Taking pictures of food: a sign of mental illness?

Taking pictures of food: a sign of mental illness?

It might be a Singapore thing, but don’t we all love taking pictures of our food? Experts say that this practice might hint at something as extreme as a mental illness.

Food photography -- Is taking pictures of food a Singaporean habit? Food photography -- Is taking pictures of food a Singaporean habit?

It’s almost all the time that you whip out your mobile phones upon the arrival of your meal, clicking on the camera function as fast as you can in order to snap a shot of your delicious-looking (and hopefully delicious-tasting) meal.

This seemingly harmless habit which pervades most of the world, however, has recently been in the limelight for being a likely symptom of a mental illness.

Unhealthy weight disorders

taylor_valerieDr Valerie Taylor, a mental health expert who spoke at the Canadian Obesity Summit in Vancouver early this month, has reported that such obsession with food has the potential to lead to unhealthy weight disorders.

She says that when all the focus is put on the food in photographing it, the meal itself becomes central in the gathering and the rest -- the venue, the company, et cetera -- is background. According to Dr Taylor, such fixation is similar to having food tattoos, both habits which promote unhealthy “fetishising” of food.

food porn

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If you're familiar with seeing pictures of food posted on your social media site, be it Facebook, Twitter of Instagram, you might have already met a "foodstagrammer", or someone who appears to have dedicated his social media account to gastronomic photography.

Reactions to such easily annoying actions vary widely, from those who are irked by the constant updates to those who follow each post avidly, salivating along the way.

This kind of "food porn", as celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz words it, might have links to the over-preoccupation of food and indirectly the waistlines of people too. But in light of its prevalence globally, doesn't food photography have its boons too?

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Do you post many food photos on Instagram? You may be a foodstagrammer! Do you post many food photos on Instagram? You may be a foodstagrammer!

Is it really that bad?

In the other camp, critics of food photography are being refuted by the argument that its practice could be a celebration of one’s interest and passion instead of an obsession. In snapping shots of your meal, we could also share and spread the joy of good food with good company by introducing must-go eating spots to more of our friends.

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Similarly, food and restaurants can make smooth conversation starters, with it easily becoming a common topic for many. A popular interest locally, perhaps food photography could boost the social fulfilment and relational bonds that eating as a social activity has promoted since time immemorial.

One food writer, Josh Ozersky, also chimes that picturing your food before digging in is a subtle way of exercising self-control. As it would naturally be easier to simply gobble up your food upon its arrival, this pro-food photography stance asserts that impulse control and mental strength nurtured by delayed gratification of chomping down your food is a plus point for the habit.

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Watch the video below for tips on food photography with your smartphone:

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Miss Vanda

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