Social media is a powerful amplification tool, but sometimes what it amplifies is a negative body image. According to the Washington Post:

“Experts say that social media are giving such terms as thigh gap and ‘orthorexia‘—a fixation on eating healthful food that can spark anxiety, and, paradoxically, malnutrition—an unprecedented following. The existence of social media really allows that kind of obsession to take on a new life.”

But in addition to disturbing #thinspiration and #pro-ana (pro-anorexia) posts, social media accounts can also be used to promote recovery.

College student Hayley Kremer started an Instagram account in 2012 dedicated to her eating disorder recovery. @Hayls_SprinklesOfSunshine now has 18.5k followers, and it’s not hard to see why. Scrolling through her photos of delicious food, inspiring quotes, and smile-inducing animals, one quickly realizes this is really an account dedicated to being happy and enjoying life. We asked Hayley to tell us about how Instagram has helped, and sometimes hindered, her recovery—and why taking pictures of food is something much more than a guilty pleasure.

How long have you been struggling with an eating disorder?
Since junior year of high school, but before then I was self conscious of my body.

When and why did you start this Instagram account?
In July of 2012—the summer after senior year of high school. I don’t even remember how I came up with the idea but it started as a recovery account and now I’ve changed it into something much more.

What is it now?
I don’t want the focus of the account to be eating disorders, although that is a big part of it. I changed that when I took a month long break in October of last year. My IG name was healthy_hayls but I changed it to hayls-sprinklesofsunshine. I did not want to be labeled anymore as the girl with the eating disorder or the recovery account. There is so much more to life and so much more to me than that. I love to help people; I want to help people as much as I can. I want to inspire and motivate people to be themselves, have self-love, change for the better, and just be happier.

What are the pros and cons of using Instagram as part of your recovery?
Pros: Being able to relate to others, making great friends, getting ideas for recipes, finding awesome quotes.

Cons: You need to be able to find a positive balance. I was once very obsessed with it and felt a lot of pressure to post certain things and post a lot. Now I am much more aware of what I post, and I post for the right reasons. I had to take a break from IG and that break honestly really helped me in my recovery. Being surrounded by eating disorders, food, and exercise posts can be very unhealthy for someone who is trying to recover. I think this is a big issue today for my girls with recovery or fitspo (fitsporation) accounts.

How does the public aspect of the account impact you?
I receive a ton of support and encouragement from followers. I am so grateful for that. I love to know that I am making a positive impact on someone else. There are some negative comments but I have learned to just ignore them and move on. There is no sense in freaking out about a comment from a total stranger who may not have any idea what they are talking about.

Do you ever get negative or pro-ana comments on your posts?
Once in a while I will. But like I said I just ignore them, and I may even delete them because I do not want them to trigger anyone who follows my account.

What made you decide to post pictures of your face rather than keep the account anonymous?
When I first started this account I was afraid to show my face, but I decided I wanted to be more real with my followers. I am just a normal everyday girl with the same everyday struggles everyone goes through. It made it more personal and I felt like it made my account more welcoming.

Do you follow any food-related Instagram accounts?
I follow a lot of different accounts. I have unfollowed some accounts that no longer serve me. I am really into self love, body peace, positivity, and stuff like that so I follow a lot of accounts that are like that, like @heatherwaxman and @madelynmoon. I love following some accounts to get yummy recipes. I also love following other people who strive to have the same positive outlook on life that I do.