My parents nursed my love for food from a young age by entrenching my sisters and me in our cultures’ cuisine since we could eat, as well as a little something called the Food Network. I would gaze and marvel at the bevy of dishes the hosts would travel to try, and follow along as the chefs cooked up a storm. Nowadays, I’m grateful social media has provided an avenue for more food-related content to be shared with greater representation of creators, foods and ideas. Whether I want to lust over posts of food I’ve been craving, watch a one minute recipe video or listen to people review the latest snacks, I know I can pop over to YouTube or Instagram and have a world of content at my fingertips. I’m close friends with a fellow foodie whose delicious creations I’ve been lucky enough to indulge in over the years, and you can marvel at her artistry yourself over at @rebz.eatz on Instagram.
“I was always known by my family for being the one spending [so] much time trying to take a perfect picture of my food, whether it was at a restaurant or something I made at home,” Rebecca Mailhot, a fifth-semester nutritional sciences major and psychology minor, said about starting her food account last summer. “I wanted some place to share all those pictures where people would truly care and be interested in seeing what I was eating!”
Food-related family traditions inspired her love for baking and cooking, including baking pies for Thanksgiving, making Easter bread and having a dedicated day for making Christmas cookies.
Mailhot has been able to pursue her passion through a dream job at a local bakery in her hometown and knows it will play a central role in her future career path of becoming a registered dietitian (RD).
“[I]t has been a dream of mine to work in a bakery,” Mailhot said. She has worked at Alyssa’s Cakery in Wallingford, CT for the past two summers, decorating the cupcakes for sale in the display case and for custom orders. “No day was ever the same at the cakery. It was so fun to know that the cupcakes I made were going to be on display at someone’s birthday party, graduation, baby shower, or even wedding.”
Although social media has made concerns about body image and nutrition more complex, it has also provided people an avenue to connect with others about improving their mindset about food. Whether through her future profession or her food account, Mailhot hopes to educate as many people as she can “on the importance of having a healthy relationship with food.”
“[T]his career will allow me to not only educate my patients about how much the food you put in your body truly impacts your health and everyday life in so many ways, but to use medical nutrition therapy to treat a variety of diseases and conditions,” Mailhot said. “Not only should we eat foods that make our bodies happy, but we should eat foods that make our brains and minds happy too! It’s so important to find that balance.”
Mailhot understands the impact of social media and how the content and initial theme of @rebz.eatz changed over time once she realized it wasn’t realistic to only feature “healthy foods.”
“So many people fall into the unhealthy patterns of fad diets and restrictive eating,” Mailhot said. “It’s so important to understand that a lot of the people we see on social media are posting unrealistic lifestyles and making viewers feel as if they need to be living like them to be their happiest. I hope someday that I can be a source of inspiration to others by having a realistic presence on social media.”
If you like any content related to food with beautiful photos to boot, Mailhot’s account has got it all, from cooking posts to restaurant eats to homemade meals. She has featured themed weeks of food on @rebz.eats, including a week of custom baked goods for her friends with treats like mini cinnabon cheesecakes, coffee donuts and chocolate chip cookie dough brownies. Earlier this month, pumpkin dominated her feed with spins on the seasonal flavor with pumpkin spice churros, pumpkin spice waffles and my favorite, pumpkin cinnamon rolls. She expressed a love for baking desserts, especially holiday flavors such as pumpkin and apple for Halloween and Thanksgiving and peppermint for Christmastime.
“[A] smaller goal I have … is to diversify my account,” Mailhot said. She aims to grow her account enough that companies will reach out for partnerships.
Despite current caution about travel, she hopes to return to travel to other foodie destinations such as Spain and Greece in the future, but has been lucky enough to visit her dream destination in Italy in 2018. However, for the time being, local UConn places like Earth, Wok, and Fire and One Plate, Two Plate, and her own talent in creating mouthwatering creations, will do for now.
“And of course, the Dairy Bar is one of my top favorite [food recommendations around campus]!” Mailhot said. Be sure to check out more of her food feats at @rebz.eatz on Instagram.