‘What I Eat in a Day’ and #WaterTok TikTok trends explained - as eating disorder expert calls them 'dangerous'

The two trends have been linked to unhealthy relationships with food and drink and even eating disorders

Warning: This article contains discussion of eating disorders. If you, or someone you know, needs support with this topic you can find contact information for organisations which can help at the end of the article.

Every day it seems there’s a brand new internet trend - and many of them seem to originate on TikTok. Some of them are poignant, such as the mascara trend, some of them are just a bit of fun, such as the moon phrase soulmate trend, and some of them are just bizarre, such as Jasper the doll

Some, however, are far more controversial and could have a detrimental impact on the health of users, including the egg diet and the sunscreen contouring. There are some that could even pose a risk to life, such as the BORG drinking challenge and the blackout challenge which was linked to the death of 12-year-old Archie Battersbee last year.

Now, two more trends - the #WaterTok and ‘What I Eat in a Day’ trends - have come under fire for potentially promoting an unhealthy attitude towards food and drink, which an expert claims could become harmful and lead to people developing eating disorders. Here, we have all the information you need to know about both trends and the issues associated with them. 

What is the #WaterTok TikTok trend?

The #WaterTok trend involves people making drinks using water and flavoured syrups and dry powders. For some users, the motive behind taking part in this trend is to make water taste more appealing to them, and the aim is that this will then make it easier for them to drink more water and in turn they will be more hydrated.

Some people are also posting their ‘water of the day’ recipes daily, and encouraging others to also share their best concoctions. Videos which have this hashtag currently have over 150 million views on the social networking site. 

What is the ‘What I Eat in a Day’ TikTok trend?

The ‘What I Eat in a Day’ trend involves people filming the meals they have had each day and editing them together in one clip. The final video then includes a calorie count at the end. Videos with the hashtag #WhatIEatInADay have wracked up a total of 16.5 billion views.

The videos posted under this hashtag are varied; some are using it to show that they are eating food which is typically classed as ‘unhealthy’ such as pizza and chocolate, but others are using it to show they are eating only supposedly ‘healthy’ food such as smoothies and salads. There are also some people who are proudly proclaiming that they have eaten less than the number of calories the NHS states that men and women need each day. Generally, the recommended daily calorie intake for women is 2,000 calories a day and 2,500 a day for men.

TikTok does show a safety message when users search for this trend, which reads “You are more than your weight. If you or someone you know has questions about body image, food, or exercise — it is important to know that help is out there and you are not alone. Please remember to take care of yourselves and each other.” There are also links provided to organisations where people can go for further support, such as the eating disorder charity Beat.

A safety message which appears on TikTok associated with the 'What I Eat in a Day' topic.A safety message which appears on TikTok associated with the 'What I Eat in a Day' topic.
A safety message which appears on TikTok associated with the 'What I Eat in a Day' topic.

Why have experts called these trends dangerous?

A specialist who works for Beat has raised concerns with both of these water-based trends. Martha Williams, Beat's senior clinical advice co-ordinator, believes these trends are “really dangerous” and could “make thoughts about disordered eating worse".

She added: “As the trends have developed, people are using them to instruct their followers to engage in the same behaviours - it’s really dangerous. Eating disorders are incredibly competitive illnesses. If people who have a history of disordered eating want to look the same way as the person they’re watching on a screen, they’re going to copy them. It's about who looks thinner - who looks the most ill.”

‘What I Eat in a Day’ and #WaterTok TikTok trends explained‘What I Eat in a Day’ and #WaterTok TikTok trends explained
‘What I Eat in a Day’ and #WaterTok TikTok trends explained

There are potential problems associated with both trends because some users are posting videos stating that they are using the flavoured drinks as meal replacements or purposefully restricting their food intake. “TikTok makes meal restriction look so easy," Williams explains. "People can fall into the trap of thinking, ‘if it can work for them, it can work for me. But everyone is different - people need different levels of sustenance to keep their bodies going. And you can’t replace meals with water. There needs to be some kind of awareness raised that this is not a healthy thing to do. It isn’t recommended by medical professionals, and it isn’t a weight loss solution.”

The #WaterTok trend also has some similarities to the 30 gallon water challenge which promoted people drinking a gallon of water every day for 30 days. Doctor Ross Perry told NationalWorld, however, that there is no evidence to suggest that drinking so much water is beneficial: “The NHS advises us to drink around eight glasses of water a day which is 1.5 to 2 litres. This of course depends on how active you are. Drinking too much water can make you more thirsty, which can flush out sodium and cause an imbalance in blood salts and impact the brain.”

Dr Gareth Nye, a senior lecturer of anatomy and physiology at Chester Medical School, also told NationalWorld that drinking too much water can also be harmful and possibly even fatal. He said: “Overhydration leads to alterations in your cells' ability to maintain shape and function and electrolytes from our blood are out of balance. This can lead to changes to heart rhythms, muscle function and brain activity.”

Williams believes that the #WaterTok could be linked in a tactic for hiding weight loss called water loading. This refers to a person drinking an excessive amount of water in order to make it appear as though they weigh more than they do.

She added: “I wouldn’t be surprised if the trend continues to develop down the path of water loading - where people drink obsessive amounts of water in order to manipulate their weight.”

How to get help

If you would like some support with the issues raised in this article, please contact Beat eating disorder charity.

The best contact details are below:

Phone lines:

  • England: 0808 801 0677
  • Scotland: 0808 801 0432
  • Wales: 0808 801 0433
  • Northern Ireland: 0808 801 0434


Alternatively, you can use the Beat one-to-one web chat.

You can also contact the Samaritans by calling 116 123.