I have to admit, I was reluctant to join Pinterest, I’m still a newbie on Instagram and I barely understand how to use my Google+ account. Each time a new social media platform pops up, I think, “I’m already on Facebook and Twitter, how the heck will I have time for another site or app?” But then I catch a glimmer of how valuable it can be, for both my clients and myself, and I sign up! If you haven’t yet embraced the health benefits of social media, here are five reasons to tech up, and get connected.
Find tips, recipes, and healthy info
The first night I joined Pinterest I was up half the evening creating boards, uploading photos, and pinning away. I’m a visual person, so I love the eye candy, but Pinterest is also overflowing with practical resources. I love pins like these on which fruits and veggies are in season, the basics of herbs, and how to cut an onion, and the site is also a clearinghouse for thousands of healthy recipes, eating plans, fitness programs, and inspirational quotes. I also find tons of amazing healthy resources through Facebook, like Greatist’s 44 healthy foods under $1, and this awesome pumpkin smoothie recipe from Artisana Foods.
Social media is also a great way to access experts you wouldn’t have the chance to meet in person. I do a live Q&A every other Thursday on Health’s Facebook page, and personally respond to each question and comment posted on my own page. I’ve also participated in several Twitter chats, and I just found out about Google+ “hangouts,” which I can’t wait to try. Here’s one, archived on YouTube, hosted by Kelly Ripa, featuring Michelle Obama and others, talking about fit families.
Fall in love with healthy food
We eat with our eyes as well as our stomachs, and platforms like Instagram and Pinterest have helped make healthy food mouth wateringly can’t-wait-to-eat enticing. Check out these roasted cabbage wedges, raw organic vegan Caesar salad, and frozen cherimoya fruit. Social media can introduce you to delicious ways to eat healthy foods you may not have thought about, or didn’t know could be so appealing, like adding avocado to a smoothie, or stirring chia seeds into your H2O.
Stay healthy on the road
One of my favorite things about social media is being able to instantly connect with people across the country and around the globe. I split my time between New York City and Los Angeles, but when I travel to other cities, I can post a quick note on Facebook or Twitter or check Yelp to find healthy restaurant suggestions, local fitness classes, and farmer’s markets. That’s how I found out about some great places, like The Plant Café in San Fran and Casa De Luz in Austin. I’m also happy to share my favorites with anyone who’ll be visiting the Big Apple or the City of Angels, like the amazing Union Square Greenmarket in NYC, and incredible LA hikes.
Declare your healthy intentions
Through social media, posting pics of what or where we eat, and what we do in our “leisure time” is part of how we define ourselves these days. I’ve had numerous clients use social media as a way of declaring their healthy goals, and letting others know that they’re striving to live a balanced, active life. You don’t have to become an evangelist, or record every minute of your life, but using social media to and “put yourself out there” in a healthy way can be a fantastic strategy for staying connected to your wellness goals.
One of my favorite things about social media is its ability to create communities and foster support. At times, especially after my latest book came out, I’ve felt like my Facebook page served as a mini support group, and I loved it. People who adopted my eating plan shared their progress and results, posted pics of their meals, cheered each other on, and shared tips and tricks for everything from dining out to coping with unsupportive family members. In my experience, the latter is key.
In my private practice, I’ve worked with numerous clients who are incredibly enthusiastic about transforming their eating habits, who struggle with a lack of support from their significant others, co-workers, and friends. When that’s the case, connecting with like-minded people on Facebook can be the only thing that prevents you from throwing in the towel, a pretty powerful benefit!
Cynthia Sass is a registered dietitian with master’s degrees in both nutrition science and public health. Frequently seen on national TV, she’s Health’s contributing nutrition editor, and privately counsels clients in New York, Los Angeles, and long distance. Cynthia is currently the sports nutrition consultant to the New York Rangers NHL team and the Tampa Bay Rays MLB team, and is board certified as a specialist in sports dietetics. Her latest New York Times best seller is S.A.S.S! Yourself Slim: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds and Lose Inches.