Everyone has a friend who photographs all their meals.
Maybe that person is even you.
But a new paper published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology suggests you should stop looking at your Instagram or Pinterest feed before a meal, because seeing all those delicious pictures of food could make eating less enjoyable.
The researchers found that looking at food photos could ruin a person’s appetite by making them feel like they already ate that food.
To conduct the study, researchers Ryan Elder and Jeff Larson of BYU, and Joseph Redden of the Univ. of Minnesota recruited 232 people to look at and rate pictures of food.
First, they divided participants into separate groups. One group looked at 20 food pictures and rated how appetizing they found the pictures, while the other group rated 60 food pictures.
Then of those groups, half were shown sweet foods like cupcakes and chocolate, while the other half was shown pictures of salty foods like french fries and potato chips.
After looking at the pictures, each respondent was given three peanuts, and asked how much they enjoyed eating them on a scale from “not at all” to “very much.”
They found that of those who had viewed the 60 salty food pictures enjoyed the peanuts the least out of all the study participants.
The people who had viewed the 20 pictures of salty foods enjoyed the peanuts more, but still less than those who had only viewed the sweet foods, who showed no difference.
The results show that even if we’re not eating a certain type of food, we can still become satiated simply by looking at sensory-specific imagery.
“If you want to enjoy your food consumption experience, avoid looking at too many pictures of food,” Larson said of the study in the press release. “Even I felt a little sick to my stomach during the study after looking at all the sweet pictures we had.”
The full study will be published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
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