Health 07 Jun 2024 2 MIN

That urge to photograph your food? Keep that going

A new study reveals taking food photos is good for your health

Digging into your meal the minute it’s served to your table? So 1900s. It’s pretty much an essential part of the 21st-century dining experience to wait 20 seconds so everyone at the table can snap up an artsy photo. Consider it a quirk or a nuisance—but an elaborately plated dish eaten without a photoshoot? Not happening. And if you happen to be the click-happy friend in question, your behaviour has finally been validated.

A recent study by the Curtin School of Population Health in Australia suggests that taking photos of your food might actually be good for you—and not just for getting likes on Instagram.

The study was founded on the relationship between nutritional surveillance (a spooky term, but it essentially means taking pictures of what you eat) and dietary recall (remembering what you eat). Kind of a no-brainer, when you think about it. Try to remember what you ate for dinner last night. Maybe you remember the gist of it—there might have been some rice, some beans, a carrot or tomato here or there—but I bet you’re struggling with the specifics. The thing is, those specifics are essential for when you’re trying to follow a diet plan.

For the study, some participants were asked to take photographs of the meals they ate using the Food Record app. Researchers, including a dietitian, found that those who took pictures of their food had significantly more accurate recall of their nutritional intake in the last 24 hours than those who had to rely on memory.

But why is it so important to remember what you eat? For one, taking photos of your food on a regular basis could help you develop a more intuitive understanding of the nutrients you’re consuming—and, equally importantly, those you’re missing out on. Maybe you notice a stark absence of veggies one week, or not enough grain—when you have the information laid out visually for you, it’s a lot easier to take note and make the change.

So the next time your dining companion gets annoyed with you because they want to start eating already, you have your excuse ready. (Plus, of course, those likes.)