Dear Queer Diary: Food Journaling, Glorious Food Journaling

Dear Queer Diary_Rory Midhani_640px

Food is very important to me — and I mean that in more than the usual food/water/shelter sense. In the past week alone, I have made pita bread from scratch, visited a new restaurant after perusing about a million Yelp reviews, and convinced my girlfriend that we needed to have ice cream on both Friday evening and Saturday afternoon (frankly, she didn’t need much convincing, which is one of the many reasons I find her so delightful).

It seems strange then, that I don’t spend all that much time journaling about food, which usually takes the form of words only for the sake of grocery lists and notes on the recipes I have tried. In truth, one of the things that I love about food and cooking is the way it takes me away from sentences — whether that is the email I am supposed to be composing or the papers I am supposed to be grading. As someone who spends a great deal of time immersed in words, there is a certain tactile appeal to measuring and sautéing and even washing dishes.

This awesome zine contains five months of the author’s meals—illustrated! (Via dethpsun)

This awesome zine contains five months of the author’s meals—illustrated! (Via dethpsun)

Still, I frequently record my cooking projects in some way or another, texting my mother to brag about another successful meal I made all by myself (the novelty still hasn’t worn off), sending a recipe to a friend, or even (embarrassingly?) tweeting about my culinary triumphs. With all this in mind, the other day, I decided to Google “food journal” in hopes of finding the inspiration to unite my love of all things tasty and flavorful with my dear queer diary.

As is the case with many Google searches, the results were not what I was expecting. Retrospectively, I suppose I should have anticipated that the majority of the pages to pop up would be about weight loss. But as much as I respect anyone who has the patience to carefully monitor their food intake for the sake of nutrition, it seems crazy (at least to me!) to keep a food journal that has more to do with not eating than enjoying the many culinary delights of the wide world.

Those sweet potato chips look delicious, right? (Via Nancy Standlee)

These sweet potato chips look delicious, am I right? (Via Nancy Standlee)

The type of food journal I want to keep is far more likely to be about two days of ice cream in a row than an abstemious snack of celery sticks. According to such-and-such a study, the traditional women’s magazine kind of food journaling increases weight loss by something-something percent, but my kind of food journaling does a 73% better job of fighting the patriarchy. Isn’t it the prerogative of a food-loving lady to glory in the delicious food she eats, even/especially if it makes her a little — or a lot — less of a delicate, male-dependent blossom?

Ice cream tastes amazing and gives me the strength to take down sexism when I encounter it.

Ice cream tastes amazing and gives me the strength to take down sexism when I encounter it.

This, my dear queer diarists, would be the philosophy of my (at this point still mostly hypothetical) food journal. The good news is that, after a little more searching, I found that there are plenty of food journalers who are of my frame of mind. In fact, our ever-controversial friend Moleskine even sells journals targeted at various food connoisseurs — they have volumes dedicated to recipes, restaurants, dessert, and even chocolate.

You might keep a food journal specific to traveling in order to document the foreign delights you encounter in whatever places your hiking boots take you — or you might get artistic in order to depict your latest culinary conquests in pen, pencil, or watercolor. And then there is the amazing exhaustiveness of simply documenting every single piece of food that goes into your mouth — whether you choose to do so via words or pictures.

Or perhaps via words and pictures! (Via Sketchbookbuttons)

Or perhaps via words and pictures! (Via Sketchbookbuttons)

Actually, in spite of my past inexperience in the world of food-related journaling, food-related pictures are something with which I have a great deal of experience. I often find myself actively curating my Instagram uploads in order to avoid letting food take over my profile (although really, what would be so wrong with that?). In my youth, I remember making an illustrated menu for my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, and one of my favorite middle school doodling strategies was to draw that day’s cafeteria lunch in my planner. And then there is the fact that recently, I found myself reminiscing about one of my favorite pairs of underwear from my childhood, which I recalled being decorated with carrots, peas, and other vegetables. I am going to take this as a sign that I have the fundamentals of a food-journaler imbedded deep in my psyche.

Food photos that I have taken: Exhibit A.

Food Photos I Have Taken: Exhibit A.

Now, my dear queer diarists, I must go make pizza with my girlfriend. I’ll leave it to you to tell me whether you are current or aspiring food journalers — or just food-eaters with a healthy dose of appreciation for going out for ice cream on two consecutive days.

Dear Queer Diary is a column about the joys (and occasionally, the pains) of journaling. We crack open our tiny notebooks and break out the rainbow-colored pens on the regular, so get ready to limber up your writing hands and document all your beautiful feelings!

