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A New Study Claims Your Food-Instagramming Friends Were Right All Along

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If you’ve ever been out to dinner, were ready to bite into your delicious entree, and had your fork pushed away from the plate while a friend shrieked “wait, I gotta get this for Instagram,” your worst fears have come true. A new study suggests that taking pictures of one’s food before consuming it really does make it taste better. That’s because the experience of taking a picture — especially for those people who literally stand on their chairs to make sure to get the proper #foodporn angle — slows a person down long enough to appreciate their food, making that first bite just that much more wonderful for anyone who’s taken the time to hashtag the living hell out of their dinner.

Does it work for all food? No. According to the CBC, the effect of enjoying your food more after snapping it only works if what you’re eating is something incredibly wonderful and special (like a Kylie Jenner Milkshake, or a steak that’s been burned to delicious well-done perfection). So while taking a picture of your movie-themed chimichanga before sticking it in your face may be beneficial, you don’t need to go all out on that free breakfast the hotel offered on your last business trip. No #cereallife pics needed.

The study, published in the Journal of Consumer Marketing, points out that it’s not actually the camera that makes the food taste better (because we don’t live in The Twilight Zone) but the ritual that comes before eating that makes it so great. While the new information suggests that it’s the perception of the food — healthy or indulgent — that makes you love it more, studies published in 2013 point out that any ritual (perhaps saying grace?) before a meal and delaying the gratification of that first bite can make it taste more delicious.

It’s a strong endorsement of an annoying behavior, even as more and more restaurants are trying to make it harder for people to ruin the dining experiences of others (because let’s face it, putting one foot on the table and raising your plate to the heavens to take a photo does ruin it for others).

There might be even be more than one good thing coming out of this study. According to New York Magazine, taking pictures of healthy food can help one enjoy the consumption of food that’s neither sumptuous nor tempting, like the Green Goddess smoothie your chard-obsessed friends are always trying to get you to try.

This happens because seeing others publicize their own healthy choices makes eating healthy look more desirable. When we photograph our own #cleaneating pictures, we end up delaying taking part in the desirable act of eating healthy, building anticipated pleasure for what might otherwise seem like a bowl of green gloop. Something similar happens while taking a picture of a mountain of chili cheese fries or a steak. The only difference is that, in these situations, what we’re likely anticipating is the desirable flavor more than the virtuous act itself.

So should you also start taking pictures of everything you eat? In one way, it could work in the same way as tracking your diet, making you more aware of what you’re putting in your body. On the other hand, making everyone wait while you position your waffles just so (or, worse, demand they be sent back for a prettier presentation) might make your friends and family members want to murder you in cold blood, thereby removing any health benefits that come from your tireless food documentation.

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