With the rise of the digital age, it seems like the taste of food is only second in importance to being able to snap a photo of your food.(Interestingly, researchers have shown that people who take a picture of their food before they eat it will evaluate the food more favorably than those who don't snap.) And everyone in the food industry is catering to this demand for visually-pleasing plates: chefs make sure a dish shines aesthetically, bakeries seduce passerby by opening their already see-through doors to waft the smell of buttery pastries (which also happen to be artfully-crafted and absurdly colorful) into the street, and bloggers are utilized by restaurateurs to post pictures of their meals as effective PR. While food-related social posts are great for business and when you want to rack up likes, they're not as great when you're trying to maintain your body goals.
What exactly makes a food instaworthy? For one thing, the food itself is usually spectacularly indulgent in nature—full of fats and sugar galore. This mouthwatering combo exploits our evolutionary attraction to high-energy foods, as just seeing a picture of fatty and high-carb foods will cause your brain to become more alert and ready to consume this food than it would if you saw a picture of "healthy" veggies, according to a study in Experimental Brain Research. Another study confirmed these results, finding that your concentration of hunger-hormone-ghrelin increases in response to seeing food images. In addition to presumably tasting good, these foods are visually larger-than-life, and their trending stati are typically due to them being equal parts extravagantly creative as they are awe-inspiring.
The problem: While these Instaworthy foods might get you "likes," you certainly won't like how your gut grows after you seek out these treats. And even if you're scrolling through your feed at a distance, you're still at risk; studies have shown that merely looking at those "food porn" images of oozy yolks dribbling down cheesy burgers is enough to make you hungry—even if you weren't before you started scrolling—and this puts you at risk of over consuming and eating the same high-energy, belly-busting foods. What it boils down to is this: If you want to maintain a healthy diet and a fit body, you shouldn't let trends dictate what you eat. That's why we've rounded up some of the biggest, most mouth-watering Instagram food trends that you should steer clear of. And don't worry about missing out on all those likes—pictures of puppies and #meatlessmonday ideas still do fairly well.
Photo courtesy of @rcorrera.
Sure, it might look good for the 'gram, but sandwiching anything between two donuts is only going to result in you getting a spare tire. If you're looking for a quick sugar fix without too much caloric damage, the simplest donut is the best solution. That's donut—singular—not plural. If you're looking to switch up your bacon, egg, and cheese bread, try wrapping it in a corn tortilla like a breakfast burrito. Corn tortillas are one of 26 Foods That Melt Love Handles.
Photo courtesy of @freshmen15.
We're not sure if it's ironic that an Instagram user dubbed "freshman 15" uploaded this photo or if it's intentional. Either way, you don't have to be a freshman to gain 15 pounds after consuming too many of these monstrosities. Consuming excessive processed sugar can cause weight gain and a slew of diseases, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes.
Photo courtesy of @classidynash.
These candy-colored carbs are a mixup of two of our Worst Breakfast Foods For Weight Loss: bagels and colorful cereal. Bagels are the ultimate calorie bomb. You might think of them as one serving, but a single bagel is equivalent to roughly four slices of bread—and they offer very little nutrition. Not to mention, these are most likely dyed with artificial, coal-derived colors that have been linked to learning and concentration disorders (like ADHD) in children.
Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese
Photo courtesy of @rcorrera.
If you thought mac and cheese was cheesy and carby enough on its own, wait until you see what Instagramers have done with it. Their creations range from this devoid-of-nutrition grilled cheese mac and cheese, to…
Mac and Cheese on a Burger
Photo courtesy of @hungrynyc.
This at least gives you some protein and iron via the burger; however, our hopes of that exposed patty even possibly being a lycopene-rich tomato were dashed when we found out it was actually another fried mac and cheese layer. Cue the next creation…
Mac and Cheese as a Burger Bun
Photo courtesy of @hunson_avabeer.
If you couldn't get enough mac and cheese from it casually cascading down your burger, you can have it on the top and bottom of it! If you really need a cheese fix, get your m&c on the side. These deep fried patties are breaded and then cooked in inflammation-inducing, omega-6-laden vegetable oils.
Photo courtesy of @gilliehouston.
The sushirrito is a cross between your two favorite foods: sushi and a burrito. This often-Instagrammed roll might look appetizing, but upon closer inspection, it's really just an oversized, unbalanced flat-belly buster. Due to their enlarged size, sushirritos have more high-calorie and high-glycemic white rice but only the same amount of phytonutrient-packed veggies and omega-3-rich fish as your standard roll.
Photo courtesy of @goramen.
Ramen has gone from our college microwaves to our hearts, as the quick and cheap meal is increasing in popularity from restaurants' revamped recipes. (As well as in one of our Best High-Protein Soups!) And as we saw before with mac and cheese, any popular food will ultimately find its way onto a burger. In this creation, an entire package of ramen absorbs saturated fatty oils as it's fried into form.
