If you’re like me, your Instagram feed contains more pictures of decadent sweets and piles and piles of oozing cheesy goodness than real people. Not complaining. But have you ever stopped to think about how these delicious looking pictures you’re drooling over instantly make you starving, regardless of if you just ate?

food porn

Photo courtesy of @eatstagrama on Instagram

Well, I have bad news. According to a study from Brain and Cognition, seeing pictures of fattening foods trigger your appetite and may be contributing to the obesity epidemic.

The study claims that there are physiological and neurophysiological changes seen in response to food images that are having an unhealthy effect on our eating habits. When we see a delicious looking picture of food, blood races to the part of our brain’s associated with taste and we experience the desire to want to eat.

Scientists call this “visual hunger.” Our bodies actually release hormones that signal us to eat when we look at pictures of food. Our hearts start racing, our insulin levels spike, and our salivary glands even become activated as our body prepares for what it thinks we’re about to chow down on. As a result, we experience an increased appetite.

The rise of food porn glamorizes food without important background information like the societal, health and environmental consequences of excess consumption.

food porn

Photo courtesy of @hungrybetches on Instagram

So basically, as we scroll through our Instagram feeds and gawk at mouthwatering meals (like this cheese-encrusted grilled cheese, this bacon ultimate PB&J, or double glazed funfetti donuts), it’s telling our stomach that we’re hungry, even if we aren’t.

food porn

Gif courtesy of Giphy.com

Even when we’re trying to be healthy by just looking at food instead of eating it, we’re still reaping the unwanted consequences. Bummer, I know. So what’s a foodie supposed to do?

Luckily, if fattening pictures on Instagram accounts like these trigger you to want to consume unhealthy foods, then Instagram accounts that promote clean eating must have the same effect.

Filling your Instagram feed with more nutritious options, like a sushi burrito, could inspire you to be ~healthy~ and start to crave sweet, colorful fruits and crunchy veggies instead. C’mon, you’ve got to admit that a beautiful açaí bowl or perfectly pictured avocado toast looks basically as good.

food porn

Photo courtesy of @spoonuniversity on Instagram

It is only normal to love #foodporn and waste hours of the day scrolling through all of Spoon’s recipes. Everyone deserves to indulge a little. My advice is not to stop looking at food porn because that would be unheard of. Rather, just think twice before looking at food porn right before eating a meal. Make sure you’re really hungry and really going to enjoy the food in front of you.