Apparently Staring at Food Porn Can Actually Make You Lose Your Appetite


Last week we wrote about this Japanese smartphone app that tricked you into fullness with the help of a fancy smell cartridge and some food photography. The idea was, if you couldn’t afford meat that day, you could just call up the app and enjoy the sight and smell of grilled Korean BBQ alongside your paltry bowl of rice.

Well, it turns out that science was actually right this time. According to a recent study from researchers at Brigham Young University, “over-exposure to food imagery increases people’s satiation,” or “the drop in enjoyment with repeated consumption.” In other words, staring at pictures of food porn too long tricks your brain into thinking you’ve already eaten that food.

“In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food,” the study’s coauthor and BYU professor Ryan Elder, said in the press release. “It’s sensory boredom – you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience anymore.”

Elder and his fellow researchers came to this conclusion after asking 232 participants to look at 60 photos of either sweet or salty food, and then having those participants eat peanuts. They found the people who looked at the salty food enjoyed the peanuts significantly less than those who looked at sweet food, even if none of the photos they observed strictly featured peanuts. The familiar sensation of saltiness was still enough to register.

According to the BYU article, however, it takes a good amount of photographs in order for this satiation to set in, so there’s no need to shield your eyes whenever your foodie friend posts to Instagram. It doesn’t say whether the effect works when looking at photos of food you’ve never had before though.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to head over to flickr. I have a couple tasting menus I’ve been dying to try.

H/T + PicThx BYU


Science Proves That 2 Divided by 2 Equals 5, At Least When it Comes to Portion Control

When I was a kid, my economical little brother discovered a way to make his fast food give him more bang for his (or our parents’) buck. By tearing up his five measly chicken Mcnuggets into dozens of smaller pieces, he deduced that he would eventually end up having more chicken and therefore, a bigger meal.

At the time, I chalked it up to his embryonic math skills, but a new study suggests eating smaller pieces actually results in greater feelings of fullness and satisfaction in both humans and animals.

So guess what little bro? Turns out you were right.

The study, led by Davina Wadhera of Arizona State University, tested both rat and human responses to whole and cut food portions. Rats that were offered 30 (10 mg) food pellets vs. one (300 mg) food pellet seemed to prefer and “ran faster” toward the group of 30. Humans who were offered a choice between a whole bagel and a cut-up one ended up eating more in a later test lunch if they chose the whole bagel over the bagel pieces.

“This shows that food cut into multiple pieces may be more satiating than a single, uncut portion of food,” researchers said. This phenomenon in turn, they suggest, can be attributed to the fact that smaller pieces “may perceptually look more and therefore elicit greater satiation than the same portion presented as a single, large piece.”

So next time you’re trying to cut down on your meal portions, treat yourself to a little optical illusion magic and suspension of disbelief. At least your brain will think you’re eating more, even if you know you aren’t.

[Via Food Navigator]