Primary Food

(Video version of this can be found on my Facebook page – Peggy Smith Wellness, October 25, 2018)

Hi friends and welcome back to another episode of deep Thoughts Thursday. Today I’m coming to you from my bedroom! The weather is so yucky and rainy out and all I wanted to do when I got home was put on my pajamas and climb in bed – but I couldn’t do that entirely because I wanted to look the part for our video time together – but check this out – I have on my pink polka dot jammy bottoms on with my rust colored work shirt! It’s all about balance people!!

Today we are going to chat about something pretty awesome called Primary Food and as we dive into the topic I want to lead with this visual. This is the nutrition plate that was taught to me by my health coach school to help us understand that nutrition isn’t just about the food we put on our plate but it is so much also about our emotional wellness. This plate shows that importance of fruits and vegetables, of whole grains and proteins. It makes the suggestion that our fluid be water and that we also consider the fats and oils we consume as part of our diet as well – all of these things together we refer to at IIN as secondary food. But as you can see there is something going on around the outside of the plate as well, and those are the things that matter just as much – if not more – our relationships, our spirituality (whatever that looks like for you), our careers and our physical activity. These things are collectively referred to as primary food.


Wouldn’t it be amazing if we could actually reach all our wellness dreams just by changing what we put on our plates? While it is true for sure we can go a long way towards changing disease and nutritional imbalances, weight issues and energy levels by what food we put on our plates, we must also recognize that all the brussel sprouts in the world can’t fix our relationships; all the organic apples won’t make you love your job if you don’t already. And if your relationships, the energy you bring to your career, and the amount of time you spend in movement and deep breathing are out of whack then your wellness potential isn’t being fully realized.

This concept was one of the very first things I learned through the Integrative Institute of Nutrition – the concept is called Primary Food and it aims to bridge the gap between food and personal growth and development. Lifestyle clearly plays a huge role in how well we pay attention to our nutrition. All the busy Mom’s out there can relate to the time crunch situation going on each and every day to make sure the kids have some kind of food in front of them while you drive to the next activity! But there are also lifestyle issues that hinge on stress, or loneliness or sadness or anger. Food choices that are about escaping or coping more than they are about providing fuel for movement and survival.

As a nutrition coach really obsessed with how to get our guts healthy in order to maximize health and minimize inflammation I can get tunnel vision about what is on our physical plates. I know I spend a lot of time and energy helping clients understand the importance of feeding our good bacteria and starving out the bad guys! But when I sit and really listen to clients talk about all of the things that they are struggling with or trying to overcome I am reminded that food alone is not going to fix it all. When we are struggling with primary food issues all the healthy food in the world can’t make you feel a full sense of well-being and joy.

I have also seen evidence that those who have fulfilling relationships and careers, who incorporate exercise and movement into their regular routine and who have a spiritual practice that soothes and invigorates usually don’t look to food as any kind of crutch or emotional life-jacket – they don’t lean on secondary food to fill voids in their lives, because there really aren’t any.

I know it sounds like just one more thing to have to think about in the realm of your wellness – but it’s really not another thing, it’s more of a way of bringing all the things together. It’s a way of remembering you are a whole being, with many different kinds of needs and desires – and when any one of those needs or desires aren’t being met, you will often turn to another to try to make up the difference, to nourish what is lacking.

Taking the time and effort to heal any hurt or emptiness as it relates to our primary food will indeed help heal the secondary food issues. When you have more energy and purpose for living you will have more enthusiasm for healthy food choices, which will give you more energy and on and on the healthy cycle goes.

If you’d like to hear more about primary food or look at how personal imbalances might be staling your personal wellness goals, please reach out to me – I’d love to schedule a time to chat either in person or on the phone!

I care deeply about your wellness – all the parts of it!
Until next time friends.
Be Well

XO – Peggy

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