TikTok trends can be super tricky especially if you’re working on improving your relationship with food, exercise, body image or working on period recovery.
In today’s episode of Holistic Health Radio, I discuss what “girl dinner” actually is and the pros and cons of this trend, especially for those working on a recovery journey. Some of the points I discuss in the episode are:
- The definition of “girl dinner”
- What foods can make up a “girl dinner”
- The pros of “girl dinner” including honouring your cravings and allowing yourself to eat “imperfectly” if that has become a food rule
- The downsides of girl dinner including that it may be too low in calories, and could perpetuate unhealthy beliefs about not needing a proper dinner
- How to create a balanced and nourishing “girl dinner” to ensure you get all the energy you need without having to cook
- How often you should be having “girl dinner” if you’re craving this type of meal during the week.
Sarah Liz King (00:00:02) – Hi everyone. Welcome back to Holistic Health Radio. I’m your host, Sarah Liz King. I’m an exercise physiologist and health coach, empowering you to find your healthy balance with food, fitness and your body Through my 1 to 1 and group coaching programs, both myself and my team help women regain their periods, find food freedom, and have a healthier relationship with exercise, all while gaining body confidence. Today on the podcast we are talking about the trend that has been going around TikTok and it has now made its way to Instagram called Girl Dinner. Now, if you’ve spent like five minutes online, you’ve probably seen this trend and you’re thinking to yourself like, okay, what’s the big deal about girl dinner? Should I be kind of partaking in this trend? What’s it all about? So today I’m going to talk about what girl dinner actually is. The pros and cons of it mostly from a recovered perspective. And if you are or wanting to enjoy a girl dinner for yourself, how would you build one that is healthy and satisfying and energy dense enough for your recovery needs and beyond as a healthy, active individual? So first of all, let’s actually define what girl dinner is.
Sarah Liz King (00:01:23) – So girl dinner is kind of like a snack plate, essentially, and it’s made from food that doesn’t really need to be cooked or prepared. So you can think of things that are like. Pickles, chips and salsa like carrots and hummus. Random veggies in your fridge. Maybe it’s like some snacks or some chips that you have and you just throw everything together. It might be like a bowl of cereal, but it is just kind of like a random selection of things. You can kind of think about it as kind of like looking through your fridge, looking through your pantry and just kind of putting together what sounds good to you in the moment. Now. I think one of the biggest and most controversial things about grill dinner is that some people have taken this trend to be that if I’m having like this quote unquote, girl dinner, then I can make it as small as possible. And it kind of passes as more of a real small, small snack plate as a totally okay dinner. That is going to be good to have every single night of the week.
Sarah Liz King (00:02:32) – And that is definitely not the case. But there are also some pros to this trend that I think we can kind of highlight. Even if you are someone that is going through recovery yourself. And I think one of the biggest pros is that this concept of like, quote unquote, girl dinner is actually just thinking about what you truly feel like eating and going and choosing those things, even if it is a random selection of things that doesn’t necessarily go together. And I think. When we’re thinking about kind of moving towards intuitive eating and this concept of giving yourself full permission to eat, you might actually be allowing yourself to have the foods that you truly feel like, whereas maybe before you had a rule or a fear around allowing yourself to do that. So in a sense I think that is a real positive side to this trend. I think the other kind of pro to this trend is not really feeling like you always have to have this quote unquote, perfectly balanced meal. That in itself can become a bit of a food rule for people and they feel like they can’t, I guess, stray away from having the perfect amount of carbohydrates and the perfect amount of vegetables and the perfect amount of protein and your sources of healthy fats.
Sarah Liz King (00:03:56) – I think while it’s always good to aim for creating nourishing meals on a regular basis, sometimes we just don’t feel like we have the energy or we just don’t feel like eating a perfectly balanced meal. And I think during recovery, I’m often speaking to individuals about purposefully having meals that are, quote unquote, unbalanced. So if you think about things like going out for pizza with your friends, right, if we think about the macronutrient breakdown of a pizza, it’s not going to have all of those perfect elements of carbohydrates and vegetables and like perfect amounts of protein. It’s mostly like a carbohydrate based meal with some fats from the cheese and then whatever toppings that you have. But again, like the few prawns on the top of your pizza or whatever other toppings you choose is going to be kind of smaller in comparison to if you’d had a meal where there’s like a bigger portion of protein on your plate. But again, that is a healthy part. That’s like part of having a healthy relationship with food is understanding that it is totally okay to have unbalanced meals because with intuitive eating we’re focusing on the concept of balance over time.
