Can Instagram Affect Your Diet?

A BYU study suggests that viewing photos of food can affect your appetite. What do you think? Can Instagram wreck (or improve) your performance?

Instagram Sweets

How many of your friends have become "food photographers" since joining Instagram? Y'know, people who take a picture of each and every meal they eat? It's common sense to think that they're the only ones affected by those meals and pictures, but research out of BYU suggests otherwise.

Professors Ryan Elder and Jeff Larson showed 232 study participants images of food. Half of them saw pictures of sweets (cakes, chocolates), while the other half viewed photos of salty snacks (pretzels, chips). After seeing all the slides, participants in both groups were given some salty peanuts to snack on.

The result? Participants who viewed images of salty foods said they enjoyed the peanuts less than those who viewed images of sweet foods. The researchers surmise that the increased exposure to food imagery increased viewers satiation, which they define as the "drop in enjoyment with repeated consumption"— e.g., that your fifth bite of pie (or chicken, steak, etc.) will not be as enjoyable as your first. What they're saying is that if you see pictures of a food enough times, you'll get sick of it without ever actually eating it.

So that's where things get interesting.

If you're trying to cut some weight, we suggest finding and following as many foodies as you can, then spending some time browsing their photos of cookies, cakes, and ice cream. If you do it for long enough, you probably won't even want to touch the stuff. On the other hand, if you're trying to add lean muscle, it may not be a great idea to follow people who post photos of plate after plate of grilled chicken and rice.

 Do you think Instagram will mess with your diet? Let us know on Twitter.


Photo Credit: Getty Images // Thinkstock