Nutritionist’s Cupboard of Years-Old Junk Food That Never Spoils Sparks Controversy

A TikToker’s recent viral video, in which she reveals her nutritionist mom’s approach to educating

A TikToker’s recent viral video, in which she reveals her nutritionist mom’s approach to educating others on the dangers of processed food, has created fierce debate in the comments section. However, Leyla Kandemir, the nutritionist behind the unusual tactic, is fine with the controversy—as long as it gets people talking.

UK-based TikToker Elif Kandemir, known on the app as @elifgkandemir, posted the clip last week, showing a neatly organized cupboard full of plastic bins. Inside each one is an array of foods that reportedly never spoil, despite being kept for numerous years, including burgers, fries, pizza, candy, donuts, and more.

“My mum is a nutritionist helping to tackle obesity,” Elif says in a voiceover. “These foods shown here are ultra-processed foods that 80 percent of the UK consumes on a regular basis.”

In a follow-up video posted the next day, Elif added that her mom had been collecting the majority of the food “over the last two years”—despite the fact that the food looks practically fresh, with not a speck of mold visible. In the comments, the TikToker added that the old junk food has no smell, and has attracted no bugs.

She adds that her mom is a psychotherapist in addition to a nutritionist and that she built the collection of non-perishing food for her work.

The first of the two videos generated over 3.2 million views, with over 200,000 likes and thousands of comments. The second clip, while not quite as viral, still received attention on the app, with just over 100,000 views at the time of writing.

In a statement to Newsweek, Leyla Kandemir explained that she “[works] with obesity on a daily basis and…[uses] the food cupboard during dietary counseling to reinforce the message that ultra-processed foods are not foods.”

“The response has shocked me,” she added. “Clearly people really do need guidance in what to eat.”

A nutritionist has caused controversy on TikTok by keeping a cabinet full of processed foods used as a teaching lesson. Shown here is a photo of someone eating a burger in London in 2007.
Cate Gillon/Getty Images

Viewers flocked to the comments section to offer their perspective on the unorthodox teaching tool. While many expressed support for the TikToker and her mom, several others took issue with certain aspects of the cupboard.

Some, for example, felt that the fact that the food didn’t become moldy with age wasn’t necessarily an indication of its relative health properties. Others commented that the food stored in the cupboard appeared dehydrated, suggesting that it was merely the lack of moisture present in the environment that stopped it from becoming moldy. Some commenters, meanwhile, argued in favor of intuitive eating, noting that any food—even so-called junk food—is acceptable in moderation.

That point isn’t lost on Kandemir, who acknowledges that indeed “you can eat anything in moderation” but notes that it should be “portion-controlled.”

“This is quintessentially my view on eating,” she told Newsweek.

However, the nutritionist welcomes conversation surrounding her tactics, and even serious debate. “I love controversy because it challenges many [people’s] thoughts and [behaviors],” she said.

“They have commented to express this, and that in itself has opened this debate to 3.2 million people.”