No, Looking at Food Doesn’t Contribute to Fat Gain

Last Sunday night was the first night of my girlfriend and I being together in months in her new home city. The best thing about walking around with my girlfriend is the fact that—for the past year and a half (give or take) that we’ve been together, we can make literally anything enjoyable. That night in particular, we decided to waltz into a CVS pharmacy. We danced around aisles, made jokes, and generally enjoyed each other’s company. Once we wandered into the magazine aisle, though, something caught our eye.

A prominent magazine has a headline in big, bold letters: “The new science behind your weight gain”.

She grins and looks at me, “Let’s read it and hear your thoughts.”

Oh this’ll be good.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I love reading, and I love magazines that aim to educate people on health and fitness. Unfortunately, like I said a while back in a previous article though, a lot of “gurus” try to use “health” and “fitness” as mediums to make easy cash. If they can convince you that what they’re saying is legitimate without giving solid reasoning or evidence—they’ve done their job. It’s simple for them, really: throw in a couple of catchwords, add a lot of neat pictures, and boom! You’ve got yourself a “fitness” article that makes a good buck.

I don’t get paid writing for my blog, and even if I did, I absolutely despise people that don’t get their facts straight. It’s even worse if someone tries to manipulate readers. That sets me off the deep end down the ocean of ranting.

We need facts. We need evidence. And we need simplicity if we want to really understand fitness to a degree that can better all of our lives.

You Can’t Get Fat Just by Looking at Food

I don’t even know what this is even trying to get at. The fact that someone printed an article, and then said that looking at food…that that is the first inhibiting factor to you losing fat is just ludicrous. I guess what they’re trying to get at is, “Looking at food that looks good makes you want to eat more”?

But that’s not addressing the real issue then! The real issue here, if this is the claim they’re making, isn’t the fact that the food looks good and that’s causing you to overeat it. It’s that you are lacking the self-control to not eat it in the first place—or at least eat a smaller portion. The fault isn’t that of the picture of a delicious hamburger on Instagram you’re eyeing—it’s you. You’re the one letting a picture dictate your actions.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset
Delicious deviled eggs we had on Monday. Have you gained 10 pounds just looking at this picture yet? Original image by: Michael Roach

Even if we go by this article by The Atlantic, “What ‘Food Porn’ Does to the Brain”[1], and assume that tantalizing pictures of good looking food psychologically alters our perception of hunger; and makes us addicted to the urge to eat—we still come to the ultimate conclusion. Your problem eating more food after looking at a picture is your fault, not the picture’s fault.

Sure, it might make you hungry. But that doesn’t mean you’re forced to eat it until you’re belt breaks.

Does Color Matter?

Another interesting tidbit in the magazine talked about the color of food contributing to your weight gain. It basically made the claim, “If you eat foods that are this color, then you’re going to eat more if it, and get fat.” Now, we can say definitively that color does affect your brain, especially in regards to what we eat. When you see yellow, you can think of cheese; when you see red you can think of spice—those are just a few obvious, every-day-life-examples of the color of food having us lean towards a perceived taste or result of eating.

But nowhere am I seeing anyone say in any study, “Eating more [insert color here] makes people fat.” No, I’m only seeing studies that might make people lean to the side of thinking something is sweeter, or more pleasant. Like this article from the Cleveland Clinic, colors can be a helpful cue for your brain to act a certain way[2].

The real important color, if there’s one to be concerned about, is plate color.


In a study in 2012, cited by this article by the Washington Post titled, “Want to eat less? Change the color of your plate,” it was observed that plate color matters and can trick you into putting more on your plate. As per the article,

“In the study, participants who served themselves pasta Alfredo on a white plate (not much contrast) heaped on 22 percent more pasta than those who were given red plates (lots of contrast).

The researchers found that color contrast helps mitigate the Delboeuf illusion — the perception that there is less food on a plate if there is more room between the edge of the food and the edge of the plate. Other research has suggested that the illusion causes people to over-serve food on larger dinner plates, and under-serve on smaller ones.”[3]

A simple way to avoid gaining too much unnecessary fat, my friends, is just to be mindful! Be mindful of basic dietary habits, like caloric intake. Be mindful of what you put into your body, like how much sugar you eat a day. And be wary of how much exercise you’re (not) getting!

You don’t need ridiculous generalizations to get more fit. You just need more confidence in your knowledge!

Written by: Michael “Bboy Roach1” Roach

[1] “What ‘Food Porn’ Does to the Brain”.

[2] “How Color Can Trick Your Brain into Healthier Eating Habits”.

[3] “Want to eat less? Change the color of your plate”.


Author: f3foranswers

A Christ-first B-boy, writer, and fitness-nut. Owner of the blog "F3 For Answers".

3 thoughts on “No, Looking at Food Doesn’t Contribute to Fat Gain”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s