Instagram can be a confusing place. It’s an online platform where people share fashion, art, personal images, and find friends and community. It’s also a platform where influencers are born (and die out), where celebrities can make $1 million per post, and appetite supressing lollipops are sold. So, figuring out how to navigate the photo-sharing platform can be tricky when you’re in recovery for an eating disorder.

The Dark Side of Instagram

It can seem like a dismissive cop-out when people say that fashion magazines, movies, and social media cause eating disorders. After all, eating disorders are complex. Both genetic and environmental factors contribute to developing an eating disorder. But in the case of Instagram, the notion that social media contributes to eating disorders seems to be true. A 2017 study found that Instagram use was linked to the eating disorder orthorexia nervosa, which is characterized by having an obsession with “healthy” food and “clean eating.” And there are plenty of anecdotal stories of an Instagram habit leading to orthorexia, too.

And it’s a fact that many people have made their names (and careers) on Instagram by focusing on “clean eating,” meal prep, attractive flat-lay photos of food and food styling (which were probably cold by the time they were eaten, if they were eaten at all), and providing recipes for people who follow certain diets. And when we’re in recovery, it’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of food restriction, food moralizing, and end up obsessing about food. So, curating our feeds with accounts that support our eating disorder recovery, rather than hinder it, is not a trivial matter.

The Good News about Instagram

It’s not all “flat tummy” laxative tea and “clean eating” accounts on Instagram, though. There is a thriving, diverse community of people who are professional therapists and anti-diet dietitians, average people in eating disorder recovery, fat activists, and even celebrities creating content that’s designed to help, not hurt, people in recovery. This community is growing in size, and pushing back against some of the more harmful things allowed on Instagram.

10 Instagram Accounts to Follow in Recovery

1. Christy Harrison, MPH, RD, CDN (@chr1styharrison)

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Our bodies are not machines, no matter what the biohackers and fasting (aka starvation) proponents and keto advocates may say. We aren’t just a system of inputs and outputs, macronutrients and lab values. . Human beings have a rich, layered, multifaceted relationship with food that involves pleasure and connection and emotion. Food is far more than just a vehicle for nutrients, and being at peace with food is a key ingredient in our mental well-being. . Mental health is just as important as physical health (and is inextricably tied to physical health), and food-related interventions that focus exclusively on the physical aren’t going to help our overall well-being in the long run (a point I discuss at length with @alanlevinovitz here: . So whenever you hear someone touting the benefits of restricting calories, carbs, eating times, etc., know that they’re also advocating restricting the flexibility, spontaneity, and collective enjoyment of food that is our birthright. . #antidiet #HAES #healthateverysize #intuitiveeating #dietculture #thewellnessdiet #thelifethief #lifebeyonddieting #edrecovery

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Christy Harrison is an anti-diet dietitian, author of the book Anti-Diet and host of the Food Psych podcast. She’s also in eating disorder recovery herself, calling eating disorders “the Life Thief.” Her Instagram is full of insights into eating disorder recovery, diet culture, fatphobia, intuitive eating, and nutrition, informed by her role as a nutrition professional and her personal experience.

2. Jes Baker (@themilitantbaker)

Jes Baker is an author, speaker, and influencer. She’s written two books: Things No One Will Tell Fat Girls (So I Will) and her memoir Landwhale. While Jes made her name on body positivity, more recently she shifted her activism to focus on body liberation. She uses her Instagram account to get real about living with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), mental health, body image, and she share tips about fashion and traveling while fat as well.

