One of the most revolutionary concepts I learned in nutrition school was the amazing benefit of Primary Food. This concept can transform the way you think about what you eat.
What if I told you that the food you eat is secondary to what truly nourishes you?
Can you remember a time when you were engaged in something you loved so much you lost track of time? Like talking to a good friend, wrapped up in sharing stories, and you didn’t even notice hours going by? Singing a song, playing an instrument, taking photos, painting a picture. Starting a new project, helping other people, working hard on something meaningful. Doing something that satisfies you so deeply, you forget where you are.
When you’re doing things that you love, things that feed your soul, you rely less on “Secondary Food,” or the food you eat, and are nourished by “Primary Food.” When you are feeling happy, uplifted and fulfilled, food is still enjoyable and necessary, but becomes secondary. You don’t have to think about portion control, because you’re only hungry for as much food as you truly need. You are satisfied not by eating, but by the energy of the things that fill your time.
When you’re feeling sad, lost, or unfulfilled, you may turn to food to fill a void. That void is a lack of Primary Food. Primary Food can be anything, but often falls into the categories of career, relationships, physical activity, and creativity or spirituality.
Try this. Make a list of all the things that bring you so much joy that they seem to have an energy all of their own. Notice which ones you engage in on a regular basis, and which ones you haven’t done in weeks, months, or years. Maybe there are some things you’ve written down that you’ve dreamed about but haven’t tried yet. Imagine what it would feel like if you were engaged in these activities on a regular basis. How would you feel about your life? How would you relate to food if it was secondary to what truly nourished you in life?
When I first learned about the concept of Primary Food, I felt like I was putting a name to something that I had felt for a long time. When things were challenging, I would turn to food as a source of comfort and had to use a lot of energy to pay attention to what I was eating so I wouldn’t gain weight. When I was feeling calm, happy and excited about life, I could eat whatever I wanted and not worry about it because I was craving foods that were good for me and I didn’t feel the need to over eat.
When you start to think more deeply about what nourishes you in a holistic way, you may start to notice patterns (eg. when I’m stressed at work, I eat more junk food. When I’m fighting with my partner, I crave sugar. When I’m not giving myself enough self-care, I over-eat.). You can use this new awareness as a way of listening to your body as it gives you signs that you need more Primary Food. Sometimes it’s as simple as changing up your daily routine and circulating some new energy into your life like starting a new morning routine, taking a different route to work, or signing up for that class you’ve always been interested in. Sometimes it means ending a relationship or changing careers.
Experiment! What changes do you notice when you focus on feeding yourself more Primary Foods?
To learn more about Primary Food, check this out!