Social media is without a doubt a huge part of our day-to-day lives. On average, Americans spend at least 2-3 hours on social every day. Originally, social channels were a way to connect with old friends and post a few photos. Today, it’s likely a habit that can make or break your day, oftentimes leading us down a rabbit hole of disordered thoughts around body image or what and how much we “should” be eating in a day. This comparison trap is a slippery slope and can lead to intense feelings of body insecurity and shame or guilt around your own food intake.
The thing is, a lot of what’s represented on social media isn’t real - it’s a highlight reel. But of course, that doesn’t mean you’ll feel any less insecure. We’re highlighting a few common pitfalls alongside solutions as we work towards cultivating more body kindness for ourselves. Let's get started!
THE HARMFUL: SCROLLING YOUR FEED SHOULD BRING YOU UP, NOT DOWN
WHAT TO DO WHEN SOCIAL MEDIA FOMO HITS
Do you ever look at images you see on social media - places people are traveling, things people are doing, life events others are experiencing - and feel like you’re missing out? Hi, it’s FOMO.
It's so easy to get caught up comparing yourself to others and feeling that somehow you are missing out while everyone else is having a picture perfect amazing day. As mentioned before, social media never shows the whole story! When a case of FOMO hits, it may be helpful to take a step back and put things into perspective. You may even realize that you have something amazing going on, too.
#FITSPIRATION IS NOT YOUR MOTIVATION
Be aware of Fitspiration or #fitspo as you are scrolling through your feed. Fitspo advocates that “strong is the new skinny.” It’s typically tagged to fitness celebrity accounts that are trying to market their workout programs by attempting to motivate you with their bodies (abs, mostly). Sometimes, they can be motivating! But, more often, fitspo has the potential of doing more harm than good and can leave you feeling as though you aren’t good enough. More often than not, those modeling the workouts are people who are getting paid to look this way. Don’t allow these accounts to drain you. Their goal is to make a profit, not to help you become a better you. These are unreachable standards that can leave you feeling defeated - everyone’s body and genetic makeup are different, and it’s unlikely that one fitness model’s ab circuit will change your life. Be mindful of how you are feeling and consider whether following these accounts is working for you or against you.
Unfortunately, as new social platforms are created, diet culture inevitably finds its way in. TikTok can be a fun, new way to view content, but very similar to #fitspo, it can have the danger of doing more harm than good. With certain toxic trends (see: what I eat in a day) being circulated, it may leave viewers feeling inadequate and wanting to adjust their intake to match others’. Here’s a reminder from all of us at NourishRX: TikTok does not determine your intake needs for the day - your body has that covered! So, as we mentioned above, be selective about who you choose to follow and give your energy to when it comes to TikTok or any social platform. And remember, everyone has varying energy needs daily - it is okay (and, in fact, welcomed) to fuel your body the way it needs to be.
FOOD PORN LEAVES YOU FEELING GUILTY
What about those gorgeous meals that are saturating your Insta feed...does anyone’s dinner actually look like that all the time? Food Porn is defined as a glamourized visual presentation of a meal displayed as a form of visual media. As food lovers and dietitians who believe wholeheartedly in food inclusion, not exclusion, it's hard not to get sucked into wanting to create and enjoy these beautiful dishes. While there is no harm in finding new dinner inspiration, it's important to be realistic with yourself.
Just like #fitspo, these pictures are usually taken by trained photographers and may even have food stylists that strategically place the food on the plate. Again, don't feel defeated! Regardless of how it ends up looking on the plate, if it tastes good, eat and enjoy.
The Bottom Line: try not to compare yourself to others
Easier said than done, right? It’s hard not to compare yourself to others, especially when the average American is spending 3+ hours a day on social media.
Of course, you're only going to see the highlight reel. When posting a photo, we are all thinking about how others will perceive it. So, of course, people will choose to post the best picture they can find. It’s common for influencers (and everyone, really) to take over 100 pictures of the same image before finding the "perfect" photo. Try not to get caught up in the illusion that this "perfect" photo is an accurate depiction of reality. We know, that’s a tall task.
Before you start comparing, realize that there is more to this person's life than what they post. Everyone has their own set of "stuff" they are dealing with in their day to day lives that you’ll never know about. Try your best not to make assumptions. We all do it, but if it’s getting to the point where it's making you feel insecure, you may want to reconsider why you are following the account in the first place.
Now that we are aware of how social media can harm us, let's talk about the ways we can use it to our advantage.
USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO LIFT YOU UP
FOLLOW THE ACCOUNTS THAT INSPIRE AND EDUCATE YOU.
Don’t waste your time scrolling through images that give off negative energy or cause you to feel as if you’re not worthy (ahem, the ab-fluencers). Follow the accounts that are genuine and easy to connect with. Fill your feed with realistic body images, accounts that motivate you to do you, and individuals who aren’t trying to seduce you with diet-culture chaos (hint-hint @NourishRX).
SOCIAL DISTANCE FROM YOUR FEED
Our best tip? Use social media less. The less time you are looking down at your phone, the more time you have to appreciate other things in life. Here are a few things you can do instead:
Go for a walk - nature is healing!
Spend time having a conversation with someone you care about
Cook a meal to enjoy (by yourself or with others)!
Read a book or article that fits with your current interests and passions
The more time you spend on your phone, the more time is taken away from the things that are better for your mental and physical health. Although there are some major advantages to social media, it does not compare to the benefits of living life outside of your phone!
HELP OTHERS CULTIVATE A HEALTHIER RELATIONSHIP WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
Sharing insightful information that could make someone's day a little brighter will give you a sense of purpose when using it. This goes back to considering why you use social media - are you trying to make people envious of your life? Or are you trying to put your skills to good use and help others? Think before you post! “How will this benefit me and others?” Putting some purpose behind what you post will change the way you use social media and make it more meaningful, for you and anyone who follows you.
Don’t let what’s on your phone get in the way of being the best version of yourself. Stay true to who you are and put your energy and time into things that give you meaning and purpose.
If you’re feeling that you need some more support or wanting a space to share your thoughts about social media - reach out to us! We’re here to support you in your journey.