Healthy and Sane

Ignorance is not always bliss (or why food journaling is important to successful weight loss)

February 1st, 2011 · 30 Comments · Uncategorized

I mentioned a few posts ago that I hired a personal trainer. I had my first session with her last Tuesday and let me tell you, the woman is intense. The workout she gave me wasn’t even that hard (lucky me still has a lower back “issue”) but she’s been on my case about food. I told her I need her to do that and she hasn’t let up. Damn, now I actually have to follow through.

While we worked out she casually mentioned that she’d like to see my food journal. We moved on to other things but 2 days later I received an email saying: “I expect you to bring your food journal to our next session. Have a great day.” I guess that means I actually have to track my food, huh?

I’ve officially been a Weight Watchers member for months but haven’t really followed the program to the T. This week I decided to track my food, no matter what. There is no pressure (yet) to be “perfect” and stay exactly within the points (although hopefully I’ll get there soon). The only rule is to track: good or bad. And well, it’s been eye opening to say the least.

I started last Tuesday. I get 29 Points Plus a day, 49 additional points a week and extra “activity” points if I work out. Break-down so far:

  • Tuesday: 30 points, 3 activity points (49 weekly points remaining, 2 activity points remaining)
  • Wednesday: 27 points
  • Thursday (beginning of new week since I weigh in on Thursdays): 31 points, 47 weekly points remaining
  • Friday: 52 points (!!!) – that vegan dinner, including 4 cookies (and 1 cookie’s worth of cookie dough while baking) and around 3 glasses of wine was 37 points; 24 weekly points remaining (1 day after the week started)
  • Saturday: 62 points (!!!!) I came home after a long day and polished off the rest of the cookies, all 5 of them (I had 1 earlier in the day). 8 activity points (from my morning run); –1 weekly points remaining (yup, that’s negative and only 4 days into the week!!)

Sunday I logged all of this in and decided that enough was enough. This week is not over and I can change things around. I could get overwhelmed (very tempting!) or I could eat a little more clean(ly?) and move more. So I made a healthy frittata for lunch.


Ingredients (makes 4 servings, 7 Points Plus each)

  • 3 small beets
  • 1/2T EVOO
  • 2 slices bacon
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes
  • 3 eggs
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 chickpeas (cooked)
  • 2 oz goat cheese
  • 1 garlic clove, minced

1. Slice beets, place in foil, drizzle with EVOO and salt and pepper. Wrap foil all around beets, making a little packet. Bake at 425* for 25 minutes. Cool.

2. Fry bacon. Reserve 1T bacon fat. Blot bacon slices, then crumble.

3. Sautee spinach in bacon fat, add grape tomatoes, beets and garlic + S&P.

4. Whisk eggs, egg whites, milk and S&P. Pour over veggie mixture. Sprinkle with bacon, chickpeas and goat cheese.

5. Bake at 350* for about 25 minutes, until eggs firm up.



This was a healthy and hearty lunch that put me back on track with my diet. The goat cheese melted all over the eggs and I loved the smokiness of the bacon. Delicious! Smile


I haven’t completely turned things around yet, but I really love how just tracking all the food has brought more awareness to what I’m doing, how much I’m eating and how it will surely affect my body. I make a choice at every meal/snack/workout to bring myself one step closer to my goal or one step further from it.

I’m on a business trip in NY over the next few days (blogging from the hotel room right now) so things may get interesting. I will continue tracking my food though. No more mysteries. Ignorance is not always bliss (that scale shows it all every Thursday and believe me, it’s far from bliss).

Do you keep a food journal? If so, do you think it affects the way you eat (or maybe how much you exercise)?

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30 Comments so far ↓

  • #1 - Lauren at KeepItSweet

    I constantly keep a food journal and although it helps a little not completely. I think I am used to seeing some overdoing it on the journal so it doesn’t stop me from doing it again! My WW week starts Friday so I often use all my flex points over the weekend and have none left by Monday. I don’t usually mind that but it is hard on hungrier weeks.

  • #2 - Lauren

    I successfully dropped a few pounds by keeping track of my meals on my initial food journal-style blog, so I suppose I can say that it worked for me. I know I consume extra “mindless” calories while cooking – sampling here and there adds up – and I have gained those few pounds back over the past 1 1/2 years… so I’m thinking I might start back up with a (private, this time) journal.

    Your photos have been fantastic lately! The frittata sounds delicious – fully of yummy veggies :).

  • #3 - Marina

    I have spark people on my phone. My calorie intake is pretty consistent but its been really helpful to see my protein, carb, fat breakdown. I’m training for Metro Dash so I need to make some changes in my diet – like more protein & fat. You’d think owning a peanut butter company would mean I eat enough fat!
    Check this out:

    • #4 - Elina

      OMG – bad ass 😉
      I am certain I would die doing something like that. Go you! :)

  • #5 - Michelle

    Wow, that frittata looks fabulous, especially with the beets!

  • #6 - MelissaNibbles

    Awareness makes a big difference. good luck at your next training session.

  • #7 - Val @ Balancing Val

    I dont keep a food journal.

    Even when I was “supposed” to . . . I never could.

    Something about having to prove myself to a piece of paper irked me in the worst way.

    Every day is different for me and I dont like having a reminder of eating “good” and “bad” foods to make me feel guilty.

    I realize it may be important for some people, but not for me.

    Just be careful with your trainers advice. I used to train people and give them diet advice and essentially what they are doing is going against what your body really wants. The emphasis on protein is also way too high usually.

