Have you ever felt that movies, television, and social media portray unrealistic standards of beauty? Research suggests that it is true, those “perfect” images seen on various media can trigger mental health issues, and eating disorders, and leave you feeling seriously unhappy with your own body. A medical expert suggests that – teens and young adults who reduced their social media use by 50 percent for just a few weeks saw a significant improvement in how they felt about both their weight and their overall appearance compared to others with consistent social media use.

Social Media and Eating Disorders

Social media is one of the greatest communication tools and has totally changed the way we interact with one another. However, it also has the power to wreak havoc on someone suffering from an eating disorder and be even more detrimental to those in recovery. While social media itself usually isn’t the only reason someone develops an eating disorder, it can be a big factor for those who are vulnerable to such behaviors. Here are a few ways it’s causing trouble and contributing to eating disorders:

  • Body Objectification
    Pictures being shared on social media, many of which are edited play a big role in how individuals especially youngsters seek validation. Selfies on social media can potentially send a message that your beauty determines your worth.
  • Comparison
    Social media’s inherent nature fosters comparisons, leading individuals to frequently assess themselves with others. For someone suffering from an eating disorder, this dynamic can prove detrimental as they compare their body image with those portrayed on social platforms.
  • Crash Diets
    Social media influencers promote crash diets and extreme weight loss methods as effective means to achieve the coveted “ideal” body. Fad diets and detox teas are in reality quick-fix solutions that may lead to nutrient deficiencies, metabolic imbalances, and eating disorders.
  • Being too Skinny
    One prevalent misconception perpetuated on social media is the equation of thinness with healthiness. Scrolling through curated feeds flooded with images of thin, airbrushed bodies can lead to internalized beliefs that being thin is the epitome of health. A person’s overall well-being encompasses physical, mental, and emotional aspects, irrespective of their body size or shape.

Social media tends to misinform the youth and sets unrealistic standards of beauty, contributing to the rise of eating disorders among individuals.

Common Eating Disorders

Eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge-eating disorder, are complex mental health conditions characterized by disturbances in eating behaviors and body image perceptions. These disorders can have serious consequences on physical health, including malnutrition, electrolyte imbalances, and organ damage, as well as profound psychological impacts, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, and depression.

Helpful Tips for Promoting Positive Body Image

  • Diversify Your Social Media Feed
    Follow accounts that promote body positivity, diversity, and inclusivity. Surrounding yourself with diverse representations of beauty can help challenge narrow beauty standards and foster self-acceptance.
  • Practice Self-Compassion
    Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion. Focus on appreciating your body for its strength, resilience, and functionality, rather than its appearance.
  • Engage in Mindful Eating
    Listen to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, and honor your cravings without judgment. Practice mindful eating by savoring each bite and cultivating a positive relationship with food.
  • Seek Support
    If you’re struggling with body image issues or disordered eating behaviors, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Therapists, dietitians, and support groups specialized in eating disorders can provide invaluable guidance and support on your journey toward recovery.
  • Don’t be afraid to unfollow. If you are being overwhelmed by certain social media accounts or it is negatively affecting your mental health, just unfollow them.

Be mindful of social media’s influence. Remember that the images you see are often edited and not realistic. Value yourself just as you are, and shield yourself from the negative impact of social media. If you are suffering from any eating disorders or body image concerns, feel free to connect with our team of counsellors and psychologists at our Department of Psychiatry for judgment-free professional help. Please find below link for more details: https://www.kokilabenhospital.com/departments/clinicaldepartments/psychiatry.html

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