Tips to Cultivating a Positive Information Diet

Discover how curating digital consumption can improve mental health and enhance client relationships.

In today’s digital age, the health and fitness industry is saturated with an overwhelming amount of information. From the latest diet trends and workout regimes to groundbreaking research findings, professionals and clients alike are bombarded with data from multiple sources, including social media, blogs, podcasts and more.

While access to this vast repository of knowledge has its benefits, it also poses challenges, particularly in terms of mental health and well-being. The need for a balanced information diet—akin to a nutritious eating plan—has never been more critical.

This article aims to equip health coaches with the tools and understanding necessary to curate a positive information environment for themselves and their clients, emphasizing the profound impact that such a diet can have on mental health.

Understanding the Impact of Information on Mental Health

The digital era has ushered in unprecedented access to information, transforming the way we consume news and content. However, this constant influx of data can have significant psychological effects, especially when it comes to the overconsumption of digital content. Just as excessive eating can lead to physical health issues, information overload can overwhelm the mind, leading to decision fatigue, stress and a decrease in cognitive function.

Moreover, the nature of the information consumed plays a pivotal role in mental health.

Studies have consistently shown a strong correlation between exposure to negative news and increased levels of stress, anxiety, and symptoms of mood disorders. For instance, research published in the British Journal of Psychology illustrates how individuals exposed to negative news reports exhibit higher stress responses compared to those who consume positive or neutral news.

This response is not just immediate; the lingering effects of negative information can alter mood and anxiety levels over time, impacting overall well-being.

The phenomenon isn’t limited to news alone. Social media, with its curated highlights and often unrealistic portrayals of life and fitness achievements, can also contribute to feelings of inadequacy and depression. The comparison trap is a real concern, with studies indicating that individuals who spend more time on platforms like Instagram and Facebook report lower self-esteem and higher levels of depressive symptoms.

Understanding these dynamics is crucial for health coaches who seek to foster a healthy information environment. By being mindful of the sources and types of content consumed, they can mitigate the adverse effects of information overload and negative content, thereby supporting their and their clients’ mental health.

Let’s explore practical strategies for achieving balance, emphasizing the importance of quality over quantity in our digital diets.

Principles of a Healthy Information Diet

Just as a balanced nutritional diet is essential for physical health, a well-rounded information diet is crucial for mental well-being. The principles of variety, moderation and quality that guide healthy eating can also be applied to our consumption of information. By understanding and implementing these principles, wellness professionals can lead by example, guiding their clients toward a more mindful and healthful engagement with digital content.

Variety: The Spice of Life and Information

In the same way that a varied diet provides the body with a range of nutrients, a diverse information diet offers a broader perspective and fosters critical thinking. Consuming content from a wide array of sources and disciplines—be it science, art, culture, or politics—enriches our understanding of the world and prevents the echo chamber effect often found in social media bubbles. For health coaches, this means balancing industry news with content unrelated to their field, encouraging creativity, and promoting mental flexibility.

Moderation: Too Much of a Good Thing

The adage “everything in moderation” applies as much to information as it does to food. Just as overeating can lead to physical health problems, overindulging in information, even of high quality, can overwhelm the brain and lead to stress, decision fatigue and burnout. Setting boundaries on media consumption—such as designated times to check emails or social media—can help manage this influx. Encouraging clients to take regular digital detoxes or media breaks can also support mental health, providing necessary downtime for the mind to rest and recover.

Quality: Nutritious Information for a Healthy Mind

Distinguishing between ‘junk’ information and ‘nutritious’ information is perhaps the most critical skill in curating a healthy information diet.

Junk information, much like junk food, is easily digestible and often emotionally charged but offers little in the way of valuable content or factual accuracy. It can be sensationalist, misleading, or designed to elicit strong reactions rather than inform. For example, many listicles about weight fads or click-bait headlines waste precious time.

Nutritious information, on the other hand, is accurate, well-sourced, and contributes to one’s knowledge and well-being. It challenges the consumer to think critically and engage deeply, such a CEC article about fascia research.

Health coaches may strive to consume and recommend content that is reputable, evidence-based, and contributes positively to their and their clients’ knowledge and well-being.

Mindfulness: Intentional Consumption

The role of mindfulness in consuming information cannot be overstated. Being present and intentional with media involves actively choosing what, when and how much content to consume, rather than passively scrolling through a feed. It means asking ourselves why we are engaging with certain content and what we hope to gain from it. This mindful approach encourages a more selective and meaningful interaction with media, reducing the noise and focusing on content that truly benefits us.

By applying these principles to their own lives and coaching practices, wellness professionals can navigate the vast sea of information with discernment and purpose, leading themselves and their clients towards a healthier, more balanced relationship with the digital world.

