UNPOPULAR OPINION: I Use Food Porn To Help Me Stay In Shape

To help ease my cravings for cake, pie, fried chicken, and muffins, I’ve become a bit of a virtual food porn whore.

Oct 30, 2013 at 12:00pm | Leave a comment

This morning began with my usual routine: Up at the crack of dawn, fumble around for my running shoes and shorts while trying to remember my name and other important mental faculties that escaped me the night before, and stumble out the door.
 
I hit the pavement to get in a good five miles before work, and crank up one of my many selected food podcasts "Good Food," "The Splendid Table," "Louisiana Eats," "The Sporkful"--you name it, I’ve got it in rotation.
 
When I get back, hot and sweaty, I think, "A nice bowl of Raisin Bran would make for a good breakfast." So, seeing as how I don’t own a box, I tap on Instagram and scroll a virtual gallery of #raisinbran to keep me satisfied as I head into the shower.
 
Later at work, while sipping my breakfast of black coffee and Splenda, I get a wicked craving for a doughnut, or pancakes or waffles, or, what the hell - as nice slice of chocolate cake. I quickly retreat to another Instagram or Google image search to keep me satisfied until lunch, where I finally give in and have my normal bland sandwich or salad to tide me over.
 
All through the afternoon I’m checking out Tastespotting and my favorite food blogs to find out just what to do with that surplus of vegetables, or, if I’m feeling nostalgic, I’ll peruse photos of sweet potato casserole or cornbread dressing for Thanksgiving. Nothing wrong with getting ahead, right? Plus it looks so much better than the tuna sandwich and Jell-O cup I’m about to inhale.
 
See, about five years ago, I weighed 50 pounds more than I do now. I worked really hard to shed it with diet and exercise, simultaneously educating myself about things like substituting apple sauce for oil in baking, using water for milk in pancakes, and falling in love with anything that was sold in a calorie-portioned pack.  But that didn’t make my cravings for cake, pie, fried chicken, muffins, pancakes (especially pancakes) or any other high-cal carb go away. So, to satiate my appetite, I’ve become a bit of a foodie.
 
Or rather, a virtual food porn whore. 
 
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If I had to blame any one catalyst, it’d be Flickr.
 
The same year I lost all the weight, I also got back into photography and needed a place to upload and showcase my work. Before I knew it, I uncovered a "Search" function that unlocked an international world of gastronomy. I found birthday cakes, crepes, jumbo slice pizzas, and the best barbecue I’d ever laid eyes on. I don’t even like barbecue that much.
 
Whenever I got a jones for something gooey, or crunchy, or spicy, or sweet, to Flickr I would go, and "favorite" away the creme de la creme. 
 
It wasn’t long before I expanded to books and blogs, developing my arsenal to satisfy my cravings at the ready: for good southern fare I hit up "Deep Fried Kudzu" or "Lorie’s Mississippi Kitchen." When I’m feeling deceptively nutritious I’ll peruse the posts of "Ambitious Kitchen" for the latest quinoa/chocolate chip/muffin/smoothie concoction. When I’m in the mood for pasta or pizza a quick Tastespotting search or Pinterest post can retrieve the most gooey, decadent piece of Margherita pizza you ever laid your eyes on.
 
For real time reviews I go to Foodspotting and monitor Yelp photos and comments for all of the restaurants I plan to try one day like I’m the food police. I’ve got more recipes and YouTube tutorials indexed in my head than Food and Wine magazine, and if you checked out some of my recent reads on my iPad, food memoirs "Apron Anxiety," "Blue Plate Special," and "Blood Bones and Butter" are at the top of the list.
 
So, you say, why don’t you just, oh, I don’t know, HAVE some?
 
If only it were that simple. 
 
I don’t trust myself enough (after six years, mind you) to indulge beyond my weekly allotment of a piece of cake and a Subway sandwich on the weekends, or pigging out with the rest of the family at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I know that one bite turns into two, and before you know it I’ve got my spoon in the peanut butter quicker than you can say "Smooth, not crunchy."
 
Like I said, I run every day and eat a diet of proteins, grains, greens and 35 calorie bread, and rarely divert from my daily routine. You’d think I’d give myself permission to have dinner out at a nice place with friends for once, but it’s cheaper to dream than it is to pay your part of the tab.
 
Plus, photos of food don’t expand your waistline quite like the real thing--and I’m not one to starve myself. Just quiet deprivation is fine with me. 
 
So, until I can figure out how to make 3-D red velvet cake come out of the printer--or rather, how to manage portion control--I’ll be just fine watching "Working Class Foodie" food prep videos while I get ready to go out, visually caress that scene with the chocolate almond cake getting iced and cut in "Julie And Julia," and dreaming up carb-laden breakfasts of biscuits and grits all while eating and enjoying my 100 calorie kettle corn and egg-white sandwiches.
 
And, above all, it helps me to keep my weight down. For me resistance isn’t futile, it’s fierce.