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People Are Calling Out Negative Experiences With Noom

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CW: Discussions of diet culture and eating disorders.

Noom is trending on Twitter and users are sharing their personal experiences with the app that says it isn’t counting calories but, apparently, talks about calories quite a lot?

Noom, which brands itself with messages like “Stop dieting. Get life-long results” and “build better habits” may be a fad in the midst of the diet culture we’re still surrounded by, but it’s become ubiquitous in that market. While some people say that they like Noom, others—like hundreds responding in the thread—have a different take.

Positive eating habits are great, but it’s an extremely difficult line to tread between so-called “healthy” eating and suggestions toward that end that can also spark unhealthy thoughts and actions. It’s very easy to wind up falling on the wrong side of things and ending up battling an eating disorder or disordered thinking around food. I know; I struggled heavily in the past with diet culture and have had to finally take myself out of that mindset.

Those Noom commercials and constant ads that seem to blanket social media? They can be triggering for many. Still, the app has been extremely successful in dominating the weight loss space, looking at a potential $10 billion valuation.

Noom started trending because of this tweet:

This caused many, many, many people to “like” the tweet and others to share their own experiences of using or trying out Noom. Of course, everyone’s experience varies, but there are some troubling trends to be found in the tweets and some of the ways the app has apparently been marketed.

They allegedly passed up a qualified dietitian for being too qualified, too.

And some of those who have used the app shared stories of what they viewed as its negative impacts, especially when it came to calories and making some foods “red.”

The replies are not all blanket negative; some people have shared their positive personal experiences with Noom.

We don’t want to invalidate anyone’s experience, but a lot of the other replies emphasize the flip side of working on your “relationship” with food via an app or program that has you constantly check in and report your “progress” and feelings around food. In the replies to the tweet that started it all, Twitter users shared the things that they said the app suggested that they do or confusing advertising practices (one tweet accused Noom of misinformation on Facebook about who is using their app).

The problem with suggesting things like eating the incredibly small amount of 1200 calories a day (an anecdote several people who said they used Noom shared) is that it can have lasting effects on your body and mind.

Again, I know this from personal experience. In high school, I had convinced myself that I did not need to eat more than 1200 calories a day and would abuse my body to try to get myself into “shape” as I saw it, and it was not healthy and has warped my relationship with food, even to this day. So, for an app like Noom—which sells itself as a way to monitor your food without counting calories or obsessing—to then, apparently, have the opposite effect for some users? That would be distressing for someone like me who’s trying to build a truly healthy relationship between food, mind, and body.

The replies to that initial tweet are filled with troubling stories of the app allegedly making it difficult to cancel or encouraging you to weigh yourself every day, and here’s the issue: That alone can be very triggering, not to mention that much of it seems a lot like the same old ineffective yo-yo diet tactics repackaged in a new “mindful” way.

Personally, I had once tried to sign up for Noom, realized it was a paid thing (it can cost up to $59 dollars a month), and did not do so. If I had signed up, I might have fallen back into my pattern of feeling further conflicted in my relationship with food to fit into some “ideal” that society placed on me. And the trend of responses to this tweet also makes me feel like it was a good idea to stay away.

(image: NBC)

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Rachel Leishman
Rachel Leishman (She/Her) is an Assistant Editor at the Mary Sue. She's been a writer professionally since 2016 but was always obsessed with movies and television and writing about them growing up. A lover of Spider-Man and Wanda Maximoff's biggest defender, she has interests in all things nerdy and a cat named Benjamin Wyatt the cat. If you want to talk classic rock music or all things Harrison Ford, she's your girl but her interests span far and wide. Yes, she knows she looks like Florence Pugh. She has multiple podcasts, normally has opinions on any bit of pop culture, and can tell you can actors entire filmography off the top of her head. Her work at the Mary Sue often includes Star Wars, Marvel, DC, movie reviews, and interviews.