Photo courtesy of @hungrybetches.
We're more impressed that these overstuffed bagels fit in one hand than the fact that people will consume the entire thing. Besides being a mess to eat, these loaded carb boats will also make a mess of your body goals with their extra cheeses and stacks of fried bacon. If you're craving a breakfast sandwich, load up some avocado, egg, tomato, and metabolism-boosting paprika on a piece of whole wheat toast. It's the perfect combo of fat, protein, and fiber to fuel your body and one of our Healthy Breakfasts With Only 5 Ingredients!
Egg or Avocado Overkill
Photo courtesy of @putaneggonitnyc.
We're big fans of eggs and avocados at Eat This but not like that! Eggs are a great source of protein and choline, a compound necessary for muscle movement, and avocados provide a dose of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats. But if you're jumping on the avocado bandwagon, you have to do so in doses: the serving size is just one-fourth of this green fruit. Because avocados are so high in fat, we recommend you stick to adding it to your meals by the quarter.
Pizza on Pizza
Photo courtesy of @brotherbrunopizzadeliandbagel.
Pizza, when topped with bone-building, vitamin-K-rich arugula or endurance-boosting onions, is not that bad for your health. When your pizza is topped with more cheesy, carby pizza, you can wave hello to some extra pudge.
Stacks of Pancakes
Photo courtesy of @rcorrera.
If your stack of pancakes is as tall as a liter of coke, you probably shouldn't be eating it all. The issue with many Instaworthy dishes is that restaurants are trying to make them larger than life, which is making our guts larger than what can fit into our skinny jeans.
Photo courtesy of @burgerlift.
The funny thing is, a hamburger done right isn't a terrible nutritional choice—even if you're trying to lose weight. Topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, a light sauce like dijon mustard and sandwiched between a reasonably-sized bun, a burger can be a high-protein treat that won't completely throw your diet off track. But a double stacked burger doused in high-fat, high-sugar, and high-calorie condiments is a different story.
Deep Fried Oreos
Photo courtesy of @cheatdayeats.
It's one of the worst cookies in America because it's packed with processed ingredients, artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, and a trans fat substitute. Coating it with more bleached, unenriched flour, deep frying it in inflammation-inducing oils and serving it with a side of ice cream is an ore-oh no.
Ice Cream and Pie
Photo courtesy of @icecream.
Ice cream used to be just milk, sugar, cream and occasionally a little bit of fruit. But these days, it's among the most corrupted—and confusing—foods on the planet. Stick with having your pie a la mode, rather than on an ice cream cone, and you can save yourself from what can be anywhere up to a day's worth of your recommended sugar intake.
Photo courtesy of @skinnypignyc.
We get that a meal doesn't nearly feel complete without an order of fries, but many sides can be far worse than the burgers they're paired with. Like these bad boys, for example. They're aggressively cheesy, bacony, and are layered on top of a bed of sour cream. Translation: Carbs on carbs on fat. If you're indulging in your crispy cravings, leave the bacon and cheese to the burger.
Donuts with Candy Toppings
Photo courtesy of @already_eaten.
Most donuts already come with a fifth of your daily recommended intake of sugar, and you don't need to top it off with more gut-busting, highly-processed candies. And don't be fooled by clever marketers; even organic candy is one of the 32 Health Halo Foods to Stop Eating Immediately.
Photo courtesy of @litschilitsch.
A food trend from abroad has come in the form of spaghettieis, and no, it's not the Italian kind. This dish is really ice cream noodles doused in a strawberry "tomato sauce" and topped with white chocolate "parmesan cheese." Lucky for us, this dish has not yet immigrated to America, and we'd like it to stay that way. If you're feeling inspired, top your ice cream with some real strawberries, which have blood-sugar stabilizing fiber to balance out the added sugar, and a sprinkle of dark chocolate, which is packed with antioxidants that may make you smarter.
Photo courtesy of @arjieljosephfg.
When this campfire staple is sandwiched between graham crackers, that's one thing. What we can't get behind is when the gooey, chocolatey, marshmallows (and ice cream?) are placed between two white-flour buns. Besides getting a sugar rush from the marshmallows (which are made of just gelatin and sugar), your blood sugar levels are sure to get an extra spike from the too-easily-digested simple carbohydrates in the bun. Once that happens, and your hunger comes back with a vengeance, we hope you reach for something from the fruit department.
Photo courtesy of @nycdining.
If you're wondering if you can eat at Chipotle again so you can get a monster burrito like this, the answer is negative, amigo. No matter how healthy you keep your burrito fillings, there's no way to shake off the salt. Why? The tortilla itself is packed with 690 mg of sodium—just under a half a day's recommended intake!