nourishing primary foods

back to basics | primary foods

I’ve written a lot about primary foods (just search the blog for that key word!), so this week, I’m going to take the conversation in a slightly different direction.

As a reminder, quarter 1’s Back to Basics theme continues with an exploration of the principles of Integrative Nutrition®. While I don’t think anyone at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition® ever set down the principles à la Moses and the Ten Commandments, this style of health and wellness coaching comes down to a few basic tenets.

Here are the principles as I see them:

  • Bio-individuality
  • Primary + secondary foods
  • The importance of mindset and our inner dialogue
  • Taking small, simple, sustainable steps daily over time

If you recall, secondary foods are the ones we put in our mouths. Primary foods are all the other aspects of our lives that nourish us (or don’t or at least have the potential to).

And what often happens is that our level of satisfaction with those primary foods can deeply affect our relationship with secondary foods.

energy + attention

There’s a saying that runs something like, “Energy flows where attention goes.”

I always have to think hard about how the saying goes, so perhaps it’s not a great saying? Still, it’s at the heart of my message this week.

If you’ve ever done an assessment in preparation for working with a coach, you’ve probably identified a few areas of your life that are flourishing and some that, well, aren’t.

When we pay close attention to the results of these exercises, we notice that in most cases, the flourishing areas feel nourishing to us. And the reverse is usually true: these areas flourish because we nourish them in some way.

If your career is really taking off, you’re probably spending a fair amount of time and energy on that sector. When your closest relationships are thriving, you’re likely devoting a fair amount of attention to them. As you invest in moving your body more, it rewards you with better and better performance. The more you practice meditation, the more you feel the rewards. Etc.

primary foods cycle

So it’s not just that our primary foods not only nourish us. By turning our attention to those that don’t nourish us, we can nurture them back to health and make ourselves more holistically healthy.

It’s a cycle! And yes, it requires we “do the work.”

What does that work look like?

It’s tempting to keep pouring ourselves into what’s going well, so it looks like us getting honest about the areas of our lives that are feeling a bit sub-par. And then investing some energy in nurturing them.

Just as with making changes in our eating style, shifting our lifestyle choices can feel daunting. So I suggest you take the same approach: make simple, small, sustainable shifts daily.

How small? Well, if you’re a couch potato and you want to run a marathon (or even a 5K or just a mile), start with walking to the mailbox. Then around the block. Then around two…. THAT’s how small I want you to think.

it’s all about the 50%

When I work with clients trying to shift their food and lifestyle choices, I urge them to consider making the better choice 50% of the time. Not 75%, not 80%, not 90%, and definitely not 100%.

Because we want you to succeed, and aiming for 100% is more likely to make you feel like a failure when you don’t hit the mark.

You will face the same choices day after day (chocolate cake or an apple? Netflix or a workout? sleep or doomscroll?) For starters, try to make the better choice 50% of the time. Once 50% of the time feels easy, kick it up a notch. Then do it again.

That’s right: it’s going to take weeks/months/years to make the shift … and made this way, it’s much more likely to stick.

It’s like gardening: it takes a while to sprout the seed, nurture it, support it….

IMPORTANT: don’t forget to celebrate the 50%! We’re so hard-wired to see the times we “failed” that we forget to celebrate the times we succeeded. Lots more on that next week!

make the connection

If you spent last week thinking about where you get your advice on getting healthy and you’re ready to listen to yourself for a change, identify ONE primary food in which you want to make a change. Remember: it’s not necessarily what and how others say you “should” be working on.

Then ask yourself what the smallest step you can take in that area is—the one in which you can clearly identify the better and the worse choice. This week, aim for making that better choice 50% of the time.

And if your New Year’s resolutions are fading into the rearview mirror, be sure to join my March Mid-week Wellness Workshop! Group rates are available as are subscriptions that get you all 20 virtual events of 2023. Email me if you want to explore those options.