- The “Girl Dinner” trend has more than 534 million views on TikTok.
- The trend sees people sharing their low-maintenance meals and includes everything from charcuterie-style dinners to more extreme examples, like plain pasta and hamburger buns.
- Experts say some Girl Dinners may not provide adequate calories or nutrition and can be high in sat and low in fiber.
- You can make healthier versions of Girl Dinners by including more vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.
If you’ve scrolled TikTok lately, you’ve probably come across “Girl Dinners”, the latest foodie trend. The Girl Dinner hashtag has more than 534 million views, with many users sharing their low-maintenance meals.
A Girl Dinner is essentially just a snack plate that’s intended to be a full meal. It resembles a charcuterie board and is typically made up of deli meats, cheeses, crackers, and some chopped fruits and veggies for good measure.
Girl Dinner is the antithesis of the clean eating and cook-everything-from-scratch trends that have gone before. These meals are typically quick, convenient, and perfect for grazing.
On the face of it, Girl Dinners appear pretty harmless. However, some examples online are a little more extreme than others and have sparked concern that the trend could encourage disordered eating.
In fact, some people are using the hashtag to share photos of meals that are extremely limited in terms of calorie count and nutritional benefit – including plain bowls of pasta, plain hamburger buns, buckets of popcorn, and cans of soft drinks.
Bari Stricoff, a registered dietitian at WellEasy, believes Girl Dinners have become popular because they’re low effort and often more affordable.
“People are tired after work, and especially when you cook for one person, whipping up a full recipe might not seem worth it,” she notes.
Does she believe Girl Dinners are healthy?
It really depends on what you’re putting on your plate. “It’s easy to create a well-balanced and nutritious Girl Dinner with ingredients like hummus, chopped crudités vegetables, rye crisps, pickles, hard-boiled eggs, tinned fish, and some cheese,” says Stricoff.
“However, it’s also easy to build a Girl Dinner with zero nutritional benefits, such as a hamburger bun and a can of Coke.”
Many of the Girl Dinners shared only feature packaged processed foods, like chips, candy, and soda.
It’s not all bad news. Registered nutritionist Jenna Hope says eating a charcuterie-style dinner can be a nutrient-dense way to enjoy your meals. However, ensuring you’re getting a wide selection of healthy foods is vital.
Olives, for example, which appear to feature heavily in the typical Girl Dinner, are anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants. Chopped-up fruits and veggies (another Girl Dinner staple) are packed with vitamins, minerals, and dietary fiber.
The inclusion of these whole or minimally processed foods improves the healthfulness of your evening snack plate.
“Unfortunately, the TikTok Girl Dinner trend has given rise to boards which are high in saturated fats, salts, and sugars and those which are low in good quality protein,” Hope notes. “What’s more, some of these dinners are very low in energy due to the lack of substance in the foods presented.”
Your Girl Dinner might be easy to whip up, but it can be high in salt if it includes deli meats, and if fruit and vegetables are lacking, it can be low in fiber — a type of carbohydrate that contributes to feelings of fullness.
Hope says that, when eaten regularly, these dinners can increase the risk of key nutrient deficiencies such as omega-3, calcium, and iron due to the lack of diversity and lower range of nutrient-dense foods.
“Over a prolonged period of time this can have negative consequences on other aspects of your health, such as hormone production, mood, skin health, sleep, bone function, and more,” she says.
Of course, a Girl Dinner is something you’re unlikely to eat every evening, and Stricoff says it’s important to look at your diet as a whole.
“Overall, if you manage to have a well-balanced charcuterie-style meal a few times a week and the majority of your other meals are balanced and not overly processed, it’s probably okay,” she surmises.
“But, if your diet mainly consists of packaged processed food, you’re likely missing out on a lot of nutrients and may be at a higher risk for negative health outcomes,” Stricoff warns.
Some health experts have raised concerns that Girl Dinners could encourage disordered eating.
“The Girl Dinner hashtag has broadened out to encourage girls to pick at their dinners rather than sit down and enjoy a nutrient-dense, well-balanced meal,” Hope points out.
She believes this can be detrimental to an individual’s relationship with food, as they may start to feel more pressure around what they’re eating.
When taken to the extreme, Stricoff thinks Girl Dinners may be another trend that those with a disordered relationship with food can hide behind.
“Girl Dinners have become part of the zeitgeist, and so this trend might give someone an excuse to have only a handful of nuts and a soda and call it dinner. In reality, this is incredibly problematic and something that should not be encouraged or promoted,” she warns.
Of course, conversations around eating habits and nutrition are incredibly nuanced, and it’s important to remember that something that could trigger disordered eating for one person might not for another.
“Having the one-off Girl Dinner with ‘picky bits’ should be acceptable and doesn’t require a label. But for some, the intentions are different and may reflect the larger issue or diet culture,” Stricoff points out.
The Girl Dinner trend might have you asking what a healthy, nutritionally balanced dinner actually looks like.
“An ideal dinner will look different for everyone, especially when we consider different cultures and ethnicities. However, your dinner, and all meals, should have a balance of nutrients that include protein, fats, carbohydrates, and fiber,” Stricoff explains.
Sometimes at the end of a busy day, we just want something low effort. So if you’re planning to make a charcuterie-style Girl Dinner, how can you make a healthier version that includes these nutrients?
Stricoff advises focusing on protein and including foods like tuna, hard-boiled eggs, and nuts. These will keep you feeling fuller for longer.
You should also include plenty of fruits and vegetables. “Charcuterie-style dinners are a great way to get a ton of diversity into your meal,” Stricoff points out. She says carrot sticks, cucumbers, peppers, celery, apples, berries, or peaches are all good Girl Dinner options.
Finally, don’t skip out on healthy fats. Try adding some avocado slices, nuts, or a drizzle of olive oil to your plate. “This will help you absorb some of those fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K), as well as help you feel fuller and curb any blood sugar spikes,” Stricoff explains.
Chances are, if Girl Dinners are something you reserve for the occasional evening spent bingeing on episodes of your favorite show, they aren’t going to have too much of a negative impact on your health.
Likewise, if they’re something you enjoy now and again, they probably won’t lead to disordered eating habits.
In fact, with a few nutritional tweaks (like the ones mentioned above) a Girl Dinner can even be a healthy choice.
The Girl Dinner trend is growing in popularity and has more than 534 million views on TikTok.
The trend sees people sharing their low-maintenance meals and includes everything from charcuterie-style dinners to more extreme examples, like plain pasta and hamburger buns.
Experts say some Girl Dinners may not provide adequate calories or nutrition and can be high in saturated fat and low in fiber.
You can make healthier versions of Girl Dinners by including more vegetables, protein, and healthy fats.