My new side project: A sketching diet

October 16, 2017 | 4 Comments

My sketching diet has begun again!

I have been struggling in the past little while (hmm, make that the past 3 years) to be disciplined with my eating. My focus has been keeping on top of my work and it is so easy to let things slide when you are constantly in ‘hustle’ mode! I know that if I ate better I would have more energy but it is so easy to get stuck in a rut and end up eating lots of snacks during the day.

So, as a result of a few conversations while I was in Austin (one was with James Clear who gave a great talk about building habits), I have decided to begin my sketching diet again!

What is my sketching diet?

It started in 2008: As part of a maintenance program for my big weight loss diet (lost 23kg in 5 months) I had to start to keep a food diary and record everything I ate and count calories. This seemed way too tedious, until I thought of drawing my food! For some reason this seems easier, and definitely more fun.

I had a wonderful time sketching everything I ate for a month – even though it got rather repetitive after a while. I continued to lose weight and the sketching really helped developed a lot of fast sketching techniques. The full set is found here.

I have tried it a number of times since, and whenever I stick with it for longer than 2 days, I always see results. The hard part is sticking with the sketching part!

The rule of the sketching diet is simple:

I MUST sketch at least the outline (or a paint a few shapes) before I have the first bite. Sketching food after the event from memory is not acceptable!

The benefits of the sketching diet

  • By simply drawing my food I become more accountable not only for what I eat, but also the colours of my food – am I eating enough green?
  • The additional time it takes to eat and sketch, slows me down and fills me up.
  • There are huge benefits for my art too. It gives me something to sketch, something which is colourful and has a time limit (I don’t like eating cold food).

So that I don’t have to focus on what I should be eating, and to make the sketches full of variety (an important part of a sketching diet!) I am starting with Lite’n’Easy. All my food arrives at my door each week and all I have to do is stick with the plan and not eat anything extra – the only exception is that I am allowed to havecelery whenever I want! It’s not my ideal solution but I hope that it will help with my current lack of motivation to eat better.

So anyway, I have just begun but intend to keep this up for 4 weeks and will share my progress and art adventures along the way. Already I can see how beneficial it is for me to be painting my food each day as I prepare for my SketchingNow Watercolour online course. I’m pushing the limits in terms of speedy wet-in-wet watercolour sketching.

Ah! I have just made myself accountable for a big side project!

If you are interested, there are a few more articles on my sketching diet here.



  • Kate Powell says:

    I have done this — the act of drawing it allowed me to see it better — and just never shared it!

  • deb mostert says:

    mmm, I might just join you in this Liz…. after a year of slowly putting back some of the weight I lost (10 kg over 4 months of fasting 3 days a week) I’m keen to get accountable again but maybe through drawing rather than through using the ipad calorie count app.
    not sure about posting the drawings but I guess it’s another way to be visibly AND publicly accountable!
    All the very best Liz, your energy is astounding and the watercolour course sounds very interesting…. blessings!

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Deb, no need to share it… but for me it makes me be honest about it. I have the added bonus that doing this is work (ie. watercolour course prep)

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