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Farmington, Farmington Hills

Digital diet could help put emotions, priorities in shape

November 20, 2013

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Livonia Jaycees President Erin McKenzie speaks to attendees during a Digital Diet Guy presentation Nov. 11.

FARMINGTON/FARMINGTON HILLS — Excuse me, carbs and gluten, you’ve had your moment.

Now, some in the community are starting to avoid the often-addicting powers of technology that leave them feeling mentally stuffed and bloated. They’re going on a digital diet. 

On Nov. 11, Royal Oak-based Mark Ostach, also known as the Digital Diet Guy, told community members how to go on a digital diet by managing their time online and reducing stress from being constantly connected. The Farmington Area Jaycees, a personal and professional development organization, sponsored the event at Oakland Community College’s Orchard Ridge Campus.

The Farmington Area Jaycees is part of the Michigan Junior Chamber and Junior Chamber International, for members between the ages of 21 and 40.

Ostach said one of the easy ways to go on a digital diet is buying an alarm clock instead of using a cellphone to wake you up. 

“Getting back to the old-school alarm clock goes a long way,” he said. “It creates a healthy distance between your phone.”

Also, not using technological devices during a lunch break or when eating meals allows for the chance to eat and enjoy the company around you.

“This way, you can actually enjoy your meal with your family and have a chance to connect one-on-one with the folks in front of you.”

He added that if you feel like your phone or other device is your fifth appendage, or you feel constantly plugged in, it is time to take a break.

Farmington Area Jaycees President Angela Wolf said reducing the usage of technology is key to staying mentally fit.

“Technology is great, but because we are so attached to it, we don’t have that downtime,” Wolf said a day after the event.

She said Ostach mentioned that the first thing many people do when they wake up is look at their phones or other gadgets; it is also the last thing they do before they go to sleep.

“We have so much information coming at us, we don’t digest it the same way if we sat down and read a book the way we used to, before technology,” she said, adding that the event impacted the attendees’ mindsets toward technology.

“If you ate pizza for two meals every day, how would you feel? It is just a balance,” she said.

On Ostach’s website,, it lists reasons technology addiction needs immediate attention. Some items include  cyberbullying, texting while driving and digital drama, which can cause depression, anxiety and mood swings.

Some signs of addictive cellphone patterns include often thinking about calls or messages, spending time on the phone versus engaging with family and friends, and feeling upset when not on the phone.

Adam Denison of the Farmington Area Jaycees said the event taught him things about technology addiction.

“It was very eye-opening,” he said. “I’m very guilty about some of the things (Ostach) was talking about — everything from looking at my email the minute I get up to checking it when I am waiting in line at lunch and … always being connected,” he said.

The day after the presentation, he decided to do something different after his alarm clock on his cellphone went off: He turned off his phone.

“I didn’t look at any emails or Facebook until I got to work at 8 (a.m.),” he said. “Usually, I kind of check my emails and Facebook before I even (leave) the house.”

He added that during the event, Ostach showed advertisements from the ’40s and ’50s of babies encouraging their mothers to smoke to increase their health.

“It is absolutely ludicrous,” he said.

Denison said Ostach made the point that people will look back in 50 years and think the same thing about digital devices and say, “We can’t believe we ever let our kids use cellphones and … how crazy were we?” he said. “No one is really talking about the social impact that our heavy reliance on technology is causing.”

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