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Can You Feel the Pinsanity?

Being a native New Yorker, I couldn’t help but get sucked into the Jeremy Lin hysteria over the last few weeks, especially since I witnessed the Knicks hot new point guard’s ascent to stardom at my very first Knicks game on February 10, 2010. At the same time, I’ve noticed how fast Pinterest—the year-old social media tool that’s more like a visual buffet of images—has taken off, at least in the world of nutrition, diet and health.

Self-described as “a virtual pinboard that allows you to organize and share all the beautiful things you find on the web,” Pinterest invites users to “browse pinboards others create to discover new things and get inspiration from others who share your interests.” So no matter what you’re doing—planning your wedding or vacation, decorating your home, or cooking—Pinterest hopes you’ll join in on all the pinning fun.

Janet Helm, MS, RD, creator of Nutrition Unplugged, refers to Pinterest as the social network breakout star of 2012. She thinks it’s a great tool not only for consumers, but for professionals and brands as well. “As a society, we’re so visually focused, and Pinterest is an extension of how we like to consume information,” she says.

What’s In It for Consumers?

When asked why Pinterest seems to be catching on big-time, registered dietitian Kate Geagen said, “I think the reason Pinterest is so sticky as a medium is because unlike Twitter, it has a beautiful visual layout that lets you craft your unique story in a visually compelling way.”

My cousin Rachel Richards agrees. “With Pinterest, the search for new, fun ideas are endless across the board,” she says. She also thinks of Pinterest as a healthy addiction that enhances her life and encourages her creativity.

On Facebook, Jessica Corwin said Pinterest makes it easy to save online recipe ideas without having to bookmark all of them. And on Twitter, Heather R. Joyce, MD (@Kids_Doc) told me she loves Pinterest because it allows her to “pin” home and craft ideas as well as recipes all in one place. She also loves to see what everyone else likes, and recently began to post her own blog entries on Pinterest.

Helm believes the photos and links displayed on Pinterest can potentially have far-reaching effects when it comes to health. “Pinterest can help people organize information that inspires them, including content that can help them live a healthier lifestyle,” she says. Helm adds, “Food and fitness are popular topics on Pinterest, and you can organize your pins to create a virtual cookbook or workout routine that can be easily accessed. You can essentially create your own health-inspiring boards organized by favorite recipes, food or fitness blogs you like, exercise equipment you’re thinking of purchasing, health and nutrition books you plan to read, and favorite yoga moves, stretches, or exercises…the possibilities are truly endless.” And of course, when you follow others with similar interests, you can get new ideas to help you achieve your health or wellness goals.

What’s In It for Professionals?

According to Charlene Santos,
 Co-Founder of, Pinterest is a no-brainer social medium for women and any business trying to connect with a female audience.

Santos says, “Since it’s a picture-based sharing tool, people can simply organize and save topics, advice, recipes and tips by ‘pinning’ (saving) the image onto a ‘board’ of other similar ‘pins’.  Then, if you want more information, you just click on the image and it goes to the original source.” She adds, “For women, it’s a great way to scrapbook everything we want to save into neat, organized boards.”

Santos also says that if you own a website or blog and you’re not on Pinterest, you’re missing the boat. “When people see images they like and want to know more, they click on the image, and that leads them back to your article,” she adds.

As a registered dietitian with a specific focus on green eating, Kate Geagen loves how Pinterest allows her to share all her favorite things in one place with people—from blogs by fellow registered dietitians to sustainability and green eating resources. She thinks it’s another way to add value for people by offering links to articles and recipes that make their lives easier. “I love the fresh format and find it incredibly easy to use,” she says. Geagen believes Pinterest allows us to share our messages with a whole new audience as well—one that may not be on Twitter or Facebook. “I’ve noticed a huge jump in website traffic since I posted my blog entries on Pinterest. I’ve also gotten so much inspiration for fresh food ideas—no flipping through pages and pages of cookbooks or magazines—if I like a photo I can instantly click on it!” she says.

But not everyone agrees. Registered dietitian Carolyn O’Neil recently posted on Facebook, “Ok, so I just started Pinterest last night and it takes a fortnight for the photos to upload. I am losing pinterest. That’s why there’s only one pin on one board. I’m bored.”

The Verdict

As a self-proclaimed Twitter addict (I also use Facebook and LinkedIn, though I’m more partial to Twitter—I just love it!), the last thing I need as a working mom is to get lured into another time-sucking social media site. But as I’ve begun to put together my own pinboards on Pinterest—I find doing so is like decorating a house: deciding which rooms to have and what colors, fabrics, and furniture you’ll use in each—I have begun to see the utility of Pinterest. Although my boards are a little bit thin at the moment, I currently share not only my articles and blogs I write or am quoted in and videos, but other health, fitness and food resources that I find to be credible and that I enjoy. I also share the television shows, movies, books, and artists I love. The possibilities are truly endless, but hopefully I won’t fall into the Pinterest pit unable to get up…..

Are you on Pinterest? Do you love it or hate it? And what would you like to see on my pin boards? Please share your comments below.

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About The Author

Elisa Zied is a nationally recognized and award-winning health and nutrition expert, author, speaker, and spokesperson. A trusted source of food, nutrition, and health information, Elisa has garnered millions of media impressions, lending her expertise and real-world perspective to dozens of TV shows, web sites, news organizations and magazines. She’s the author of four nutrition books. An avid walker, she loves motivating others to #moveitorloseit. A book lover, she recently earned a certificate in children’s literature from Stony Brook Southampton and is currently working on several young adult novels. You can find her previous Food, Fitness & Fiction posts here and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

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