If your Instagram feed is anything like mine then it’s pretty saturated with food photos (with some cute babies, wedding pics and celebs thrown in). Those yummy snaps of kale salads, overflowing smoothie bowls or gooey chocolate brownies are more than just eye candy—they may actually change your diet choices, inspiring you to eat better (or worse). Now, new research is coming out showing some pretty good reasons to up to your Instagram game. Read more about the research from myself and Marissa Donovan, R.D. (as originally published in EatingWell magazine).
It’s not just other people’s photos that have an impact on your food choices. Instagramming your own lunch plate can certainly cause you to think twice before taking a bite. Food journaling is a tried and true weight-loss strategy, because it makes you more aware of what you eat. When I publicly shared what I ate in a day, I consciously stayed away from that second piece of chocolate—because I had to think about and document every bite.
Next time you sit down to eat that salad, check out a social feed with pictures of healthy food (like @EatingWell on Instagram), then snap a pic of your plate—it may make your meal even tastier, suggests a recent study in the Journal of Consumer Marketing.
While taking photos of unhealthy dishes made indulgent food more appealing, too, this power can be used to make healthier eats seem even tastier. After being primed to think about other people eating healthier, those who took photos of their fruit salad before chowing down reported that their food tasted better than those who skipped the photo.
How does it work? Pausing to snap a pic of your food encourages you to think about your meal before you eat. Then, when you think of other healthy eaters, reflecting on your meal reinforces the idea that you’re part of this healthy community as well. This adds an extra layer of satisfaction since you feel like you belong in the healthy eaters club.
Even taking selfies can be beneficial in reaching your weight-loss goals. A study through the University of Alicante, Spain, showed that keeping a diary of before-and-after photos can help you stick with your diet. During a 16-week weight-loss plan, these photos plus measures of waist circumference fueled dieters’ motivation to stay committed because they could see the results. If you feel up to it, share your progress photos so others can see and lend support and encouragement as well.