The Instagram Diet

The Instagram Diet is my name for taking food photos with a smartphone to help you lose weight. The photos are shared on blogs and social networks and through Instagram, a free app that makes pictures look 50-year old. Last weekend at Fitbloggin’12, a conference and networking event for health-bloggers, I was amazed by the number of people who took pictures of their food.

As I was gathering my thoughts about this a new diet phenomena, Dana at Diets In Review emailed me questions about Joy the Baker’s ‘Friend Diet.’ Joy the Baker, a food blogger, and her friend take photographs of everything they eat and text it to each other for accountability. This is  what I am talking about. The questions helped to clear it for me.

Q:  What bugs you about people taking pictures of their food?
I’m not so much bugged as curious. The concept of taking pictures of food is spontaneous and organic and I respect that, and it helps people to lose weight, all for free. It just seems to be generational for people who grew up in the digital age and with the Food Network as entertainment. Part of if seems juvenile (“Look at me!”) but it is fun to make easy art. Personally, find unprofessional food photos unappealing,

Is it a trend you’ll ever try out yourself?
It’s not for me and I wrote about it in one of my first blogs, This is Not a Food Blog, Mostly.  I’m interested in it from a nutrition/public health intervention perspective. Since it is useful and free and people enjoy it, let’s encourage it. I love to look at my clients’ food pictures.

When you hear “food porn,” what do you think?
I don’t like the word “porn,” but food porn (tempting others with mouth-watering pictures of delicious food) is not exactly the same as taking food photos to help with weight loss. But, food porn does exists in this society because we salivate for food we can’t eat. Temptation bombards us, but we cannot partake, and so we cope and partake with our eyes.

How can taking pictures of our food be helpful, harmful?
For weight loss, food photo fans say it leads to mindfulness, accountability, and inspiration. That’s helpful, and for all food photographers, it’s about pride, connection and entertainment. (As for me, the food is getting cold.) Harmful? If food photos take the place of eating for anorexics or cause friction at the dinner table, then that’s not good.

This is how I summed it up for Diets In Review: 
…the most important thing is to find a solution that works best for you. “People are most committed to the diet plans they invent for themselves, and so I say, ‘Go for it.’ Everything in life is temporary but that doesn’t make it less important.”

Your thoughts: How would you answer Dana’s questions?