I imagine that this might seem silly to some people: food for writers? Don’t writers eat the same stuff as other people? Well, yes. I do think that there are certain habits that writers develop, such as snacking while writing and drinking a lot of caffeine, that sometimes need to be looked at more closely.
For snacking at the computer (or notebook):
Know how you snack. Personally, I think that there are two schools of thought when it comes to snacking while writing. The first one is that eating while writing can help productivity, because you don’t get distracted by getting up to get snacks. The other is to take snack breaks while writing every half an hour or hour. I tend to find that if I eat while writing, I’m eating mindlessly, which contributes to me overeating. So I would say that, if you’re focused on losing weight or cutting out overeating, try doing snack breaks instead to see if that works better for you.
Keep portions small by using small bowls. I find that a filled up small bowl is a lot more satisfying to eat from than a mostly empty large bowl. If you don’t own any bowls smaller than cereal bowl size (and you do have the money), I’d recommend running out to get them. You could even decide for one to be your “writing bowl” and that’s the bowl that you’ll use for your writing snacks and only your writing snacks.
Sometimes when you feel hungry, you’re actually thirsty. If you know that you just ate something and you still feel hungry, try drinking a glass of water. Give the water a few minutes to settle, and if you still feel hungry, you can get a larger snack then. Most of the times, though, you’ll find that you’re not actually hungry any more.
Chew gum. Sometimes when I’m writing I just want the sensation of chewing, but I’m not actually hungry, which is usually when I reach for a pack of gum. I really like chocolate chip mint flavored gum for its sweetness, but sugar-free gum would probably be a better option for my teeth. Also, if you’re working on multiple projects, it could be fun to get different gum flavors for them. (Bonus writing prompt: What type of gum would your main character be if they were a gum flavor and why? If your character chewed gum what type of gum would it be? Does that match the type of gum they are?)
Other Snack Ideas:
I found that during NaNoWriMo I easily caved to Crunchy Cheetos when the writing got tough, and, while I really do love eating those, they weren’t really the best option. I ended up gaining weight during the last few months of the year, and I’m pretty sure that part of it was due to my snacking habits while I was writing. So here are some healthier options you can swap out for less healthy snacks:
Other good snack ideas are air-popped popcorn with salt, veggies with hummus, hard boiled eggs, oatmeal, baby carrots, orange smiles, apple slices with cinnamon, whole wheat toast with jam, and trail mix.
For Hydration’s Sake:
One tip that I’ve picked up a few weeks ago is to fill up your water bottle or glass and set it on your desk before you start writing. Just the simple fact that it’s there will make it more likely that you’ll drink from it, and, as I’m sure you’ve heard hundreds of times, it’s really important to stay hydrated. I usually find that if I drink a glass of water when I’m starting to get tired during writing, it energizes me a lot.
Have a bottle or glass that you actually like to drink from. My favorite glass is actually washed out coca cola glass bottle. It holds 12 oz of water, and the curvy shape of the bottle makes it really fun to drink from. Prior to that I used clear, plastic cup that had rainbow stripes on it. Find something that works for you and keep it on your desk (with a coaster!).
Have a sick bottle or glass. If you happen to get sick, CHANGE YOUR BOTTLE OR GLASS! Change it as soon as you realize that you’re sick. If you continue to use the other one, there’s a chance that you’ll leave germs on it, which could make you sick in the future. (Non-writing tip: the same goes for tooth brushes, after you have recovered from your sickness, change your toothbrush so germs don’t get back into your body).
400 mg of caffeine is about the upper limit of caffeine that an adult should have per day, and that number is even lower, 100 mg, for teenagers. Of course, this is more of a guideline. Some people have a higher caffeine tolerance and might be able to drink a little bit more. Some people, especially those who have heart conditions or anxiety, should probably drink even less than 400 mg a day.
For a frame of reference: I had a past heart problem, which went away about ten years ago, and have a tendency toward anxiety-like behavior. Any more than one cup of coffee and two cups of black tea (~355 mg of caffeine) in a day make me feel uncomfortably aware of my heart beat and sick to my stomach. My most caffeinated days will be one cup of coffee and one cup of black tea, but typically I try not to drink coffee more than two or three times a week. I mostly drink black tea, herbal tea, and rooibos instead.
I made an infographic of caffeine amounts in different hot drinks, which seem to be the ones most writers drink using a couple of different sources. I would like to point out for the teas, the caffeine levels are proportional to the brewing time. The less a tea brews the less caffeine there will be in the drink, and vice versa.
Also, other things like soft drinks and chocolate have caffeine in them, so you should keep those in mind too. I also found the nutrition info for Starbucks drinks that includes caffeine information that could be helpful to anyone who drinks there frequently.
Try not to have your meals while you’re writing. I originally typed that sentence as “try not to have your meals in front of the computer,” but sometimes I find it really relaxing to eat my lunch while watching a youtube video or an episode of Friends or The Office on Netflix. You do need breaks from writing, and mealtimes are a perfect one.
Actually eat breakfast. If you can stomach food in the morning, then try to actually have a good breakfast and maybe drink a glass of water. It’ll give you the energy you need for the day and for your writing! My favorite breakfasts are oatmeal or a smoothie with a handful of nuts or seeds.
Take a multivitamin. I try to take a multivitamin in the morning, because I know that I don’t get everything I need in my diet. I also sometimes take a Vitamin D pill, because I like in a relatively dark area of the world. We very rarely get sunshine in the winter, and it’s usually too cold to go outside to enjoy it, if we do get it.
If you work with a reward system, think about using squares of dark chocolate or candied nuts for slightly healthier (but still really tasty) alternatives. Or use really awesome dinosaur stickers instead of food!
Think about the food you eat. Really think about it. What’s its texture like? What are the strongest and the weakest flavors in the food? Eat like a writer- mindful of what you’re eating and how you’d describe it.
Also think about the food that your characters are likely to eat. If you think that they’d like something you’d never try before, try it!