Comfort Cravings

How to soothe yourself without food—and how to eat healthfully and mindfully

"Food Porn?" The Hidden Risks

Five Tips for Coping with Food Porn Cravings

(Warning! This article may be hazardous to your appetite!)

The term “food porn” is a relatively new concept/term that is the focus of a recent article in Women’s Health Magazine by Teresa O’Rourke. While there are many different definitions of food porn, it can generally be considered glamorized photos of food—imagine enlarged, close up photos of enticing treats like a huge brownie with marble sized chunks of chocolate chips, dripping with fudge oozing down the side.

In part, this is nothing new. We’ve been viewing enticing pictures of food on commercials and in magazine ads for years. But the nature and types of photos have become more sophisticated and photographed from a new vantage point. They are magnified and often the center of the photo instead of a supporting feature. There may be no words or recipes at all.

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The effect, which is covered extensively in the article, is what “food porn,” food ads and commercials do to your appetite. You may not have been thinking about pizza or craving it and then—whalla! After viewing a pizza commercial or larger-than-life photo online, you can’t think about anything else besides dialing the number for the nearest pizza joint. There is no doubt about it. The research is pretty clear—viewing pictures of yummy food stimulates your appetite (for an example: http://foodporndaily.com).

But what about the word “porn?” Obviously, “porn” is a strong word—that generally draws an intense reaction. Whether you agree with the term or not, it is used to suggest something about the nature of the interaction with the photos. In part, food and sex have always been linked. They are both pleasurable and stimulating to the senses. However, some suggest that linking the two together might imply that the act of viewing these foods is “naughty” and insinuates that food is to be looked at and not touched. Once again, there is nothing inherently “bad”about food. True, some foods are healthier than others. But, labeling treats as “bad” often digresses into “I’m-bad-if-I-eat-it."

So it’s not just the visual aspects of the photo itself that gives it the name, food porn, it is how you view the photos. People who have disordered eating, are on very restrictive diets or have eating disorders often visit these food websites. In the past, my clients told me stories of watching the food channel or spend hours paging through food magazines. Now, it is spending a great deal of time on the internet. They aren’t just going onto pinterest and looking for pictures of desserts for inspiration or a new recipe. People who struggle with food are often looking at these photos, stimulating their appetite, increasing their cravings and then resisting as if a battle of wills to reaffirm or test their power over their desire for food. If this sounds like you, you know how painful it can be to want food and not allow yourself to have it—even a little.

Like actual pornography, when you remove yourself from the direct sensual pleasure day after day, something happens. You become disconnected from the experience a little. At the end of the day, food is meant to be eaten—not just looked at. We can forget that when we lump it in with the term porn.

If you find yourself sitting for long periods of time in front of the computer screen, looking at the food pictures, wanting it, playing tug-of-war with your appetite, this may be a red flag that you are struggling with a food issue. Here is some advice.

Five Tips for Coping with Food Porn

1. Avoid the "food porn sites" for a three day trial period. Notice whether this changes your appetite and/or lessens your struggle with cravings.

2. Or, if you are a foodie, go back to sites that feature recipes first and pictures second. Make sure there is text along with the pictures or find a different site.

3. Limit your time viewing these photos. Sometimes you just can’t help it (friends posting "food porn" photos on Facebook). Give yourself the five second rule. Take a peak then move on.

4. If you have a Pinterest account, be sure to follow people who post inspirational photos, healthy recipes and non-food related photos.

5. As always, my message is that it is “okay” to eat treats. We just have to learn to do so mindfully! Savor. Enjoy. Eat just enough to be satisfied without overeating. It’s not easy but possible. Try a mindful eating exercise or contact a counselor who can help www.edreferral.com.

For more info: see the article in Women’s Health magazine. Thank you to Teresa O'Rouke for writing an article highlighting this topic!

Twitter: eatingmindfully

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/eatdrinkmindful

But I Deserve This Chocolate: The 50 Most Common Diet-Derailing and How to Outwit Them. She is a psychologist for the Cleveland Clinic and author of five books on mindful eating including 50 Ways to Soothe Yourself Without Food and Eating Mindfully 2nd edition (order now!). Her books have been noted in O, the Oprah magazine, Shape, Prevention, Health etc. and seen on The Dr. Oz Show on TV. www.eatingmindfully.com

 

 

 

Susan Albers, Psy.D., is a psychologist who specializes in eating issues, weight loss, body image concerns and mindfulness. 

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