Everyone has that friend. The one whose eyes light up when plates of steaming food arrives at the dinner table, not because their stomach is rumbling in anticipation but because the dish is arranged in a way that is oh-so-Instagrammable. They grab your plate - nevermind that your sweet potato fries are rapidly cooling - so they can take the perfect snap for their measly Instagram following to glance at for half a second.
Yet, unlike them, you’re polite and so you don’t mention that the sight of them whipping out their phone at the dinner table grates on your soul. But when you come to the end of your tether, remind them that capturing your food before you eat it can actually be detrimental to both of you.
Firstly, US researchers investigating the effects of look at and photographing food have found it can make it less enjoyable to eat.
Marketing professors at the BYU Marriott School of Management found that over-exposure to images of food can affect a person's satiation.
“When we Instagram, we inherently must focus our attention on the item in the picture, even for that very brief moment. This can have a range of effects on later enjoyment,” co-author Professor Joseph Redden explains to The Independent.
“For example, we can savour an upcoming indulgent treat if the Instagram post triggers quick thoughts about eating that food, or a dish can seem more special by the mere fact that we’ve decided it qualifies as an Instagram moment.
“However, if we spend too much time repeatedly viewing such foods, our paper suggests this can lead to pre-satiation. That is, you’re already a bit tired of the food before you even start eating it.”
Professor Redden is hesitant to make any health claims - he doesn’t recommend taking photos of food as a dieting strategy, for instance. As a marketing expert, his focus is on how images can affect how much a person wants to part with their cash.
“Like much advertising, our work suggest the effectiveness of the ad will diminish with more exposures. Unlike most products, though, we found for food it can also have this unexpected effect of making the product experience itself less enjoyable when the product is ultimately consumed."
Aside from that, Instagramming your food can get in you trouble with the chef. And no one wants to get on the wrong side of the person preparing something that is going to wind its way through your digestive system.
Chefs in France and New York have made headlines by threatening to ban cameras and phones from their restaurants. And Heston Blumenthal once told The Telegraph that he would prefer it if diners didn’t take photos and “just enjoyed themselves and certainly not take them throughout the whole meal.”
“I think flashes in a restaurant at night time is just not on because it’s not fair on the other diners with the reflection in the glass and also I still have an issue, who knows if somebody takes a picture, somebody on the next table is sitting there with someone they shouldn't be sitting there with, it’s an invasion of privacy on the person," added.
And he does have a point. So, if you have to take a photo of your grub, think of your fellow diners, turn off the flash and the annoying faux camera sound, be quick, and think hard before sharing the snap online.
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