Mouth-watering food pictures flying around the internet. And experts say, those food images are affecting us in real life.

Just a few years ago, most food sites were devoted to recipes. But these days, a growing number of websites don’t bother with recipes – because that’s not what people want. They just want scrumptious pictures of food! Food images are also the fastest growing category on Pinterest  they’re re-pinned 50-percent more than fashion images. 

So is there anything wrong with lusting after food? Well, a delicious photo can have real-world consequences. That's according to neuro-scientists Dr. Laura Martin, who studies how we respond to food. 

For starters, the more indulgent a picture is, the more likely it’ll trigger our instinct to eat. That’s because most food porn exaggerates the things we’re hardwired to crave. For example, we’re biologically wired to crave calories from high fat foods  so we don’t starve. That harkens back to our hunter-gatherer days, when food was hard to come by. 

So pictures of food, shiny with oily cheese or sprinkled with sugar, trigger our hunger. That may explain why the #1 most shared food pictures online are desserts. Second are gooey, cheesy comfort foods. And just seeing food lights up the reward center of our brain – and can cause us to overeat  an effect that can last for hours. 

But you can shut down that response by looking at non-food images that give you a positive feeling  like a beautiful beach. Also, take up cooking! According to experts, people who cook have a healthier relationship with food – and are more satisfied with the foods they eat. 

So if you want to make your own food shots on Instagram or Pinterest drool-worthy, try these tricks:

  • Start by doing an EXTREME close up. So close that you can see how crisp the breadcrumb crust is on your mac-n-cheese. Zooming in on food makes people feel as though the food is right in front of their face! It’s a more intimate experience than a wide-shot of the whole dinner table. 
  • Next, even if the portion of food you’re showing isn’t huge, make sure it combines the trifecta of salt, fat and sugar – or refined carbs, like pasta, which turn into sugar in our system. Those are the three things that make people crave food. So even if you’re just taking a shot of a spoonful of an ice cream sundae, make sure people can see the smooth ice cream and the dripping hot fudge with a sprinkle of chopped nuts on top. 
  • Focus on FAT! Our bodies literally crave fat to sustain us. So try to capture the sheen of oil on a slice of pizza or the shine of butter on a stack of pancakes.

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