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April 27, 2012 at 11:40 AMComments: 2 Faves: 0

Can You Trick Yourself into Eating Healthy?

By Laura Hogg More Blogs by This AuthorFrom the FitChatter Blog Series

Hi. My name is Laura and I have a problem.

Specifically: I am addicted to looking at beautiful photos of food.

As far as addictions go, it’s not a bad one to have – unless I do it right before a meal. I finally had to stop my subscription to the gorgeous food-photo Tumblr “Ffoodd” because it was making me a little bit miserable. I was struggling financially and at that point I was also a horrible cook, and all the beautiful photos of food seemed to be taunting me. Can you blame me? I mean, look at this stuff:

Homemade Strawberry BBQ Sauce w/Tempeh Sandwich (click for original recipe)

Matafan Canapé (click for original recipe)

Indian Feast at Home (click for original recipe)

Easy Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers with Avocado (click for original recipe)

I still haven’t re-subscribed to Ffoodd, but now that I have a bit more cooking knowledge and the money to fund it, I get my foodie fix in other ways (Pinterest, anyone?)

But it turns out that my little addiction has an unexpected side effect: it can actually make you eat healthier.

A new study in PLoS ONE has shown that looking at mouth-watering food pictures lights up your orbital frontal cortex – that’s the part of your brain responsible for processing pleasure. In so doing, it basically transfers the yumminess of the food in the photo to whatever you’re eating. (“Yumminess,” of course, is a very technical term.) Essentially, you trick your brain into thinking that whatever you’re eating is much tastier than it would be otherwise.

So how does this make you eat healthier?

Well, think about it. Many people shy away from nutritious foods because they (erroneously, I think) perceive those foods as less tasty than fattier, saltier dishes. When most people think of the word “diet,” they think of an endless stream of rabbit food – colorless celery, joyless iceberg lettuce. But with this new knowledge in mind, they could potentially re-train their taste buds. If a person who loves pizza looks at photos of a Chicago deep-dish while scarfing down a rich kale salad or veggie burger, eventually, the joy they get from eating pizza could come to be associated with eating healthier fare.

Sound far-fetched? Well – why not try it out as an experiment of your own? Grab some veggies to munch on, or make a vibrant salad, and check out the gorgeous food blogs linked above (here’s my favorite). You know, for your health. And for science.

Are you as obsessed with food blogs as I am?

Would you try this experiment?

What tricks do you use to help yourself eat healthy?


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  • Laura - this is awesome - and it's true! Our sense of taste is a lot less concrete than most people think. It's highly reliant on other senses and really open to the suggestion of others.

  • Sounds like a great trick! I'll have to try that and see how it works. Also, those photos are mouthwatering!

    Oh and to feed your addiction, check out what I re-pinned the other day on pinterest. It looks SO good.

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