Many Facebook and Pinterest users make a practice of sharing quick pics of their latest culinary treats with friends and family on a daily basis. Although initial reactions may produce the expected oohs and aahs from viewers, the overall effect may surprise you. Research results released by BYU on October 3 say that viewing tasty treats actually decreases your desire for them. It appears that the mind reacts to repeated viewings of food as though it has already eaten it. Sensory boredom causes the viewer to lose interest in the food,says Ryan Larson, marketing professor at BYU.
A recent study, conducted by Ryan Elder, Jeff Larson, both of BYU and Joseph Redden from the University of Minnesota, involved 232 people divided into two groups. One group viewed 60 images of sweet desserts, while the second group viewed images of salty foods. The subjects rated the foods according to their appeal. After viewing the images, the subjects consumed peanuts. Although peanuts were not included in the images of the salty food, those who viewed salty foods enjoyed the peanuts less than those who viewed the sweet food.
Ryan Elder and Jeff, marketing professors in BYU’s Marriott School of Management and co-authors of the study, concluded that over exposure to images of food increased the subject’s satiation for that food group. In essence, the mind reacted as though they had already eaten the food and satisfied their desire for the food. The study was published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
Larsen warns that if you want to enjoy your food, you should avoid viewing images of the food beforehand and even concludes that this technique can be used to dull your appetite for unhealthy food, too. He says that viewing images of that gooey chocolate cake may satisfy your cravings and lessen your desire for the real deal.
So, the next time you are frustrated because your Facebook friends are bombarding you with images of decadent desserts that tempt the palate, thank them instead. They just may be preventing you from indulging and ruining your diet.