What to do with food porn

I recently read an interesting article in Women’s Health magazine about food porn.  Stop blushing, I’m not talking about naked bodies mixed with fruits and vegetables.  I’m talking about those glowing, color enhanced photos of hot fudge sundaes that flood our eyes every time we log onto our favorite social networking sites, especially Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest.  According to the article, photos elicit an emotional and physical hunger response that can be difficult for the viewer to control.  People who are on diets are more susceptible to food porn; as one study found they ate 60 more calories after seeing a food image, compared to non-dieters who ate the same amount of candy whether they saw images of food or not.

“A study in the journal Obesity found that simply seeing food increases levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin, even after eating a regular meal.  And maybe worst of all, the part of your brain that governs self-control fails to kick in with food porn the way it does with actual food.”  – Theresa O’Rourke, Women’s Health magazine

This doesn’t sound good for those of us working our booties off to eat clean and train mean, does it?  Well, not to fret, I’ve got some tips to keep your news feeds full of nutritious food porn as well as ways to keep control when tempted by that drool-worthy pic of double chocolate cake!

  • ws_Girl_Running_640x960Get sweaty!  Vigorous physical activity has been found to dampen the desire to seek out food.  You are also more conscious of what you are putting in your body once you realize how much work went into burning those calories.  Wear a heart rate monitor that counts calories and see how many miles you have to run to burn off that 300 calorie brownie.  I bet you’ll think twice about the sweet next time around!
  • Get enough sleep!  A study in the Women’s Health article found that the “brain’s hunger-and appetite-regulating center is most likely to be stimulated by images of food when you’re sleep-deprived.”
  • Cook your meals!  Studies have found that people who cook at home consume fewer calories because they are able to control portions and ingredients.  Also, the time and effort it would take to see a chocolate cake on the internet, decide you must have it, purchase the ingredients and bake it is usually enough to deter me from going through the trouble!  I would be more tempted if I was able to just go to the store and purchase a ready-made cake.
  • Seek out healthy food porn!  My Facebook and Instagram feeds are FULL of fitness and nutrition freaks just like me, so I am constantly salivating over a picture of a bowl of roasted vegetables and quinoa.  When browsing Pinterest to procrastinate doing homework, I always go straight for the Health and Fitness category to browse clean recipes and work out tips.  However, healthy food porn doesn’t have to be all broccoli and asparagus.  One of my favorite Instagram accounts is called TastyHealth, which features delicious, protein packed and clean recipes for sweet treats.  Try her coffee mug protein cakes – 30 seconds to Yum!
  • The Gracious Pantry: Another amazing blog with gorgeous & clean recipes!

    The Gracious Pantry: Another amazing blog with gorgeous & clean recipes!

    Don’t Deprive Yourself!  A clean and  healthy lifestyle does not mean that you can never have a sweet again.  You most definitely should indulge in a treat and how often you have one is totally dependent on your goals and level of self control.  I like to have something sweet everyday, and sometimes that is just brewing a cup of herbal berry-flavored tea or having one square of organic dark chocolate.  There are also some great recipes out there for healthier versions of sweets, such as brownies made with zucchini!  I find if I eat a little bit of sweets every day, I am less likely to want an entire chocolate cake in one sitting.

  • Don’t Punish Yourself!  This is the most important thing about clean eating.  So you ate a big brownie after you stopped at your favorite coffee shop…THAT’S OK!  Your diet is NOT ruined and you CAN still reach your fitness goals.  The key is to not throw away the rest of your meals for the day.  Continue to eat healthy, drink lots of water and don’t dwell on whatever “bad” thing you ate.  However, if you find yourself sneaking in that slice of coffee cake, brownie, or cookie every day or more than once a day, it may be time to look deeper at your eating habits, your goals, and why you aren’t feeling satisfied with your daily diet.

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For further reading: here is the full Women’s Health Article.

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