This is what I ate….

Curious about my eating habits*, and about behavior change in general, I decided to start 2013 with a real resolution for the first time in my life. So.. I took a picture from everything I eat…

* last few months several friends asked me about my food-patterns, since I live alone and am rarely at home, travel a lot for work and meetings friends often outdoors, so when being asked I got curious myself about these…
These where the pictures from january and february (+ march what I drank)… and my findings:


  • The first week my eating habits already changed a lot, I enjoyed making the pictures and put a lot more effort in preparing my dinner and eat breakfast, lunch dinner more frequent!
  • I enjoyed eating me food after taking the moment of taking a picture, as if I really noticed my food a lot more (mindful?)
  • I posted my first picture on facebook, and many people reacted on this out of curiosity, this motivated me very much to stay loyal to my intention.
  • I sort of chose my strictness/rules or disciplines flexible, when I forgot a picture, I made a black picture as a reminder, my main goal was to continue taking the pictures more then being very accurate (also honesty or my conscious was bendable ; )
  • Sometimes I wanted to eat chips or chocolate…. but decided not to do it… the photos became my conscious … but sometimes I decided to eat something and not take a picture on purpose… the dilemma or attitude change intrigued me.
  • It became a great way to remember how I spent my days, where I was, with whom, very clear reference these pictures, work like very clear anchors in my memory, very joyful to browse through the month foodwise since dinner, breakfast is so often a social occassion, and I was reminded on great conversations and situation while looking at the picture.
  • Socially it was sometimes embarrassing and annoying since I needed to take a picture, which was noticed often and I needed to explain, questions on dieting or being a weirdo were arose, but also a lot of curiosity and enthusiasm
  • When I posted my first month on facebook, I received many reactions, which motivated me a lot to continue, but I wanted to change the goal for that month: eat less meat and fish, less chocolat and no late night yoghurt… 
  • My january goal to eat three times a day was achieved!
  • My february goal to eat less chocolate, meat & fish was achieved (but less consistent on my january goal)
  • (ps i lost 4,5 kg in 2 months)
  • When I stopped taking the photos from food on March 1st, I really missed the extra attention on my food very much… 
  • I tried using other apps for calorie calculating like Meal Snap, but this meant clicking 4 times and some patience while uploading and calculating, this was increasing my threshold too much and I lost motivation to continue.
  • Taking pictures from my drinks (in march) as extra experiment was very very dissapointing to do, a lot of effort, but I forgot so often, so I got demotivated very much… too much…. (will be continued)

And the reactions on facebook:

  1. Thanks for posting this. I like the way you formatted the pictures into little icons and used colour to highlight different categories. I’m designing a food diary for an HCI assignment and find your insights very useful!

    1. Thank you for your compliment, will you sent me any reference on your results? I am very curious now.
      I did try several other options, but in a way I was also lazy and looked for a ‘fast’ way to visualise. Easy but clear was the focus.

  2. Ellis:
    I love hearing about this – I am a graduate student who goes to Temple University in Philadelphia, PA in the US – my master’s thesis was on the topic of “Photo posting and the effect it has on eating habits” – I am in the process of writing up my thesis based on the data I gathered – I ran 4 experiments with different populations and different sample sizes … with varying results! Since I study the science of behavior analysis … I was trying to see if there was a functional relationship btw the dependent variable (eating) and the independent variable (photo posting to private Facebook pages) … please send me any links to research you may be doing or if you EVER come to Philadelphia – please look me up! We have fantastic restaurants here and you could add some great photos of meals eaten here to your inventory.
    Best regards,
    Mara Humphreys

    1. Hi Mara,
      thank you for your kind words and invitation.
      I am not sure what links you need, maybe you can email me a more specific question to reply on?
      Many greetings!

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