Case in point:
While you may think looking at photos of delicious-looking food is better than stuffing your face with the stuff, a new review published in the journal Brain and Cognition suggests one might actually lead to the other—without you even realizing it. According to the study, when we see food porn, it exacerbates our desire for food through a channel of neural and physical responses called ‘visual hunger.’ In other words, even if we’re not physically in need of food, our bodies will send a signal to our brains that we want to eat. And, over time, those extra nibbles can contribute to weight gain—espeically if you’re noshing on high-cal foods. It gets worse: If you're already overweight, the reward center of your brain is more likely to respond to photos of indulgent fare like pizza and cake than those who are leaner, according to a study referenced in the review.
So should you unfollow all of your friends that post snaps of all their culinary adventures? That’s probably not necessary. But if you’re trying to lose weight, you may want to unfollow some accounts that post images of particularly unhealthy dishes and start following accounts that highlight better-for-you choices (like ours!). Research in children suggests that affinity for veggies can be increased simply by looking at images of vegetables, so it’s certainly worth following some health-conscious foodies to fuel your desire to eat right. At the very least, it may make dieting a little more enjoyable!
Remember, all that Instagram food porn you’ve been staring at can get your belly grumbling. But, surprisingly, so can certain foods. Eat This, Not That! researchers dug into the science to find five edibles that can actually make you hungrier after eating, derailing your weight loss efforts and leaving you feeling unsatisfied.
Simply put, sugar makes you crave sugar. Sadly, that doesn’t just apply to the real stuff; studies show that consuming artificially sweetened products and sugar alternatives (found in many diet foods and, yes, diet soda) can ramp up your appetite, causing increased calorie consumption over time. One study from the Yale Journal of Biology and Medicine found that people’s preferences to a certain flavor is directly related to their intake of that flavor. Meaning, unfortunately, you eat yourself into a cycle; the more you eat something that tastes sweet, the more you’ll crave. Still not swayed? Another(study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that large amounts of artificial sweetener consumption was associated with an increased instance of Type II Diabetes. Toss the “diet” products and opt for a healthier alternative. In addition to artificial sweeteners, we rounded up a list of the 20 Worst Foods on the Planet.
We all know that alcohol can lower our inhibitions and allow us to throw dietary caution to the wind, but its influence on appetite and hunger goes far beyond a second helping of wings at the bar. In fact, the Department of Psychology at the University of Liverpool found that as few as two drinks can significantly increase the amount we consume because it alters our perception of food, enhancing how delicious it seems. Basically, it tricks your brain into thinking that eating is more rewarding than it is. If you were ever left wondering why in the world you thought a pizza at 2 am on Saturday morning was a good decision, you now have your answer.
Simple carbohydrates like refined white rice get digested far more quickly than more complex carbs and can have a devastating influence on your blood sugar levels, explain researchers at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. In extreme cases, eating too many simple carbs can lead to Type II Diabetes. Even in more modest consumption, sushi rolls packed with white rice will keep you full for a short time and then cause your hunger to come back with a vengeance. To keep yourself healthy while still allowing yourself to enjoy some Japanese delicacies now and again, try switching to brown or black rice on your California rolls and hunt out a location that doesn’t mask wimpy pieces of fish with mounds of starch. Don’t skip the avocado, either! The healthy fats from the fruit will keep you full longer. If you need to satisfy your sushi fix, check out our official list of the Best and Worst Sushi Rolls for Weight Loss.
We’re all guilty of loving that squishy, white bread from childhood (or, for that matter, pasta), but it can sneakily up your calorie intake by increasing your appetite. You might not even notice the change if you’re distracted, especially if you’re eating in front of the TV. Beyond having much of its natural fiber removed (the stuff that helps keep us full) when it’s processed, eating white bread also causes us to crave more white bread. As one study explains, refined carbohydrates like bread trigger food cravings due,in large part, to the amounts of high fructose corn syrup they contain. This activates hunger, as well as the reward and addiction hubs in the brain, making you feel happier when you eat more of it. Not a great cycle to start! Instead, opt for whole grain breads that have no high fructose corn syrup (most clearly mark this on the packages), a high fiber count, and fewer ingredients listed. Even better, get your complex carbs early in the morning with quality oatmeal. It's one of our 10 daily habits that blast belly fat.