By Mary Kay Kleist

(CBS) — Social media sites are filled with photos of delicious meals and sinful desserts. Some experts believe looking at pictures of luscious food could actually help us stay on our diets and help curb your appetite.

Just a picture of decadent dessert or an enticing entree can make our mouths water.

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“It looks really good to me and i would be tempted to buy it, and to eat it,” said Debbie Brandenburg.

“Good old fashioned fried food. You can’t go wrong. It’s gonna be good,” said Stephen Mendola.

But now research is showing that if you look at photos of foods you crave, over and over, you could actually eat less of them.

Boston University Professor of nutrition Joan Salge Blake believes this concept needs more study, but the premise is promising.

“It can have the impact that they have consumed it already and it may decrease the excitement of it when they go to eat it,” she said.

In the study from Brigham Young University, volunteers who were shown 60 pictures of salty foods ate less of those kinds of foods and enjoyed the taste less than those who didn’t see the pictures.

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“It really goes to show that the mind and the body are connected,” said Sheela Raja, clinical psychologist at U.I.C.

The study also found that when people looked at pictures of any food – the more they thought about the taste the more full they felt before even taking a bite.

“The key to it is that you actually have to pay attention to the food and think about it. It’s not just oh I’ve seen a picture but am I really thinking about what does this food taste like,” said Dr. Raja.

But not everyone is sold on the idea of a food photo replacing the real thing.

“I think to myself that a cupcake sounds pretty good right now,” said Caroline Lucas.

“Unless I have it in my mouth and I’m enjoying it, just keep it coming,” said Stephen Mendola.

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Another study found that if someone imagined eating m&m’s one at a time and savored each one, they ended up eating fewer than someone who just opened the package and dug in.

Mary Kay Kleist