Reverse Food Journaling: Log What You Don’t Eat

Do you log? Do you count? Do you tally points or track what you chew?

When you gaze at your food journal, does it sometimes harass you with memories of those sh!tty foods you wish you never ate? Maybe it was too many carbs or some cookies washed down with soda sludge. Or maybe you had too much of a good thing? Even a healthy granola bar will turn calorically evil if you chew on too many in one day.

But never mind what you ate. What about the bad foods you DIDN’T eat? It’s time to give yourself some credit for the crappy foods within chewing distance that you never let enter your food trap.

Reverse Food Journaling is logging the uneaten.

Take my greedy azz for example. I recently desired the tastiness of some Shrimp Alfredo at the restaurant. But at the last minute I traded in the Alfredo for a lighter sauce I asked the waiter to recommend.

So there you have it: Alfredo Sauce goes on the Reverse Food Journal for the sh!tty food I had the power to say “no” to.

When you purpose to reverse journal with foods that you turned down, like I did right here awhile back, you’ll be motivated to get things on the list. And when you gaze at this journal of crappy foods, you’ll actually pat yourself on the back real proud.

Go on and Reverse Food Journal for a day. It’s easy to freak out and judge yourself terrible when your food log says you ate the wrong foods. But why not give yourself some credit for food those tempting foods that went uneaten?



  1. You’re insanely gifted at finding the right motivators.  I’ve never food journaled before.  It doesn’t work for me, and I think this is why.  I do better being rewarded this way.  It would be a MUCH longer list, and I would feel much prouder of it too.

    If I look at a list of healthy food I’ve eaten, then I feel proud, but I also realize all the yummmmmy stuff I didn’t eat.  It gets me thinking how deprived I am.  Or, if there’s nasty bad things I ate, then I feel guilty which is negative too.

    So.  This way, I would just pat myself on the back.  I like that.  I need that.

  2. Pam Brown says:

    What a great idea! This was my annual fudge-making weekend. I make fudge for four people on my Christmas gift list. It’s a tradition I started LONG before I gave up sugar. The smell was intoxicating. I kept a cup of herb tea at my side and sipped on it the whole time I was in the kitchen. Fudge got on my hands but it didn’t get in my mouth.

  3. WOW…That is a fantastic idea….absolutely brilliant…for me anyway..especially after the week I have had…

    I will try that tomorrow!

  4. skippymom says:

    I LOVE this idea.  But I especially love the pic’.  It cracked us all up.  You so funny Yum. :) Missed you!

  5. Sagan says:

    Now that’s an awesome idea. Rather than feeling bad about some indulgences we do take, we should feel good about the junk that we refuse!

    I’m considering the WW points system – I’ve never given it a try before and it looks like fun! I need to return some fun into my eating habits so that healthy is something I WANT to do (it hasn’t been something I’ve REALLY wanted to do lately. Hence, the need to re-energize myself by injecting some fun into it all :)).

  6. charlotte says:

    Oooh I totally do this!  I love this idea!  It’s a much more positive take on the “food journal”.  Sometimes even grown ups need gold stars on our foreheads;)

  7. Good idea Josie. It’s a bit more encouraging to see the positive choices you made instead of the potentially not so good ones.

  8. MizFit says:

    LOVE THIS IDEA and hadnt ever thought of it before!!

    *bows in awe*
    pair it with my CAN DELEGATE list of things I dont have to do and we are set–yes?
    please say yes…

    I wanna tangent and say, if life gets in the way this week, how GRATEFUL I AM FOR YOU IN MY LIFE.

  9. Dear Food Journal, 

    I didn’t all of the chocolate bars in the bags when I was filling up the offspring’s advent calendar. Just the sassy chocolate twins that wouldn’t shut-t-f up. And just to be safe they weren’t able to escape, I dunked em in peanut butter so they’d stick down there.

