Have you ever stopped to think if your social media feeds are supporting your goals? Or could they actually be sabotaging them? Could social media cater to emotional eating? Take this test below: After scrolling on social media, have you ever felt the following way?
- Low Self Esteem
If you answered “yes” to any of them…know that you’re not alone! Did you know that all of these emotions (if not addressed) can trigger and lead to unwanted emotional eating? There are plenty of things that can lead us to eat unwanted calories. Do you really want your social media to be one of them? I know I don’t! One of my favorite suggestions I make to my health coaching clients is: change your environment to match your goals.
Here is how you can use your social media feeds to help you achieve your health goals in a way that brings you joy, puts an end to unwanted eating, and empowers you to work toward looking and feeling like the best version of yourself:
1. Create an online environment that supports you.
Social media can feed into negative emotions. Obviously, you can’t avoid all negative feelings in your life, but if you’re struggling with emotional eating and it’s becoming a form of self-sabotage for you, preventing you from reaching your goals, know that there are some things you can adjust to still enjoy scrolling through your feeds without unwanted triggers happening.
Researchers have been quick to analyze the negative thought patterns that can be triggered by social media. In the UK, a study polled regular social media users and found that half of them felt it had a negative impact on their lives—and at the same time felt discomfort if they couldn’t readily access their account.
Social pressure, comparisons, insults, and a fear of missing out (FOMO) all make social media the perfect place to build stress, which can lead to psychological health effects from stress. When we’re stressed, our cortisol levels increase, triggering cravings for salty, sweet, and high-fat foods—foods that give you a temporary burst of energy and pleasure. The more stress in your life, the more likely you are to turn to food for emotional relief. In some ways, social media CAN actually lower stress levels too. Research has found that sharing your life with others is actually good for women’s stress levels and increases their feelings of having social support.
2. It’s all about how you use it.
Body image, how you look at and treat yourself, can also be closely tied to social media, and how/when you eat. Negative body image is a MASSIVE source of stress and increased emotional eating for seeking feelings of comfort and control. In many cases the majority of images and messages that come through your average social media feed are definitely not helping. A study shows us that “exposure to media images of thin-and-beautiful women negatively affects the body image and mood states of young women.”
All those pictures of flat tummies with a tape measure wrapped around, or of a thin person standing inside a pair of jeans that are 5 times too big for them (implying they lost all that weight), are adding fuel to your already delicate body image worries. These idealized – and often times very Photoshopped – images really do have a bad effect on how you feel about your body and cause that evil inner voice in your head to speak up! Removing unneeded and unnecessary negative posts from your world can have a massive positive impact on your health, wellbeing, and eating.
That’s what you’re going to do, starting today! Social media should be a source of empowerment and joy, and by making some tweaks to your feeds, you can use it for that power of good.
3. Take action! Clear out your social media feeds.
By cleaning up your feeds, you can detox the negative and jam pack them with positive messages and images to help, heal, and bring you joy.
Unfollow anyone or anything that:
- Gives you the slightest feelings of insecurity or negativity
- Promotes unrealistic or unhealthy images, advice, or opinions
- Makes you feel like your life is lacking
- Makes you feel shame or failure
- Makes you angry or sad
- Tells you that you need to change to be happy/successful/loved
- Feel like you need to improve your body’s appearance to be as happy as they appear
You’re going to clear out the bad and add in the good or inspirational. This can include those people who post perfectionist healthy quotes that make you feel guilty for eating something, fitspo quotes or images, or even friends who post things that make you feel insecure or not enough (you don’t need to defriend them, just hide them, you can unhide them later when they no longer make you feel bad). All of these triggers can cause emotional eating to follow.
Now find, follow, and ‘like’ people whose content promotes your wellbeing and empowers you to feel good and positive about yourself. Positive inspiration to help you toward your goals is great too!
Here are some ideas for positive pages/groups on Facebook:
- The Institute for the Psychology of Eating
- Girls Gone Strong
- Break the Rules with Summer Innanen
- Power of Positivity
- Beauty Redefined
I don’t know about you, but my Pinterest feed used to be filled with ‘Shed X pounds in 10 days’ kind of stuff. When I realized what my social media feeds were doing to me mentally, I cleaned up my Pinterest home feed, and it is now overflowing with gorgeous recipes, inspiring quotes, and empowering information that makes me feel great about myself!
Instagram is a dangerous place for body image if you’re not very careful. Photos are so easy to manipulate and have a huge visual impact on us. So, if you’re following ‘fitspo’ accounts that are unrealistic or images that promote that awful ‘if you’re not pushing yourself you suck’ message, get those outta there! Similarly, if the posts that fill your feed are tagged with ridiculousness like #thighgap, #thinspo, or #mylifeismuchbetterthanaythingyoulleverhavemuwahaha – shut it down.
Just navigate to your profile and click ‘following’ and hit the ‘unfollow’ button to get rid of anyone who’s images or messages are not bringing you joy.
I cleaned up some of the old, and in came some of these new:
So, you have your mission. You have your instructions…Now get out there and make your online environment support and uplift you!
Give your social media feeds a cleanse and upload some joy today!