How to Protect Your Recovery When Using Social Media
I'll be the first to admit that I have a love/hate relationship with social media, primarily Instagram. But as I have found ways to use it in ways that work for me, I find I enjoy it more and more. I just have to be protective, careful and thoughtful...which is what I want to discuss today.
In the past with Instagram, I struggled so much with it because, well, taking pictures is an art form that I LOVE but I STRUGGLE at. Thank you awesome biz partner who has shared all her wisdom and guidance with me on how to improve my skills (still have work to do, but getting there!)
I more so struggled with it though, because it made me constantly question my own eating and exercise habits.
When I first started my account (sometime four years ago, I was super late to the game in comparison to most and my sister basically forced highly encourage I start one to grow my blog) I started following as many accounts as I could because a new world had opened and all the sudden I could see what every person was eating and why and how and omg all the pretty food.
It was pretty overwhelming and exciting at the same time.
Almost immediately, I began to question myself and my eating habits. Everyone was eating all these crazy superfoods, interesting food combinations /concoctions and eating so many vegetables and fermented foods and eating everything no sugar, grain free, dairy free, etc.
Since at the time I was just on the cusp of discovering I had SIBO and had not yet healed it (that came over the course of that next year or two), I was pretty desperate and willing to try just about everything to heal my digestion.
Drink a bottle of kombucha a day because everyone else was doing that? Yup, I did that. Eat vegetables in five different ways in one meal alone? Yup, I did that. Put vegetables in weird places that don't really make sense? Yup, I did that. Convince myself that smoothie bowls were more delicious than ice cream? Yup, I did that. Exercise six days a week because everyone else was doing that? Yup, I did that. Convince myself I had to do HIIT exercises even if it didn't feel good in my body? Yup, I did that. Go grain free, dairy free, no sugar, paleo, and keto because everyone else was doing that? Yup, did those too.
Even as a dietitian, even as someone who was on their way to recovery from disordered eating, I found myself listening to other Instagrammers more than my own body because it was so compelling. And if I'm being totally transparent, it significantly halted my recovery and for quite awhile, morphed my recovery into a psuedo-recovery, orthorexia. I became obsessed with eating the way everyone else was and doing all the cool Instagram things. And you know what happened? I became more dissatisfied with my body, less of an intuitive eater, more fatigued, felt like shit all the time and my digestion was TERRIBLE.
It took quite some time to realize this, but when I did, I knew I had to make some changes with the way I was approaching my own recovery, healing my digestion and becoming the dietitian I knew I could be for when I started my own practice.
In order to do this, I knew I had to really protect myself. To do so, I first took a break from Instagram altogether. I don't remember specifically saying to myself I'm going to break from this space to finish healing, but I do remember feeling SO sick of it and had the hardest time wanting to be on there. It probably hurt my growth, but I don't regret that decision at all. I also unfollowed numerous accounts. If they made me feel less than, question my own eating habits or was promoting nutrition science that was far out of their scope of practice, I unfollowed.
I immersed myself in reading books, listening to podcasts with health experts I trusted, and educating myself on the scientific studies. I formulated my own beliefs on food and nutrition, how I believe in eating and how to heal my body. I learned as much as I could about intuitive eating, body positivity and health at every size. I grew to have food convictions in traditional eating and integrative nutrition. I learned what SIBO was and was able to fully heal my own digestion using herbal supplements. I also further improved my digestion by intuitive eating, stopped overexercising and completing ED recovery. Lastly, I went back to eating all the simple foods I ate before my Instagram days began.
These days, I honestly love hanging out on Instagram.
I'm extremely thankful to it because it has allowed our business, podcast and practice to grow exponentially. I have no doubt the power of Instagram. But I'm still protective of how I use it.
I still continue to only follow accounts that jive with my own beliefs, limit the amount of time I spend on their daily and keep my phone in airplane mode throughout the entire morning and evening to prevent myself from overusing it. Anytime I stop enjoying my time on there, I take a social media break completely too.
I wanted to write this blog post today, because I know for I am not the only person out there whose recovery and healing has been affected by Instagram and other social media platforms. I know this because I can say that 100% of all my clients have related a similar experience I had to Instagram. How they felt so compelled to do what everyone else was doing, and ended up deep into a hole of healthy eating obsession, more digestive and hormonal issues, comparison and judgement and so much more.
I truly, truly believe everyone who is sharing information out there means well. I honestly believe that. But what I know for certain is that one person's experience will never be the same as another person. As a practitioner, I've seen this countless times.
I encourage you to use Instagram to inspire you, to form relationships and get fun ideas for food and more. But I also encourage you to always put your recovery first, and ensure you follow a variety of accounts, and remind yourself constantly that you DO NOT have to do something just because someone else is. Listen to your body first and foremost. And if you are struggling with hormonal and digestion issues, remember what works for one person may not work for you, and working with a practitioner will help you determine what is the best course of action for you.
Tell me: Have you had a similar experience with Instagram or other social media platforms?