5 Tips for Navigating Social Media With an Eating Disorder

Whether it’s catching up with friends on Instagram, finding new DIY inspiration on Pinterest, or using Facebook for school/work groups, social media has integrated itself into our daily lives. It’s true that you can completely opt out of using social media but that isn’t always a viable option. Some schools/workplaces require at least some form of social media and it is also a big way that we connect with others. While social media has its pros and cons for everyone, it can be especially complicated for those with eating disorders.

Each app is different, but one of the major themes in social media is diet culture. This can come in many forms such as caloric comparison graphics, workout ideas, “eat this, not that” posts, exercise challenges, fitness influencers- the list goes on and on. All of this can be extremely triggering for people who suffer from eating disorders, no matter what stage of recovery you’re in. Here are some tips for making your social media feed a safer place:

1. Unfollow accounts that are triggering or no longer serve you

Taking a closer look at who you follow, how their content makes you feel, and why you follow the account in the first place is a great place to start. This is not only an opportunity to unfollow accounts that are consistent or blatant triggers, but also to declutter your feed in general. An account doesn’t have to necessarily “trigger” your eating disorder behaviors for it to be something that is no longer serving you. It’s also important to allow yourself to feel your emotions while you do this. Maybe you have no problem going through and unfollowing accounts, but it may also be challenging emotionally. If these accounts were a big part of your behaviors or ED mindset, this can be a hard step. Consider doing a few at a time or asking someone to help you. If unfollowing isn’t enough, block the account to block the negativity!

2. Become friends with the mute option

This tip is good for a wide variety of social media annoyances, so you’re welcome in advance. Not all apps have it, but Instagram offers this option. Muting is a solid choice for when you don’t want to unfollow/block the account- maybe they’re a friend or family member- but you also would rather not see their posts. Accounts also won’t know if you muted them, which is a plus.

3. Limit social media time

Okay, so this is kind of an obvious one, but it’s still super valid! Especially during times when you’re more vulnerable- maybe there’s a time of year where you’re more easily triggered or fall into the comparison trap- limiting time on social media is a solid option. There are a few ways you can go about this. If you can set a timer or hold yourself accountable fairly easily, good for you! If not, consider downloading an app that will limit social media use for you or finding alternative activities. Calling a friend, journaling, crafting, or watching a movie are all examples of things you can do instead. As far as apps go, Moment and Flipd are both pretty popular options.

4. Follow recovery minded accounts

Anything that adds pro-recovery, anti-diet culture, or positivity to your feed is a good thing. It’s important for me to note that accounts I like may not be beneficial to you and vice versa. A few accounts I follow are @bodyposipanda, @laurathomasphd, @neda, and @edhopeproject. I would advise against following recovery accounts that have a strong focus on food if you’re in the early stages of recovery, but for some people that can be motivating. It may take a bit of digging to find what you respond to, and that’s okay!

5. Use your voice

You can make the internet a safer place by using your voice to make it that way! If you aren’t public with your recovery, that is totally okay. It’s your journey and health, so you choose who knows. If you are public or are comfortable posting, consider reposting ED awareness, recovery encouragement, or other content from accounts that focus on eating disorders. You can also create original, informative content of your own. An even simpler way to contribute to the safe space is simply to not like, repost, or give attention to diet culture content.

While social media isn’t the easiest space to interact in for those with eating disorders or those struggling with disordered eating, body image, perfectionism, etc., the tips above can help alleviate common challenges. Different apps can also mean different approaches to how you protect yourself, too. The most important thing is that your feed is a safe and positive space for you.

Featured photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels

All content on RecovRoad is based on personal experiences, research, and ideas. Please do not repost/share without credit and be aware that nothing on this blog takes the place of professional help. This is also a formal trigger warning: content about and relating to eating disorders may be triggering to survivors. Please see the “RESOURCES” tab, call the National Eating Disorders Association hotline at 800-931-2237, and remember to take care of yourself.

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