What is self tracking, a health trend that can become dangerous?

Self tracking is the practice of monitoring your nutrition and more generally, your health, via applications. A way to better understand the functioning of our body but which can quickly turn into self-sabotage

Do you know Google Fit, Freeletics or even FizzUp? Sexy designed apps, which slip into your smartphone to allow you to count your steps, the number of calories in your meals, remind you that it is time to do your workout … self tracking allow you to be connected to your body 24/7. Practical, except that in the long run, they dissociate us from our real sensations. Add to that the tendency to stage his intensive practice of sport and his healthy dishes on social networks, and you will get the recipe for frustration, as well as guilt when you do not keep pace …

It is logical that the practice of self tracking mainly affects women, whose body remains a field of pressures, complexes and disenchantment. But self-tracking also concerns men, whom society expects to be ever more efficient on all fronts. In background ? The social injunction to be thin and muscular, even if it means making oneself ill both physically and mentally.

When self tracking turns into obsession

Dietician, Ariane Grumbach campaigns against diets and the slimming dictatorship. She notes that self tracking, which is basically just a form of weight control through apps, can lead to constant monitoring of her diet. This obsession with healthy eating has a name: orthorexia. Ariane Grumbach explains to aufeminin: “It consists of refusing to give your body non-perfect elements, of being afraid to eat things that will not be good for our body. This leads to desocialization: you can no longer go to restaurants with your friends, go to family meals or buy groceries quickly. Behind orthorexia, there is a desire for nutritional perfection linked to a belief that good nutrition guarantees good health ”.

Obviously, this one is false and is rooted in another belief, according to which a healthy body would necessarily be thin and muscular, which denounces the journalist and feminist activist anti-grossophobia Marie de Brauer. “When you’re fat, you can have exactly the same lifestyle as someone thin who practices self-tracking, she explains. However, health is not a matter of fatness or thinness, it is much more complex than that ”. Sports applications and other food tracers are part of this demonization of weight as a factor of poor health, but also of social invalidation. In short, fat people would be in poor health and should be put on the bench of society.

Performances staged on Instagram

On the other hand, self tracking and Instagram form a dangerous mixture. In this race for performance, the social network plays an important role since it participates in the staging of our good health. The last few years have seen the birth of movements positive fit and the hashtag healthy, valuing almost only ultra-muscular slim bodies and raw-eating diets based on green juices.

“Me, I boycott the #healthy”, says Ariane Grumbach. Marie de Brauer shares this observation, but adds a nuance: the body positive movement is also fashionable on the networks and has allowed other bodies to appear on the networks. “The fact of seeing large bodies in motion or playing sports, it can be good, explains the journalist. People have gotten used to seeing fat people on Instagram. But if the message that is being advocated is ‘Don’t worry, I’m taking care of myself’ can be a double-edged sword. Because being a fat person who doesn’t ‘take care of yourself’ doesn’t make you a worse person. We don’t deserve to be harassed. ”

The harmful impact of self tracking on mental health

Billed as cool and useful, this system of collecting data and showcasing our performance ultimately makes us our own worst enemies. Marie de Bauer insists on the importance of linking mental health to criteria of good health, a dimension that is not taken into account by self-tracking apps. “The more you feel bad in your head, the less you have self-confidence and the more it rubs off on your body’s health, explains the activist. Be careful, however: we must not fall into the injunction to feel good either. ”

Marie de Bauer also emphasizes that the ideal behind self-tracking is unattainable, whoever we are. “Whether we are thin or fat, it’s the same problem, she explains. We set the bar at a level that does not exist. Because when we have bills to pay, a grueling job with a boss who pisses us off and a guy who pisses us off at home, do 35 minutes of meditation and yoga then eat a small salad with ingredients not found at the Carrefour, it’s impossible.” So you might as well do the best you can with what you have, rather than continue to look at yourself in a distorting mirror.

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