The Great Tech Debate
There’s no denying we live in the age of technology, but will it always serve our interests? In this month’s support group, we had a thought-provoking and friendly debate on the pros and cons of technology for weight-minded behavior change. For instance…how can plugging into social media really affect your meal prep? Check out the highlights from our discussion below and ask yourself, “How can I fine-tune my tech consumption strategy so I can be sure it actually works for me?”
Round 1: Smart Phone Apps
- Allows for self-monitoring
- Assists in goal setting
- Provides positive feedback and encouragement
- Provides social support and comparison
- Most apps focus on calories or weight change instead of non-scale victories
- Dietary assessment can be inaccurate
- Data entry can be time consuming
- Can take the joy out of eating and may lead to overly restrictive behaviors
Round 2: Fitness Trackers
- Allows for self-monitoring
- Offers reminders to stand and move
- Can set objective goals (i.e. 10,000 steps per day)
- Uses generic goals that are not evidence-based (stand 12 times per day, move for 30 mins, walk 10,000 steps)
- Can make activity feel like a chore
- Can lead to neurotic behaviors (pacing around at the end of the day to get “steps”)
Round 3: Virtual Support
- Increases access to support
- Creates an opportunity to seek and acquire information
- Provides emotional support in real time
- Helps to maintain relationships
- Creates social comparison
- Facebook groups offer little discussion about mental health, alcohol and other stigmatized issues (which is what people often need the most help/support with)
- Can be time consuming and distracting (i.e. I spend hours looking at recipes and food ideas but rarely cook or prepare my own food)
What do you think? Does technology win in the end or is it best to disconnect? We all agreed that technology isn’t going anywhere so it is best to find ways that technology works for you.
Start by asking yourself:
- Do smart phone apps add value, create enjoyment and help you reach your health-related goals?
- Are smart phone apps more likely to create a burden, waste time and prevent you from reaching your health-related goals?
- Do fitness trackers provide motivation and increase your daily activity/exercise?
- Do fitness trackers take the joy out of exercise and lead to personal frustration?
- Do virtual support groups help you connect with like-minded people and offer accountability and encouragement?
- Do virtual support groups contribute to feelings of loneliness, jealously or decreased self-esteem?
Depending on your responses, begin to fine-tune your tech consumption to maximize its value and help you to meet your personal goals.
Interested in attending support group? Our group is open to those considering surgery, post-op patients, as well as family and friends supporting the patient undergoing bariatric surgery. Learn more about our support group.
Amanda and Molly are the MUSC Metabolic & Bariatric Surgery Program Registered Dietitians. With 15+ years of experience combined, they facilitate behavior change through nutrition counseling for weight loss and maintenance with children through adults.