I’m currently on a social media break and one thing my experience is teaching me is that cutting back on unhelpful habits can actually feel nurturing and empowering, instead of depriving and a like total drag.
Truth be told, I didn’t always have this mindset.
When I first tried reducing my regular intake of sugar (along with fried chicken, fried sushi et French fries – yup everything HAD to be fried or coated in sugar to please the 24-year old me), cutting back on it was miserably hard.
I recall things tasting terribly dull and feeling cranky most of the time.
Thankfully, I was stubborn enough to persist and not give up after the first couple of days.
Eventually, I did manage to reduce my intake of these processed foods over time, while also learning to enjoy my new and nutrient-rich way of eating.
(And as a bonus, I healed my eczema, acne, heartburn, and high cholesterol levels – woohoo!)
In case you’re thinking I succeeded because I have an extraordinary amount of willpower or I’m some kind of special unicorn, I’m not.
Part of my achievement was due to practicing a supportive and empowering way of thinking about this “sugar break” so that I wouldn’t feel deprived and cranky as I did during my initial trials, but rather at peace and proud of my choices.
Fast forward to today, I notice I’m having similar thoughts about my social media break and I wanted to share with you what goes through my mind.
I’m hoping that this will be helpful in case you’re also considering a break from either Instagram/TikTok, or certain foods that are less aligned with your overall health goals.
1- An opportunity nourish your mind / body
One of the reasons I decided to go on a social media break was because my mind felt so cluttered from all the information I was taking in.
I knew I was overconsuming content and was feeling mentally bloated from it.
So I decided to shut off the noise, and only choose information I felt would nourish my mind and that I could consume at my own pace (ex. intentionally seeking out a blog post of podcast, versus having content suddenly appear on my newsfeed).
By creating space and selecting information that uplifted me and nurtured my creativity, I was able to think clearer than I have in months and have come up with new ideas that I can’t wait to share with you.
Yes, there are times I miss checking up on my favorite accounts and seeing what my friends are up to.
However the nurturing I’m giving myself right now helps ease the “wanting” and allows me to focus on what I’m gaining from the experience, versus what I’m missing out on.
How this relates to food:
When you decide to cut back on certain foods, I invite you to see this as creating space for new foods that will truly nourish your body and give it what it needs.
Each time you consume a healthier meal, acknowledge how you’re taking care of yourself and sit with the physical sensation of pride and nurturing this realization brings.
Also, we tend to associate the absence of a certain food with deprivation. However, I encourage you to consider how the absence of this food provides you with something. Maybe it’s better energy, feeling lighter after meals (instead of bloated), better skin, etc.
Notice these small improvements so that you can reinforce the belief that you are constantly gaining something valuable from this experience.
2- An invitation to redefine your relationship with social media / food
Taking a break from Instagram gave me the opportunity to see how I was using it:
- Intentionally – ex. connecting with like-minded people, sharing knowledge with my community and helping them
- Unintentionally / on auto-pilot – ex. scrolling when I’m bored and not really looking at what is on my screen (I realized I was unconscioyly picking up my phone 3-4 times per hour the first few days!)
- Negatively – ex. comparing myself to others and feeling bad about my own progress. NOT helpful.
After having taken this step back to observe my patterns, I get to redefine how I want to interact with social media and set up loving boundaries with it (ex. specific times I can be using it, unfollowing accounts, etc.) so that our “relationship” can thrive and I continue to reap the benefits of it.
How this relates to food:
While I don’t promote cutting out any type of food indefinitely or putting them in a “forbidden” category, taking an intentional 2-3 week break from certain substances (ex. sugar, alcohol) can give you space to observe your patterns and get curious about why you feel you NEED to them every day.
Perhaps you notice yourself regularly searching through the pantry at 3-4pm for a snack. When you get curious about it, you find out it’s because you’re feeling anxious about not finishing all your work by 5pm, which makes you reach out for sugar for comfort.
With this knowledge, you experiment with other ways to calm your afternoon anxiety so you don’t solely rely on sugar to feel better.
It’s not about never having sugar again, it’s about choosing when you’ll enjoy it consciously, and noticing when you use it out of habit or auto-pilot. Once you gain that awareness, it’s easier to shift that habit.
3- A chance to try new things
Being on a social media break has given me the chance to discover new ways to entertain and educate myself, as well as spend more in-person time with my favourite human beings.
I’ve taken this time to learn about medicinal herbs, take boxing classes, meet online friends IRL and spend more distraction-free time with my hubby.
Again, I feel I’m gaining so much from this break, and it’s what helps me focus on the benefits versus “missing out” on what’s going on online.
How this relates to food:
When I work with women with hormonal imbalances, one of the tweaks we do to their diet is to reduce the amount of refined sugar, gluten, and cow-dairy to bring down inflammation.
Depending on the person, this may sound like a dreadful idea…
But by giving them some alternatives (and not just leaving them high and dry), they get to discover new kinds of tasty meals and snacks that happen to also be gluten, dairy, and refined sugar-free.
They usually move from “This whole thing sounds horrible” to “This isn’t so bad” to “Oh, I found some foods that I really like!”
By taking a break from these pro-inflammatory foods, they try out new recipes that become a staple of their weekly meals and get to experiment with new restaurants.
And if certain foods had the role of helping with stress, anxiety, boredom, or other emotions, taking a break from these foods gives them a chance to try out other modalities that may better support their emotional health in the long run.
By now, you’re probably seeing a pattern that we’re focusing on what we can gain from this experience. 🙂
That concludes the 3 main perspectives that have truly helped me take a step back from habits and food that were less supportive of my goals.
Which one resonated with you the most?
Let me know in the comments below.