Updated old post from 25/9/2013 on my old blog
I kept a food diary since the very first day I got diagnosed with anorexia and embarked upon this difficult but worthwhile journey of recovery, until about 6 months ago when I decided it was time to move on.
Sometimes I just wrote down what I had eaten, and sometimes I also jotted down how I was feeling next to it.
Where do I keep my food diary?
You can keep your food diary in a notebook, you can print off food diary sheets online, you can even get food diary smartphone apps- my personal favourite being RR, where you write down what you eat but also how you feel on scales of 1-5, which is quick but gives you a good idea of how you are doing when you look back at it. It can also draw graphs for you of your mood or how often you are binging etc. which can be very helpful to see how you are coming along.
I personally write it down in a notebook which is my food diary, but I have also used the RR app which I really recommend if you have a smartphone – it just depends if you prefer it being written down on paper or digitally!
food diaries: useful or not?
Now I’d definitely say it has been useful to refer to at times, but with keeping such a rigorous record of what I eat and when I eat it, I’d definitely say there are some negative points to bear in mind.
If you are recovering from an eating disorder- whether that be anorexia, binge eating, bulimia, EDNOS, orthadoxia etc, deciding whether to keep a food diary or not can be difficult.
To help with this issue I thought that I would do a post about the pros and cons to help you guys out.
I will not reach an overall conclusion as to whether it is a “good” or “bad” idea, I’ll let you decide that for yourselves. It’s important that you feel happy and comfortable with whatever you choose to do.
Side note – This should NOT be a calorie counter
Also, can I just say right now that this food diary should NOT be a calorie counter! It is important to let go of your eating disorder and start eating for nutrition, calories do not matter in the slightest and should not be counted up in your diary if you can avoid it! – That’s my advice anyway, obviously you can go against it if you wish.
• It allows you to keep track of your progress- how much you are eating and if you have a meal plan, whether you are managing to stick to it or not
If you have a dietitian/ therapist/ counsellor/ keyworker, you can show it to them if you want to know if you are eating enough/ the right things/ sticking to your meal plan well enough etc.
• It can be useful to refer back to; for instance if you start losing weight you can look back on a period where you were gaining and see what you were eating then and how you could get back on the right track again
•By writing everything down you can get used to what you are eating and start accepting your new food plan more – but be warned, for some people writing it down may only make what you’re eating seem more of a challenge.
• Many people who have eating disorders (myself included) like the feeling of control when they lose weight or don’t eat etc., so by keeping a food diary you are still perfectly in control but in a new way which will lead to you getting rid of your eating disorder forever
• If you’ve eaten something that you found really hard like chocolate cake or something, when you write it down and write next to it how hard you found it, when you look back you will be able to see how brave you were for eating it and even if you don’t feel it at the time, you will be proud of yourself
•Keeping a vigorous list of what you are eating can be another way of your eating disorder taking over – though you can always start off by writing it down and eventually stopping
• It is time consuming
• It may make you feel worse about what you are eating if you write it all down and it looks like such a large amount that you cannot cope with it
• It doesn’t allow you to forget what you’ve eaten
• It may make it harder for you to move on from your eating disorder and leave it behind
• You may get anxious about somebody finding it
• It may frustrate you to see how long it takes for things to change and you to be able to eat more
It’s up to you…
I’ve probably missed some points out by accident, but I think that is the majority of points I wanted to make. If anyone has any more suggestions leave them in the comments and I will add to the lists and give you credit of course (unless you ask to remain anonymous).
It is up to whoever is reading this to draw their own conclusion of whether they think it is right for them, and whether it will help them in their recovery. There is no right or wrong answer, everyone is different and it may help some people but not others.
I personally think that it completely depends on what stage of recovery you are in as to whether you will or will not find writing a food diary helpful. When you progress further in recovery it may be a good time to try to let go of rituals of recording what you eat etc, whereas if you are new to recovery you may find it a useful tool to keep some control initially.
I hope this helped, and please do leave feedback below if you have any questions or comments.
Thanks for reading.