    My Ass

  10. This is SUCH a great idea!! I love it. Seriously, who likes to log everything they eat?! No one sticks to this practice for very long. Writing down the good choices you make, instead of the bad ones, is much easier, yet still gets the point across and is effective. Last night I wanted a buckeye before I went to bed, BUT instead I had a little piece of granola. :)

    By the way, thanks for the link on the side. I will say, however dietitian is spelled with a “t” not a “c”. Either way, I really appreciate it!!

  11. Tamara says:

    This is brilliant! I hate the concept of traditional food journals because I’m pretty sure they’re part of what sent me down the path of anorexia as a teenager. For people who stuff themselves silly and have absolutely no idea what they’re putting in their mouths, I’m sure they’re useful for a while, but then they become an object of judgement and guilt. Writing down what you did well can turn this horrible thing into a positive influence.

    You wouldn’t call it “motivation” if your boss told you how much you suck everyday, but for some reason people trying to lose weight do just that to themselves. On the other hand, if your boss tells you how much he appreciates the little things you do, you’re much more likely to work well and happily. People really should apply that to their mindset on health.

  12. Journaling is good for “beginners” to make them aware of what they’re eating, but I’m amazed how many people continue to do it for years and years. I think it’s counter-productive and just makes them think about food all the time.

    • Josie says:

      Yep. I started journaling back in 2006 and did it for a whole year. It helped me get a good footing on what foods cost how many calories, but towards the end I really got tired of “thinking” about the food. But anymore I just eat as clean possible and don’t count at all. Yet I do still keep a mental record of the crap that I feed my face. That I can never ignore tracking.

  13. Hmmm that’s an interesting thought. If anything, add it in the comment section of your food journal… I like it!

  14. Awesome idea. And I also propose that we can subtract the daily calories for those foods not eaten. So like in your alfredo experiment, you BURNED 1000 calories! Go YY! :-)

  15. I love this idea!!! 😀

  16. What an awesome idea Josie!!!!!!!!!! I think people that have trouble losing benefit from logging because most likely they have no idea what they are eating in total or they do & don’t want to face it.

    This is a great add on for that or just more advanced losing weight people & maintenance. Love it!

  17. This is totally genius. I started doing something similar with my housework actually. Instead of a To-Do list, I made a Ta-Da! list. Wrote down things I had accomplished instead of things I still needed to get done.

  18. Sheri says:

    You are so right! I have logged my food every day for 2 years almost and I would always be depressed because I ate this or that.

    I never thought of logging what I don’t eat, wow, that would be a huge list!

  19. angela says:

    Awesome idea. I never really thought about it that way. I also think there’d be some value in writing down just the foods you ate that were healthy and made your body feel super good. You’d end up with lists of good things to eat if you did that for awhile. Rather than writing it all down. Can I write down that I didn’t eat ALL the cookies, just one? 😉 

  20. merri says:

    good idea. in highschool my doctor made me do a food log of what i ate for a time, and it just made me feel bad. (& stop eating). I dont think this would work for me though, because i don’t think i really ever say no to anything i want, so long as it’s in front of me or available.. but very positive thinking kind of thing! :)

  21. Reinaldo says:

    I’m so blogging about this!!! I’ll wait until new year’s to actually post it, though. Draft after draft of calories I didn’t eat.Them I’ll add all the calories I didn’t eat. Umhh! Interesting idea!!!

  22. Reverse food logging is an interesting concept. Perhaps I will try with one of my clients to see how it works. Thanks! BTW, I feel the need to mention the fact that the term “healthy granola bar” is an oxymoron. No one should eat them if they are looking to lose weight.

  23. @irun2befit says:

    YES!! I love this idea a lot! I’m doing it today. On snap, I already had chocolate covered pretzels for breakfast! But I did not have cheesecake. Yes, this is good!

  24. Lisa says:

    What an interesting concept! I never even thought of doing that. I count my calories for weight loss and maintenance but you make a great point…there are a million high calorie things I DON’T eat each day that I am tempted to eat…

  25. Heh heh I LOVES this. Nothing like a little pat on the back to validate your progress. I can see this as a useful tool for my weight-loss clients, especially when they need an extra motivator or to do some well-deserved showing off :)

  26. Lissa says:

    Love this … what an awesome concept!!


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