Header by Rory Midhani

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Maggie is a freckly, punctuation-loving queer living in the Boston area. She supports her book-buying and tea-drinking habits by teaching America’s youth how to write topic sentences and spends her free time writing postcards and making sandwiches for her girlfriend.

Maggie has written 53 articles for us.


  1. Everything about this post is wonderful, but especially the anti-sexist fueling ice cream.

  2. I definitely definitely have a healthy dose of appreciation for going out for ice cream. I just finally made an instagram (about a million years late), and my very first picture was me with ice cream.

    as far as food journaling goes, this post makes me think of Lucy Knisley who has been known to make some great comics about food and her love of eating.

  3. I talk about food all the time. I didn’t realize how much I did until my best friend and I were traveling abroad for a madrigal trip in college, and my friend pointed out my only topics of discussion were food and art. After she mentioned that, I reread my mandatory travel journal, and sure enough, when recounting my day, I spent a significant portion of each entry describing in great detail the food I ate and the beverages I imbibed.

    Now, I keep a separate notebook of with different menus for dinner parties I want to host and recipes and flavor combinations I want to try.

  4. I only go out for ice cream on consecutive days in South America, where ice cream (helado) is for some reason infinitely better than it is in North America.
    But yes, even though I only journal *regularly* while traveling, a comment about food (even if it’s which flavor of Clif Bar/Mountain House I had that day), usually makes it into about 90% of my entries :)

  5. so maybe i misinterpreted what you were saying up there, but.
    eating disorders/disordered eating is a thing, and someone with an ed/disordered eating patterns isn’t more of a “delicate, male-dependent blossom.” i know that not all people who count calories have an ed, but when i counted calories i did it because of my ed and because i felt like i couldn’t control my life so at least i could control my food (and i didn’t really give a fuck about what the mens thought, bc i was out and pretty damn gay at the time). this has been the case with several of my friends who have eds. what i’m trying to get at here is that eds are a mental illness, and it sort of sounds like you’re taking a pot shot at mental illnesses in that one paragraph. i don’t think that’s the intention, because i’ve read and enjoyed a lot of your writing, but it’s of echoing what i hear a lot of in feminist spaces–which is just because someone may not feel comfortable in their body, or may have some food issues because of past experiences or mental illnesses doesn’t mean that they’re less of a feminist. for example, it’s been implied to me (at a camp none the less) that because i don’t wear a bikini bc i have body issues i’m not a proper feminist? like, it’s great that you have a great relationship with food, but please keep in mind that people who don’t have a great relationship with food might be affected by both the patriarchy and mental health issues. the patriarchy affects us differently on an individual level!
    but again, not sure if i misinterpreted anything, just wanted to let you how that one paragraph sounded to me. otherwise it was a great article as usual, and all those pictures of you eating are ice cream are SUPER ADORABLE and make me want to eat ice cream even though it’s like 50 degrees here (fucking OHIO)

    • @Katrina– First of all, thank you for reading and for leaving such an honest and thoughtful comment. I am so sorry that anything in this column came off as judgmental of/making assumptions about eating disorders– because I know that this is definitely something that is a part of the lives of many of AS readers and because I want this to be a safe space for people no matter what their relationship with food. As you say, eating disorders have many, many causes, and I in no way meant to imply that struggling with food is something that is necessarily linked to the patriarchy (life is much more complicated than that!). I think the best thing we can do is keep working to be honest with each other about our stories and feelings, which is exactly what you are doing here– so thanks for making us all a little more aware, and I am sorry if I made you feel like your experience was anything less than valid and valued.

      ALSO, I have always been of the belief that there’s no one way to be “a proper feminist”– and I am sorry that I or anyone has ever made you feel like your own feminism was somehow lacking because of your history with eating disorders OR choice of swimwear!

      • thank you so much for your lovely reply, maggie! it helps clarify a lot of things, and i’m glad that everything was just a misunderstanding. i thought it was, but like i’ve mentioned before i’ve had negative experiences in similar things so i just wanted to double check :D
        also thank god for autostraddle, i’m pretty sure that this is the only website that i could feel safe making that comment/reading the comments in general/not be surprised when the author replies with something nice :D

  6. “Recipes to Fight the Patriarchy” would be a good zine just saying just needs a snappier title

  7. Visual food diary! When I went to Europe I had a travel diary/sketchbook but never thought to draw the amazingly delicious food I ate. I like that idea.

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