While I was looking up some of the terms for my previous article, I came across this article, which asked the question: Is photographing your food a sign of mental illness? It caught my interest, since I am becoming rather well known for my “food porn” on FaceBook.
I usually laugh at calling it food porn, though it does make me wonder about people who become sexually aroused by food. However, that’s not what this is about. Some professionals believe that people who feel a need to photograph and socially share their food are suffering from a mental illness and are likely to be obese. Another professional believes that it may be a form of self-control, and that a food photographer may likely be healthier and more aware of their eating.
I think it all depends on why you’re doing it. For me, I photograph and share images of my meals because I want to show people that you can make great meals at home, you can easily eat healthy, and that you can eat healthy on a budget. My intention is to make people aware of good food and healthy eating choices. In my case, I know it’s not a mental illness, and I am certainly not obese myself nor encouraging overeating in those who see the images.
Intention is most likely the determining factor in just about anything. If you’re taking the photos and sharing them to show off how much you eat and expecting others to eat more as well, that’s not healthy. If you’re trying to promote healthy eating and an appreciation for food, then it’s a good thing. Whether you’re mentally ill or not really boils down to why you’re doing what you’re doing.
It is interesting that mental health professionals are worrying about people who take photos of their food, and don’t seem to be worrying about more pressing issues, like overeating itself. How about restaurants that serve huge portions of fatty, unhealthy foods? Aren’t they contributing to an unhealthy expectation of and desire for food? Aren’t they enabling an obesity mindset? I think that should be far more worrisome than whether or not someone takes a picture of their dinner.
I do believe that there is a lot of mental damage surrounding how we see and use food. Obesity is a huge problem, and at the same time people are starving to be thin. Then, of course, there are people who are just starving. We live in a society that is equally battling issues of overeating and hunger. Proper education about food (and everything else) and massive changes in society are needed if we hope to have a mentally and physically healthy society.