Article by Lauren Popelas, RDN, LD
Functional Medicine Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at KanodiaMD

We are continuously hearing that we need to have “a healthy relationship with food,” but what does that even mean? It can certainly mean different things for different people. A big step in developing a healthy relationship with food is looking at WHY you are eating. Are you bored, hungry, or stressed? Is it just the right time of day for a meal?

Once you become aware of why you are eating, the next step is to become aware of how your body feels before, during, and after you eat—both physically and mentally/emotionally. Does the food on your plate taste good? Is it satisfying? Does it bring you joy? Do you look forward to your next nourishing meal, or are you rushing through it to get back to work? These are all important questions to ask yourself. Food should be a balance between nourishing, flavorful, and joyful!

My Favorite Food Tracking & Journaling App

There are a lot of questions to answer, but keeping it simple and achievable will yield the best results. One tool that I use for my nutrition patients is a mindful journaling tracking tool (Ate App). It seeks to simplify the food journaling process using a visual tool to support what I like to call the three A’s– Accountability, Awareness, and Action!

As part of mindful journaling, you are held accountable to yourself—and to your coach—with your entries. (It also allows you to share your info with friends or a coach.) You become more aware of your behaviors, choices, and routines, and you get the opportunity to reflect in very simple ways every time you eat (by recording things like emotion, movement, and social situation). This is intended to help you get in touch with your current behaviors surrounding food and lifestyle habits.

Your Food is Tracked, Now What?

Reflection is so incredibly important in creating a healthy relationship to food. It allows you to see very clearly what is motivating your actions, and then determine what is working well (and what is not working at all). I encourage my patients to journal daily, and at the end of the week (if not daily), reflect on their WINS, challenges, and what they feel grateful for!

Interpret Your Food Journal Results

The food journaling process is a great way to understand YOUR body better. Nobody knows your body better than you do. So before you are able to fully understand your hunger and fullness cues, it is important to understand your behaviors and habits around food. You will start to have more awareness for the types of foods that are on your plate: Is your plate full of color? Are you grazing vs. eating well-balanced meals? Are you eating out more than you should? As the answers to these questions reveal themselves, that's when the fun part begins—working with patients to interpret these motivating factors and then help them modify their habits to achieve natural consistency.

We need food as nourishment. It’s all around us, all the time. So to form a truly healthy relationship with food, it’s important that we try to accept where we are in our journey. Remove the worry about where you want to be—stay the course and it will come.

If you feel that this article resonates with you, and you are ready to take control of your relationship with food, then mindful journaling (and Ate App) may just be the next step you need!

As always, we’re happy to discuss your health needs. Just contact our office to set up an appointment.