Primary food is a concept that was developed by the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to describe the importance of our relationships, spiritual practices, body movement and careers to support our health and well being. When one of these areas is out of alignment we try to balance things out with food and unhealthy habits. As we work together we explore these concepts in a deep and meaningful way. Grab a cup of tea and snuggle up so we can dip our toes in for an introduction to this revolutionary idea.
When we consider changing our diet or the tendency to be a ‘workaholic’ we often miss the secret clues to lasting success. Our media propagates a skewed ideal of perfection that is not only unattainable, but toxic. We are told than in order to be loved and appreciated we must look a certain way, buy this and follow suit with our neighbor in pursuing the “American Dream”. This dream is twisting into all sorts of nightmares. Let’s wake up, shall we?
The reality is most Americans are now overweight, taking several prescription medications, and unsatisfied with their finances. This is the first time we have a generation of parents expected to exceed the life expectancy of their children. Our future generation is being drugged with medication for issues that could easily be addressed with dietary and lifestyle changes. Parents are busy and demoralized by misinformation and failed attempts to get out of the cycle. How can we pull ourselves out of this sinkhole?
When we examine modern dietary literature we find recommendations for calorie consumption, fat percentages, nutrient recommendations, exercise advice and the like with not even a nod to our primary needs. It is imperative that we address our entire life in order to get to the crux of the biscuit and this can be overwhelming to tackle on our own. We cannot expect our situation to have any lasting change until we nurture our most basic needs and accept who and where we are in this moment. That includes the short temper, the muffin top, and the frustration of our daily commute. Observation is the first step in changing any dynamic.
Do you notice how when the love birds are chirping it is easier to put away your Ben and Jerry’s? When our intimate relationships and meaningful friendships are well fed and flourishing our tummy needs far less stimulation. A simple exercise you can do is list the people in your life and write a few words describing how you feel during your interactions with them and some words that come to mind describing the flavor of your relationship. In doing this you will notice some people nourish a positive impression while others drain us. Experiment with crowding out time with people who drain you by scheduling activities with those who support and inspire you. No need to be drastic or confrontational, just fill your dance card with those who make you smile so hard your face hurts and watch the magic unfold.
The amount of time we spend at our jobs necessitates a candid review of its impact on our health and happiness. Are you in a career you feel good about? Are you doing something that moves you in a direction that makes your heart sing? Does it allow you creative expression and compensate you in a way that feels fair? Unhappiness in this area can lower our morale and sap us of vitality. This is one of the more challenging areas to step outside the comfort zone. Whether it is due to age, financial responsibility or pressure from loved ones, we often feel boxed in when considering a career change. A qualified lifestyle coach can assist you in moving towards an inspiring job by providing support and resources that may just help you transform your previous impression of what is possible. Without regard for ‘should’ and ‘can’t’, I invite you to take a few minutes to jot down what you might be doing if you could choose any career path. If thinking about a different career is too daunting, you can start with just listing activities and areas of study that interest you. This combined with relaxation can yield insight into jobs that let your light shine. Over the years, I have used this exercise to map out and prioritize shifts with great success. I look forward to helping you do the same.
During our modern age, information and entertainment are just a click away. These tools have become so widely used we rarely go on adventures in nature or a walk to the library. Elevators, escalators, curbside pick-up and similar conveniences have chipped away at the tiny bits of movement those in car based cities experience. We have to move to be healthy. It is not optional. The type of movement is not as important as consistency. Remember when you were a child and you could entertain yourself for hours running around the yard, riding your bike, climbing trees and hosting talent shows with jump ropes for microphones? We played hop scotch, hide and seek, tag and could stay in the pool or roller rink for hours. This free movement breeds energy, revitalizes us, and transmutes the natural forces that propel us forward each day. If we do not find something we love that stretches our muscles and includes some type of weight bearing exercise we will atrophy and lose vigor. Start simple. Park at the back of the lot, take the stairs, and if you are a couch potato just get up each time a commercial comes on. I love to hula hoop (with an adult sized hoop), spin poi, and play on my inversion set up with flying yoga poses. Exercise does not have to be boot camp. We can laugh and play even as adults. When we work on your program I will give you simple tips that you can utilize whatever your current level of fitness to get going in a positive direction. Remember perfection can paralyze us, just do something.
Spiritual practice has been widely researched and explored for its various benefits physically and internally. People with some sort of practice live longer, happier lives. No need to get into religious debates, as the type of spirituality that inspires us is deeply personal. The method is not as important as sincere action. For some people, being in nature is their way of reflecting on Divinity. Meditation, prayer, singing, fasting, and various other rituals all dwell in the vibrant realm of spiritual practice. We can start by simply being aware and paying attention to our breath. Begin to really be present and notice all that is inside and outside in order to cleanse your proverbial palette. I encourage you to take a few minutes reviewing this area of your life to see how you are stoking the flames of your heart. As a health coach, I provide resources and books from many rich traditions and practices that resonate with my clients without any dogmatic agenda or judgment.
I hope this has given you some food for thought and a jumping off point for delving deeper into the connection between primary food and what goes into our mouths. In order to heal, we must address our entire situation with tenacity and honesty. If I can assist you in anyway, please contact me to set up an initial consultation.
Whether we work together or not, may the force with you on this exciting road to rejuvenation.