Is This Common Practice Encouraging Obsessions With Food?

CoachMel Lifestyle 3 Comments

Ever been guilty of prolonging that moment before you dig into a scrumptious meal, so you can snap a photo for Instagram or Facebook?

You wouldn’t want your friends to miss out on what you’ve been nomming on now, would you? 🙂

But, what does this habit really say about us?

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Could we be teetering on the edge of an eating disorder, without even realizing it?

Dr Valerie Taylor thinks so.

She says obsessively recording your meals could actually be a sign of a deeper problem.

According to her, people who post pictures of almost every meal they eat onto social media sites may have a deeper medical issue.

At a recent Canadian Obesity Summit Dr Taylor said for some it is about more than simply posting pictures of food because they enjoy it;

For some people who have the predisposition for weight behaviours, it just goes that one step further, and they start to develop unhealthy weight disorders and they start to have weight problems.

Assuming we take pictures of those things that are important to us, it makes sense that what you post regularly, says something about what you actually enjoy and value.

I find myself wondering, however, why taking a picture of my plate can’t simply mean that my meal looks pretty and tasted even better?

Why does it have to equal something more serious?

I sometimes post images on my Facebook and Instagram pages of the foods we eat. It’s a way of sharing healthy tips in a more tangible, real way, rather than speaking in ‘text’ all of the time.

The fact that I can snap a photo of my lunch and someone will ask, “Can you share the recipe” is fantastic. I love that they might try out a new recipe, enjoy it and add a new healthy recipe to their collection as a result.

It may just end up being that one little step in the right direction towards a healthier life for someone.

That’s what this blog is all about, and social media helps me to get that message out there, so I’m all for it.

This is the kind of thing you might see on my social media pages these days…

A typical afternoon snack

coffee

Freshly made healthy chocolate bars;

chocolate

Or maybe my dumbbell after a workout

dumbbell
Dangerously, obsessive Instagramming? I don’t think so!

Having said that, there are always going to be those who take it to extremes.

But for most people, Instagram could actually prove to be a useful aid to better health, rather than simply being a means to fill everyone’s newsfeed with annoying pictures.

Instagram for Food Journalling

One of my blog readers emailed recently to say she had started using Instagram as a way of food journalling,

I just started journaling in pictures via Instagram. I’m recording everything and getting great food ideas from others as well. Bonus, lots of motivated healthy eaters out there so u know you’re not alone!

Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

In fact, I really think this could work for some people.

Let’s face it, society is incredibly gadget-based these days, so why not embrace this?

If you’re a busy mum, you work long hours, or you just don’t want to be bothered recording everything you eat, foodstagramming could be a good way to help you keep track of what you eat, and stay accountable as a result.

Really, is it any different to recording a food journal?

Restaurants Ban Photographs

However, if you eat out regularly, you may have noticed a few restaurants are now enforcing bans on photography.

Some restaurant owners feel that taking photographs of meals is really bad for ambience, annoying the people you are with, as well as those at the table next to you.

I agree with this in part.

Any time I’ve tried to photograph my meal before tucking in, I’ve found it a mildly irritating process.

Really, I just want to eat my food, not stare at it for 5 minutes before I get to enjoy it. By the time I’ve got ‘the‘ shot, my food has rapidly deteriorated.

Even so, I still think it is a worthwhile endeavor, and I have been trying to make a habit of publicly sharing my family’s meals on a more regular basis.

An Issue of Excess

So, when is foodstagramming an issue?

Perhaps the alarm bells may start sounding an unhealthy preoccupation with what you eat, if your social networks are composed mainly of food pictures.

As I said, we tend to take pictures of what means most to us, so looking closely at what you post regularly, may give you a clue to what’s really going on.

As I write this, I am chuckling to myself a little.

On my Pinterest account I currently have 178 pins dedicated to sewing, versus 98 to my healthy eating board.

Does that mean I am slightly obsessed with sewing? Well, my hubby would probably say a resounding YES to that question… so yes, there certainly is an element of truth to all of this! 🙂

Are Food Images an Issue?