    Be firm with her and tell her you just need her to work out!! :)

    • #8 - Elina

      I’m definitely being very careful with the advise I get. I feel like I already know enough… doesn’t mean there is nothing left to learn, but I certainly will not take everything at face value. And I did hire her to work out… and yes, remind me that food is part of the equation. Thanks for this suggestion! :)

  • #9 - Emily @ A Cambridge Story

    Wow, I admire your ability to really keep track of your daily intake. I’ve never kept a food journal but can only imagine what even my “healthy” days looks like (a nibble of this here, another there). That frittata looks incredible!

  • #10 - Jess

    its hard to stay on track sometimes, but you really seem to have a handle on it. btw, i have some beets in my fridge that i need to use stat. you always have such creative ideas, thanks:)

  • #11 - Lizzy

    I struggle SO much with keeping a food log because I do nibble a lot especially when I’m cooking. I know in order to lose some weight I need to work on that but I am scared what I would find. I give you a lot of credit for realizing that and writing it all down! I wish I could follow your lead… and having a trainer is the best!! I miss having one- I had one around my wedding and it helped so much!

  • #12 - Lindsey

    I don’t keep a food journal. I used to, but I got to the point where I was obsessing over it/not enjoying food. I haven’t kept one for a few years, and am thinking about starting (thanks to an extra 5 pounds hanging over my pants!) but am torn. I don’t want to get back to my control freak ways, you know?

    PS–The meal looks amazing. Maybe this will motivate me to try beets!

    • #13 - Elina

      There is definitely a fine line to walk there and one can get obsessive. I feel like maybe just writing it down (without even trying to figure out the caloric content) may be helpful. Roasted beets are amazing. DO it! 😉

  • #14 - Julie (A Case of the Runs)

    No, I don’t keep a food journal. My “ignorance” is basically gone forever, because I know what I”m eating, and I sometimes make conscious choices to eat something I otherwise “should’t.” But all in balance… I realize we only get one life!

  • #15 - jessica

    I sometimes keep a food/ activity journal. For the food part it can me more motivational to write down what I didn’t eat. For example when I really want to go back for more chocolate after dinner, I’ll stop and decide not to then write down what I didn’t eat and move on. I also love to track my progress with working out and running. It’s fun to see my distance or intensity increase. I’m such a visual person though. Best of luck!!!

  • #17 - Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic

    I started using LiveStrong (iPhone app is great) to track food and workouts. I agree that ignorance is not bliss, and just the act of tracking everything is making me more aware and appreciative of everything I eat/do. Good luck with your next session. That frittata looks awesome, btw.

  • #18 - Heather

    Yes! I totally tracked my food via etools on . It’s a great tool & you can use it via mobile too. I’m pregnant now & not tracking for the first time in a very long time. It’s liberating truthfully to not worry about every morsel that goes into my mouth for a while but still being aware of what I’m eating.

  • #19 - Tracy

    I’ve been following Weight Watchers since the beginning of January and I agree, writing it all down is key. It is eye-opening to see what things add up to. My revelation is the chewy/gummy candy I enjoy so much — a quarter pound (which is about a handful) is 12 points! I could have died. I’m staying away from those for now.

    • #20 - Elina

      I had the same revelation about dried nectarines. I had this tiny baggie… and it ended up being 7 points plus. Ick.

  • #21 - Shannon

    that fritata looks awesome!!

    i’ve had a rough week… or two… gosh, if i can’t remember i gotta snap out of it. maybe i’ll start tracking it (even if it’s words and not all the #s) and see if that’ll trigger something…

  • #22 - Tracy

    Hard to believe five little cookies could do so much damage … now I’m really regretting eating a whole sleeve of oreos at work on Monday. :(

    If you don’t mind, please share more point days!! I don’t follow weight watchers but it’s interesting to hear you talk about it!

  • #24 - One Healthy Apple

    I used to journal and it helped to get a good pattern going. After a while I knew what was a healthy range and what was not, so I tried to adjust accordingly.

    Now I just like to go through and spot check a day or so, or to look for gaps in my nutrients if I spend a whole day snacking- I can usually tell if I didn’t get enough protein or fat.

  • #25 - Katie

    Food journaling can definitely lead to success – but it isn’t easy. For me, it wasn’t necessarily the accountability that bothered me – it was actually logging the foods in every day! But I am currently trying to shed some post-wedding/honeymoon/1st semester of grad school weight and tracking eating and exercise is absolutely a part of that.

    Can’t wait to see you Thursday and hope you made it home alright!

  • #26 - Make weight loss into a game | Healthy and Sane

    […] Ignorance is not always bliss (or why food journaling is important to successful weight loss) […]

  • #27 - Cara

    I am a big fan of sparkpeople – that is my form of journaling. I know a lot of people think it’s crazy. And I go through phases where I track less, but I’m usually tracking most of the time (I give myself a day or two off on the weekends.) I’m not even trying to lose weight, but I just don’t want to become ignorant about what I’m eating. It works for me! GL with your weigh-in this week.

  • #28 - Cara

    and to add – I think a lot of people who don’t journal are really kidding themselves about what they’re eating, because it’s so easy not to count that spoonful of sugar in their coffee or the piece of candy at the office – it all adds up!

    • #29 - Elina

      I agree that tracking is really important for people that are just starting their weight loss journey. They just have so much to learn! I think tracking every bite while maintaining is not necessary for everyone because the scale and how you feel may tell you everything you need… and whether than extra teaspoon of sugar in the coffee needs to go :)

  • #30 - Cara

    Adding one more time because that came out wrong. I don’t mean you, of course! I’m thinking about a lot of people I know that are new to weight loss and healthy eating in general. It’s very overwhelming to get in the habit of eating healthier options and smaller portions AND start tracking everything at the same time, but I see that people who DO track have much better results.