Food porn

We live in a world where the most common sight at a restaurant / dining table is to take out our phones and take a snap of the meal we are about to eat.

This behaviour has become so common that it is a well-known trait amongst marketing agencies termed food porn; the food business being the easiest to advertise and scoop up engagement for because we all get drawn and are excited by our favourite foods and beverages as we ogle the images and fantasise about the taste and sensation of the food we are staring at.

Why is that? What has changed in the last 5–10 years that has brought so much attention towards food and our eating behaviours that we now have to not only eat it but capture the image and share it via social media so that others may enjoy via imagination having that food with them too?

Is it the food giants who are constantly advertising and portraying pictures of what is ‘desirable’ within society? The diet culture, and the ‘nutrition gurus’ who are constantly giving us conflicting information about what is good for us and what is not?

Or is all of this driven by our demands, desires and indulgences?

Is it possible that we are using food as entertainment and stimulation to distract and to dull ourselves, our awareness and everything we are feeling?

For example, when we eat something that’s high in sugar, our nervous system is stimulated, our physiology starts to rush, blood goes around the body faster and our heart can often feel like it’s about to jump out of our chest. But it doesn’t matter how it makes us feel so long as the food tasted and looked good, right?

But have we considered that whilst the photo we take may look pristine and tempting, the end result in and to our body can’t be photoshopped or improved with a photo filter or a different camera angle. The sugar rush alters our physiology and when this is going on, we are less able to feel what may be happening in our body, as what we are feeling gets numbed by the overwhelming feeling of raciness and all of the body’s attention is focussed on bringing us back to our normal functioning; hence for a few minutes or hours, we are distracted, and our attention is elsewhere. And perhaps, that was the intention of our desires and why food porn is so attractive.

Every food we eat has some impact on our body; consider what happens when we eat heavy foods, such as bread, pizza, pasta, potatoes etc. We can often feel lethargic, like we cannot be bothered to get off the sofa, maybe we even take a little nap. This may seem a different outcome to the bouncing off the walls sugar-high, but it is actually very similar to the effect sugar has on us – our body finds it so difficult to digest these foods that it literally puts us to sleep. We slow down and all of the focus, again, is brought towards the processing of these foods, numbing us away from feeling what else may be going on in or around us. But hey that artisan loaf of sourdough got so many hits and likes when I posted the photo. Gosh I’m drooling just looking at it now, so surely it was worth it?

Is food the tool we turn to as a coping mechanism, or a distraction from everything that we are feeling, at work or at home. When we do not feel equipped to deal with emotions, frustrations, anger or any form of reaction brought up from things we disagree with, that go against everything that is natural to us? And so to avoid what we are feeling, to take the edge off we turn to food and now we don’t even have to eat it, we can jump on our phone and scroll through the images of food porn until we get our fix? At some point, many of us have sussed out that we can use food to numb away these feelings, distract ourselves and seemingly ‘not feel’ them.

You’ve had a big week at work, life has been hectic and you are hanging out for the weekend so you can lounge around, eat all those ‘naughty’ foods and have a glass of wine, and hey, while you’re at it you may even post a few food porn shots to your social media feed so you can show your friends what a great time you are having. But underneath you’re exhausted, reactive, stressed and trying to pretend all is well so you reach out for the thing that gives relief – food!

Yet as we all know, the relief is only short-lived: the food feels and tastes great, but it doesn’t provide a long-term solution so why not have food on tap 24/7 whenever you want to indulge – after all, looking at a photo or two or three or 100’s is calorie-free and isn’t going to wreck your diet. Is this why food porn and images of food have become so popular and why we can’t simply sit to eat without getting the best shot of what is on our plate?

Yep, that go-to food may give momentary relief, but nothing has changed, and perhaps now you feel even worse. Wouldn’t it be easier to acknowledge how we are feeling and with some honesty start to deal with it there and then, rather than trying to bury what is going on with food that puts strain on our physiology and on the way that we feel like it is an addiction that we can’t get out of.

The effect of food on us is not just physical, the composition and ingredients that make up the food do have an impact on our physical body – bloating, rashes, swelling etc. However, there is more to that and the relationship with our food, the demands for our food are actually a representation for the demands of the type of energy we are seeking, and this is why we have seen the explosion of food imagery, food shows and food porn. We are seeking something that keeps us away from what we are feeling and that sense that there may be more to life.

We know exactly what to eat to give us the results we are seeking. Are we seeking to be lethargic? Then a nice loaf of bread will do. Are we looking to be a bit spaced out and not have a clear mind – a cup of coffee will be great, even better if you add milk and sugar.

The seeking of food is actually not based on the flavours alone that interplay in our mouth, but much more on the desire for the state of being we would like to be in.

Food can deliver so much more than its nutrients and calorific value; it can offer us a tool to not be sensitive, aware, connected and reading life, to deny who we are and our innate love and wisdom, to bury what we feel and observe and to keep us lesser than we truly are.

When we begin to pay attention to what is actually going on, why we are eating what we eat, craving a certain type of food or flavour and paying attention to how it affects our body, our understanding of food and our relationship with it may begin to change. But while we want to continue to self-medicate and detach from our senses and feelings, then food will be our go-to as it gives us such a vast array of choices to satisfy our every desire.

They say you eat with your eyes, so it is no wonder that when you sit down for a meal you can’t help but take that food porn shot to add it to the menu that perpetuates the food culture we currently indulge in.

Filed under

AwarenessBehaviourHealthy dietOverwhelmSugarTiredness

  • By Viktoria Stoykova, BSc Psychology and Business; Assoc. CIPD

    A young woman living in the heart of London. I love singing, writing, talking to friends, family and strangers on the tube.

  • By Dr Rachel Hall, Dentist

    Dentist, business owner, writer, author and presenter. Family woman, guitarist, photographer, passionate about health, wellbeing and community. Lover of Vietnamese food, fast cars, social media, café culture and people.

  • Photography: Michele Aboud