‘Girl dinner’ is taking over our Tik Tok feed as the latest food trend this month. What are the pros and cons, and what does it say about society?

The ‘girl dinner’ trend sees thousands of women on social media arranging a plate of tapas-like food to create what is now known as a ‘girl dinner’. With over half a million views on social media, the theme here is low preparation. Unlike a carefully designed grazing board or meze platter, there doesn’t have to be any real logic when it comes to putting together something that actually ‘goes’. Some of the more considered ‘girl dinners’ are filled with a range of meats, cheeses, and olives, while others consist of just peanut butter and carrots. So what are the pros and cons of this latest trend?

Girl dinner: The pros

Reject productivity

With other social media trends passing on hustle culture, such as bed rotting and crust days, is it just another way to jump off the wheel of productivity for a while? With some people finding it hard to balance the demands of work, home life, and the ongoing expectations of social media to be everything to everyone, is it any wonder that some of us are looking for a quick way out?

Nutritionist and member of Nutritionist Resource, Sonal Jenkins (@sonal_synergynutrition) who runs Synergy Nutrition®, commented on the trend, saying, “Some are just too busy to prepare food, or perhaps don’t have the education on how to prepare food.” We are busy and perhaps this trend fills in this gap of having to always produce everything we do to a high standard.

Cost-effective way of eating

With many of us feeling the pinch, ‘girl dinner’ could be seen as a way to eat food that feels good but also on a budget. It could be a way to use up food that’s close to its sell-by date or dig out some things in the cupboard that you’ve been meaning to eat in a while. Sometimes low-cost and easy feels good!

On a slighter more ominous note, this food trend may be another way to announce the general economic hardship we are living through, and I’m wondering if this is a more sinister sign that people are struggling to associate healthy food with affordable prices. So while we’re here, let’s delve into the cons.

Girl dinner: The cons

Small portions

Some nutritional therapists are concerned that the plates of food are worryingly small and lack certain nutrients. How much we eat can be influenced by those around us, so if women who may have a history of eating disorders come across this trend of glorifying small portions, is it just another (albeit slightly syrupy) way of normalising diet culture? I’m aware of the paradox of me commenting on this trend, but commenting about what other people eat may not feel so good for some. Sharing what you eat, and labelling smaller portions as ‘dinner’ may be harmful to those either feeling anxious about portion sizes or in eating disorder recovery.

Sonal goes on to say, “If a young girl is conscious about their body, it may not be helpful to see small portions being labelled as a dinner. The problem here is that a snack is becoming dinner!”

So, could these small potions be a covert way for some women to show how little they’re consuming, and could this propel us into a comparison loop?

Lack of nutrients

With some of these ‘girl dinners’, a few of the plates seem to be lacking in certain food groups. Sonal says, “These plates might be lacking in nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It reminds me of the smoothie diet. It’s fine if it’s a light meal to keep you going for longer, or for a post-dinner meal even, but if you’re still hungry after your ‘girl dinner’, it may not be nutritionally balanced or satisfying.”

So, if you are thinking of leaning into this trend, it may be worth really looking at what constitutes healthy eating and even seeking a nutritional therapist who can advise you on what to eat according to your circumstances.

Should we take it with a pinch of salt?

It’s unlikely that the women posting pictures of their ‘girl dinners’ are eating like this all the time, promoting it as the only way to enjoy a meal. Should women be persecuted for having what they might see as a bit of lighthearted fun on social media, and aren’t women picked on enough for their daily actions and decisions? Or could the trend exacerbate body-related issues, and promote a lack of nutritional education?

Even though these ‘girl dinners’ aren't necessarily trying to educate us on what and how to eat, I’m wondering shouldn’t there be more regulation on social media when it comes to people sharing more extreme versions of nutrition? As with everything, getting a good balance is key. The odd snack plate after a hard day is fine, but if it starts to become a way of eating, there could be deeper issues at play.

If you would like to reach out to a qualified nutritional therapist, you can connect with a nutrition professional on Happiful.