Food on Instagram
One Jericho High School junior, Sarah Tract, is well known for her frequent posts of appetizing treats. “I Instagram certain foods based on how they’re presented to me. If I’m at a really nice or well-known restaurant, I Instagram the food because of how good it looks,” she said. “I like to Instagram food because I know that they tend to get a lot of likes, probably because people enjoy looking at yummy food.” Tract also said that she often participates in “food holidays,” such as National Burrito Day and National Grilled Cheese Day, by uploading photos of her corresponding meals on such occasions.
As people’s Instagram newsfeeds become filled with pictures of food, some have questioned the effect viewing these photos has on hunger. Does looking at pictures of food make us more hungry, or on the contrary, satisfy our hunger? A new study suggests that looking at too many pictures of food may actually make eating less enjoyable. “In a way, you’re becoming tired of that taste without even eating the food,” said study co-author Ryan Elder, an assistant professor of marketing at Brigham Young University’s Marriot School of Management. Elder added, “It’s sensory boredom — you’ve kind of moved on. You don’t want that taste experience anymore.”
Elder and his fellow researchers asked 232 people to rate pictures of food based on how appetizing they looked. Half of the participants looked at 60 pictures of sweet foods like cake, truffles, and chocolates. The other half looked at salty treats like chips, pretzels, and French fries. Subjects finished off their experiments by eating peanuts, and were then asked how they would rate them. The people who looked at the salty foods enjoyed the peanuts less than those who didn’t, even though they didn’t see actual pictures of peanuts. The researchers concluded that, because they had looked at so many salty foods, the subjects had satisfied their salty palates.