This is adapted from IIN’s Approach to Primary Food.
Food is more than what you find on your plate.
Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. When primary food is balanced and satiated, your life feeds you, making what you eat secondary.
Remember when, as a child, you were playing outside, having fun? Suddenly your mother announced dinner was ready, but you were not hungry at all. The passion of play took all your attention. Or think back to a time when you were passionately in love. Everything was exciting. Colors were vibrant. Intimacy was magical. Your feelings of exhilaration sustained you. You forgot about food and were high on life.
Sometimes we are fed not by food but by the energy in our lives.
Modern nutrition – carbs, proteins, fruits, and vegetables – is really just one source of nourishment, which Integrative Nutrition considers secondary food. Secondary foods nourish our bodies, but are not able to give us the joy, meaning, or fulfillment that primary food provides. We hunger for play, fun, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression, leadership, excitement, adventure, and spirituality. All these elements are essential forms of nourishment, and the extent to which we are able to incorporate them determines how enjoyable and worthwhile our lives feel.
When we use secondary food as a way to alleviate or suppress our hunger for primary food, the body and mind suffer.
Weight gain is just one of the consequences. Diet-related disorders such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are national epidemics, and one of the main reasons is because we are stuffing ourselves with secondary foods when we are really starving for primary food. If you’re not getting the primary food you need, eating all the food in the world won’t satisfy your hunger.
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