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Instagram hashtags to avoid when your child has anorexia

Instagram hashtags to avoid when your child has anorexia

Everybody loves Instagram, but there are some hashtags you should avoid if your child has anorexia.

Hashtags are fun ways to navigate social media channels, especially Instagram. When we search for something using a hashtag, we get to see hundreds, sometimes thousands of posts regarding that topic. It can be really fun to navigate these hashtags and find out what other people are posting. This is how Instagram custom-makes feeds based on each person’s unique preferences.

Unfortunately, Instagram hashtags may be an unhealthy method for furthering disordered thinking about bodies, health, and dieting. Sadly there are Instagram accounts dedicated to supporting anorexia. And there are accounts that teach people how to “get better” at having anorexia.

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Why kids with anorexia may need to avoid Instagram

Instagram has lots of accounts that support anorexia, restrictive behaviors, and over-exercise. You may be surprised by the many hashtags that:

  • say that food restriction is healthy
  • teach people to over-exercise
  • promote having anorexia as good
  • glorify extreme thinness

There are also people who are in recovery for anorexia who use Instagram posts as a way to document their progress. But their ongoing disorder means that these posts can be disturbing.

Even if the posts aren’t directly promoting anorexia, there are literally thousands of accounts that actively promote disordered eating and exercise.

Instagram’s community guidelines and warnings for anorexia

Instagram recognizes that it has a problem. It is a perfect environment in which vulnerable populations can promote eating disorder behaviors.

A good thing is that Instagram has created community guidelines. It is attempting to curtail the dangerous promotion of eating disorders on its platform. For example, there is currently no hashtag for #proana. And if you search for #anorexia, you will be shown this warning message:

Screen Shot 2017-09-05 at 3.57.50 PM

This is an important step for Instagram. We applaud their work toward minimizing the dangers of social media platforms being used to promote eating disorders. But it’s not enough. Instagram is known to be harmful to mental health, and there are several lawsuits against the platform for encouraging anorexia.


Inadequate safety measures

It’s really great that Instagram puts up that warning about anorexia. But unfortunately, they leave the option to “Show posts” related to anorexia. If you click through to “Show posts,” there are thousands of images, quotes, and posts from people who are still active in their anorexia.

These posts can be deeply triggering. They can provide instructions and information about continuing and hiding anorexia. Also, since anorexia tends to have a competitive edge, it can exacerbate symptoms.

It’s not uncommon for people who have anorexia to compare their bodies. They may strive for the lowest body weight and the highest degree of danger from the disorder. This is true even when they say they want to recover. It’s confusing and conflicting. Both are true. But Instagram can make it harder to overcome the drive to be thin.

Triggers are everywhere

Instagram is full of triggers and has millions of posts promoting diet culture. The culture promotes extreme eating, weight loss, and over-exercising as moral behavior. Diet culture persists in hating body fat and promoting weight loss. As a platform, Instagram is an excellent channel to support anorexia.

Even people who are in full recovery and enjoy Instagram often find triggering and upsetting images. This happens when they go to see our search results, or if they stumble across a positive hashtag like #health. Many people in early recovery find it easiest to avoid Instagram entirely.

While your child is in eating disorder recovery, you should consider eliminating social media from their daily activities. Until your child is fully stable, Instagram may be too much. It can trigger relapse and the desire to return to disordered behaviors. Of course, this is a hard thing to ask. Other options include limiting the time you allow them to access social media and insisting on reviewing their social media activity.

Body Image Printable Worksheets

The best tools to feel calmer and more confident in your body!

  • Boost confidence
  • Improve self-esteem
  • Increase media literacy

Even recovery hashtags can hurt

Even seemingly “safe” hashtags such as #anarecovery and #anorexiarecovery may contain triggering posts. Avoid those, as well as #eatingdisorder, #anorexia, #bulimia, etc. It’s not that there are not good posts under those hashtags. In fact, we often post them @MoreLoveOrg. But they simply pose too many dangers to someone who is in active recovery.

The problem is that while people identify as being in recovery, they may still be using their eating disorder behaviors. They may still suffer from obsessive thoughts about food and their body.

This is why Instagram hashtags about anorexia often include photos of food and bodies. It’s not necessarily that the people want to promote the disorder. Instagram provides a window into the person’s inner struggle with anorexia. As a competitive disorder, posts like this can be hard to handle in recovery.

Save our #EDWarriors from Instagram

There are many, many wonderful and excellent Instagram accounts that are supportive of recovery. But disordered posts will encourage an eating disorder. Someone in recovery from anorexia should probably avoid Instagram unless it is carefully monitored. This is hard to do, but parents must protect kids from potentially harmful social messages.

By attending to social media, parents can protect kids from the worst of negative body image and eating disorders on Instagram.

Surprisingly dangerous hashtags on Instagram

#health #fitness #fit #fitnessaddict #fitspo #workout #bodybuilding #cardio #gym #train #training #health #healthy #instahealth #healthychoices #active #strong #motivation #instagood #determination #lifestyle #diet #getfit #cleaneating #eatclean #exercise #bodygoals #selfietime #femaleform #thefemalebody #21dayfix  #beforeandafter #beachbodycoach #shakeology #realbodies #toneitup #healthyshake #shakeologycoach #shakeology

Ginny Jones is on a mission to change the conversation about eating disorders and empower people to recover.  She’s the founder of, an online resource supporting parents who have kids with eating disorders, and a Parent Coach who helps parents supercharge their kid’s eating disorder recovery.

Ginny has been researching and writing about eating disorders since 2016. She incorporates the principles of neurobiology and attachment parenting with a non-diet, Health At Every Size® approach to health and recovery.

Ginny’s most recent project is Recovery, a newsletter for deeply feeling people in recovery from diet culture, negative body image, and eating disorders.

See Our Parent’s Guide To Body Image And Eating Disorders

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