You might want to tell your friends to cool it with those drool-worthy brunch photos on Instagram—or at least steer clear of them before your next meal. Overloading on food porn can actually make your real meal less satisfying, according to a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.
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In the study, people were shown photos of either salty or sweet foods and asked to rate how appetizing they looked. Then they were given peanuts to snack on and asked to rate how much they enjoyed them.
It turns out that people who browsed through the salty-food photos were less amped about their snack than the people who evaluated pictures of sweets. Plus, the more photos people looked through, the less they enjoyed their peanuts.
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So how does your Instagram feed screw with your taste buds? According to the researchers, it has to do with satiation—or a drop in enjoyment after more and more consumption. Just like your fifth bite of pizza isn’t as awesome as the first, repeated exposure to photos can act almost like an imagined consumption—especially if you’re thinking about how appetizing the pictures are. And these results suggest that even mental noshing leads to satiation.
But we’re willing to bet that there’s an element of FOMO in here, too. After all, anyone who’s been less-than-thrilled with their own dish after looking at 23 picture-perfect photos of mac and cheese on Pinterest knows what this feels like.
Can’t quit your food porn addiction? Just don’t overindulge right before you sit down to eat. Unless you want to curb your enjoyment of that pint of ice cream (which may actually help you put it down after fewer bites)—in that case, pin ice cream pictures to your heart’s content!
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