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Food Diary

on November 25, 2013

A long time and many posts ago I shared that dislike keeping a food diary. I recognize that it is an important tool in my recovery but that doesn’t mean I joyfully embrace the practice of logging my food. This is a long standing dislike from way back in the days before there were smart phones with apps where we could input our daily food electronically. Hell, it goes back to the days before personal computers.

I’m not sure why I dislike it now, but I’ve figured out why I was always resistant before. Denial. Putting anything down on paper makes it all black and white. I understand now that a lot of my eating was unconscious. Okay, I wasn’t actually, physically unconscious when I ate, as in eyes closed, lights out. However, in the throes of a binge, I could eat and eat and eat and not be logically, completely aware of the foods. I was completely overwhelmed by the behavior. It was hard, difficult, uncomfortable, and stressful to face the truth.

When I started going to a real therapist in 1991 and she told me I had an eating disorder, it was a big deal. Oh, I should point out here that I’d had the eating disorder for years but didn’t know it. You see, I thought there were only two eating disorders — anorexia and bulimia. Since I wasn’t starving or purging, I was completely in the, “I’m just a weak-willed slob who can’t control her eating” state of mind and emotion.

Anyway, in the early days of our work and my infancy in OA, the therapist helped me structure my abstinence. She told me that I needed to commit to a food plan and every morning I needed to write down what foods I would eat and how much. At that point in time, we focused on adjusting the behavior and not so much on the quantity. This meant that if I wrote down in the morning that I was going to have six pieces of pizza for dinner and that’s what I ate, that was okay. I’d committed and adhered to the abstinence I’d defined. However, if I wrote down that I was going to have two pieces of pizza for dinner and then I ate three or four or five, I was not being abstinent.

Sounds a little wacky, but it worked. It helped. The first few months of doing it this way, going to meetings and continuing with therapy got me on track and in recovery.

I did it, including keeping the food diary, because I wanted to recover and was willing to go to any lengths. Even so, I never grew to love logging my food.

I still don’t like it, but I do it, now using MyFitnessPal as an app on my phone. I’ve discovered an important correlation. When I don’t log my food for a few days, I come close to falling off of the wagon. That alone is enough reason to keep logging.

A couple good friends use MyFitnessPal and we all also have FitBits. We’ve “friended” each other on FitBit so we can see each other’s daily progress, cheer each other on in our physical activity, etc. I don’t use the food diary on that program. These friends each recently sent me invitations to friend them on MyFitnessPal, too. I thought about it and then wrote to each of them. I asked them to please not be offended but MFP is where I log my food and I don’t want to share that diary. It has nothing to do with them, it’s all me not being comfortable putting that info out for anyone to see but me.

I’ve had to do a little soul-searching to see why sharing my food diary is out of my comfort zone. At first I worried that it could be a case of fostering sickness in the secretiveness. Tonight I really pondered and meditated on it and had some strong realizations. I spent many years with other people judging my food and what I ate and their disapproval or worry exacerbated my stress and my shame. At a young age I became a skilled stealth eater. My food diary needs to be a place where I can be completely honest about what I’m eating — even if I don’t have a good day and eat off of my food plan.

I can’t do that if what I log on there can be read by other people. I will incessantly worry about what other people think and how they’ll react to the point where I won’t be honest. If I am not honest on my food diary it ceases to be a viable tool in my recovery.

To be clear, these are not judgmental friends. This is all about my old tapes, previous experiences, and personal issues. That said, it is not possible for me at this time to give up the reluctance and make my food diary readable to anyone but myself. My choice to not share is about me protecting the role that keeping a food diary has in my recovery. I don’t have to like doing it, but I need to keep doing it and I can’t afford to let anything interfere with me maintaining this practice with integrity.

My friends were cool and told me they understood. We’ll continue to encourage each other via FitBit and in person. We’re good.

2 responses to “Food Diary

  1. Hope says:

    I hate logging my food the same way I hate balancing my checkbook. :p

  2. Skye says:

    It seems reasonable to keep your food diary to yourself. You don’t have to share everything in your life and that’s not “being secretive”; it’s called having boundaries. It’s taken me decades to learn how to have them. It’s totally okay for you to not share everything, even with your closest friends, if you so choose.

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