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Photographing meals aids healthy eating.

When it comes to watching what you eat, it pays to watch closely — and take a picture. According to a study conducted by consumer science professor Lydia Zepeda and graduate student David Deal, people who photographed their meals tended to follow a healthier diet.

The study was conducted in 2006, when Zepeda and Deal asked forty-three volunteers to photograph everything they ate before consuming it. The goal was not to encourage weight

loss so much as to study how people make decisions about the foods they eat.

“We know that food diaries — where people record everything they’ve eaten — are a common tool used in dieting,” Zepeda says. “But journaling is done after the fact, after the food has been eaten. To photograph the meal, you’ve got to record it before you eat.”

They found that people are increasingly conscious of what’s on their plates — and reluctant to eat anything inappropriate.

The study was funded with the aid of a Vilas Life Cycle grant from the Women in Science and Engineering Leadership Institute.

Published in the Spring 2009 issue

Tags: Faculty, Health and medicine, Research, Students

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