Sophomore Ally Wheeler promotes nutrition and wellness through social media by sharing her own health journey on her Instagram page, @radiantplates.
Wheeler started @radiantplates January 2021 as a platform dedicated to food and wellness, she said. Since she created the account, Wheeler has amassed over 5,100 followers.
Despite this feat, the size of the audience Wheeler gains has never been as important as being authentic, she said. One way she stays authentic is by taking herself back to why she started the account and what her goals are.
“Why did I start this, what makes it fun for me?” Wheeler said. “I think just kind of having fun with my content, but also taking breaks when I need to, to make sure it’s genuine and authentic to me.”
On her platform, Wheeler preaches self care and listening to what her body needs to find balance, she said. Practicing intuitive eating is one way she does this.
Intutive eating is about trusting your body’s wisdom to make choices about food, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.
“It’s neutralizing all foods,” she said. “There’s no healthy food vs. not-healthy food. It’s just all food and it doesn’t have a moral value.”
Intuitive eating isn’t a diet, nutrition professor Lizzy Pope said. Implementing intuitive eating can help people reject diet culture.
Diet culture is a collective set of societal expectations telling us there’s one way to be and one way to look, according to a Jan. 4, 2022 NPR article.
Intuitive eating has ten principles, which include respecting your body, honoring your hunger and feeling your fullness, Pope said.
“It’s about listening to your internal cues around food and movement, but also really rejecting that [diet culture] and building up respect for your body.” she said.
Outside of the dining hall, Wheeler said she keeps fun foods in her dorm, such as oat bowls and salads, and regularly eats out at restaurants downtown.
Her favorite places to eat in Burlington are Kru Coffee, August First, Folino’s Pizza, Burlington Bagel and Tomgirl Kitchen, she said.
Taking the time to eat and practice wellness throughout the day is important to prioritize, even if it means dedicating only a short amount of time to pack a snack for later or going for a walk, Wheeler said.
“There’s a lot of pressure on us to do more and to keep going and pushing all in an effort to be productive, but I think that’s counterproductive because eventually you’ll burn out,” Wheeler said.
When Wheeler began the Instagram account, she wanted to share her food and wellness journey and create a page that was inclusive and focused on lifestyle and wellness, she said.
In the time since Wheeler launched the account, @radiantplates has expanded to focus on many facets of wellness including mental health, workouts and podcast recommendations, Wheeler said.
Moving into an apartment next year, Wheeler is excited to make content about moving in, her daily life and recipes made in a kitchen, she said.
A lot of work goes into creating content, said sophomore Natalie Petit, Wheeler’s roommate.
“She’ll adjust things and make things a few different times before she posts to make sure it’s a postable recipe,” Petit said. “It’s just little things like […] lighting and the time she takes to do things.”
Petit appreciates @radiantplates even more because she sees the hard work Wheeler puts into the page, she said.
Wheeler also makes Instagram Reels and TikToks, she said.
Wheeler tries to set aside time every day to find a balance between academics and being a content creator, she said. She journals almost every day and uses past entries to reflect and to create content from them.
“Sometimes I’ll have a day where I’m just like, ‘Oh my gosh, I have so much to share,’” Wheeler said. “I also just have days where everything is too overwhelming, and that’s when it’s a sign from the universe to take a step back.”
Taking breaks from content creation is also important to prevent getting overwhelmed, especially during finals season, Wheeler said.
“I feel like it’s not a genuine sense of community if everyone’s putting pressure on it, and thinking about, ‘Oh, I have to post this,’” Wheeler said. “It’s important to be vulnerable and be honest.”
This vulnerability is something people can connect with and relate to because it’s important to talk about the struggles of balancing responsibilities and avoiding burnout, Wheeler said.
@Radiantplates and the community Wheeler built around her Instagram page open up a space for her to promote dialogue about that balance, she said.