3. Megan Jayne Crabbe (@bodyposipanda)

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Something interesting happens whenever I post what I'm eating. Last week after going for ice-cream with Gemma and putting it in my stories, someone sent me a 3-page message about how irresponsible I was being. This week I've had ones asking whether I really think it's okay to eat pizza all the time. • And just to be clear: what I get is NOTHING in comparison to the harassment that people with bodies bigger than mine get when they post anything about food. The fatphobia ingrained in food policing is real. But I'd just like to say to those people: • I've spent years avoiding posts with any specifics about what to eat. Because 1) people's relationships with food are so fucking complex and no one way of eating suits every person. 2) I'm not a nutritionist (hi not qualified for that in any way 🙃). 3) This community is populated with a huge number of people in recovery from eating disorders, and as someone who spent so many years living in fear of ALL foods, it's always been my priority to show that it is possible to have a peaceful mental relationship with food, even ENJOY food, on the other side of an ED. Over and above prescribing exactly what that has to look like. Because telling people to eat kale is a short-sighted version of "health" if they're still terrified of eating cake. • So no, I don't believe I'm being irresponsible by eating an ice-cream, and I don't think I owe the world my complete food diary simply because I have a platform (and a body that isn't thin). If nutrition advice is what you're after, I'd recommend @laurathomasphd, @chr1styharrison and Health at Every Size to start. Beyond that, I'd recommend remembering that what other people eat isn't really any of your business, so maybe focus on your own plate before shaming anyone else for theirs. 💜💙💚🌈🌞 p.s. my jumpsuit here is @asos and #gifted 🌻 • [image description: Megan is sat smiling down at a plate of pancakes, she's wearing a pink leaf print jumpsuit and looking very happy] #edrecovery #anarecovery #haes #intuitiveeating #recoveryispossible

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Megan Jayne Crabbe (and her signature pink-and-purple hair) got her start on Instagram, talking about body positivity and eating disorder recovery. Her massive follower count and cred in the body positivity community eventually landed her a book deal, enabling her to pen Body Positive Power. And positivity is something she is very good at, often filming herself dancing, singing, and embracing life and recovery (even when there are bumps in the road).

4. Fat Girl Flow (@fatgirlflow)

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Tw:Ed . . . I still don’t go into grocery stores. Ever. I have panic attacks when I think about cooking, and sometimes when I try to help J with something in the kitchen I can feel my body going somewhere else – somewhere I don’t have to be present with food, somewhere that’s doesn’t make me cry when cutting veggies. We have weird “rules” in our house – I can’t stand the smells of certain foods and they’ll trigger me to not want to eat for days on end so we avoid cooking those things. There’s so much avoidance. And picking. And hoping that maybe if I get tired enough I can ignore the hunger because it’s too much to think about, to feed myself . . This photo is so cute, but I didn’t eat that food. I got excited about the food. I picked at the food. But this was a new place, and I wanted to not be there. Not eating outside of safety . . I’m constantly unraveling the things my brain is struggling with. And recovery is so deeply ingrained in every single thing I do. Some days I don’t notice I’m struggling, then weeks go by where I know I need to reach out and ask for help. It took me years to get this fucked up about food, I know it’s going to take many more years to unfuck myself . . Fat girl eating ribs is cute – but reality is a little tougher. Eating is hard y’all. Recovery is hard. I’m tired. But im here, owning it and getting help and committing to myself. Just me. Being all of me. Whatever that means. #eatingdisorderrecovery #fatgirlflow #psfashion

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Corissa Enneking is a YouTuber, blogger, entrepreneur, and activist with over 211,000 followers. She’s also in recovery for an eating disorder. On her Instagram account and YouTube channel, she frankly discusses recovery, living as a fat person, love, relationships, health, and of course, plus-size fashion.

