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The big lie about “food porn”

Ramit Sethi · June 14th, 2016

Look at these photos. What do you notice?


Damn that looks good!

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I don’t know about you, but the first thing I noticed was DAMN THAT LOOKS GOOD.

Maybe a little jealousy.

But also a tiny moment of happiness at imagining putting one of those in my mouth. Ahhhh…so good.

And yet, most of us will never make a dish like that. In fact, by looking at those photos, we’ll treat them like a tiny morphine addiction to feel good for just a minute…and then go back to our day.

Remind you of anything?

food porn
Ahhh…I feel so good. But I’m not going to do anything. Thanks for nothing, Obama

Guys, I completely get how fun it is to look at pics on Pinterest and Instagram, and (if you’re a huge fucking nerd), Money Magazine.

But I also know that stuff is engineered to give you a quick dopamine hit. You feel good, you even feel accomplished, then you go right back to your normal day.

And as part of IWT, I’ve always been fascinated with areas where we feel better but don’t actually change anything. Because I know that if we make a tiny change here or there, our entire life can change.

We did it with money. We did it with careers and entrepreneurship.

Now I want to talk about food
What do you put in your body every day? How does it help you perform?

There’s a reason why I’m talking about this now: I think a Rich Life is about much more than money. I’d made plenty of money and I was still eating the same stuff I’d always eaten.

In fact, my food became part of my identity. I would brag about eating Taco Bell at 25. I even wrote about it in my book!

There’s nothing wrong with Taco Bell. But isn’t it interesting how our food becomes our identity? Where we eat, how much we eat, what type of cuisine we eat.

As my business grew, I wanted to find every edge I could. And I knew that if I could understand how food works, I could have endless energy every single day.

More than that, I wanted to figure out why I kept saying things like “I should cook more” or “I should really start eating better…” BUT I NEVER DID.

What I learned about the food-marketing complex
I started reading all these food articles — Paleo this, Atkins that, use extra-virgin olive oil! I’ve even watched The Food Network (notice I said “watched,” not “cooked”).

And here’s what I realized: Most of the food stuff out there — the cooking shows, the articles, even the Instagram photos — is designed to get you to consume more food photos.

It’s food porn! It feels good for a second…but doesn’t change anything long term.

Check out this quote from Allen Salkin, author of a tell-all book about The Food Network:

“Food Network is not in the business of teaching people to cook or improving our knowledge about kale. Food Network is in the business of getting people to watch more Food Network. It’s always been about selling advertising to a target demographic…”

YES! Exactly.

The Tyranny of Takeout
The worst part is…food porn works. We look at some food model’s pan-seared ahi lemon tuna and think, “oh, it seems so easy!” We even feel like we learned something. But deep down, we know we can’t cook that.

I don’t have the right pot. I don’t know how to fillet that fish. And our most common go-to…“I don’t have time.”

So what do we do? We open our fridge, sigh, and eat the same old stuff we’ve always eaten. Takeout, “grab a quick bite,” leftovers. The same old stuff — for years and years.

It actually gets worse, because each time we try (and fail) to cook, we’re less motivated to try again. We get flabbier. We eat more takeout. And we start to give up on the possibility of looking and feeling our best.

Look, I’m as guilty as anyone.

For years, I was focused on growing my business. I never cooked anything. Every single day, I ordered delivery. Every day. FOR YEARS!

I got so good at ordering delivery, I could order food from Seamless (delivery site) in less than 15 seconds and the food would arrive while I was still on a call.

instagram
Pics from my Instagram. Don’t judge.

3 things I learned that “food experts” don’t understand
I learned that I “knew” I should eat differently…but I wasn’t ready to give up the foods I loved. I figured there had to be a middle ground instead of going from Zero to Kale.

Along the way, I realized food is a HUGELY underrated part of a Rich Life. It’s what we eat 5+ times a day. Yet amazingly, all these years, I never stopped to think about what I was putting in my body.

I was just eating whatever was in front of me, never connecting the dots to how it made me feel.

So I googled “healthy eating.” I bought a few cookbooks. And yes, I even tried paleo.

But I don’t want to eat broccoli and skinless chicken breast for the rest of my life. And I’m damn sure not making a lovely saffron soup on a Wednesday.

First, yes — I want to eat healthy…but I also want to eat DELICIOUS food. Sorry Mr. Nutritionist, my first rule is that I have to like what I eat! (Is that so weird?)

Second, food needs to work around your life. Are you really going to cook tilapia and take it to work? What happens when you warm it up and your coworkers smell fish in the conference room? People will hate you.

And finally, I want my food to give me energy and keep me focused, not leave me craving chips an hour from now.

My dream is simple: I just want to be able to make a delicious meal, in less than 20 minutes, that will actually leave me feeling GOOD, not tired.

I’ll show you how to do that next Tuesday on my cooking show.

Click here to register. It’s completely free.

-Ramit

P.S. By the way, this isn’t just me. Over the last year, we’ve been testing a new course behind the scenes. We took students with no cooking experience and showed them how to create meals like this:


cooked a meal


chicken


yum

If you’re curious for a sneak peek, come to next Tuesday’s cooking show.

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