By: Dana Elise Baardsen “The Reporter”
Interview with: Vanessa Quintero, “19 Years Young,” Arcadia, Calif.
Instagram is an app known for it’s ability to capture a photo, filter it with unique effects, and then share it with all of your friends. This smart-app has become way more than just another form of social media. For several users, Instagram is even utilized to promote businesses and ideas.
There are actually entire communities of health-conscious Instagrammers who encourage each other by liking photos and sharing their own. Some of these users may have as few as five followers, to over 20,000.
The health-related trends on Instagram range from users sharing motivational quotes, to personal progress mirror shots, to healthy and nutritious recipes posted under a photo of the finished product.
Vanessa Quintero, 19, from Arcadia, Calif., is an inspiring example. I connected with Vanessa through Instagram, and became so impressed with her photos, I needed to know more. Her passion for healthy eating is clearly displayed through her Instagram profile as she captures the beautiful detail of her meals, and includes a list of nutritious ingredients underneath each photo. There’s an amazing story behind all of it! Check out what Vanessa had to say:
Q: Vanessa, how important is a healthy lifestyle to you?
A: How important is a healthy lifestyle to me? Well, let us just first start off and say it’s the reason behind my Instagram and tumblr blog.
Q: Why did eating healthy become such a big part of your life?
A: In 2009 I developed a restrictive eating disorder and struggled with recovery. The past few months have been amazing, as I am recovered physically but mentally still battle restrictive tendencies to this day.
Q: How did you deal with the aftermath of an eating disorder?
A: I am still in recovery and changing my relationship with food to a more positive and healthy light. It has inspired me to make a change in myself as well as encourage others in recovery.
Q: Can you talk about how blogging and tracking your progress through Instagram helped you to do that?
A: Initially, my recovery blog contained my uploads of my food intake just as a way for me to share with others that recovery is possible, and cooking is not only fun but also fuels your body.
Now, I gear my posts toward supporting healthy weight-loss, healthy weight-gain, or just simply a balanced life. In America obesity is a concern but so is anorexia, and bulimia, and binge eating disorder.
Q: What is your opinion on healthy eating?
A: I want to make it known healthy eating does not have to be restrictive. It does not have to be boring, bland and tasteless. It does not have to be difficult and time consuming. It is easy, simple, efficient and full of flavor and life.
Q: How do you “make it known” that healthy eating can be all of those things?
A: I do cook all of my own meals and I enjoy capturing my photos of my meals to share with the world. I inspire many to recover from their eating disorders and I even offer advice and ideas as well! I just really am passionate about a healthy lifestyle overall, and strive to make it known that it is easy and fun to cook clean, nutritious food!
Q: So what’s your favorite thing to make in the kitchen?
A: I love breakfast and lunch foods! Living in this fast-paced society, the meals I put together fuel you for a busy day. They also take less than 10 minutes to make! I am not even joking… my favorite thing to cook is egg white pitas. They are fast, tasty, clean, and full of nutrients! I love to use avocado and cheese with spinach and various vegetables as well.
Q: That sounds delicious. What are your staple go-to foods?
A: I do, egg whites, whole grain pitas and sprouted bread, brown rice, spinach, oatmeal, and fish! I always have egg whites as a source of protein; they are quick and easy to be creative with!
Q: So what’s the motivation behind consistently capturing photographs of your meals and sharing them?
A: I capture my foods on Instagram as well as tumblr and Facebook as a way to merely inspire. Nowhere in my photos do I wish to insult, trigger, or negatively affect anyone or just to gain “followers.” I do it because it is my hobby, my passion, and I wish to offer ideas to individuals and their families to make healthy choices and live longer, happier lives.
Q: How does it feel to see other users react to your photos?
A: To be honest, it feels amazing when I see how many users reblog or like posts of my food. I always say to myself, “Wow Vanessa, you are doing such a great job” and continue to do it everyday because I just want to make it known that healthy eating has its benefits. Recovery from an eating disorder is difficult but easier with healthy eating! I almost always feel confident as I see how many people enjoy my photos and it motivates me to continue my love of this hobby.
Q: So do you agree that Instagram can be used for motivation in terms of health?
A: Yes, definitely! I think Instagram is a great way to get ideas on meals and it inspires many to do the same! Since so many of us in our society are on our phones, Instagram is an easy way to gain access as it is fun and fast to just scroll through the tags!
It almost feels like a community and I hope to spread a sense of belonging as I inspire eating disorder victims and everyone in general to love their bodies and minds by cooking healthy foods! I have gained friends that I talk to everyday sharing recipes and excitement over grocery trips!
Q: What are your plans for the future? Is there anything else you would like to share?
A: I aspire to become a Marriage and Family therapist in the future. I am majoring in psychology and minoring in nutrition, so this is a great opportunity for me to gain experience! Instagram is a great way to share photos that make you hungry and healthy. I believe food is beautiful and serves as our fuel, so to create masterpieces at each meal excites me as I receive energy from my food, as well as make it look like art.
If you ‘re ready to get motivated using Instagram, just search the following hash tags: #fitness, #diet, #health, #nutritious, #healthynom, #inshape, #fitmotivation. Don’t forget to find Vanessa @Vankaileen on Instagram, and on her tumblr blog which has over 2,000 followers!
Here’s to healing and health!
All photos provided by Vanessa and used with permission