The Food Porn Problem

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Oooh, Shiny!

Your body craves fat, so you seek out the slickness of oils and refractive shine--found, in this case, cradling the pasta in an orgy of butter, three different cheeses, and bacon grease.

Imaginary Mouthfeel

Blistering at the dome suggests texture--can't you just imagine piercing through the crust?

And although food porn temporarily disables your willpower, certain activities have been shown to weaken your brain's response to food. A study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that after men and women biked for an hour, their brain's food-reward response barely registered. Researchers believe the vigorous activity dampened the desire to seek out food (and, they theorize, regular intense exercise could keep this effect intact long-term).

On the flip side, not getting enough sleep leaves you wide open to food porn's seduction. A study in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism showed the brain's hunger-and appetite-regulating center is more likely to be stimulated by images of food when you're sleep-deprived. Yet another reason to get those eight hours of shut-eye--or, at the very least, to not prowl the Internet when you don't.

But the most effective technique is probably the same whether you're using it in the bedroom or the kitchen: Turn your online fantasies into inspiration to get busy at home. Research shows that we consume fewer calories when we cook, because we control portions and ingredients.

There is also a growing number of sites that serve up food porn with nutritional information (like Edamam.com) or ones like Foodily.com that allow you to search for a dish without certain ingredients (say, carrot cake without raisins).

And the benefits go beyond the scale: "Consumers who cook tend to have a healthier relationship with food and are more likely to be satisfied by what they eat," says Sousa. "They may peruse these images online, but they are less inclined to eat mindlessly as a result of it because they're actually experiencing all the sensual pleasure that comes with food."

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More from Women's Health:

Quiz: Can You Spot the Healthy Snack?

Tasty Smoothie Recipes

Your Flat-Belly Day Diet

5 Ways to Outsmart Restaurant Menus

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