What are PRIMARY Foods + How to Include More In Your Life

Can you think back to a time in your life when everything felt so new, exciting and magical that you actually forgot to eat, sleep and were unable to focus on anything?

Maybe it's a time you fell in love, or when you worked on a project you poured your heart and soul into. 

That's how it was for me when I was falling in love with Mark. Both of us actually lost 5ish pounds the week that we 'fell in love' haha; we would stay up until 3 or 4 in the morning just talking and somehow nothing else seemed to matter. Now we're lucky if we stay up til 11 p.m. and we definitely have no problem eating all the things, HA!

There has to be a way to attain that level of excitement in our everyday lives, right?

Something that genuinely makes us feel FULFILLED in a way that our soul craves. Good news: there is. 

Today, we're going to chat about the importance of PRIMARY FOODS.


What are Primary and Secondary Foods?  

I first heard this concept from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition's blog. IIN, which is a holistic, integrated approach to nutrition, teaches that there are both primary and secondary foods. 

On one hand, there are the actual foods that we eat (secondary food, as you'll see below).

But there's a deeper level that a lot of people tend to ignore, and it could be the very reason people aren't successful with their diets: they focus ONLY on secondary foods and neglect the deeper, more meaningful primary foods.

Primary foods aren't actually 'food' at all, but rather activities in our life that we receive extreme joy from. These primary foods 'feed' our souls through things like healthy relationships, physical activities, a meaningful career or hobby, a spiritual practice, and anything else gives us joy, meaning and fulfillment.

Anything you feel passion about can be considered a primary food for you, which 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.

How This Affects Diet/Weight Loss

When we embark on a diet, what's the first thing we usually turn to? 

Our diet. 

We start cleaning things up, counting calories or macros, ridding our pantry of all the foods that may be causing harm to our waistline.

But where we miss the point is the reason WHY we feel tempted to eat these foods (and/or overeat) in the first place.

Sure, brownies are delicious, and I understand that unless you prepare your food ahead of time, it can be easier to grab some chips from the pantry than cook something. 

But when choosing the less-than-stellar option becomes a cycle and habit for you, we have to take a deeper look at the reason you continue overeating foods that don't make you feel good.

The Negative Impact of Neglecting Primary Foods

I know firsthand what it feels like to neglect primary foods, and the toll it can take on your body and life. 

Thinking back to the times when I spent ALL my time obsessing about food: counting calories, obsessing over what I looked like... food literally consumed my life, to the point where it's all I thought about. I "didn't have time" for the primary foods: doing things that I genuinely enjoyed that filled my heart up with joy.

Instead, my days were spent counting calories; my nights were spent bingeing; and the following morning was spent slaving away in the gym trying to 'make up' for what I ate.

Looking back, if I had just added in a few more things I enjoy to my life, I could've saved myself a lot of trouble.

Today, one of my mottos is "find enjoyment in things other than food." 

Because I spent a few years of my life obsessing about food, I have the tendency now to obsess over it, albeit to a much lesser degree. But when I find myself thinking "I need a snack" when I just ate, or already thinking about what to have for lunch after I just ate breakfast... I instead remind myself to find enjoyment in things other than food. 

I ask myself, "What can I do RIGHT NOW that would fill me up (primary foods) instead of snacking out of boredom when I'm not even really hungry?" 

Including More Primary Foods In Your Life

To give you some ideas, here are ways I incorporate 'primary foods' in my everyday life - which, in turn, has made ALL the difference in my ability to maintain a healthy weight without really worrying about it much, if at all. 

  • Take long walks
  • Listen to music
  • Take a bath
  • Paint your nails/do a face mask/give yourself a 'spa day'
  • Go for a run 
  • Take your favorite exercise class
  • Spend time with people you care about
  • Get coffee with a friend
  • Snuggle with your significant other
  • Call your mom/someone you love to talk to
  • Paint
  • Read
  • Color (adult coloring books are my jam!)
  • Make a scrapbook with your favorite memories
  • Write/journal
  • Work on a passion project

The possibilites are endless, but you get the point. Just get out there and do something you enjoy!

And next time you find yourself obsessing over food - whether it's tracking calories, always thinking about food, etc. - remind yourself of primary foods and try to find enjoyment in things OTHER than food. 

Comment below: What's one thing you can do today to feed your soul? You can choose from my list or tell me something YOU enjoy doing!