Are Pinterest Recipes Destroying Your Diet?

Oreo_cookie_dessertHave you gained a few pounds? Do you use Pinterest as a source for recipes? If so, Pinterest recipes may be destroying your diet.

Pinterest has quickly become the third most popular social media platform with more than 20 million users, primarily women. “Pinning” is leaving many users pining for a trip to Bora Bora, figuring out how they can refi their homes to renovate their kitchen or drooling over the mouth-watering recipes.

But all the  exposure to eye-popping food on Pinterest is leading to something unexpected: weight gain. Many women who love food and spend time on the site know that the most popular, beautiful recipes featured on pinboards are the unhealthiest. I’ll go so far as to say that they’re some of the most diet unfriendly recipes I’ve ever seen.

Chocolate chip cookies, Red Velvet Cake, Nutella Cake in a Jar, Santa Hat Brownies, Chicken Taco Chili, Oreo Layer Dessert, Chocolate Peanut Butter Parfaits, Garlic Cheesy Bread, Baked Potato Soup, Frozen Strawberry Mojitos, Easy Peasy Cherry Cheese Cobbler, Ale and Cheddar Soup…

These are a few of the most “pinned” recipes on the site, having reached millions of women. (Many have probably even tried making these crafty diet disasters.) In fact, 30% of the most popular pins on Pinterest fall within the food and beverage category. All are loaded with added sugars, saturated fat and calories. Based on the ingredients, a piece of the Oreo Cookie Layer cake would pack in more than 700 calories, or about 1/3 of the total calories most of us need in an entire day.

Pinning…Minus the Extra Pounds

Pinterest Chocolate Chip Cookie

Since we already live in a toxic food environment where we’re exposed to unhealthy foods every day in real life and have to use self-control all the time to keep calories in check. There’s no need to  make things worse by salivating over virtual images of so-good-I-swear-they’re-calling-my-name calorie bombs. Research shows that people who struggle most with their weight are much more susceptible to their environment–real and virtual. Use the following pinning pointers to create a healthy online environment for yourself:

Delete Your Decadent Pins and PinBoards. Delete your Pinboards or Pins that include your most physique-damaging food images and recipes. You don’t need recipes for the “Fluffiest Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe—Ever” or “Nutella Fudge.” If the Pin comes from boards called “Mmmmmm,” “Goodies,” “Yumminess,” or “Heaven on Earth,” chances are it’s not a waist-friendly recipe.

Get motivated. Create new Pinboards that serve as healthy inspirations. We like those that feature quotes that help keep us motivated to move and eat right. Some of our favorite words of wisdom:

“Junk food that you have been craving for an hour or the body you have wanted for years? It’s your choice.”  

“Remember: Fat lasts longer than flavor.”  

“If you give up today, think about how you’ll feel a month from now when you could be 5 pounds lighter.”

“Sweat is fat crying.”

Pinterest Jar Cakes

Follow the Nutrition Pros’ Boards. Check out our AppforHealth boards on Pinterest, where we pin what we love on the Internet, including our love of dogs and kitchen design. And go to some of the key sources we use: CookingLight, EatingWell, and  Be sure when searching recipes on Pinterest that you put in the hashtags like #healthy, #diet, #nutrition so that you get better-for-you recipes to salivate over.

If you use Pinterest and have ideas of great Pinboards to follow that focus on healthier eats and drinks, leave a comment and let us know.

–Julie Upton, MS, RD, CSSD



  1. Nancy S. says

    I needed this post….Thank you! I see so many recipes that look amazing on Pinterest, but I certainly don’t need to live with myself after trying them all. You gave me some good search criteria and boards to investigate.

  2. says

    Great post! And it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot. I’m actually trying to do a study that validates this fact…I suspect that the trending pins, the most “likes” and repins are sugary, fattening foods. Most of the food photo galleries, like Food Gawker and TasteSpotting, also seem to celebrate “food porn.” That’s one of the reasons that Regan Jones and I wanted to start Healthy Aperture — the first food photo gallery created and curated by registered dietitians. The site focuses on healthy foods, and we also have a Pinterest page. So I hope you’ll add that to your list of key sources on Pinterest. I totally agree with you. But I think Pinterest can be used to showcase delicious good for you foods, and lots of dietitians are helping to keep it more balanced on Pinterest. I also have a board with some great healthy eats and drinks.

  3. Suzanne says

    I quit using Pinterest, and that is one of the main reasons. Food worship has gotten out of control.

  4. says

    Will you please remove our photo of the Oreo Layer Dessert from this post. I totally agree with your article. With that being said, I think common sense in making desserts versus pinning should be left to the pinner. Thank you for your understanding.

  5. Joslyn K. says

    From a chef’s perspective (yes I’m a real chef with my degree in culinary arts) I think pinterest is great for inspiring individuals to cook and create beautiful food. It’s not the site that’s making people fat, it’s peoples lack of self control and poor diet choices that are making them fat. For you to blame social media and the people pinning is shameful. As human beings with minds of our own I think it’s about time for us to start taking some accountability for our own actions. If you make an oreo cake for… say, someones birthday, it wont make you fat. Sitting there and eating several pieces of oreo cake over the course of a few days will. Don’t forget, you cant have a successful diet without rewarding yourself at least once in a while. There are thousands of healthy food pins on pinterest as well as “unhealthy” ones.

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