What Are Primary & Secondary Foods?

Primary and Secondary Foods ExplainedAs a certified health coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I extensively studied the traditional aspects of nutrition and exercise as well as all the other factors that impact well-being. This integrated approach also considers the emotional and spiritual state of a person…

.. so I want to expand on the concept of primary and secondary foods.

The Difference Between Primary and Secondary Foods?

When we talk about foods, we typically think of the actual food that we consume, that we need to nourish our bodies. And when people go haywire with their diets, with the foods they consume, their health can suffer as a consequence of overweight, obesity or diabetes. But there are other triggers that can have an incredible impact on our health.

The integrated approach also considers other “foods” that sustain our life — those that give us the joy, meaning or fulfillment, those that make life worth living. These so-called primary foods are all those things that feed us beyond the plate — our spirituality, jobs, relationships, recreational and physical activities — and for me, cooking itself falls into this realm. Anything you feel passionate about is probably a primary food for you, that sustains your life, and as a result, has the potential to impact your health.

As the Institute for Integrative Nutrition teaches, “When primary food is balanced and satiated, your life feeds you, making what you actually eat secondary.” This is where the distinction between primary and secondary foods arises. Essentially you need both to feel great!

So whenever you aren’t feeling healthy, or something is feeling “off”, it could be the result of an imbalance. An imbalance of either your primary or your secondary foods…

…and we all know that if something’s not going well in the relationship or job department, it can lead to changes in mood, and most likely in the cravings that we experience during the day, digestive problems, acne or rashes and a host of other very real physical problems.

What Are Your Cravings Telling You?

So if you’re struggling with wicked cravings — whether they show up in the afternoon or late at night… think about what your body is telling you you’ll need: Is it secondary foods to provide nutrients or hydration, or is it primary foods for comfort, support and serenity?

When you review every aspect of your life, for example are you happy in your relationships? How fulfilled are you in your career? Do you practice any spirituality or religion? And are you exercising your body? Maybe you’re just driving yourself too hard? All of these factors contribute to your overall sense of fulfillment and satisfaction, and health.

And when you’re properly fed by these, you will find you worry about food a whole lot less, and enjoy the benefits that balance brings.

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