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FOOD PORN MAKES YOU FAT Print
Feasting Your Eyes May Weaken Your Willpower

When luxury goods are out of financial reach, some of us may opt to go on pretend buying sprees by perusing catalog or even create a Pinterest board of aspirational “possessions.”   If you’re on a calorie budget, the same method — trying to curb cravings by feasting your eyes — may actually backfire. Such is the suggestion of a study recently published in Obesity in which obese young women (15 through 25 years of age) had their brains scanned while viewing images of junk food (e.g., burgers, pastries, chips) or healthy fruit and vegetables. Not only did the “food porn” (glossy images of gluttonous foods) elicit more activity in the brain’s reward centers, subjects also subjectively rated themselves more hungry. The response was greatest among women with the most belly fat, suggesting a vicious cycle in which the more you eat the more you see, which in turn makes you still more vulnerable to such imagery.

While it may not seem that surprising that mouth-watering images would, well, make your mouth water, another aspect of the study was less expected: Sugary beverages make you hungrier! Sure, sodas are “empty calories” that one wouldn’t expect to satisfy hunger, but such drinks were found to actually increase the desire for sweet and savory foods. Yet another reason to avoid soda — too much of which can also increase hypertensive risk by depleting potassium levels.

As for enticing food pics, avoiding them entirely may be impossible short of donning blinders — but you can control what you see in your own environment. Try a vision board approach, providing positive cues to your subconscious by keeping pictures of the kinds of physical activities you’d like to enjoy, or healthier dishes to make, in full view.  Get started by visiting our Pinterest collection of inspiring, beautiful, healthy food ideas.


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