Why Taking Photos Of Your Food Could Be Good For You

Why taking photos of your food could be good for you

New research finds taking pics of your rib-eye or ramen isn’t just good for content for your social feed, it could help improve your diet

YOU SIT DOWN to breakfast at a hip new café, order the shakshuka, which duly arrives, a stunning portrait of gastronomic excellence that you really must capture. So, you whip out your phone and hover over the delectable dish, capturing this delightful concoction for digital posterity. It’ll surely be good for a deluge of likes and a few choice comments: “Dig in, mate. Totes Jealous”. Never mind that your eggs are getting cold.

While you’ve just fed Instagram’s ravenous algorithm, it turns out you may have also given yourself a generous serving of dietary insight. New research from Curtin University has found that taking pictures of food isn’t just a core content pillar of many people’s social, er, feeds, it could be the key to improving your diet. Why? Because it can help you remember what you’ve eaten – or not eaten, if you leave those eggs too long.

In the study, the researchers measured the weight of meals, which were then provided to participants over a day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Participants then compared different technology-assisted methods to recall what they had eaten over the past 24 hours. One method asked participants to take photos of their meals using the mobile Food Record app. These photos were then analysed by a research dietitian.

The study found the accuracy of nutritional intake was far higher for the group who had taken photos of what they ate, compared to participants who were asked to remember what they had eaten.

“People can struggle to remember what they have eaten, but this study shows dietary assessment can be accurate – particularly when you take the burden away from the person when you ask them to take a photo of what they ate,” says study author and PhD candidate Clare Whitton.

While the study saw the food photos analysed by experts, work is underway to use artificial intelligence to automatically analyse the foods in the photos.

Study lead and mobile Food Record App co-creator Professor Deborah Kerr said this could help in getting a bigger picture of what people are eating.

“It makes it a lot simpler for people to track what they consume when they only have to take photos for the day,” Kerr said. “This will become even easier as we start to fully automate the analysis of the foods in the photos.”

Kerr said as technology advances, it could help better capture what populations are eating, while also offering more accurate dietary advice for individuals looking to eat healthier.

“This research shows the benefit of images; that’s the pathway we’re going down to get an accurate picture of what people are eating,” says Kerr.

The bottom line: keep snapping your shakshukas; you could be nourishing your wellbeing in the process.


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