FOOD PORN: Is Your Food Photo Fetish Really a Mental Disease?

I have never understood the obsession with photographing food as a hobby. Still, I see food photography everywhere across my social network—a pork loin on Instagram, a taco salad “liked” on Facebook by 30 friends—I’ve even been texted images of fingerling potatoes on my iPhone. A few weeks ago I caught my date photographing my plate of restaurant food when I had stepped away from the table for a moment. They admitted to being a closet food photographer.

While I personally don’t understand, nor do I have interest in food photography, I never really thought of it as an issue of mental health.

But, according to a Canadian mental health expert, taking lots of pictures of food can indicate health or mental problems. "Food Fetish: Society's Complicated Relationship with Food" was a presentation that Dr. Valerie Taylor recently gave at the Canadian Obesity Summit in Vancouver, in which she argued that "For some people who have the predisposition for weight behaviors" food photography and social media activity can anticipate "unhealthy weight disorders."

The concept is, that looking at food porn is part of an obsession—a compulsion, around food in an unhealthy way—and contributes to food disorders of all sorts. It is akin to how sexual porn is often part of sexual compulsions and obsessions.

"We take pictures of things that are important to us, and for some people, the food itself becomes central and the rest -– the venue, the company, et cetera -- is background," says Dr. Taylor.

“Mental Illness” or not, the idea of paying attention to what’s important to us is a good indicator of our life’s focus. If my date was more interested in photographing the dollop of crème fresh on my pasta than having a meaningful conversation with me, perhaps priorities should be examined.

So, are you "fetishizing" food? And how does that impact your relationship with your health, and your relationship with others. Something to think about the next time you decide to post you next photo of that flourless chocolate torte to Instagram.

Primary image via ALifeWorthEating on Instagram

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