I’ve talked a bit before about the reason why I chose to go to IIN for my nutrition education. The school taught two concepts that really resonated with me, and based the rest of their nutrition education program on these ideas. The first one is bioindividuality: the theory that there is no “one right” diet for every human on the planet and that we should work to find what foods nourish our individual body best so we can thrive.
The second concept is the subject of this post: Primary Food. This idea is that the nutrition you consume through food and drink is actually second to the Primary Food of life when it comes to your overall health. This Primary Food is divided into 4 main categories: Career/Meaningful Work, Relationships, Physical Health, and Spirituality. When one or more of these Primary Food areas are out of balance, you could be eating all the kale in the world, but you won’t be healthy or happy. You can’t thrive without Primary Food.
What. The. Heck? When I first learned about Primary Food, it sounded unscientific, wishy-washy, and a bit Woo to me. I’ll admit there was a strong internal eye-roll associated with it. But at the same time there was this tiny voice in my head that knew the idea of Primary Food was spot on. And the worst part about it was that all 4 areas for me were totally in the ditch.
Fast forward nearly 2 years and you get to me today. Someone who has been working on improving each of these areas and made huge gains. Someone who has now been to school and studied exactly how these Primary Food areas interact with your life and your relationship with nutritional food. It’s been an eye-opening journey, but it is completely worth the work it has taken.
I’m lucky to have found Meaningful Work through Nutrition Coaching. I continue to work in this area to help make The Nutrition Doula a thriving practice, so that I can do help as many people as possible to find the food that works for them and their families. My Physical Health recovered relatively quickly after I gave birth to our second daughter, but knowing how important it is for me to be able to stay this way, I make sure to carve out the time needed to maintain it. I still have plenty of work to do in these areas, as well as in the Relationships and Spirituality areas, but the improvement from where I was before learning about Primary Food is significant.
The thing about shifting your perspective to look at your life through a Primary Food lens is that it begins to help you prioritize in a different way. You may have heard the quote about nutritional food that says “Every bite you eat is either helping your health or feeding disease. Choose wisely.” Once you begin to look at life through a Primary Food lens, it becomes everything you do is either nurturing a Primary Food or starving it.
Thinking like this is what allows me to say yes to the right things and no to the things that don’t help me, without the typical guilt that is often associated with making these decisions. It’s what will allows me to sit down and play with the kids when they ask without cleaning the kitchen first (because I’m nurturing the Relationship area, the dirty dishes guilt melts away). It’s what lets me go run a race, then sit down with amazing friends for brunch and acknowledge and appreciate how much these activities recharge my soul. It’s what gives me the ability to get out of bed at 4:30am to go for a swim before work, or the drive to continue my work as a Nutrition Coach even on days when I’m already exhausted from the day-job.
Ultimately, when the Primary Food areas in your life are going well, then it becomes much easier to make good and healthy choices when it comes to nutritional foods. It becomes easier to thrive in this life. So it pays off to assess the Primary Food in your life and to work on improving it.
Take a minute to consider the four Primary Food areas: Career/Meaningful Work, Relationships, Physical Health, and Spirituality. Give yourself a rating number in each area between 1 and 10 (with 1 being there is nothing right at all about this and 10 being everything couldn’t be more perfect). Once you have your ratings, look for the lowest number. That is where making changes can help your overall health and happiness the most. If you’ve rated an area with a low number, don’t worry! Knowing the problem is there is the first step to fixing it.
So what do you think? Were you surprised by your Primary Food Exercise results? Did you discover something that needs work? Let me know in the comments or send me a message. I’d love to talk about it with you!