Ask a Health Coach: Social Media Triggers
Hey folks, Board-Certified Health Coach Erin Power is here to talk about social media triggers and tidying up your feed. If you find social media hurting your well-being, we’ve got strategies, tips, and backup! Have a question you’d like to ask our health coaches? Leave it below in the comments or over in the Mark’s Daily Apple Facebook group.
“I switched to Primal a few months ago, and it’s going pretty well. Before that, I had a long history of on-and-off-again dieting and calorie counting. FINALLY, I’m starting to feel like I can just eat real food and let the weight watching go (without gaining weight in the process). The problem: Part of what helped me go Primal was following hashtags on Instagram like #paleo #primal #keto, etc. This actually helped me stick with it and feel part of a community of people eating this way and loving life. BUT lately I’ve noticed myself getting super triggered by certain posts. Usually these are women who are super thin (maybe anorexic) using paleo and keto hashtags. While I’ve come a long way, I don’t look anything like that. It triggers old habits around food and body image. How do I deal with this but keep the good parts of social media inspiration? Sorry for the long question lol.”
First, welcome to the Primal eating crew, and congratulations on your conscious efforts to surround yourself with supportive messaging and community. Creating a supportive environment is HUGE when it comes to implementing and sticking with habit shifts and healthy change efforts.
I’d like to acknowledge you, as well, for noticing what’s NOT working when it comes to social media and your well-being. That awareness is an overlooked first step of self-care. In the end, we are our number 1 caretakers. By recognizing what is helpful and what is not, you can take steps to choose what truly nourishes you.
Tidy your feed, tidy your mind.
As you mentioned, social media can be a tremendous support for Primal eating and living. In a world where so much messaging (online and IRL) is NOT health conscious, it’s nice knowing you can go online and see or even connect with the many people embracing healthy lifestyles and having fun along the way. Good for you for seeking out community as you make supportive shifts.
That said, social media is a mixed blessing. You never know who or what might enter your feed. This is the case whether you follow certain hashtags or if the platform feeds you “recommended” or “suggested” posts and ads based on your previous activity.
As a Primal Health Coach, I work with many clients who have a history of eating disorders or other unhelpful patterns related to food, eating, and weight loss culture. One of the first things I do is recommend that they take a close look at what content and messaging they’re consuming on a daily basis—including on social media. Is it helpful? Or not so much?
I notice this myself on Instagram from time to time and take immediate, proactive steps to edit out what’s triggering or not serving my best interest. I even have a saying: Tidy up your Instagram feed. Tidy up your mind.
If Instagram is recommending posts that you find triggering and unhelpful, make sure to flag them as “Not Interested.” You do this on the post itself, by clicking the three dots in the upper-right corner to see your options. Of course, if you follow the triggering account, unfollow! You can do so on the person’s profile page or by simply clicking those dots up top for the “Unfollow” option. If a particular hashtag seems to bring lots of triggering posts your way, unfollow that too. If the post is “sponsored,” you’ll see an option to stop seeing the ad.
Put simply: Anytime anything or anyone makes you feel badly about yourself or is derailing your healthy change efforts, take the power back and simply make it disappear. We’re focusing on Instagram, but this applies to all social media as well as other content you’re consuming online or in person. Unfortunately, you will have to do it again and again because this stuff always seems to creep back in. But there is something intentional and empowering about this exercise! If you do this often enough your feed DOES change.
Say no thanks, with care.
Current beauty ideals have come far but still have a long way to go. A lot of social media content tries to convince us to be as lean and light as possible (whether through overt messaging or through what’s implied in images and captions).
Since you’re already embracing a Primal lifestyle, you know that achieving a particular size or shape is not what we’re about. Yes, many folks reach their ideal body composition by eating a nutrient-dense diet comprised of real, whole, minimally processed foods; high-quality protein; healthy fats; fruits and veggies; and high-fat dairy. But the bigger picture is enhanced health, longevity, and vitality inside, regardless of how we look on the outside.
This is true, AND, so long as there are not underlying health conditions and so long as the 10 Primal Blueprint Rules are generally applied with at least 80% consistency, desired changes in body composition tend to happen naturally—without calorie counting or struggle.
As a Primal Health Coach, I see this as the norm with my clients, rather than the exception. I also see it as something that helps many step out of old, unhelpful patterns around food: At long last, they can eat delicious, healthy food in abundance and not worry about unwanted weight gain or trying to fight their body and biology. For most, this is the definition of food freedom.
I want to mention this, in part, because we can never know what people posting on social media are actually going through. I suspect many who post “triggering” content around weight and dieting are actually caught in their own places of suffering and struggle. They have not found the sort of “accidental food freedom” that comes along with the Primal approach to eating, moving, and living.
Rather than blame or shame them (or leave unkind comments), I try to send compassionate thoughts, remove them from my feed, and move on. I’m NOT saying this is easy or that I don’t stay triggered or even angry at times. Truthfully, it can be so, so hard to let a triggering image, caption, or comment go.
But the more we manage to remember that these are humans too, with their own vulnerabilities and places of struggle reinforced by widespread diet and beauty ideals, the more we are actively contributing to changing the current culture.
But back to you, Annie: You’re your number 1 caretaker and need to first and foremost take care of you. I just find considering the wider context helpful in softening the power of triggers, taking empowered action, and moving on.
Social Media Strategy & Support
To sum up:
- DO follow accounts and hashtags that are supportive of your health, lifestyle, and food choices. They are a great source of inspiration, motivation, and community!
- Consider following trusted sources. Mark’s Daily Apple, for instance; or the Primal Health Coach Institute!
- DON’T follow accounts or hashtags that make you feel bad about yourself or otherwise undermine the empowering, healthy changes you’re making.
- Edit your social media feeds regularly, keeping what’s helpful and removing the rest.
- Remember our shared humanness and proceed from a place of compassion and kindness whenever possible. We have no idea what others are going through behind the filtered lens of Instagram and other social media channels.
For anyone needing extra backup amidst the diet culture and unhelpful messaging, consider working with a health coach one-on-one. Imagine if you could take all the tips in a post like this and allllll the information that you’ve been gathering over the decades…and reliably and consistently implement them. That’s where coaches help!
External accountability truly is a game changer, and we can help you stay the course with your goals and navigate tricky social situations online and off. Visit myprimalcoach.com to learn more and get started!
Do you find social media helpful or harmful in your wellness journey? Have any tips to share? Let us know and drop your favorite, most supportive Instagram accounts in the comments!