In a recent episode, Dr Oz took this a step further when he said that drooling over glossy pictures of meals is actually making society fatter.

Certainly there are now more food blogs and cooking programs than ever before, and with the popularity of social mediums like Pinterest, we clearly have more avenues of exposure to delicious looking treats.

But, to say this is why we’re getting fatter is stretching it.

I love cooking shows, recipe books and seeing good food displayed in a beautiful way. All of these avenues give me ideas of how to mimic similar in my own home.

But just because I watch Paula Deen baking a calorie-laden cake on TV, it doesn’t mean I’m going to start making the same for breakfast, lunch and dinner. However in moderation, why not?

Similarly, just because I snap a photo of the delicious cupcake I’m enjoying at a coffee shop, it doesn’t mean I eat this way all day long, nor does it mean I’m obsessing over food.

If you are so easily swayed by looking at images and programmes on TV that you can’t control how much or what you eat, then odds are you will also find it difficult to resist temptation in the kitchen, or at the grocery store.

Over-Analysis by the Experts?

So, if you regularly take food photographs and post them to Instagram or Facebook, is this really a sign of a deep-seated problem?

Or, maybe this is just the opinion of some expert over analyzing the mundane for the sake of a piece of research.

Could it be that people simply take pictures of their food because eating is one of the things they enjoy doing?

Social media is the norm these days. It is customary to share pictures of our lives. And eating a good meal is one of those pleasures.

Isn’t it natural we would want to share this as a way of preserving the moment, rather this being a sign of a deep-seated issue?

Just as there is nothing wrong with enjoying a good meal, there is nothing wrong with taking a picture of it.

Granted, it can be mildly annoying if someone posts photographs of each and every morsel they put in their mouths, but maybe we should simply unfollow those people who fill up our newsfeed with their food ‘photography,’ if this isn’t something we enjoy seeing.

I think for the most part, this trend of photographing meals has more to do with status and display.

For example, posting photos of types of food and ingredients that are trendy, super healthy, perhaps expensive items, or even those that take time or skill to make.

latteThese people aren’t necessarily obsessed with food, they are using food as a symbol of what they know and like, sharing this on a social platform.

Maybe it is narcissism to share with all and sundry what we eat, do, and think on social media websites, but saying it is a sign that someone has disordered eating habits is taking it to extremes.

What are your thoughts on this?

…oh look, a perfectly frothed chai latte ready for its closeup 😉

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Comments 3

  1. Taleen

    I think there are several strands to this!

    I don’t believe that taking pictures of your food equates bordering on obsession. I believe that there very well MAY be people like this but it’s like anything – it’s depends how frequently they are doing it and their mentality around it. There are people who enjoy doing something and then there are others who are obsessional about the same thing; I believe this falls into that category.

    People like to share enjoyable things that they are doing. People like to share things that THEY enjoy. We also live in an age were photography is a popular way to communicate (it’s the age of the ‘selfies’ after all). Furthermore (specific to food), people eat with their eyes first so people like to see beautiful food!

    Lastly, there has also been a healthy and positive push to get the nation cooking and baking again and I believe that this is all part of that. Getting people exciting about food (within reason) is healthy because it encourages a bit of pride and self-respect regarding what goes in our mouths, rather than just shoving in deep fried garbage!

    All-in-all, I believe that obsessional behaviour around food may be the case for some but most certainly not for all! 🙂

    1. Taleen

      it*

      I believe this falls into the former category*

      where* (OOOPS, I’M JUST OFF NIGHT SHIFT!!!!)

      excited*

      I REALLY SHOULD HAVE READ THAT FIRST!!!!!! SORRY!!!!

  2. Emma

    Ooh those chocolate bars look divine! Yeah, I’m not sure how I feel about this. I was getting annoyed at all the pics of food people were posting on Facebook, but it seems to have calmed down a bit now. I also found it annoying when i just wanted to dig into my food, but my mate stopped me so she could get a photo of whatever it was from all angles, ahhh! I just read this text about the end of it, which was quite interesting: http://www.newscertain.com/2013/01/29/the-end-of-foodstagramming/

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