All that we consider today as nutrition is really just a secondary source of energy.
Think back to a time when you were passionately in love. Maybe the first time you saw your son or daughter. The first date with your soul mate. Everything was exciting. Colors were more vivid (even when sleep deprived, mamas). You forgot about food and were high on life.
Remember a time when you were deeply involved in an exciting project. You believed in what you were doing and felt confident and stimulated. Time seemed to stop. The outside world faded away. You didn't feel the need to eat. Someone had to come by and remind you.
Imagine children playing outside with friends. At dinnertime the mother reminds the children, "Time to come in and eat!" "No mommy, I'm not hungry yet," they respond. At the dinner table, the mother feels that her role is to enforce the rules of good nutrition and instructs the children to eat their food. Eventually, the children force down a minimally acceptable amount of food and rush out again to play. At the end of the day, the kids return, exhausted, and go to sleep without thinking about food at all. I see it all the time with my boys. They are hungry all day long unless riding bikes or in the pool. Then, I can't get them to stop and eat a snack for hours!
As children, we all lived on primary food. The same as when deeply in love, or working passionately on a project. The fun, excitement and love of daily life have the power to feed us so that food becomes secondary.
Now think of a time when you were depressed, or your self-esteem was low. Things just weren't working out and every day was tougher than the last. You were starving for primary food. No amount of secondary food would do. You ate as much as you wanted, but you never felt satisfied. Even in good times when we come home at night, we often look into the refrigerator for something to eat, when all we really want is a hug or someone to talk to. Heard of stress eating? It's a thing.
Primary foods feed us, but they don't come on a plate. Elements such as a meaningful spiritual practice, an inspiring career, regular + enjoyable physical activity and honest relationships that feed your soul + your hunger for living all constitute primary food. I start out my morning early and often with a God-filled devotional and high-intensity exercise. The days I do this, things flow more smoothly. I swear it.
The more primary food we receive, the less we depend upon secondary foods. The opposite is also true. The more we fill ourselves with secondary foods, the less we are able to receive the primary foods of life.
Every spiritual tradition encourages people to fast during the year so that individuals have time to reduce secondary foods, thus allowing for a greater awareness of primary food.
This concept was introduced to me years ago during nutrition school. I thought it brilliant. How much time we put into counting calories, ingredients, vitamins, minerals...and yet sometimes, we still feel like crap. Our mind-gut connection is STRONG.
Example: Through Chinese medicine, we understand that emotions and states of mind impact our Qi, the vital life force that flows through the body. Worry, the emotion associated with our digestive system, disrupts the Qi, causing tension and inhibits our ability to digest clearly. Nutrients are not able to be properly absorbed. Anger causes our Qi to rise. As digestion requires downward movement, it's easy to see why we should not eat when angry.
As part of my coaching program, I encourage my clients to do an activity that helps us focus on part of their life that could be causing distress in primary food, therefore affecting how + what they eat.
How do you feel about your primary foods? Comment below!
Sources and Additional Reading:
Institute for Integrative Nutrition, 2012