8 August 2004
Sunday Mirror (Celebs p.28-29)

Sunday Mirror

Sunday Mirror

Over the course of 365 days, Ellie Harrison, 24, from Nottingham, kept a food diary and took 1640 photos of every morsel that passed her lips.

“I love eating and have always been quite greedy, although I’ve been vegetarian since I was 12. A few years ago I went on holiday to New York and everyone said “You’re going to love the food, it’s amazing.” So, as a record of my holiday, I decided to take a photo of everything I ate. I worked my way through bagels, pretzels, burgers and ice creams – 34 meals in all. A year later, an idea popped into my head – I decided to set myself a challenge and use my digital camera to photograph every single thing I ate for a year. My 22nd birthday was coming up and I decided to start it then. At breakfast that day, I took a picture of myself eating half a slice of toast – and for the next year I took a photo of myself eating every bit of solid food that passed my lips. My boyfriend Jon got a bit fed up because he ended up taking half the photos. If we went out for a meal he’d be lumbered with taking my picture and he found it a bit embarrassing. However, if I was eating out on my own, I’d take it myself by setting it on a timer. That could also be quite embarrassing actually – I remember getting some funny looks on the train. In total I took 1640 images in the course of the year. I think I actually ate less because of the project – because I had to download the pictures, the less I ate, the less work I had to do. Also, if I ever forgot to take my camera out with me, I wouldn’t be able to eat. I’ve never worried about my weight, but this was a really good way of controlling it. If there was a bowl of peanuts sitting in front of me, I’d probably not have any rather than go through the palaver of shooting it. Looking at the pictures makes me laugh – there I am on holiday at Loch Ness, at the Alton Towers Hotel when I finished my course, on Christmas Day with my family… It’s a great record of what I did that year – and it’s amazing to see how much my hair grew.

“If I ate out on my own, I’d use the timer on the camera. I got some funny looks.”

There were a few times I woke up in the morning with a fuzzy head, so I’d get my camera and have a There were a few times I woke up in the morning with a fuzzy head, so I’d get my camera and have a look to remind me of what I was doing the night before. The morning after our graduation party, I woke up and found a picture of myself on my camera eating one of those horrible peelable cheeses, which I didn’t recall at all. But incredibly, no matter how drunk I was, I always remembered to get someone to take a picture of me. I planned a party for when the year came to an end, and made lots of little cakes with “Eat 22” written on them. They were the last thing I photographed myself eating. Afterwards I went a bit crazy. I was on a “see food” diet – I’d see food and I’d eat it. I was amazed by the freedom of being able to open the fridge and pig out. I think I lost about half a stone doing the project, but it went back on within a week. For me, art is all about making you look at the world differently. We all eat every day, and I wanted to look at it a different way.”

Ellie’s rules

  • All food must be photographed before it is eaten
  • All food photographed must then be consumed
  • Any additional food eaten not included in the photograph must be photographed separately, ie second helpings, extra portions, desserts. In places where photography is not permitted (cinema etc.), food must be photographed prior to entering or not consumed at all
  • In the case of party food (crisps in bowls etc.) wherever possible, all handfuls should be photographed
  • Liquid is exempt – however, drinks which are considered to have some solid content should be photographed (soups etc.)
  • Chewing gum is exempt

Deirdre O’Brien