Recently, in a session with a client, she brought up primary foods. This particular client had been referred to me by a friend (I love referrals – you girls are amazing for sharing with others!) and her friend had told her about the life changing work we’d done talking about primary foods.
Primary foods are the non-food sources of nourishment in our lives. Things like: career, physical activity, relationships, spirituality, joy, creativity, home environment, etc… I learned about primary foods while I was studying to be a health coach and found it fascinating!
This particular client asked me if we’d ever talked about primary foods before, and I told her we had without calling primary foods by their name. We’d talked about creativity with writing, we’d discussed relationships, alone time, giving ourselves time to check out and relax, and organization within her routine.
If you were to come to me and I was to talk with you ONLY about food for six-months, you’d definitely change on some level in our time together, but you might not transform. Which is why I talk about these deeper life things with all of my clients.
Depending on what is most relevant in each clients life, we could talk about things like relationships, career, things that inspire us or things that the client is working on (passion projects). We talk about routine (creating it or breaking it up), fun, and things that spark joy.
Primary foods are important. I’ll share three examples with you of just how important they are:
- Home environment: If you set a goal to eat at home more, but your fridge is crowded, messy, and you’re not sure what’s inside, you’re going to feel discouraged around your goal. If you want to eat at your dining room table, but it’s full of bills, papers, and other things that stress you out, it’s going to feel yucky sitting there. You’ll think things like “Why am I doing this? The couch was so much better. It’s sad and lonely here.” If your to-do list feels 10 miles long, and everywhere you look in your home you’re reminded of things you have to do (messes/undone projects sitting out), how will you ever find a moment to relax?
- Physical activity: If you want to move your body more, but have mental blocks around exercise, it’ll be hard to find the motivation to get moving. Some of the mental blocks my clients have talked about are: feeling like they’re starting over with their exercise routine from square one, feeling afraid of the commitment (if I start, I’ll have to continue), feeling worried about what they’ll look like (will people be able to tell that I don’t know what I’m doing? What will they think?), or feeling like they have to be 100% ready before they start (I’ll start Monday, January 1st, after the holidays, when I’m more motivated than now, etc…)
- Relationships: The relationship you have with yourself and the relationships you have with others are both things that need to be talked about, too. If you’re uncomfortable being alone, no wonder you come home from work to an empty house and binge eat. If you’re sad you’re not dating and wish you had someone to share your dinner with, no wonder you have a hard time cooking a nice dinner just for yourself. If you’re struggling in your marriage but aren’t sure how to properly communicate, no wonder you avoid conversation, feel stressed, and want to numb out. These are all things that can be talked about.
The goal with primary foods is to keep your tanks full, so that secondary food (the food we eat) can truly become secondary.
A good example of this is the last post I wrote: If I Were Still Dieting: What this Weekend Would’ve Been Like. When I was dieting, I was SO focused on FOOD that it had became the primary in my life. It wasn’t until I began filling up my primary food tanks that things really began to shift for me.
The primary food tanks I needed to focus on most were:
- Spiritual: I found a home church, started journaling, praying, and reading more. This helped me to feel enriched and fulfilled. Like I had purpose, meaning, and was fully loved and accepted RIGHT where I was.
- Joy: I remember finding a verse in the Bible that read “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24) and I was like YEAH! That’s so true. This day IS the day He MADE for us, so why WOULDN’T I rejoice in it? Having this day, is enough to make today a GOOD day. I stuck this verse on a post it note, attached it to my steering wheel, and it brought me so much joy because I truly believed it – it made sense.
- Home environment: I also began improving my home environment by keeping things simple & neat, just how I like ’em. I’ve been big into my environment since I was little. Since the time I could drag a side table across the carpet, I’ve been rearranging my space probably once every two months or so (yeah, it’s A LOT). But, when I realized how much joy this brought me, I began to embrace it and this made all of the difference. It went from being something I do to being something I LOVE to do.
- Relationships: I also made new friendships that enriched me. I started spending time with friends doing things that I loved: taking thousands of photos together with my new DSLR, going to coffee, taking plenty of walks, and taking long drives and exploring the coast of CA.
- Career: This was also the time I began considering what I really wanted to do career-wise – which was coaching – and I finally made the switch. I stopped my nursing classes, enrolled in IIN, and went for it. This felt like a HUGE risk at the time, but I was determined to stick to it until I was where I wanted to be. THAT is the mindset that has kept me going all these years.
- Creativity: I never felt like a “creative person” before discovering that creativity is not exclusive to painters & musicians. Rather, creativity includes things like being creative with your physical space, putting outfits together that make you happy, starting a blog, taking photos, and entertaining more of the ideas that come to you. There are so many ways to be creative.
When primary foods are high, secondary foods become easier to manage. This is why I always encourage my clients to start doing the very things that allow them to feel good NOW. As I always say to them, “when we feel good, we want to continue feeling good.” Most people have a tendency to want to wait until X happens to do something that makes them happy.
I say we should do the exact opposite. Do more of what makes you happy and fulfills you NOW, and allow your health to follow.
I would love to hear your thoughts on primary foods. Have you heard of them? If you’re looking for more support you can 1) sign-up for my free VIP Q+A coaching emails below (I have one coming out today), 2) request a free consultation with me, &/or 3) join my online program Finally Free – email me firstname.lastname@example.org to get the details of our biggest discount yet, which ends this Sunday (12/18)!