A tasty turkey tuna salad recipe posted to @the.glutenfreegal Instagram account. Senior Paige Bruland posts recipes to the account weekly.

We’ve all probably heard the phrase “camera eats first” and have likely been in the presence of someone photographing their meals for Instagram or even done so ourselves. 

Simply sharing photos of food on social media has developed into something more for seniors Taylor Sipila, Fese Elango and Paige Bruland. 

Sipila, who runs the Instagram account 

@taystreatsandsweets, has dedicated a second account to bakery items and entrees, from apple muffins and homemade pizookie to gnocchi and a social media favorite, charcuterie boards. 

“I have been baking since I was a little kid,” Sipila said. “It’s always been a hobby, or a way I like to share love and joy with people.” 

She created the account while spending the summer after sophomore year in Spokane along with her housemate, Elango. 

“I was in a pretty low spot at the end of that school year and it honestly felt good to work toward caring for myself holistically through a medium like food because food is so important,” said Elango, whose account is @fess_food. 

Bruland, @the.glutenfreegal, was diagnosed with celiac disease at the beginning of her junior year, which resulted in needing to cook her own gluten-free meals. On her account, she shares celiac-safe recipes for juices, salads, cookies and brunch-time meals.

“At first, I felt like I didn’t know where to look to or turn to, so I started following a lot of food pages on Instagram,” Bruland said. “By [sharing] the recipes I had found and made I was holding myself accountable so that I was creating food I liked, was healthy and took time to prepare.”

There is also an important community building aspect to sharing recipes and tips, especially with friends who also have second Instagram accounts dedicated to their hobbies. As a fellow recipe-Instagrammer myself who began to bake and cook more during the pandemic, sharing something as personal and meaningful as a recipe among friends has made me feel a greater sense of connectedness, despite being physically apart. 

“It was always really fun to try new dishes and interact with people through comments and getting to share different cost savings tips that I’ve learned,” Elango said.

Bruland’s main reason for continuing to post to page is to be helpful to her followers. Bruland said she has recieved numerous DM’s from followers thanking her for creating the page.

Sipila was surprised she’d grown a fan base and has maintained the page as an archive of her most-liked recipes.

“It’s fun to post things and if people are in Spokane, drop off what they want,” Sipila said. “I can note my best friends’ favorite things and keep an archive of what everyone likes.”

These senior women also speak to a desire to express their authentic identities on their food Instagram apart from their primary social media accounts, as a creative outlet and to share a different side of themselves for a niche following. 

“I think it’s different [from my main account] because I use it as a space to vent and share about things like anxiety and cooking as a calming force, whereas my personal Instagram is pictures of my life and friends,” Elango said.

Bruland shares a similar sentiment. 

“I am more open on that account in a way, sharing things like celiac awareness, which I don’t do on my main page,” Bruland said. “It’s a smaller audience of people like food bloggers and people I know well. Ultimately, these food Instagrams have become integral to establishing a routine for personal well-being.”

Although they’re simply sharing tasty recipes with their followers, food Instagram pages do it for themselves as well.

“It’s about taking care of myself and slowing down, like stress relief,” Sipila said. “There’s a sixth love language and I swear it’s baked goods.”

Madison Barnes-Nelson is a contributor.

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