Food for Thought – Primary vs. Secondary Foods

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A lot of what we have been learning at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition has been very eye opening and educational for me.  This being said, everything I have learned thus far has been incredibly exciting but one of the most powerful concepts that has stuck with me and I feel is a very important concept to share is the difference between Primary and Secondary Foods.

What are Primary and Secondary Foods? 

Primary foods become what surrounds us and makes us who we are; specifically, our relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality.  When one of these is out of whack or just plain stinky at the time, it can throw our entire emotional well being off, ultimately disrupting our plans to maintain a healthy, well balanced lifestyle.

Secondary foods become the food we eat on our plates that nourish our body.  When our primary foods are balanced, the secondary foods become, well, secondary and we don’t eat because we are stressed, bored or just sad, we eat because our body requires the nourishment.  This makes perfect sense to me knowing the effects that my primary foods can have on my health and well-being and eventually my secondary foods. 

For example, from 2010-2011, I went through a period of time where I felt that my life was misplaced. I was in a long distance relationship debating for over a year whether or not to move and change my career and leave my family and friends.  I also had a job that was extremely stressful and taxing. It was an incredibly overwhelming and exhausting time for me.  I ate fast food once a day, went out with my friends on the weekends overindulging on adult beverages, half assed my workouts because I didn’t have the motivation to get a good sweat going and ultimately felt incredibly defeated at the end of the day. 

It was a never ending cycle, until one day I woke up.  I decided to do something for myself and change my life for the better.  I had no idea the happiness it would bring to me at the time but I decided to take a chance as I knew something needed to change.  I made the decision to pick up and move closer to my boyfriend.  I found a job that was a positive move in my career, I found happiness and contentment living in the same city with the person I loved and knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with, I continued to develop and grow my relationships with my family and friends despite the distance and I worked on creating a healthy balance between everything I know now as “primary foods”.  I can happily say that I finally feel that I am on the right path to a happier and healthier me.  INN has taught me so much over the past several months, one being that primary foods certainly make a difference!

I challenge you to take this time to reflect on your primary foods and see what areas you can improve on.  Your health and happiness will naturally fall into place.  The nutrition aspect is a work in progress but as a Health Coach in training, I am confident myself or another Health Coach you feel comfortable with will guide you and teach you the fundamentals of nutrition that work best for your body, creating a healthier, happier YOU!  

Here are a few ways to reflect and work on balancing out your primary foods:

1)      Allow yourself to evaluate your relationships.  Is there an area that needs attention, perhaps a friendship that needs repair?

2)      Is your job stressful and leaving you feeling anxious when you try to sleep at night?  It may be time to re-evaluate and see if there is another option for you within the same field/company.  Talk to your manager and communicate how you are feeling. It may just be as simple as getting up from your desk and taking a few 10 minute walks throughout the day to relax. 

3)      Have you been out of the “work-out” routine for so long and can’t seem to be inspired to get back in it?  Start slow, do a few things here and there to get your heart rate elevated.  Keep a log of your activity each day and document how you feel.  Read fitness blogs, magazines, talk to other fitness gurus in your office – get inspired!

4)      Spirituality – this is always a touchy subject for me as I feel that this topic is very personal.  Keep on doing what you’re doing and consider exploring if you feel so inclined. 🙂 

Cheers to Mindful, Healthy Living!!

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Balancing Act…

balanceWhat I have learned in the last few weeks has had a huge impact on me. It makes so much sense and is very simple. Health is not just about one’s diet and fitness level alone but rather supplemented with a true balance in one’s relationships, career, social life, spiritually, finances, and education – a more holistic approach to bringing joy and satisfaction into one’s life.

Often times we are so focused on our outside appearance but how often do we actually sit down and evaluate the way we feel inside. Is our job stressing us out? Are we involved in toxic relationships? Have we lost sight of any spirituality that use to make us feel connected?

For me personally, I have spent the last few weeks reflecting on this and working to establish this balance. When I am stressed, I crave sugar. How can I control the stress at work and reduce my cravings for sugar? When I don’t sleep I tend to eat carbohydrates like they are going out of style (this is actually a very common response to sleepiness for that quick sugar rush). Many things can contribute to us overeating and ultimately regretting our food choices, but what’s at the core of that?

Listening to our bodies is the first step. Know that the way we deal with our relationships, careers, spirituality and so forth can ultimately affect our nutrition and fitness level. Be mindful of your habits and take note of how you feel at those particular moments. If you find yourself eating something unwarranted regularly, take note of it, this may be what your body wants but not what it needs.