Have you ever wished you could taste what’s on your computer screen while drooling over a photo like the chocolate decadence pictured above? Me, too. But just looking at tantalizing food photos is healthier than actually eating the dishes depicted, right?
Well, maybe not.
Apparently, some scientist has officially reported what I’ve known for months: Looking at food photos makes you hungry.
Since we launched Farm Flavor more than a year ago, I’ve seen a lot of food photography. In addition to all the recipes on our site, I’m also spending time on Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Tastespotting and Food Gawker, Google images, hundreds of mouthwatering food blogs – you get the drift. I keep a snack drawer in my desk to stop my stomach from grumbling. If you have ever browsed any of these sites, I’m sure you can relate.
So these findings from the Endocrine Society weren’t exactly shocking, but they’re still worth reporting. Part of the study looked at brain activity based on images shown to participants. Subjects were shown three types of photos – high-calorie food, healthy food and non-food – and asked to rate their hunger and desire for sweet or savory foods. The data suggests that simply looking at photos of high-calorie food activates the parts of the brain that control appetite and reward, which didn’t happen while viewing non-food photos.
The study’s author, Kathleen Page, MD, says this stimulation of the brain’s reward areas may contribute to overeating and obesity.
One way to combat overeating while staring at delicious-looking recipe photos all day is to stock foods that are considered to be healthy yet filling. For example, strawberries contain a natural compound that may help with weight management and appetite regulation. Another aspect of Page’s study focused on how the brain reacts to sugar intake, so consider low-sugar recipes too – most in our collection don’t use sugar substitutes but are naturally diabetic friendly.
What do you think? Do you find yourself with more of an appetite after reading food blogs or perusing Pinterest? Do you keep a stash of healthy snacks by your side, too? Let us know your tips for staving off your hunger and link to your favorite low-calorie snack recipes in the comments section.