The Anatomy of a Food Instagram


Sandhiya Nadarajah, FCLC ‘18 on left, and Caitlin Sakdalan, FCLC ‘18 on right. (COURTESY OF Sandhiya Nadarajah and Caitlin Sakdalan)


We’ve all been there: you’re grabbing food with a friend and finally receive the meal you’ve been waiting for since you arrived. Just as you’re about to reach for that mouth-watering first bite, your friend swats your hand so as not to ruin your meal’s Instagram potential. To Caitlin Sakdalan, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’18, and Sandhiya Nadarajah, FCLC ’18, this scenario is all too familiar. However, they’re typically the ones aiming for the perfect shot. “That literally happens all the time!” Nadarajah said. “Our friends and family know the routine. As soon as the food comes out, they know to pause and let us take a picture before they can eat.” Interestingly enough, being the only two food Instagrammers in the room isn’t as isolating as it sounds.”Everyone joins in to make it work,” Sakdalan adds. “It’s a total collaboration.”

While their account, @befatbehappy, recently reached 1000 followers, it all started with a simple idea. Sakdalan, who initially created the account, had always wanted to make a food Instagram but never actually took the plunge and pursued it. That all changed right before she came to college, where she became inspired by all of the amazing dishes offered at Smorgasburg, a popular food flea market in Brooklyn. Nadarajah experienced a similar kind of longing for a hub where she could share snapshots she’d taken of her favorite meals. Fast forward to this semester, when Sakdalan and Nadarajah met through mutual friends and discovered their shared love of food. Soon after these two girls with a passion for documenting all things delicious met, @befatbehappy came to be what it is today.

This aptly named handle features a variety of foods that are sure to make anybody’s stomach grumble. Armed with only their iPhones and their favorite editing app, VSCO Cam, Sakdalan and Nadarajah switch up the types of dishes they post often, and claim to prioritize indulging over calorie counting. From a fruity pebble macaron ice cream sandwich to miso butter ramen, the endless pictures and suggestions the girls offer ensure the satisfaction of any follower.

Although the inspiration for the name of the account came from Sakdalan’s childhood, both partners recall food being an important part of their upbringings. Sakdalan swears that as a child, her love of food transcended that of her peers. Her palate’s preferences became obvious at a young age, when she refused to order from the kid’s menu. “My favorite dish when I was five- years-old was macadamia nut-crusted mahimahi,” she recalled. For Nadarajah, food and family have always gone hand in hand. “With my family, the emphasis is on bringing a group together, being united through food and sharing experiences through it.”

Besides their delectable posts, another aspect of @befatbehappy that makes it stand out among other accounts is its marketing strategy. For example, in an effort to personalize their brand, Sakdalan and Nadarajah decided to create the hashtag, #TreatYoSelfTuesday. They attach this hashtag to weekly reposts of pictures taken by fellow food Instagrammers that they like. This not only allows them to share some social media love, but it also helps to promote their own account.

In addition, both girls make an effort to go through the Instagram accounts of the restaurants they’ve eaten at and comment/like their pictures in order to show their appreciation while simultaneously advertising their handle. “It’s all about networking within the food community,” Nadarajah assures. Efforts like these have resulted in increased recognition for @befatbehappy. “I was in Hawaii over Spring Break and [Hawaii’s Best Kitchen] reposted one of our photos from when I was there,” Sakdalan says. “We ended up gaining 30 followers from it.”

When asked about their favorite restaurants at the moment, a round of gasps rang out from both Sakdalan and Nadarajah. After all, how could one possibly ask two foodies to narrow down the city’s extensive food scene in such a way? To the best of their abilities, each provided insight into spots they currently love. Nadarajah recommends the Lower East Side’s Risotteria Melotti. With only two locations in the entire world, she praises the New York location for its authentic risotto that is shipped monthly from Italy (the other country this restaurant calls home).

Sakdalan mentions Root & Bone, another Lower East Side restaurant that is famous for its chicken and waffles dish (make sure to check out @befatbehappy if you’re interested in a sneak peek of the meal!). As for some cheaper eats, Piccolo Café is among the girls’ favorites. They also love “food court” style locations like Gotham West Market, City Kitchen and Chelsea Market. The best deal they’ve encountered so far has been at Prosperity Dumpling, which offers five dumplings for a whopping $1 (no, that’s not a typo – it’s actually that cheap).

In addition to maintaining their Instagram account, Sakdalan and Nadarajah are planning on launching a food blog that will act as a more detailed version of their Instagram. “We are going to build a website that will incorporate not only the food that we eat, but also the experience of the food,” says Nadarajah. This ranges from describing the atmosphere of the restaurant to the quality of the service.

Make sure to check out @befatbehappy on Instagram, and look out for the upcoming June launch of You (and your appetite) won’t regret it!