As much as I loooove talking about food in the traditional sense, and I believe that we can’t ever promote the wellness benefits of whole foods enough (who’s with me?), there is another type of “food” that is just as important as what we put on our plates every day.
I’m talking about the kind of food that nourishes us on a soul level, giving our lives meaning and purpose, and helping us to feel more connected to the world around us. Primary foods can be a great way to guide our ambitions, give us context about the things that we want out of our lives, and can help to ground us in times of great uncertainty.
The Four Main Primary Foods
Where secondary food refers to the physical food and nutrients we put into our body, primary foods contribute to our health and wellbeing on a broader existential level. Don’t get me wrong. Secondary foods are a very important part of a balanced lifestyle to me, which you most probably know if you've been seeking happiness with me. But the other types of food don’t often get as much attention:
There are four main types of primary foods that can amplify your health and wellbeing before you even get to eating, namely;
1. healthy relationships
2. physical activity
3. a spiritual practice
4. a fulfilling career
Checking in about how these areas fit into your daily life, and the way you experience the world through them, can be a good way to gauge your own progress on your personal pathway to joy.
Other Potential Primary Foods To Consider
Primary foods aren’t only limited to the four key ones I’ve just mentioned, and can span out to other areas too, depending on the things you consider important to your own life. Other primary foods include a healthy social life (all the more important during the pandemic), your home/living space, how empowered you are relative to managing your own finances, and the hobbies you enjoy (or want to try) doing. They also show up through the way we continue to educate ourselves more formally, as well as our continual learnings when we become more curious about the world around us. These are all areas that can make a big contribution to our levels of contentment in the world, and can all act as areas to check in with whenever we’re feeling slightly out of sorts.
The Link Between Primary and Secondary Foods
It’s so important for us to nourish our bodies with good secondary foods, especially if we’re hoping to continue to lead active lifestyles as we continue to age. I’d go as far as saying that the more we fill ourselves with primary foods, the less dependent we will be on secondary food (especially the more troubling kind, like sugary and processed snacks) to help manage stress and anxiety. I call primary foods our true source of nourishment, and the more of it we give ourselves, the less dependent we become on coping mechanisms that might even be detrimental to our own health and wellbeing in the long run.
Exploring The Balance Between The Two
If you’re keen to start spending some quality time exploring the balance between primary and secondary foods in your life, you’re right on the money. I should mention that this will be a deeply personal balance, so you will need to be open to a little bit of (gentle) trial and error along the way. What works for you, won’t necessarily work for someone else.
Start by asking yourself which area could use some attention this week. Then, jot down three things you can do to try and recalibrate in and around those areas. It can be as simple as saying you want to carve out time to call a loved one (a response to feeling lonely), walk around the block once this week (a response to inactivity), and meditate for 5 minutes each morning (a response to too little self care). The idea is that the three simple and quick activities you choose should help to start filling your wellness cup a little, and bit by bit
I’d love to hear how it's going along the way, so pop me a message on social media if you’re making some progress, or if you need a bit of extra advice along the way. Be kind to yourself as you go, and enjoy the process.