“You can’t control everything in your life, but you can control what you put in your mouth.”
That’s the mantra for the diet program Stefan Pinto started Thanksgiving morning 2011. His post, “Gobble! Gobble! Post a photo of your Thanksgiving meal on my wall,” received a variety of results. According to Stefan, the variety of meals he saw in the pictures “lit a creative spark.” The following January, the idea of the “Facebook driven camera phone diet” was made an actuality.
Participants in the Stefan Pinto C Diet are asked to determine whether the meals in the photos they post are based on one of the three Cs, convenience, calories, cost or some combination of the three.
“We discovered that no matter who you are, your occupation, your culture, your income level or age – you always eat based on one of those three Cs!” Stefan said. The goal of the program is that the participants go from a thought of, “did I really eat that?” to “Yes! I ate this!”
When it first started, the Stefan Pinto C Diet had only four participants, three of whom dropped before completing it. Now in its sixth round, the diet program is going strong. Those interested in participating fill out an enrollment form. Once they are accepted and the round starts they receive an email from Stefan every night for 90 days. The emails contain words of motivation and curriculum. The first two weeks are treated as a learning process and then the participants are asked to follow along with the submitted food photos on Facebook. “It’s basically a habit changing guide in not what to eat, but how to eat,” Stefan said.
According to Stefan, what really sells the program are the progress photos that participants post, many of which are shared on the diet’s Facebook fan page. “Seeing a camera phone, mirror picture of your friend’s before and after is quite compelling!” he told us.
Participants in the program are also recipients of brand support, as they receive actual products to try by some of the major supermarket brands. Each of the 12 weeks of the program has a different brand sponsor, so participants get to try a variety of healthy foods. “Typically, people who do not eat healthy won’t ever look at, let alone buy, some of these products; some they [have] never even heard of,” Stefan said. “So naturally, getting it free in the mail would encourage you to try it. They end up realizing that ‘hey, eating healthy isn’t boring and this tastes good!’.”
Stefan knows that people know which foods are generally bad or generally good for them. He feels what makes the Stefan Pinto C Diet work is that participants are held accountable for what they eat, good or bad, by posting the photos of the meal to Facebook. A recent study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that food memories do help with weight loss.
“What is a picture?” Stefan asked. “A memory.”