Sarah Liz King (00:05:12) – So knowing that, you know, a few days from now you’ll be having more vegetables at dinner and it all really work itself out. So I think I think those are some of the real pros like girl dinner might allow you to have this like unbalanced plate of food and know that as long as you’re giving yourself enough energy, enough nutrients, enough different types of food for that particular meal and your energy requirements, that is totally okay to do that. Now, on the flip side, let’s think about some of the cons of this. And I kind of just alluded to one in particular, which is the con of not really getting enough in terms of energy intake. So if you’re having a quote unquote, girl dinner that is just like a small handful of crackers and a couple of cubes of cheese, that is not a dinner, right? When we’re thinking about energy, specifically, when you’re kind of recovering from a restrictive eating disorder or you’re trying to get your period back from hypothalamic amenorrhea, your energy needs are going to be a lot higher during this period of time because we are re optimizing all of your body systems, working your hormones, coming back into play, your hunger and fullness signals.
Sarah Liz King (00:06:26) – All of those need enough nutrition to become reliably consistent over time, which means that mechanical eating and eating enough energy and calories as your kind of first mark of good nutrition is what you should be prioritizing. And sometimes if you’re only having very small amounts of these different kinds of random food items for your dinner, you’re not actually going to reach the energy requirements that you need. So for like a good solid meal, we should be aiming And again, don’t encourage calorie counting, but, you know, it should be aiming for around 5 to 600 calories, potentially more, depending on what your energy needs are at the time. Always be guided by personalized recommendations made by a health care professional in this sense, but that’s kind of the minimum that you should be aiming for, especially even if you’re not in a recovery place. But as a healthy, active individual. Our bodies need energy and our brains need energy to function. And sometimes small amounts of food or like small amounts of snacks basically won’t give you that, that you won’t give you those needs.
Sarah Liz King (00:07:37) – So that’s one con. I think it also can play into this mentality of. Dinner and like preparing dinner, not being important, or that maybe you don’t deserve to spend the time to cook yourself a nice meal. And so it would just be easier to kind of put a random mix of things that you don’t have to cook together. And I think people often who are struggling with their relationship with food often fall down this rabbit hole of like letting that mentality take over and go like, Oh, it’s not important. Or like, Oh, well, like, I’ll just do this for today and it’ll be fine and it’ll go back to what I was doing tomorrow in terms of making a meal. But then like sometimes you go and have this smaller meal or this like snack plate, which may not be sufficient enough depending on what you put in it. And that then becomes the precedent for the next day and the next day and the next day. And I think that can become a little bit of a slippery slope.
Sarah Liz King (00:08:42) – So if you are making obviously sufficient girl dinner, that is fine. But if you are letting this be dictated by kind of some disordered eating thoughts, then it can be quite tricky. Or even that kind of belief system like, oh, like, you know, I live by myself or I’m only cooking for me. Like I don’t deserve to put in the effort to make like a really nice balanced meal. Then it can be kind of, like I said, a slippery slope and lead you towards not getting enough energy overall, not getting a good balance of macro and micronutrients. And I think that can definitely lead to an unhealthy place mentally and physically. And then I think the last con is kind of just falling into this. Like I’m just too tired to cook. Like it’s so much easier to just have like a bowl of cereal and look, we’ve all been there and there’s nothing wrong with having that on occasion. But the first thing is asking yourself, why am I so exhausted by the time I get to dinner? Is it because I’m not giving myself enough energy during the day? Is it because I’m forcing myself to do heaps and heaps of movement or exercise will be hyper productive and that might be coming from a place of, you know, your eating disorder, driving you to do that, or your disordered eating mentality driving you to do that, in which case we really need to address that because when it gets into the evening, you shouldn’t always be so exhausted that you have no energy to care for yourself.
Sarah Liz King (00:10:09) – And yes, cooking is a form of self-care, and nourishing your body is a form of self-care. So you need to be really mindful of those aspects when kind of thinking about whether partaking in this trend is going to be a useful thing for you to do. Now let’s consider. The fact that you might have one of these girl dinners, because I definitely do from time to time and I have zero guilt about it. But if you are wanting to make a girl dinner and make it nourishing enough for your body in recovery and beyond, here are some things that I would use as guidance on how to make your girl dinner. Healthy, nourishing, balanced, all of the above. So the first thing is ensuring that you have sufficient amounts of carbohydrates. I know you hear me bang on time and time and time again about how important carbohydrates are. But I’m not about to stop right now. A handful of crackers isn’t really going to be enough. I would I would add things like a big get like a couple of slices of like a really nice baguette or a couple of slices of sourdough or if you’re gluten free, some grainy gluten free crackers or like a nice gluten free bread that you have and maybe you toast it.
Sarah Liz King (00:11:31) – And that is just going to make sure that you have, you know, a meal that’s going to be around that 50 to 60% mark of being carbohydrates, because that is one of the really important things that will help signal to our body and to our brain that we have sufficient amounts of energy, which is really helpful for hormone production and so many other things. Carbohydrates is the primary source of energy for our body. It gets turned into glucose. Our brain is the only thing that uses glucose. So we need to make sure that we are having enough every single day and our main meals are going to be one of those times where we are able to kind of get a good portion of those carbohydrates in. So if you’re having something crunchy like crackers, pretzels, something like that, great, but would also add in some kind of whole grain bread, baguette Or on the flip side, if you’re wanting to kind of like end your grill dinner, maybe having some cereal at the end if you are craving something sweet.
