I often post photos of my food on Instagram before I have tasted it. I take the picture, adjust the light, contrast, and saturation, upload it to my Instagram account and then enjoy the food. Sometimes, when I start eating that photogenic food in front of me, I don’t even like it.
That pretty orange and pistachio meal I made is bitter because the oranges have gone sour. The beautiful Italian pasta, which I bought entirely to take a photo of, is pretty tough. I am left chewing the tough pasta long after the “likes” have stopped popping up. The interaction was tasteful while it lasted, though.
We love to share pictures of our food. Because that would mean giving away something delicious and substantive and a considerable amount of this hungry, food-centric medium revolves around food photography on platforms like Instagram.
Food pictures effects on your taste experience
Searching for posts using the food hashtag on Instagram gave me over 308 million results, which isn’t all that surprising. We usually eat with our eyes, and just seeing imagery of food can elicit very pleasurable emotional and physical responses. Taking a picture of your food before eating, delays the act of consumption, therefore raising anticipation, and eventually contributing to a more pleasant taste experience.
“The calories just aren’t worth it if it’s not going to make a good Instagram photo.”
These days, it’s not unusual for so-called instagrammability to perform as a factor in restaurant and food designs, for many people, snapping a food shot is an essential part of dining. A friend of mine once confessed getting a significant number of likes on food posts made him feel validated for what he ate. You can imagine how this is connected to a diet-friendly culture that recommends we shouldn’t eat at all.
“Thanks to the effects of deeply established diet culture, many of us still see foods as intrinsically ‘bad’ and needing special permission (perhaps via Instagram likes and comments) to ‘support,’”
says Lauren Canonico, a psychotherapist who counsels women and those who identify as LGBTQIA+/GSM.
“I think we turn to Instagram to confirm our choices across the board, but like with all social media platforms, what we observe is usually the highlight reel and not an accurate representation of day to day experience.”
A 2016 study found that higher Instagram usage strengthened orthorexia (eating disorder rooted in an obsession with healthy eating), in a sample of 700 women who reacted to ads on social media platforms.
There was a moment in my life when the content of the “wellness” category filled up much of my Instagram feed and had a significant effect on my food choices. The lifestyle of people who posted meticulously-styled, vegetable-laden photos seemed extremely perfect.
What makes Instagram so powerful in making food impressions?
Instagram can blend organic content and advertising together. Usually via influencers who are paid to promote brands in a way that looks as natural as posting pictures of one’s breakfast. In the case of wellness and food influencers, they are doing both concurrently.
So, things are not always what they seem on Instagram. Instagram may have begun as a platform for sharing pictures with friends and family, but its value as one of the most efficient modern marketing tools is something we can’t deny. And that’s what much of this is: advertising and marketing.
A beautiful picture of a colorful smoothie bowl could be peppered with sponsored hashtags mentioning the brands involved. But the picture offers immediate pleasure without the tedious, preachy exposition that we find so grating in other forms of promotion. Also, Instagram recommends similar content based on things we have liked and followed before, so our feeds become a never-ending billboard.
What do you think? Is this true about you too?
Comment us below and let us know.