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Mukbang, #EatWithMe and eating disorders on TikTok: why online food consumption videos could fuel food fixations

A woman eats food while videoing herself.

You might need come throughout #EatWithMe movies on TikTok, which generally characteristic younger ladies consuming meals whereas encouraging viewers to eat together with them. Many such content material creators say they purpose to assist folks with consuming problems overcome their concern of meals.

However some movies tagged #EatWithMe additionally characteristic the hashtag “mukbang” (that are movies exhibiting folks consuming an typically huge quantity of meals).

You are reading: Mukbang, #EatWithMe and eating disorders on TikTok: why online food consumption videos could fuel food fixations

So, what’s the connection between #EatWithMe movies and mukbang? And what are we to make of claims #EatWithMe movies may assist folks overcome a concern of consuming?

Learn extra:
Once I work with folks with consuming problems, I see many guidelines round ‘good’ and ‘dangerous’ meals – however consuming isn’t that straightforward

#EatWithMe movies

The #EatWithMe movies on TikTok signify a comparatively current style that emerged through the pandemic.

The creators of TikTok #EatWithMe movies normally declare to positively affect viewers’ relationship with meals. They encourage viewers to eat together with them, as a method to overcome urges to keep away from meals. Many say they’re themselves in restoration from an consuming dysfunction.

As an professional in consuming problems I (Vivienne Lewis) can inform you these movies are most unlikely to help folks of their restoration. In reality, a fascination with consuming and watching others eat is usually a symptom of a restrictive consuming dysfunction. Watching #eatwithme and mukbang content material may even gasoline the consuming dysfunction.

Firstly, consuming dysfunction restoration is about extra than simply consuming. It’s about an individual’s notion of their physique and themselves, their self worth, how they take care of feelings and emotions of self price.

The consuming a part of restoration from an consuming dysfunction entails 5 phases referred to as the RAVES mannequin. This stands for regular consuming, adequate consuming, consuming a variety of meals, eating socially and spontaneous consuming.

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It typically takes an individual many months, if not years, to realize this. It requires encouragement and help from an accredited practising dietitian, an accredited psychologist and household and pals. It cannot be achieved by way of merely watching movies of individuals consuming. If that was the case, an individual would recuperate merely from watching pals eat.

Consuming problems are critical psychological well being situations that require specialist therapy and care. Turning to untrained influencers for recommendation or therapy methods comes with critical danger.

A fascination with consuming and watching others eat is usually a symptom of a restrictive consuming dysfunction.

Mukbang: ‘broadcast consuming’

It’s noteworthy that many #EatWithMe movies embrace “#mukbang” among the many accompanying hashtags. The movies that characteristic each hashtags have a tendency to not centre on consuming dysfunction restoration however relatively on the spectacle of seeing an individual heartily, and infrequently noisily, eat a big meal.

Nevertheless, the very fact many movies characteristic each hashtags means it could be simple for folks with consuming problems to come back throughout mukbang movies.

Mukbang movies – a phenomenon I (Sijun Shen) have studied – characteristic folks consuming huge quantities of meals, akin to 10,000 calorie meals or nearly 50 items of KFC in a single sitting.

Mukbang originated in Korea in round 2008, and is a phonetic translation of the Korean phrases 먹방 (먹다 means eat and 방송 means broadcast) – it actually means broadcast consuming. Mukbang movies, which have been described as “gastronomic voyeurism”, quickly grew to become a world pattern.

As anthropologist and ethnographer Crystal Abidin has noticed, the power to eat a big amount of meals whereas wanting slim has been a basic theme or promoting level for mukbang movies.

Many mukbang celebrities are bodily slim. Their movies, whereas not all the time explicitly claiming to be therapeutic, typically ship the unstated message one can discover launch by overeating, all whereas staying slim. Many elements of Asia have punishingly troublesome magnificence requirements that elevate slimness as a bodily ideally suited price pursuing at any value. For folks ravenous themselves in pursuit of this aim, there could also be one thing cathartic in watching one other particular person eat freely and with gusto.

Mukbang originated in Korea in round 2008.

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As I (Sijun Shen) discovered by way of my analysis of mubkang tradition, sure mukbang and “eat-streaming” communities in some international locations (akin to China) have been shaped by followers who’re additionally lively in on-line consuming dysfunction communities. Much less mentioned are experiences of mukbang influencers being hospitalised, fainting or shedding tooth throughout reside eat-streaming periods.

Mukbang and #EatWithMe movies share some widespread visible themes. Each normally (however not all the time) use the picture of a comparatively slim lady consuming meals as a type of visible leisure and launch.

It isn’t arduous to see how folks with consuming problems might begin by watching #EatWithMe movies centred round consuming dysfunction restoration however find yourself watching mukbang movies.

Given the hyperlink between mukbang communities and on-line consuming dysfunction communities, it appears unlikely publicity to those movies is useful for an individual recovering from an consuming dysfunction.

Learn extra:
Why folks with consuming problems are sometimes obsessive about meals

Consuming problems are advanced

Consuming problems are advanced and require evidence-based therapy. This therapy may be costly and arduous to entry, so it could be no shock individuals are turning to TikTok for assist.

However on-line influencers are usually not educated professionals.

Whereas many content material creators might imply effectively there may be scant proof watching TikTok #EatWithMe or mukbang movies can efficiently deal with consuming problems – and so they might find yourself fuelling meals fixation in folks with consuming problems.

If this text has raised points for you, think about contacting the Butterfly Basis on 1800 33 4673 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.


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