Want to gain new insights in the field of nutrition? This can be done by reading books, by following a study… or by clicking the follow button at the appropriate Instagram accounts. Informational accounts in the field of nutrition and health are popping up like mushrooms, but why? And is all the information you find on these accounts correct? Subway spoke to nutritionist and content creator Manon Wouters.
Two years ago nutritionist Manon Wouters started sharing facts about nutrition and health on her Instagram account @manonsfoodfacts. This turned out to be a real success: today the counter stands at 41.5K followers. But before spreading information through Instagram, she was already sharing information with those around her. “My friends were constantly asking me questions, and I always had an answer. I’ve become known as the food encyclopedia of our group of friends and really enjoy delving into these kinds of topics,” she says.
On the advice of her friends, she started an Instagram account to help people outside the group of friends. “At that time there were few accounts that shared information about nutrition in this way. And I just wanted to share my knowledge, because if you have certain knowledge about nutrition, you can continue hacks an easy way to eat healthier. I would like to convey that with my account.”
Learning to eat healthier via Instagram
The information Wouters shares does not just come out of the blue. The nutritionist has completed two training courses in the field of nutrition: Nutrition and Dietetics and a master Health Food Innovation Management† She now shares the knowledge she gained during these studies in an accessible way via Instagram.
In addition to running her Instagram account, Wouters works as a nutritionist in her own practice. She guides people who learn to eat healthier in a process of about three months. “It is very rewarding work from which I get a lot of inspiration. While giving nutritional advice, I always easily shared food changes, because I received a lot of positive reactions from my customers, I also started sharing them on Instagram.”
She is also always busy sifting through new research. According to her, there is also her unique selling point† “I have a lot of knowledge in deciphering scientific articles. There is a lot of conflicting information about nutrition, but because of my background I know exactly which studies are reliable and which are not. That is why I am sure that the information I share is correct.”
Wouters therefore mainly receives nice and positive reactions to her Instagram posts. One recently stood out. “A few weeks ago I got a DM from a woman. She told me that the information I share has changed her life. By following my diet changes and recipes, she has reached a healthy weight for the first time in her life. I found that so special and motivating, that’s why I do it! I love to inspire and help people on a large scale.”
Hours in the supermarket
The nutritionist doesn’t have to search long for inspiration for her Instagram posts. “I mainly look at the facts I share with my customers, what I come across in surveys and what friends ask me. And when I walk around the supermarket, I constantly compare products with each other. If I come across two products within the same category that are very different in terms of nutritional values, I immediately save that product to share.”
A quick supermarket visit is therefore no longer an option for the nutritionist. “People often ask if it doesn’t drive me crazy to spend all day on food. Still, it doesn’t feel that way, because I really like it. And I can still enjoy food, even though I know exactly how many calories or fats are in a product.”
Healthy food? Try the 80/20 method
For people who have trouble mastering a good diet, Wouters recommends taking a look at the 80/20 method. This means that you choose 80 percent of your daily diet for healthy options and you can make the other 20 percent less healthy choices. Wouters himself also applies this manageable method. “I think a good balance between healthy and unhealthy is important. Of course I eat healthy for the most part, but if I have a party or if I feel like a snack in the evening, I just eat that too. I can enjoy that because I know that my base is healthy.”
No strict diet
“Many people think they have to be on a strict diet to get healthier. I think that dieting doesn’t work at all, because it is often difficult to keep up with big changes. That is why I recommend making small dietary changes and eating healthier step by step,” says Wouters. According to her, you change your habits, which makes permanent weight loss easier.
Raw food vs. E numbers
In the past two years, Wouters has not only been able to teach her Instagram followers knowledge, she has also had quite a few insights herself. The biggest? “That unprocessed food is the most important to me. During my education I learned that E numbers are safe, but I myself have a different view on this. Unprocessed food is the healthiest for me. Eating with as few additives as possible, returning to nature as much as possible.”
Wouters notices that this is not only an issue for her, but also among her followers. “People want to know what’s in their food. They don’t want an ingredient list with fifty ingredients, but pure and unprocessed food.”
Very well-running posts on Wouters’ Instagram account are the healthy recipes of ready-to-use supermarket products. According to the nutritionist, processed products such as cucumber salad, tuna salad and hummus are very easy to make yourself. “I share healthy recipes of products that contain a lot of calories and fats. My recipes are healthier, less processed and have better nutritional values. The only thing is that you have to stand in the kitchen for it. That is a consideration that you have to make: do you go for healthy or easy?”
Do you want to learn more about the food you put in your mouth? Then Wouters has one important piece of advice: “Learn to read labels. That way you can’t be misled by claims and nutritional hypes.” The nutritionist is referring here to texts on packaging such as the term ‘light’ (here you can read more about misleading light products), or terms such as ‘100 percent natural’. “That sounds healthy, but sugar is also 100 percent natural.”
That is why the nutritionist recommends taking a close look at the ingredient list of a product. “The ingredient that is first on the list is the most used in the product. If you see that sugar or oil are mentioned as the first ingredient, it is better to leave the product alone.”
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