by Sheryl Carvajal
There are several factors that play into our behaviors surrounding nutrition, from beliefs about food choices to outside factors dealing with the subconscious. Sometimes, even random and unexpected things can influence how we see, choose, and eat food.
We live in a generation where social media is ever-present and has the power to reach across countries and oceans. We can see the effects of the growing popularity of platforms like Twitter and Instagram; “selfie,” a word used to describe a photo taken of oneself has taken social media by storm, and has even become the Oxford Dictionaries 2013 word of the year.
Instagram is a photo-sharing smartphone app that you can use to apply filters to enhance the most ordinary of pictures, and often times a hashtag is assigned to increase traffic to your photo. In addition to the selfie, it isn’t uncommon to see pictures of rainbows, animals, and steaming cups of cappuccino on your feed. But one particular category of pictures that is filling the cyber photo book is pictures of delicious meals, which many label as #foodporn. From intricately dressed salads to decadent desserts, taking and looking at these pictures can actually affect one’s appetite.
A study conducted by researchers at Brigham Young University suggests that looking at too many pictures of appetizing meals and treats can make eating less enjoyable. Overexposure to these foods gives the viewer a sense of satisfaction and satiation without actually eating the food. Essentially, it suggests that with the heightened sense of sight, you’ve already experienced the food, thereby causing the sense of taste to decrease.
While some restaurants have been known to ban patrons from taking pictures of their plates, maybe we should follow the example and save the food for our mouths instead of our eyes.
Food and Football
Whether you’re a lifelong fan of your hometown’s team, you’ve adopted the New England way and cheer on the Patriots every Sunday, or you’re just hoping for another win for your Fantasy team, football is often surrounded by food. Tailgate food, finger food, and a fridge or cooler full of beer is often the go-to for diehard fans and casual viewers alike.
As college football Bowl Games and the National Championship draw near, and we gear up for Super Bowl Sunday, eating habits may not only be influenced during game time. A study published in Psychological Science found that NFL fans whose teams lost on Sunday are more likely to consume extra fat and sugar the following Monday. Compared to their usual consumption, fans of losing teams consumed an average of a 16% more saturated fat; for those whose team won, there was a decrease of about 9% in saturated fat compared to usual consumption.
Though there still may be other factors to consider in eating patterns and behaviors following a win or loss for one’s football team, it may be a good idea to try to be more conscious of your Monday diet, regardless of whether the Patriots (or your favorite team) come out with a “W.”
Fresh vs Frozen debate
As nutrition students, many of us love the idea of cooking with and eating fresh produce. We hear phrases like “fresh is best” and try to limit pre-packaged foods. I don’t know about you, but being in this field for so long, whenever I hear the word ‘frozen’ I have a knee-jerk response to associate it with processed foods, though that is not always correct.
It turns out that frozen fruits and vegetables might sometimes be more nutritionally valuable when compared with their fresh counterparts, according to a study done at the University of Georgia in collaboration with the Frozen Food Foundation. The reason for this is that often times, the produce that you find at the grocery store isn’t at its nutritional peak. Produce is picked before it is ripe so it can ripen during the transit from the farm to the shelves.
Especially for those items that are out of season, it may be a good idea to take to the freezers at the store, as they are frozen right after harvesting, which locks in the nutritional content.
Of course this isn’t the case if you grow your own fruits and vegetables, or you shop at your local farmer’s market or Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), as they don’t lose their nutritional value from a long transit. However, if you do happen to shop at big name supermarkets, you may want to think twice before overlooking the frozen produce aisle.
Sheryl Lynn Carvajal is an avid Instagram-er and Fantasy Football “coach.” Though her hometown NFL team is currently and sadly the worst team in the league, she can’t wait to watch Florida State play in the National Championship game! To learn more about her, please visit our Meet Our Writers page.