Instagram Food Photos Are Ruining Your Appetite; On The Flip Side, They Could Hep You Lose Weight

Instagram Food Pictures
BYU research finds that looking at too many pictures of food can actually make eating that type of food less enjoyable. Jaren Wilkey/ BYU Photo

Do you have a friend who can’t enjoy a meal unless all of their Instagram followers see it? Tell them to stop. They’re ruining it for the rest of us. Researchers at Brigham Young University (BYU) say Instagram and Pinterest pictures of a burger actually make the next burger you eat less appetizing.

"In a way, you're becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food," explained study coauthor and BYU’s Marriott School of Management professor Ryan Elder. "It's sensory boredom – you've kind of moved on. You don't want that taste experience anymore."

Elder, along with coauthors Jeff Larson and Joseph Redden, gauged the responses of 232 individuals who were asked to look at pictures of food. Half of the group looked at pictures of salty foods while the other half looked at pictures of sweet foods. Study participants were asked to rate the food on how appetizing it looked to them. They were also given peanuts to eat after having looked at the pictures and were asked to rate how enjoyable the salty snack was. Results showed that people who looked at salty foods enjoyed the peanuts much less compared to people who looked pictures of sweet foods.

"If you want to enjoy your food consumption experience, avoid looking at too many pictures of food," Larson said. "Even I felt a little sick to my stomach during the study after looking at all the sweet pictures we had." On the other hand, if you are looking to cut fatty foods like potato chips and chocolate out of your diet, try looking at a lot of pictures. Just make sure you look at a lot of them. According to the research team, the amount of pictures you look at decide how unappetizing it will be.

"You do have to look at a decent number of pictures to get these effects," Elder added. "It's not like if you look at something two or three times you'll get that satiated effect."

 

Source: Redden J, Larson J, Elder R. “How Instagram can ruin your dinner.” Journal of Consumer Psychology. 2013. 

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