important that this nudge comes from credible sources promoting the best advice on eating a healthy, balance diet.
Healthy eating can be simple, affordable, and you don’t need to be a Master Chef.
The best way to implement such strategies and overcome barriers is to receive individualised feedback from qualified health care professionals, not by following self-proclaimed health gurus on social media.
Personalised information from a professional can help you to identify areas for potential change, help with self-monitoring and provide evidence-based education.
A team of health professionals from universities across Australia are exploring online ways to equip young people with the skills they need to live a healthier life.
If you, or someone you know, might benefit from learning more about creating sustainable eating patterns during this busy time of life, check out the free online AIM4ME program.
Created by nutrition experts, the program provides personalised healthy eating advice to young adults aged 18-24.
To find out more, email firstname.lastname@example.org
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