5. Your Fat Friend (@yrfatfriend)

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Stop. Reflect. Think about what you’re implying. . When we refer to losing weight as “getting healthy,” we’re implying that weight loss is inherently healthy, that thin bodies are necessarily healthier than fat bodies, and we play into systems that marginalize disabled people, chronically ill people, fat people and more. . Diet culture values thinness over fatness at nearly all costs. Healthism values abstract ideas of “health” (often measured visually, by things like body size or visible disabilities) as moral virtue and social capital. And when we refer to losing weight as “getting healthy,” we perpetuate these destructive ideas AND we conflate them. . Weight loss isn’t always healthy. Weight loss as a result of chemo isn’t healthy. Weight loss from restrictive EDs isn’t healthy. Weight loss from depression or major traumatic events isn’t healthy. And recovery from all of those things often involves weight gain. Plus, health is a multifaceted, complex thing. It can’t be reduced to something as flat as a number on the scale. . Plenty of people embark on intentional weight loss efforts. But calling weight loss “getting healthy” upholds a logic that is directly harmful to a lot of us whose bodies put us on the down side of power. . #fat #fatpositive #plus #plussize #psblogger #fatjustice #bodypositive #bodypositivity #bopo #honormycurves #losehatenotweight #riotsnotdiets #feminism #yourfatfriend #superfat

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Your Fat Friend is an anonymous writer who specializes in thought-provoking, probing essays about fatphobia and diet culture on Medium and most recently SELF Magazine. She leverages her Instagram account to challenge the systemic oppression of fat people, discuss the seemingly small and everyday ways people engage in fatphobia without realizing, and her own experience with diet culture. She also collects and shares hilarious vintage diet books, such as The Junk Food Diet and The Millionaire’s Diet.

6. Laura Thomas, PhD (@laurathomasphd)

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CLEAN EATING// 📸: @beckybarnicomics 🥴 This week the US version of the Guardian posted a POS article about ‘Clean Eating’ – a trash diet trend that peaked in 2014-15 and crashed and burned shortly after when scientists and nutrition professionals started getting vocal about the hidden dangers just below the surface of this trend. ⚰️ As a community of nutrition professionals, we were all pretty glad to see this trend die (although, lots of other dumbfuckery popped up like dietary whack-a-mole 🕳 🔨 ) which makes it even more surprising that an actual real life dietitian (with a PhD) wrote this article. 🤦‍♀️ We know the public are SUPER CONFUSED about nutrition and this article is like ⛽️ on the 🔥 😬 I wondered whether to even post about this because it’s so problematic that I don’t really want to draw attention to it, but I thought it was a good opportunity to highlight 🚩 so you can protect yourself from nutrition misinformation! 🚩 Complicated rules; if eating takes up too much headspace, causes stress and anxiety and negatively impacts your relationship to food, that’s a problem. 🚩 Food group exclusions; often ‘clean eating’ comes w/ a long list of foods you ‘shouldn’t’ eat, to the point that it actually puts you at risk of nutritional deficiencies that can cause serious risks for your health because the diet is so rigid and restrictive. 🚩 Using scaremongering tactics; any mention of ‘chemicals’ or ‘nasties’ then run a fucking mile. Literally everything is made of chemicals, air, water, food, our bodies. If your food choices are made from a place of fear + anxiety, then arguably, that’s worse for you than food additives (which are strictly regulated in most developed counties) 🚩 Food hierarchies; putting some foods above others can cause a forbidden fruit effect which either makes us lose our shit around that food (making us feel out of control) or causing major stress. 🚩 Moralising food; no food is inherently good or bad, clean or dirty. Food contains a mixture of different nutrient constituents which we need more or less of depending on the context and even those which are lower in nutrients contain energy and feed our soul. {keeps going in comments}

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Laura Thomas is a non-diet dietitian who uses her Instagram account to dig deep into nutrition science, bust myths about “clean eating” and “health” wide open, and challenge her audience’s preconceived notions about how food and health work. All in her signature fun and brassy style. (And her emoji game is on point.) She’s also someone who struggled with orthorexia herself, as she discusses in her book Just Eat It.

7. Jude Valentin (@mermaidqueenjude)

Jude Valentin is a New York City-based content creator and fat activist who talks about trauma, C-PTSD (Complex PTSD), gender, mental health, her eating disorder, and chronic illness with a little bit of tarot, fashion, and cat content thrown in for good measure. Her Instagram account and YouTube channel (which she calls the “Mermaid Kingdom”) is a place you are frequently reminded that eating disorders don’t have to look a certain way to be real, that fatphobia and weight stigma are harmful, and eating disorders can affect people of all sizes and genders. (Jude is nonbinary.)