Strategies for Cultivating a Positive Information Environment

Creating a positive information environment requires deliberate effort and strategy. Both health coaches and their clients can benefit from understanding and applying targeted approaches to manage their digital consumption effectively. Here’s how both groups can approach this:

For Health Coaches:

Personal Assessment: The first step is a thorough audit of current information consumption habits. Identify the types of content frequently consumed, the platforms used and the time spent on each. Keep a log. This assessment helps pinpoint areas of information overload, recurring exposure to negative content and opportunities to diversify information sources. Reflect on how this diet affects your mental health and productivity, setting the stage for intentional change.

Setting Boundaries: Establish clear boundaries to protect your mental space. This could involve designated no-phone times, especially during meals and before bedtime, or limiting news consumption to certain times of the day. Techniques such as unfollowing or muting sources of stress or misinformation on social media can also help maintain a cleaner, more positive digital environment.

Leveraging Technology: Utilize apps and tools designed to filter content and manage notifications. Content filters can help tailor the information you see online, while notification management apps can reduce distractions and the urge to constantly check devices. These technologies can support a more focused and selective approach to information consumption, allowing for a healthier balance between being informed and being overwhelmed.

For Clients:

Education on the Impact of Information on Mental Health: Share insights on how different types of information can affect mood and stress levels. Highlight the importance of a balanced information diet in maintaining mental health, drawing parallels with nutritional diets for physical health. This foundation can motivate clients to critically evaluate their own information consumption habits.

Encouraging Critical Engagement with Media: Equip clients with questions to critically assess the information they encounter. These questions can include: Is this source credible? What is the intention behind this message? How does this information make me feel?

Teaching clients to engage with media in this way fosters a more active, discerning approach, reducing the impact of misinformation and negative content.

Building a Personalized Information Diet Plan: Work with clients to identify information sources that align with their individual health and fitness goals, as well as their personal interests and values.

This plan might include trusted health websites, inspirational podcasts, and uplifting social media accounts, tailored to each client’s preferences. Encourage them to regularly evaluate and adjust their information diet, much like they would with a nutritional diet, to ensure it continues to meet their evolving needs.

By adopting these strategies, health coaches and their clients can cultivate a more positive information environment. This approach not only enhances mental health and well-being but also fosters a more informed, critical and balanced engagement with the digital world, contributing to overall personal and professional growth.

Information Diet Best Practices

Adopting a structured approach to information consumption can significantly improve the quality of your digital life. Here are practical tips and techniques:

A Healthy Information Diet

In the vast, ever-expanding digital landscape, managing our information diet is as crucial as monitoring our nutritional intake. For health coaches and their clients, cultivating a positive information environment is not just about reducing the quantity of digital content consumed, but also about enhancing its quality. By applying principles of variety, moderation, quality and mindfulness, and incorporating practical strategies for mindful consumption, individuals can protect their mental health, boost their well-being, and navigate the information age with confidence and clarity.

Beyond the Scale: Empowering Fitness Goals for Middle-Aged Women

Discover how shifting the focus from weight loss to personal achievement can transform the fitness experience, promote body positivity and address the deep-seated factors influencing body dissatisfaction among menopausal clients.

Let’s take a moment to step back from the conventional goals often set within the fitness industry. While many chase the ideals of weight loss and aesthetic perfection, it’s time to explore a deeper, more meaningful approach to fitness, especially when working with menopausal women.

This article delves into the importance of understanding the unique perspectives and underlying motivations of our clients. By focusing on performance and personal achievements over mere numbers on a scale, we can help foster a healthier, more positive relationship with exercise and body image.

Let’s dive into how tailored questions and a shift in focus can redefine success in fitness, leading to a more satisfied and empowered clientele.

Fitness for Menopausal Women: What to Prioritize in Programming

Recognizing that the pursuit of exercise solely for weight management, aesthetic reasons or attractiveness can correlate with heightened levels of dissatisfaction with one’s body, engagement in disordered eating patterns and diminished self-esteem is crucial for health coaches (Vartanian, Wharton & Green, 2012). This underscores the necessity for program designs that prioritize performance-based objectives over weight-centric goals. It becomes imperative to consider the perceptions of body transformations when engaging with menopausal clientele.

To gain deeper insights into your clients’ perspectives and driving forces, tailoring open-ended questions is invaluable. Examples include:

Such inquiries help redirect focus and stimulate introspection. The objective is to pivot attention away from weight and body size, guiding clients towards setting goals that gauge achievements based on capabilities rather than pounds shed or physical appearance. Celebrating milestones tied to performance, like mastering five pushups from a starting point of none, reinforces this shift in perspective.

By associating positive sentiments and reactions with accomplishments beyond weight loss, gradual reprogramming of thought patterns occurs, reframing success as multifaceted. Equally critical is aiding clients in identifying and halting negative self-dialogue. I establish a “judgment-free zone,” where derogatory remarks regarding body weight or age are strictly prohibited.

