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The Instagram Diet: Looking at Pictures of Food Curbs Appetite, Study Finds



Believing the world cares what you had for lunch may still be a symptom of narcissism, but a recent study seems to indicate that it could at least be a useful form of narcissism.

The study, which was conducted by marketing researchers at Brigham Young University, found that the more time people spend looking at pictures of food, the less interested they become in actually eating that same foods. Results were published recently in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

Researchers had 232 subjects look at pictures of common food items. One group spent the entire time looking at sweets, while the other looked only at photos of salty foods. Afterwards, both groups were given salted peanuts as a snack.

As it turns out, those people who had been looking at salty foods enjoyed the peanuts much less than those viewing sweets.


One of the lead researchers explains that viewing pictures of food makes your brain feel like it has already experienced eating that thing. So when they presented the peanuts to the salty group, their brains immediately responded with a “been there, ate that” reaction.

“In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food,” BYU marketing professor Ryan Elde told The Star. “It’s sensory boredom — you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience anymore.”

One implication is that Instagram and Pinterest could become effective dieting aids, suggests study co-author Jeff Larson. If you have a weakness for a certain type of belly-buster, hashtag search it and look forward to feelings of mild nausea if you spend enough time staring at your photo feed.

(via The Star)

P.S. Keep in mind, another study found that snapping a photo of your food at the table before you eat might actually make it taste better. So if weight loss is your goal, browse through pics before you go out.

Image credit: Cupcakes and Smartphones by sea turtle and Instagrammer by Blyzz