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The Instagram Diet: Lose Weight By Looking At Pictures?

By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TV
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BOSTON (CBS) – Social media sites are filled with photos of delicious meals and sinful desserts.

Usually these pictures make our mouths water. Long time Boston Food photographer Jim Scherer says food and photography are natural compliments. “It offers texture,” he said. “It is sensual. For all those reasons food and photography make a very powerful combination.”

Chronic dieters like Amy Boches of Brookline associate these pictures of tantalizing food with temptation. “I want to eat it if I look at it,” said the graphic artist. “When I am sitting at night and they start showing those pretzel buns with the big hamburgers, I am like, OK, where is my half banana?”

Boches believes these types of pictures make her cravings worse.

But new research is showing the power of pictures can go both ways. It’s been nicknamed the “Instagram Diet.”

The premise is that by looking at pictures of foods you love over and over again, you will end up eating less of them.

Joan Salge Blake, a professor of nutrition at Boston University, believes this premise is interesting because eating involves so many of our senses

Salge Blake said this concept needs more study, but isn’t ruling out some potential benefits for dieters.

“It seems like . . .when people look at pictures and they are really looking at the food and almost mentally tasting the food, it can have the impact that they have consumed it already and it may decrease the excitement of it when they go to eat it,” explained Salge Blake.

In the study, the volunteers who were shown 60 pictures of salty foods like chips and fries ate less of them than those who did not see the pictures.

We also talked to Tony Wolf in Brookline’s Coolidge Corner. He isn’t sure the Instagram Diet is for everyone. “I think from person to person, it could work for some people. I think for most people, it is going to make you want to go out and get it.

Another study found that if someone imagined eating M&Ms one at a time and savored each one, they ended up eating fewer than someone who just opened the package and dug in.

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