One of the first things I suggest my clients do when they begin working with eating intuitively is a social media detox. For many, this may need to start with taking a break from social media altogether for a period of time. Yep, spending a little time without Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, etc. This is hard and makes many of us anxious. Understandably so. We are living in a culture that is constantly connected to our phones and with that, social media. It can be to the point where being without the constant stimulation can feel awkward and uncomfortable.
That said, for those of us who struggle with food and body image, social media is also a source of constant bombardment. Bombardment with #fitspiration posts, before and after photos, “clean eating” posts, etc. In other words, diet culture. This can make it incredibly difficult to embrace truly eating intuitively because we are being so bombarded with the opposite message. For example, let’s say the day starts well, you eat a breakfast that consists of food that you enjoy that satisfies and nourishes you, listening to your hunger an fullness cues.
Then you get on the social media site of your choice and see a “transformation” post. Let’s say it’s someone posting a before and after pic stating they’ve lost 50 pounds following a low carb diet and going on a diatribe about how it’s the only way to eat, has saved their life etc. How much more likely are you going to be to maybe not even completely consciously, eat fewer carbs the rest of that day, or even just jump back into dieting and go on a low carb diet of your own? Chances are very good especially if you are seeing images of this sort all day every time you get on social media.
This is what makes taking a social media break so important at the beginning of our intuitive eating journey. It’s hard to start to listen to yourself if you are still so surrounded by these messages. But what about after that “break” from social media is over? Well, that’s where the long-term detox begins! This involves doing something that might even be more challenging then the initial no social media period, getting those triggering people and posts off of your feed. Yes, this means unfollowing those people pushing weight loss, diets, and clean eating. This may even mean unfollowing friends and family who are stuck in the diet mentality and caught up in posting these things.
This can sound hard I know. So, what are the benefits? Well, it helps to quiet the diet noise for one thing. We are surrounded by diet culture and dieting messages even without social media so why not do what we can to limit how much of that we are exposed to? Secondly, it helps limit our likelihood of slipping back into dieting ourselves because we are not being quite as bombarded by dieting messages. Thirdly, I’ve found it can be helpful in not feeling like “an outsider” when it comes to how we view food and body image, again because those diet mentality messages aren’t as present.
Once you’ve done this, and your feed is no longer full of these diet mentality messages, I also think it can be helpful to connect with people who do share your beliefs around food and body image. There are actually a surprising number of intuitive eating/body positivity/HAES based support groups, etc. on social media that it may be very helpful to be connected with. Seeing those sort of things in your feed as opposed to #fitspo is a huge step forward and a profound change!
Questions about doing a social media detox or anything else food/body image related? Please feel free to get in touch!