For the first 5 years of my treatment, I kept a food log. Yes, I have a record of everything that I ate for 5 years… which is now completely useless, but at the time I thought it was a helpful tool. I counted exchanges (rather than calories), drew pictures to illustrate my days, and wrote any feelings that came up during the day. My therapist and nutritionist would review it every week… which was also useful, since I am really bad about brining up things that aren’t bothering me at the moment (meaning, if Tuesday was an awful day but it’s now Friday, and things are okay…. I wouldn’t bring up Tuesday’s events).
Anyway, somewhere in the middle of college my nutritionist decided that eating disorder recovery was all about “intuitive eating,” and that meal plans and food logs were detrimental to treatment
For someone with an eating disorder, eating is not intuitive. Does eating a piece of pizza excuse restricting the rest of the day? I don’t think so, but my nutritionist felt that trying fear foods was more important than anything. I used to joke that I could eat nothing but a plate of spaghetti one day and my nutritionist would probably pat me on the back for eating scary pasta.
It’s been years since I kept a consistent food log, but I think it can be therapeutic because it helps you keep yourself accountable. I recently moved and changed my entire routine… and that’s stressful. Because eating for me is still not 100% intuitive, I rely on a lot of external factors. Queues from the people around me, usual eating patterns, my daily schedule, etc. When all of that is different, it’s hard to keep myself accountable. Plus, writing down all the food & body image thoughts/fears does a lot to lessen anxiety. It’s easier to be objective when everything is sitting on paper in front of me. (and much easier on my boyfriend — he doesn’t need to hear every time I’m having a freak-out about food/weight).