8. Arielle Calderon (@ariellesays)

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BuzzFeed LOVES to promote my weight loss articles from years ago. Still. I have no control over it and they own my content. Is what it is. But what bothers me the most is when they share it on platforms like Tasty, and then I get an influx of followers who don’t know my full story. And then I inevitably get comments, like the one from yesterday saying “I was bummed to see you gained weight back.” Cool, that must be hard for you. Sometimes I regret ever writing about my journey because I’m ashamed of once having encouraged diet culture. But let me be clear now: You do not need to lose weight to have worth. We are humans and the best thing we can ever do is be unapologetically ourselves and accept ourselves as we are. I have curves, I identify as plus size, and I don’t care what anyone else has to say about it. 😎✌️Like my outfit? Screenshot and open the app or go to

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Arielle’s story is an interesting one that illustrates the dark side of Instagram and other online content focused on “wellness.” When she wrote for Buzzfeed, an article she penned about her weight loss on a popular diet program went viral several times over. She found a niche on Instagram, posting photos of intricate bowls with beautiful avocado roses that she says were often cold by the time she actually consumed them. Her work at Buzzfeed, and her Instagram account, became very focused on weight loss and food. However, her attempt to embrace a “healthy lifestyle” turned into pressure and an eating disorder. Now, Arielle writes about her life in recovery, her travels around the world, intuitive eating, and plus-size fashion.

9. Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamilofficial)

It seems to be next to impossible to talk about eating disorders, Instagram, and body positivity without discussing Jameela Jamil. The star of The Good Place uses Instagram to talk openly about her eating disorder, recovery, diet culture, and to take aim at influencers that push products like “detox tea” and the aforementioned appetite suppressing lollipops. Jameela was instrumental in actually changing Instagram’s policies around this kind of damaging content, getting them to institute a new rule that prohibits ads and accounts from targeting people under 18 for weight loss products.

10. Body Posi Betes (@bodyposibetes)

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🎨 @art.brat.comics Being fat and living with diabetes can suck – the stigma of diabetes and weight walk hand in hand, and people look at your body and assume things about your health and personality. The thing is, people with diabetes come in all shapes and sizes, just like society. And just like society, every single one of us is worthy of respect. Yes, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US. NONE of us asked for this, and ALL of us struggle with a disease that can be relentless and unforgiving. It doesn’t matter why type of diabetes we have, the common factor is that we need to respect every single person and every single body type. People are fat because that’s how they’re made. People are fat because they’ve gained weight over time. People are fat because they love to eat. REGARDLESS of the reason (which is none of your business anyway), people with diabetes living in larger bodies deserve your respect. Stop the fatphobia that’s rampant in the diabetes space – if we start accepting and respecting all bodies, the anxiety and stress we constantly feel over our weight will start to dissipate, and we can celebrate healthy behaviours that have no bearing on our body type. We won’t get anywhere with shame – we will thrive together when every body in this space is respected and celebrated. Fat friends with diabetes, I got you 👊🏻

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This account is focused on managing food, eating disorder recovery, and diabetes — topics that aren’t discussed often enough in eating disorder recovery circles. Being weight-neutral, body positive, and diabetic all at the same time can be a tremendous balancing act. This is particularly true because diabetes management if often very focused on body weight and diet. Body Positivity Betes is a breath of fresh air, and a must-follow account for anyone in eating disorder recovery while also managing a diabetes diagnosis.

About the Author

Photo of authorLinda Gerhardt works in nonprofit technology by day, creating content, blogs, and training materials for the nonprofit sector. By night, she is a freelance writer focusing on Health at Every Size, Intuitive Eating, and fat activism. She runs a blog called Fluffy Kitten Party where she writes about health, weight discrimination, and diet culture. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their adopted pets.