Joy Wilson, of the widely-recognized food blog Joy the Baker and author of “Joy the Baker Cookbook: 100 Simple and Comforting Recipes,” is one of my absolute favorite bloggers. Her delicious recipes, candid narrative and quirky personality are enough to make me swoon over everything she shares.
One of Joy’s latest projects is the “Joy the Baker Podcast” on which she discusses recent happenings in the kitchen, in friendships and in life.
On her latest episode titled ‘The Friend Diet,‘ Joy discussed a new diet she’s trying out to become more aware of what she’s eating on a day-to-day basis. It’s called the ‘friend diet,’ and it’s a system she and her blogger friend, Tracy of Shutterbean, dreamed up one day.
The pair essentially takes photographs of everything they eat and text it to each other for accountability. As for whether or not it actually works, we talked with Joy to find out.
What sparked the idea of the friend diet?
Let’s see, I text message with my best friend Tracy all day long. It’s nonsense really. We noticed that a hearty majority of our texts revolved around the food that we were feeling guilty about eating. One day we just decided to flip the script. Now we tell each other, with pictures and with words, exactly what we’re eating all day long. From a huge cheeseburger lunch to a handful of granola, we lay it all out there. We needed a way to be accountable to ourselves and bringing someone else in the loop seemed like the best friend way to do it.
Do you take it seriously, or is it more for the benefit of your friendship?
We totally take it seriously. I just took a picture of my homemade happy hour cocktail and veggie chips and sent it to Tracy. Every bite – it’s real.
How does it work?
We tell each other what we’re eating with picture and word text messages. Every day, all day, from breakfast toast to midnight snacks. We simply tell each other what we eat. A few days ago I texted Tracy that I was eating half a brownie. I texted four minutes later to tell her that, correction, I was eating an entire brownie. Real life.
Has it helped you eat healthier? If so, how? If not, why do you think that is?
Our self proclaimed Friend Diet has really helped me be more conscious about what I eat day-to-day. If I want to mindlessly eat a piece of chocolate I now stop first and think, ‘Do I really want to tell Tracy about this?’ If the answer is no, I set aside the chocolate and move on to another task. It’s like calorie counting without the calories or counting. It’s like food journaling with a friend.
Are you trying to lose weight or just be more conscious of your diet?
I’m trying to be more conscious about what I eat. Should I lose a few pounds during that process, I wouldn’t be mad.
As a baking blogger, how do you stay thin and healthy?
I try to stay healthy more than I try to stay thin; it’s tricky. I don’t eat all of everything I make on my blog. If I make cookies or brownies, I’ll treat myself to one or two then give the rest away, or store the cookie dough in the freezer. I’m around sugar and baked goods all day. I think that has actually helped to moderate my sweet tooth. I also really like to stay active. I love to ride my bike and sport the occasional yoga mat. I eat a tremendous amount of beans and kale. I also think that the occasional doughnut is (mentally) healthy, for real.
When it comes to whether or not taking pictures of your food is helpful or harmful, Diets In Review’s resident dietitian Mary Hartley, RD says it depends on the person.
In one sense, it’s helpful. “Fans tell me that taking pictures (for weight loss) helps to create mindfulness, accountability, and inspiration,” says Mary. “Taking food pictures unrelated to weight loss is a source of pride, connection and entertainment.”
On the other hand, it can be harmful for some. “I can see where food photos might take the place of eating for anorexics,” said Mary. “It might be annoying to dining companions – but that’s not harmful.”
So, is Joy and Tracy’s ‘friend diet’ for you? Mary says ‘perhaps.’ However, the most important thing is to remember is finding a solution that works best for you. “People are most committed to the diet plans they invent for themselves, and so I say, ‘Go for it.’ Everything in life is temporary but that doesn’t make it less important.”