Spurred by quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic, some of the most viral and iconic videos on TikTok have to do with food.
Whether it’s the whipped Dalgona coffee that nearly everyone was making at home in March and April 2020, the famous baked feta pasta dish or the salmon rice bowl, TikTok has become a source of inspiration for dieticians and at-home cooks alike.
Still, like most health content on the platform, plenty of food and diet videos are subject to misinformation, misleading claims and straight-up dangerous advice. Does Nyquil chicken ring a bell?
However, others are genuinely great ways to make easy and healthy dishes on a budget.
Here are the top 10 food, diet and nutrition trends on TikTok — and how to discern which are the most legitimate.
1. Lettuce water
A lack of scientific evidence doesn’t stop trends from going viral on TikTok.
That’s the case with the lettuce water trend, which involves steeping lettuce in hot water like tea, then drinking it before bed to aid with sleep.
In videos amounting to millions of views, TikTok users tried lettuce water and claimed it made them very drowsy.
However, the benefits of lettuce water as a sleep aid are pretty up in the air; in fact, some dieticians note there probably aren’t enough to have an impact on sleep.
One 2017 study found that romaine lettuce does have some properties and antioxidant polyphenols that aided in sleep in mice, but that hasn’t been proven in humans.
2. Salmon rice bowl
Something about watching people cook on TikTok can really trigger your appetite — and an itch to try the recipe yourself. One of the most viral recipes on the platform in the last year, the salmon rice bowl, does just that.
The meal consists of a mix of rice, baked salmon, soy sauce, spicy mayo — made of mayo, sriracha and sesame oil — then topped with scallions, avocado and sesame seeds. In the original recipe, you can eat it with seaweed.
The salmon rice bowl, filled with protein and healthy fats, is one of the healthier TikTok diet trends. But it’s possible to make the dish even healthier by switching out the mayo and soy sauce with other ingredients.
With more than 14 billion videos, the #WhatIEatInADay hashtag on TikTok is filled with people showing, well, what they eat in a day.
It ranges from fitness gurus featuring what they eat to stay in shape, people with eating disorders showing what they eat in recovery and others monitoring their daily eating habits just for fun.
While it may seem harmless at first, one recent study found that the trend can be damaging to young people’s eating habits, body image and mental health. That study, which examined more than 1,000 videos under that hashtag and others, found that less than 3% of the videos were weight-inclusive.
4. The 75 Hard Challenge
In a video from October, TikTok user Vegard Hjelmen described a new challenge that would last for 75 days: Stick to any diet, work out for 45 minutes twice a day (once outdoors), read 10 pages of a self-help or nonfiction book and take a progress photo every day. Not to mention drinking a gallon of water every day.
While many of the videos under the hashtag are from people who’ve tried the challenge — and succeeded — it still may not be the most helpful for people with busy schedules or people with some form of eating disorder.
Two workouts a day, for one, isn’t necessary to lose weight or get healthy; and often smaller, baby steps can be more conducive to lifestyle changes than intense challenges.
5. Healthy Coke
Ice, balsamic vinegar, La Croix berry — or any flavor — mixed together is a pretty common trend on TikTok. Dubbed “healthy Coke,” the simple recipe is meant to be an alternative to unhealthy sodas.
In one video, user healthylittlepeach tries the recipe and is initially skeptical, but is pleasantly surprised. “That’s delicious,” she says after a few sips. “That’s my new drink. Don’t add too much balsamic; it’ll overpower it.”
While it may not taste entirely like Coke, the drink is relatively safe and harmless – and could be a good alternative to sugary sodas. Other users, however, aren’t as impressed.
6. Frozen honey
It’s as simple as it sounds — put some honey into a plastic bottle, or just leave it in the plastic honey bear — and pop it into the freezer for a night.
The next day, your honey has become chewy like candy. The idea is to make a cheap, sweet treat that in theory is less sugary than other sweets.
Some TikTok videos featuring frozen honey have amassed more than 90 million views. It turns out the wildly popular treat tastes just like honey… except cold.
7. Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has long been touted by dieters and so-called health gurus as being good for weight loss, gut health and blood pressure. These health benefits aren’t fully backed up by science, though.
Still, it’s not surprising the fad has made its way onto TikTok, where some users are claiming it’s helpful to drink before bed, use as a hair rinse, or even used in a bath. These claims, however, aren’t supported by any rigorous evidence.
8. Cloud bread
Not only does it sound cool, it looks cool, too.
Cloud bread is considered one of the most viral food trends on TikTok in the last few years. Whether it’s healthy, however, is debatable.
In one video that has more than 34 million views and five million likes, user abimhn describes how to make the fluffy, flourless creation with egg whites, white sugar and cornstarch mixed together.
Food coloring, chocolate chips or vanilla are optional. Cloud bread may be easy to make compared to the sourdough breads that were happening during the pandemic, but they may not be the healthiest or most nutritious option.
9. Mug cake
Mug cakes, or essentially mini cakes baked in a cup in the microwave, became wildly popular on TikTok recently. Throw your cake ingredients (butter, egg, flour, etc.) into a little ceramic cup, then put it in the microwave.
But not all TikTokers are convinced: In one video with nearly 22 million views, one person commented “I made it and it tasted like an egg.” In other words, try at your own risk.
10). Green goddess salad
It was one of the most popular videos of 2021: A recipe by Baked by Melissa known as the green goddess salad.
The recipe consists of chopped up cabbage, cucumber, green onions, and a type of “salad dressing” made with olive oil, garlic, spinach and nuts – then mixed together and used as a dip.
The vegan dish is a healthy one, with the nuts providing a source of protein. Generally, dieticians agree this is a solid recipe.