For instance, training a client prone to remarks like, “I can feel my fat jiggle during jumping jacks” or “I despise how my belly fat feels during certain exercises—it’s repulsive,” provides an opportunity to redirect conversations towards achievements and progress made since the initial session. Emphasizing advancements in strength and proficiency shifts the narrative from appearance to capability.

Exploring Factors Influencing Body Dissatisfaction

Kilpela et al. (2015) outline five key psychological factors contributing to body dissatisfaction among older women:

Thin-Ideal Internalization: Reflecting the extent to which individuals adopt societal standards of attractiveness, often leading to hyper-awareness of body shape and frequent monitoring. In a study of over 1,800 women aged 50 and above, 40% reported daily scrutiny of body shape and weight (Lewis-Smith et al. 2016). This internalization fosters discontentment, given the near-impossible standards set by the thin ideal.

Cultural Perspectives on Aging and Self-Objectification: Cultural influences shape women’s perceptions of their bodies, perpetuating the objectification of women’s appearances. This phenomenon, termed self-objectification, prompts individuals to evaluate their worth based on external attractiveness, particularly valuing thinness and perpetual youthfulness.

Importance of Appearance: Society’s emphasis on youthfulness complicates the acceptance of aging bodies, pressuring women to defy natural aging processes. Advertisers capitalize on these concerns by promoting products promising revitalization, perpetuating the notion that the ideal body is attainable with sufficient effort and investment.

Fat Talk and Old Talk: These terms denote dialogues that either explicitly or implicitly endorse societal ideals of thinness and youthfulness. Beyond active participation, childhood weight-related teasing and negative feedback from peers and partners in adulthood contribute to present-day body dissatisfaction among middle-aged women.

Recognizing and addressing these underlying factors is essential in fostering a more positive body image and promoting holistic well-being. Through a thoughtful and inclusive approach, we can guide our clients toward a fulfilling and empowering fitness journey, where success is measured not by the scale, but by the strength, confidence and joy they gain.

The Practical: How Health Coaches Can Support Menopausal Clients

Foster Performance-Based Goals: Encourage clients to set objectives that are unrelated to weight, such as improving strength, flexibility or stamina. Celebrate non-scale victories like completing a set number of pushups or mastering a new yoga pose.

Incorporate Tailored Inquiries: Use open-ended questions to understand clients’ unique motivations and feelings towards exercise. Ask about what activities they enjoy, how certain exercises make them feel, and goals they aspire to achieve beyond physical appearance.

Establish a Judgment-Free Zone: Create a safe and supportive environment where clients feel comfortable discussing their struggles without fear of judgment. Prohibit negative self-talk related to body weight, age or appearance in your sessions.

Shift the Focus from Appearance to Capability: Highlight the importance of what the body can do rather than how it looks. This can involve emphasizing how strength training enhances daily life, or how cardiovascular health improves endurance and energy levels.

Educate on the Psychological Factors of Body Dissatisfaction: Inform clients about the impact of thin-ideal internalization, cultural perspectives on aging and self-objectification. Understanding these factors can help clients recognize external pressures and focus on their own health and well-being.

Combat Fat Talk and Old Talk: Actively listen for and challenge instances of fat talk or old talk. Encourage positive self-talk and reinforce the idea that self-worth is not tied to physical appearance.

Promote Body Positivity: Encourage clients to appreciate their bodies for their functionality and the journey they’re on. Introduce practices that enhance body positivity, such as gratitude journals or mindfulness exercises focusing on bodily sensations during exercise.

Highlight the Benefits of Exercise Beyond Physical Appearance: Educate clients on the mental health benefits of exercise, including reduced stress, improved mood, and better sleep. Help them see fitness as a tool for overall well-being.

Personalize Exercise Programs: Tailor exercise programs to fit the individual preferences, fitness levels, and goals of your clients. Personalization can increase engagement and satisfaction with the fitness journey.

Encourage Community and Support: Recommend group classes or online forums where clients can share their experiences and achievements. A supportive community can provide motivation, accountability and a sense of belonging.

By integrating these strategies, health coaches can play a pivotal role in reshaping the fitness narrative for middle-aged women, leading them towards a healthier, more positive relationship with exercise and their bodies.

Maria Luque, PhD, MS, CHES, is a health educator, fitness expert, presenter, writer and USAF veteran. She created Fitness in Menopause, a company dedicated to helping women navigate the challenges and rewards of menopause. Her course “Menopausal Fitness: Training the Menopausal Client” is NASM-, AFAA- and ACE- accredited. She holds graduate and postgraduate degrees in health sciences and teaches at the College of Health and Human Services at Trident University International. Learn more at