As an integrative nutrition health coach, I spend a lot of time working with clients to identify their ideal nutritional choices – the ones that nourish their bodies in a way that helps them reach their physical health goals, whether it’s weight loss or getting some numbers in a better place.
But we probably spend even more time working on their lifestyle choices – how to get an adequate amount of sleep and carve out time for self care, work in a reasonable amount of physical activity, improve their relationships, make a career shift, develop a spiritual practice,….
In Integrative Nutrition, we call those Primary Foods® – the things that nourish us not only in body but also in mind and in spirit. And just as with secondary food – the stuff we actually eat and drink – the better quality we ingest, the better our overall well being.
To put it more bluntly – crap in, crap out. If we work at a job we despise, stay in toxic relationships, avoid or do the wrong kind of physical activity, and lack a spiritual practice, all the kale in the world won’t solve our health issues.
To be truly healthy, our Primary Foods must be every bit at nourishing as our secondary ones – which means getting 7-8 hours of sleep a night, doing work we love, shedding toxic relationships, finding the right type and amount of physical activity for our body type, and having a meaningful spiritual practice.
Once you start thinking this way – making every decision based on what is the more healthful option – you’ll suddenly realize how often on any given day you have the opportunity to make this type of choice.
One area in which a lot of us don’t often enough exercise our right to choose is in our consumption of media – in fact, we are so surrounded by hundreds (thousands?) of media messages a day, we have stopped even noticing them on a conscious level – we “eat” them mindlessly, the way we eat through an entire bag of chips if we’re watching TV!
If you’re interested in an experiment, try going on a media fast or detox.
For a true media fast, choose a certain amount of time (preferably at least a full 24 hours) when you will refrain from “ingesting” anything via television, internet, radio, newspaper, magazines, social media. Instead, spend this time on self-care. You may be shocked to actually experience withdrawal symptoms from your media outlets.
For a gentler approach, try a media detox, gradually begin to make conscious choices about what media messages you take in: focus on “feeding” yourself only uplifting, enlightening messages that have the potential to make a positive difference in your life. I’m not suggesting we hide our heads in the sand – I’m saying that knowing the basics about what is going on in the world is plenty.
- Turn off the television news – most 30-minute broadcasts are 19 minutes of death, destruction, and despair, 10 minutes of ads, and – if you’re “lucky” – 1 minute of “good” news. What does it say about our society that giving 1 minute to reporting on a positive piece of news is lauded as revolutionary?
- Instead of getting a newspaper, have your most trusted online news outlet send you the headlines daily – skim them to keep on top of current events, but don’t delve into the negative stories – really, will knowing all the gory details of a disaster in any way make you a better person?
- Shop at independent grocery stores that don’t present you with a buffet of tabloids at the register – does picking apart the life of a superstar improve your life?
- Unfollow friends who insist on posting negativity on social media – instead, follow those who promote what they love rather than slamming what they hate. (And notice I didn’t say, “follow those who promote what you love” – you don’t have to agree with them, just admire their passion!)
Take on one of these steps at a time – maybe start with one a week, then gradually add more, creating your own as you come up with them – and journal what you experience. You may just start to feel more positive, more nourished.
I’d love to hear more suggestions in the comments!