-Trishtha Agarwal, 4th year MBBS, Kasturba Medical College

When you open the fridge or browse through the shelves of your local supermarket, there are a smorgasbord of food options available. But instead of choosing among those options, more often we prefer going with the trend and eating what’s trendier than what you actually want to. For example, those heavenly reels of iced coffee which look so divine and appealing with the frothed milk on the top seeping through those large cubes of ices and black coffee concentrate.

On scrolling through social media sites such as Instagram, Twitter or Facebook, you will be confronted with a million pictures of perfectly presented and utterly delicious-looking meals. While the smell and taste of food can have an undeniably powerful effect on our cravings, are endless posts of steaming snacks and glistening morsels more than just a feast for our eyes?

Research has shown that, the closer two people are, the greater they sway each other’s food choices. We are highly influenced by people who we like or follow, especially when it comes to what we eat.

“It’s more about the relationship and how I compare myself with that person than specific individuals. If I think the person I’m with is more attractive or popular, I’ll tend to want to imitate them more.” says Solveig Argeseanu, associate professor of global health and epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, US

Social cues generally encourage us to eat more, whereas some influencers might encourage us to eat unhealthy, being around healthy eaters may influence you to eat healthier too. According to scientists it is proven that, we are largely influenced by what we see, for example bubbling mozzarella, oozing choco lava cake, and dribbling egg yolk. There is some evidence that, if you see pictures of food, that visual stimulation can prompt you to feel a desire to eat,” says Suzanne Higgs, professor in the psychobiology of appetite at the University of Birmingham, UK. Although, she says, whether people follow through on that desire is influenced by lot of other factors, such as what food is available at the time. 

There are concerns that social media posts of sugary and fatty food might push people into making unhealthy choices about what they eat (Credit: Jeffrey Greenberg/Getty Images)

Social media is a platform where visual and social cues meet. If our friends regularly post pictures of a certain kind of food, it would influence us to follow or copy the same. If your friends eat fast food regularly and post pictures about it, it is going to set a norm that eating fast food is what people do. Research has proven that we are more attracted towards junk food and the reason for that is that, it contains saturated fat which makes us feel good by releasing dopamine and stimulating pleasure centers in the brain. Humans are biologically primed to seek out calorie-dense food – an ability that helped our ancestors survive when they foraged for food.

Talking about ASMR, what is it actually?

It is an act which can induce a tingling sensation in your brain, head, neck, and spine through sounds and visuals of people biting, chewing and slurping different types of foods. Further research on ASMR has shown that, people experiencing ASMR show greater levels of neuroticism. Neuroticism is a personality trait typically defined as a tendency towards depression, self-doubt and other negative feelings. It is associated with a tendency to experience negative emotional states such as anxiety. People who watch ASMR regularly may do so to relax or reduce stress, potentially indicating elevated levels of anxiety.


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