Sarah Liz King (00:12:30) – The second would be to have a couple of different sources of protein on your plate. So let’s imagine we’re creating like a savory snack platter girl dinner situation. We’ve got our beget, we’ve got our bread, we’ve got our crackers, whatever it is. And now we’re going to have maybe a few different types of cheese. We’re going to have some deli meats, We’re going to have some salami, maybe you have some leftover roast chicken that you can use and just shred up and put that on your plate, Make sure that you’re having enough protein because this is going to keep you satisfied and feeling well fueled. The third thing that I would say is having some color on your plate. So most people think of color as like fruits or veggies. Now, again, you don’t want this to be the only thing on your plate. Like if you’re only having like carrots and cucumber and capsicum with your favorite dip, like that is a snack that is definitely not a meal. You want to make sure you’re having it with everything else that I’ve suggested before.
Sarah Liz King (00:13:34) – So have some color, have some of your favorite veg, whether that’s like some cherry tomatoes. Like I said, your favorite kind of cut up carrot celery cucumber with your favorite dip. And also, if you don’t feel like having any color or any vegetables, that’s fine. You can also put some fruit on there, slice up some apple. Maybe you have like some dried apricots or dates or something like that, which can always pair really, really nicely with cheese and crackers, right? The next thing I would do is add some texture, add something that is really going to offset the creamy, savory deliciousness of what you’re having. And this could be so many different things. It could be like pea crisps, it could be like wasabi peas. If you want something spicy, it could just be like your favorite flavor of potato chips or crisps, depending where you want to in the world and what you call them. Um, and then, of course, you’re healthy Fats. We’re not going to forget about those.
Sarah Liz King (00:14:38) – So again, buttering your bread, making sure that you have something to dip your bread into that could be hummus or whatever your favorite dip is at the time. It could also just be some really good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Dip your baguette or your bread into that. That’s what was really, really tasty. Um, and just make sure that it’s balancing out all of the other elements. So that is what I would be aiming for. If you are kind of going for a bit of a girl dinner, I know a lot of you listening would be like, Oh well, like what if I want something sweet for a girl dinner? If you’re doing that, I would do more of like a deluxe cereal bowl or even like a second kind of breakfast situation. If you are going for things like oats, Weet-Bix, cereal, granola, that kind of thing. So then your protein would be your kind of milk, Greek yogurt, that kind of thing. Maybe you’re mixing some protein powder in your color would be lots of different kinds of fruit, maybe making sure that you’re not just sticking to berries.
Sarah Liz King (00:15:39) – I know that that’s like often a really safe food for people. Make sure you have a couple of different types of fruit and even dried fruit thrown into the mix there. Um, having some healthy fats, not seeds, not butter, that kind of thing. Um, adding some texture, some crunch. Even if you’re having oats, there’s no reason why you can’t put, like, granola and other things on top. So really it’s about kind of thinking like, okay, if I’m not in the mood to cook, how can I make sure that the things that I’m putting on my plate are actually enough to add up to what a meal would be? Because we still really want to focus on getting those. Meeting your energy requirements. Because even though you don’t think that one meal is that big of a deal and honestly, it’s not. It’s just making sure that we don’t set the precedent of small kind of snack platters being okay for dinner every single night of the week. So that would be my last recommendations.
Sarah Liz King (00:16:36) – Last recommendation, rather, if you are having a girl dinner, don’t let it become an every night of the week situation. If you find that that is actually what is happening for you, check in with someone, get some support, some help, some guidance on things that you can make that are quick and easy, that are also going to be good. You know, midweek meals. I have to admit, I’m a lazy cook sometimes, but I still have meals that I can go to that take 10 to 15 minutes to put together. They took all the boxes. They give my body the energy that it needs. They’re tasty. So just know that there are other alternatives to grill dinner to make sure that you can get a nourishing meal in. It’s not going to take too much time. I’m not going to take too much kind of preparation or clean up either. So I am leaving that one here today. I would love to know, what do you think of the girl dinner trend do you think is helpful? Do you think it’s harmful? If you are listening to this episode and you really enjoyed it, be sure to take a screenshot of wherever you are listening and tag me at Sarah Liz King and I’ll be sure to reshare those on my stories.
Sarah Liz King (00:17:45) – If you are watching this episode on YouTube, be sure to give it a thumbs up and subscribe. It really helps support the channel. And as always, the best thing that you can do as a listener of the podcast is leave a rating and review wherever you are tuning in as that helps our podcast reach a bigger audience. So thank you all again for tuning in and I will be back next week with a fresh new episode you can wrap your ears around.
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