Potential Dangers with Fitbits: When Diet Trends Go Too Far

Woman running toward binge eating disorder solution

Contributor: Crystal Karges, MS, RDN, IBCLC, Director of Content and Social Media at Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope

Touted in the name of health, Fitbits and fitness trackers have become the dieting trend of our present age.

Often worn on the wrist in the form of a bracelet, Fitbits are the pedometer of the 21st century, tracking data such as steps walked, physical activity, calories burned and more.

While these wireless tracking devices are intended to help a person in their quest to becoming a healthier person, but for a person who might be in recovery or predisposed to having an eating disorder, can a Fitbit actually be more harmful than helpful?

Understanding How Data Can Be Dangerous

For a person who may be in recovery from an eating disorder or who is susceptible to developing one, numbers involved with food, calories, exercise etc. can easily transition into an obsession or trigger more dangerous behaviors. Aiming to hit a certain goal of walking so many steps or burning a certain number of calories can lead to behaviors that would prove unhealthy, such as restrictive eating or excessive exercise.

Tracking data via a Fitbit can also be lead an individual towards behaviors that are opposite of responding to the body intuitively. For example, a person who has a goal of walking so many steps in one day may strive to meet that goal despite of cues from their own body.

Even if feeling ill, tired, or if injured, a person may strive towards reaching a certain goal while overriding the natural messages and signals from the body.Man running with Fitbit

Trusting Your Body

We are all born with an innate ability to regulate our food and activity levels and do not need to rely on an external monitor to guide us in this way.

The sad truth is that most of us have lost touch with our natural intuitive cues and often turn to outside sources to tell us how much we should eat or exercise. Especially if you are in recovery, re-consider the use of a fitness tracker.

Even if you have the best intentions, this “fitness trend” can lead to unhealthy and obsessive behaviors.

Community Discussion – Share your thoughts here!

What do you see as potential triggers with fitness trackers?

Crystal Headshot 2About the Author: Crystal is a Masters-level Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a specialty focus in eating disorders, maternal/child health and wellness, and intuitive eating. Combining clinical experience with a love of social media and writing, Crystal serves as the Special Projects Coordinator for Eating Disorder Hope/Addiction Hope, where her passion to help others find recovery and healing is integrated into each part of her work.

As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, Crystal has dedicated her career to helping others establish a healthy relationship with food and body through her work with EDH/AH and nutrition private practice.

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of eating disorders. These are not necessarily the views of Eating Disorder Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Eating Disorder Hope understand that eating disorders result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an eating disorder, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Last Updated & Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on July 17, 2016
Published on EatingDisorderHope.com