Many of us are fortunate enough to have some control over our diet. When we open the refrigerator or explore the shelves of the local store, we have a plethora of choices. But, as liberated as we want to believe, are our dietary choices as free as we like to believe? What if our food selections were influenced by anything other than our hunger and the options that happened to be at eye level?
You’ll see image after photo of flawlessly arranged and incredibly delicious-looking meals if you browse social media sites like Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. While the scent and taste of food has unquestionably profound effects on our appetites, are constant pictures of hot nibbles and gleaming morsels more than simply a visual feast?
When it comes to food, it seems that we are heavily affected by others, particularly those closest to us. According to studies, the greater and tighter two people’s bonds are, the more power they have on each other’s eating choices.
“A lot of our signals from face-to-face contacts are tied to who we’re with,” says Solveig Argeseanu, an Emory University associate professor of global health and epidemiology. “Rather than particular persons, it’s about the connection and how I compare myself to that person.” I’ll want to mimic the person I’m with more if I believe they’re more beautiful or popular.”
This might imply that these social signals in general promote us to eat more, according to Argeseanu. According to study, being around healthy eaters may motivate you to eat better as well. What we see has an impact on our eating patterns as well. According to scientists, “oozing” protein, such as a dripping egg yolk or bubbling mozzarella, is preferred.
According to Suzanne Higgs, professor of psychobiology of hunger at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, “there is some evidence that visual stimulation might trigger you to sense a desire to eat if you view photographs of food.” However, she claims that a variety of other circumstances, such as what food is available at the moment, determine whether individuals follow through on their desire.
However, one location where visual and social signals collide is social media. There is evidence that if people in your social network post about specific sorts of cuisine on a frequent basis, you may be influenced to mimic them, for better or worse. According to studies, social media may be altering our connection with food by causing us to think differently about what we consume.
“If all of your friends on social media upload photographs of themselves eating fast food, it will establish a norm that eating fast food is what people do,” Higgs adds.
According to Ethan Pancer, professor of marketing at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, “research shows we’re more inclined to interact with photographs of fast food.” This is especially true with saturated fat, which helps us feel good by producing dopamine and boosting our brain’s pleasure centres. Humans are innately predisposed to seek out calorie-dense foods, which helped our forefathers survive while foraging.
“Evolutionary psychology has shown that merely seeing these meals makes individuals happy, and hence they interact with them more,” he explains.
However, scientists suggest that when we log off of social media and return to real life, the various impacts on what and how we eat are still much stronger.
“I anticipate food cues to be more powerful in person,” Argeseanu adds. “When browsing through photographs, we don’t engage in the same manner, and we don’t engage for very long.” Also, according to some study, when we browse through a lot of photographs, we start to tune them out — we start to sense fullness, as if we’ve eaten them all.”
At the very least, if you just eat these feasts on Instagram, you won’t have to loosen your belt.