Some people will argue on whether there is any value in food journaling because it’s not 100% accurate. Here’s my story on why I do it, and why I recommend that everyone does it, even for just a few days.
What happened is that I quickly found out that the food I was eating was not on the no counting program, and therefore, had to log all my food so that I could tally all of these points and stay on the standard points program (called the Flex Plan back then). This was before the days of web and native apps, so I had to use a written journal.
Yes, I STILL have this journal, 11 years later!
I devised a color-coded system that would show me which foods I was eating that were part of the Core (no counting) program, and which were not, with my goal to eventually see mostly Core foods so I could stop all this extra work of food logging.
The blue foods are Core foods, and the red ones are not. I wish I could remember what the yellow highlighting was, but my memory is not so good. :-P
You can see in this picture of one of my first days on the program, my diet was full of highly processed food.
Second – You become VERY much aware of what you are putting in your body. Journaling is not about making you feel guilty about eating food, but to make you aware of what you are doing. It also helps you plan your day of food. Additionally, if you end up with an impromptu french fry snack, while you shouldn’t beat yourself up over it, you’ll see how you need to adjust your intake for the remainder of the day or week.
Third – Now, with the help of web-based and native apps like MyFitnessPal, you can see all kinds of data on yourself: from weight charts, to breakouts of your macro nutrients.
Fourth - Let me be clear about one thing here: I absolutely do not believe that calories in vs. out are the most important part of measuring a diet, I do believe that calories have some bearing on weight loss or gain. For me, it's much more about the source and quality of calories. That said, using a food journal can let you see for yourself if there is any correlation between caloric intake and weight fluctuation.
Apps like MyFitnessPal make things pretty painless. You can scan bar codes from packaged products, create your own recipes that will calculate the nutritional value, save “meals” that you eat frequently so that you don’t have add each item that goes with that meal every time you have it.