This is what I ate….

21/03/2013 22:54

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)


This is what I ate in january:

This is what I ate in february:

And the reactions on facebook:

What I drank in march (till I gave up…)


Alice, behaviorchange, data-visualisation, habits, QS

Care to comment?

6 responses to 'This is what I ate….'

  • Bora wrote a comment on 4-21-2013

    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!

  • ellis wrote a comment on 4-21-2013

    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.

  • ellis wrote a comment on 5-8-2013

    I will presenting these findings at the QS conference Europe!

  • ellis wrote a comment on 8-8-2013

    mmmh, tried again in july…. took more black pictures then foodphotos… hard to maintain this habit appearantly…

  • Mara Humphreys wrote a comment on 7-29-2014


    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

  • ellis wrote a comment on 7-29-2014

    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!