What it’s like to be Instafamous at uni: An interview with @superfoodsiobhan

She may drink cocktails with the cast of Made in Chelsea, but she still shops at Aldi


Siobhan O’Brien, aka superfoodsiobhan, has more than 130,000 followers – and she’s a UEA student.

Siobhan’s Instagram posts showcase her ability to make healthy, dairy and gluten-free vegan meals look unexpectedly appealing – but what’s the girl behind the food like?

We sat down with the Pharmacy student to talk about the struggles of juggling university work with her superfood superstardom and how her sudden popularity has affected her day-to-day life.

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Talking about how it all began, Siobhan explains: “It started about 3 years ago. I have some food intolerances – I’m not very good with dairy, I cant really do gluten and I was already a vegetarian so I was cooking a lot for myself at home.

“I had a normal Instagram account at the time and would post meals with hashtags like #oatmeal #healthy. I’d get random likes and follows, and then it started growing and growing, and in about four or five months I had 2,000 followers.

“As it grew more people would be asking me for the recipes, so I looked up how to make a food blog to type up all my recipes and direct people there, and as my Instagram grew through word of mouth, so did my blog.”

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The turning point came when Siobhan was featured on Instagram’s user list for suggested best accounts to follow, and after 2 months, her followers had increased to massive 80,000.

As Siobhan’s popularity grew, she began getting contacted by health food brands.

She says: “After the Instagram account hit the 100,000 mark I started getting offered money by brands to include their products in photos. After that I’ve had health food brands offering me paid campaigns every 2 or 3 months.

“It’s pretty handy considering how skint I am now I’ve started uni.”

Her campaign offers have ranged from the wonderful to the really rather weird.

She continues: “The UK and Ireland agricultural board contacted me to promote potatoes as a health food. I did a recipe for dauphinoise potatoes, but it was so odd having a serious government sector contact you.”

However Siobhan has a strong moral compass, and will turn down campaigns she doesn’t agree with. Explaining her refusal to promote diet teas, she says: “I’d never go near them.

“They work by giving you diarrhoea and dehydrating you, which I think is such an unhealthy way of losing weight. So I’m staying clearly away from them.

“I’ll only ever promote what I’d use myself. I don’t want to be a sell out.”

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Her fame has led to invitations to book launches and health food events. Describing her most memorable moments, Siobhan refers to her most recent event of talking at Cambridge University on Tuesday during their Pink Week Cancer Awareness.

She says: “It was amazing. Me and some other Deliciously Ella-like health foodies each brought a dish of our choice to feed about 50 and did a talk for people that bought a ticket to listen and chat with us.”

At the mention of Deliciously Ella, Siobhan discussed their friendship: “She’s really nice.

“We met at [health foodie] Madeline Shaw’s book launch in April where some of the Made in Chelsea lot were. It was really surreal, drinking cocktails on the rooftop of Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge with Made in Chelsea.

“I just kept having to shake myself. The MIC were really nice, we just started chatting because we were next to each other. It was a crazy day, because there were publications downstairs, and we got massive goody bags.”

But there are restrictions trying to find time to fit in her health food brand with her academic studies. She says: “It sucks when I get invited by brands to visit them or check out their new products in London during the week, but of course I cant miss a whole day of uni.”

Now at UEA, Siobhan still manages to keep up her feed whilst in halls, although she does notice that her “photo quality has gone down so much”, due to the dentist-office lighting.

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I recognise that background…

Siobhan recommends Aldi for her ability to stick to her healthy lifestyle on her uni budget: “I love it. I buy all my nuts, oats, rice, veg, tinned tomatoes and peanut butter there, so I don’t need to get much else from other shops. The walk’s not too bad and I’ve just saved so much.”

But what’s her essential life-saver food at uni?

“Probably bananas. I eat so may of them. If I don’t have time for breakfast before lectures or want a snack I’ll grab a banana. They’re so handy, I can just throw in my bag if I’m in a rush.”

When asked if she’s reached BNOC status yet she laughs it off: “No way, I’m no BNOC!

“I have been recognised a few times on campus but only by a few people. In one of my first weeks I shared a taxi with a girl who recognised me, and sometimes at predrinks people have been really excited when I came over. They kind of just come up to me like ‘Ahh Superfoodsiobhan!'”

She says the common misconception most people have is that she never drinks or lets her hair down: “I’ll still go out on nights out every week, and I’m pretty relaxed with what I drink – I just wont have jelly shots or things with gelatine. I’m mostly a vodka drinker.”

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However her drunk food differs from the usual DFC and cheesy chips: “Anything with hummus. I am obsessed.

“I have about six tubs in my fridge. They’re about £1.50 from the SU shop or 50p from Aldi so I decided to stock up for a week and a half on all the flavours. So like chopped up veggies or corn chips and hummus, or maybe muesli. Anything crunchy.”