Eating has always been social, so it stands to reason that in our world of hyper-connectivity and social media saturation, food has become a star in its own right on all of our social media channels. It’s rare that you’ll head to a fun, new restaurant and not take multiple Snapchats of the experience, Instagram a photo of that unique new dish, or tweet about the fact you’ve found the best slice of pizza this side of the Mississippi. Yup, social media is having a definite impact on the way we eat. Check out the eating habits you might have picked up from your social media use below.
We Complicate Simple Decisions
With so many restaurants available in a given city, a new one seems to pop up every day. This plethora of eating spots competes for our attention; choosing where to go for dinner can feel akin to selecting a college to attend. On top of that, social media allows us a platform to proclaim our opinions—great for the first amendment, less than great for our decision making processes. Before heading out to a new restaurant for the first time, we’ll check out Yelp, read reviews on Google, and make sure the restaurant is up to our standards. Instead of trying out a restaurant for ourselves, it’s easy to fall into the trap of listening to opinions of complete strangers. This can affect where we eat and how we enjoy food.
More Social or Less Social?
While our meals have become an integral part of our social media efforts, this focus on getting the perfect picture of our hamburger and positioning our phone in just the right way to capture the lighting can turn into ignoring our eating mates. Meals were once the time we could catch up with each other and have updates on our family member and friends’ lives, but today, social media habits are turning lovely meals out into social media campaigns where we ignore our eating partner in favor of letting the digital space know we’re trying a new restaurant.
Social media has overcome basic feelings of satiation. As life coach Lee Davy explains, “Mother nature created hunger so we would understand when to eat. She also created a satiated feeling, so we would know when to stop. Except for domesticated animals and animals who have to overeat to prepare for hibernation, we are the only species that wantonly overeats.” Social media plays a large part in this overeating behavior these days. We’re consistently bombarded with images of delicious plates of food. Just a simple scroll through your Instagram or Facebook feed will probably show you numerous photos of different eats on any given day. Instead of paying attention to hunger, we pay attention to taste and innovation. A study published in the Journal of Brain and Cognition found that food imagery saturating our social media accounts is actually having a major effect on our eating habits and waistlines. When we are shown imagery of food, blood rushes to the part of the brain that is associated with taste creating desire. This food imagery may also trigger inhibitory cognitive processes like willpower, which can take up a bulk of our mental energy.
As social media and internet access allows us to access the information we want, when we want it, we’re a culture that’s lost its patience. As we spend a bulk of our time scrolling through Instagram, commenting on Facebook, and tweeting out even the most mundane details of our day, our over-connectedness has honed a culture of impatience. This impatience leads to ready-to-go meals, processed fast food, and items that are simple and easy to prepare. It’s becoming more of a rarity to see someone slaving over a stove for hours on a special dish; it’s more likely you’ll catch them watching a viral cooking video of how to make two-ingredient mac ‘n cheese or microwavable “cake” in a cup.
A Rise of Eating Disorders
Unfortunately, with all the good social media can do, it inevitably leads to negative consequences as well. Eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia have been pushed into the view of vulnerable and impressionable adolescents. In addition to pictures of photoshopped models, extreme weight loss offerings, and an increasingly prevalent desire to achieve the “perfect body”, today’s youth have access to a bevy of pro-ana and pro-mia communities—communities that purport the benefits and glorify these terrifying eating disorders. These communities can misconstrue these diseases as lifestyle choices, and impressionable kids can fall pretty to the “thinspiration” promised and encouragement to participate in dangerous behaviors.
Social media glorifies food on a daily basis, and has completely transformed the ways we look at our nutrition and food-related hobbies. Next time you log onto Instagram or consider snapchatting your meal, think twice about the way your social media use is affecting your nutrition and overall health.
Article Submitted By Community Writer