As this is my first health/nutrition post since finishing “Cups of Prevention” I thought this would be a good time to step back and take a more global look at what the secret to good health and disease prevention is.
BalanceNo one thing brings good health. No one food will keep you well! No one supplement will keep disease at bay. It is a combination of elements that create the magic. I’d love to introduce you to one of the most important concepts I believe I learned in my program with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. This concept is “Primary Food” and “Secondary Food”, the brainchild of Joshua Rosenthal, the school’s founder. Drumroll please!
- Spiritual Practice
- The physical food we eat.
RelationshipsMaybe you’re not in one or maybe you’re in an unhappy relationship or marriage. Maybe you don’t have a good support network of friends or family around you and feel isolated and alone. A response to this might be that you come home from work to an empty house or a house full of negative energy and a trip to the fridge for a big tub of dip to help that big bag of potato chips taste even more comforting is top priority. Later on you find yourself reaching into the freezer for the tub of ice cream. These “tubs” of junk are often a substitute for the relationship that’s missing or not working in your life. On the flip side, remember those early days when you were head-over-heels in love? You were so excited, giddy and high on love that you didn’t even feel hungry. Love was nourishing you and feeding you in every sense of the word!
CareerMaybe your job is a source of stress and anxiety and you dread going to work everyday and especially on a Monday morning. You live for weekends and vacation and the day you might retire. You might be the boss, feeling overwhelmed by all the responsibility that comes with that role, or you may hate your boss and the way he or she treats you. Many people feel trapped in a job they hate because of money, opportunity or fear of change. Whatever the issue is, all the kale in the world won’t make you healthy and happy if you’re miserable 8-10 hours of the day! An important note here is that a satisfying career may also be a hobby you’re passionate about, an artistic endeavor, volunteer work that you love or anything that gives you purpose and satisfaction.
Physical ActivityMaybe you exercise ALL the time perhaps even to an extreme, fighting thoughts or beliefs that you are never quite thin enough or quite perfect enough. Alternately, you may resist exercise altogether either because you simply don’t like it, think you don’t have the time for exercise or feel insecure about your abilities. The old “use it, or lose it” phrase comes to mind here. We need to move our bodies to maintain our strength and balance as we age. Not to mention the benefits of a boost in energy and feel good hormones that comes from exercising. Finding the right kind of exercise for you, whether it’s running, walking with a friend, yoga or weight work is essential. The key is to find something you enjoy and will stick with.
Spiritual PracticeA spiritual practice can mean so many different things to different people. For some, it’s going to church or their chosen place of worship and belonging to that “family” who offer support and comfort when needed. For others their spiritual practice might be found on the yoga mat or meditation pillow. Some may find it communing with nature, by looking up at the leaves on the trees or the stars in the sky. There’s no one-way to define this, but on some level we all need to feel “at one” with something. We are spiritual beings in a material world and as such, we need to feel a sense of connection to something or someone greater than ourselves. I just think this all makes SO much sense.
If any of these Primary Foods are waaaay out of balance, then chances are our Secondary Foods will be too. We often use food to fill voids, comfort ourselves and to help us de-stress.The way to create balance is to first of all determine what area or areas of your life are actually out of balance. Only then can we begin working on bringing them back into the balance we need for true well-being. I had quite a bit of work to do myself around this :) but have made good progress and continue working on this everyday. Of course the food we eat plays a vital role in our health and well-being, but these primary foods are a way to nourish and feed ourselves on a deeper level. One does not exist successfully without the other. True health comes from balance in all these areas of our lives. How is your balance? Are you working on a certain area and how are you doing with it? Share below so we can all support each other to make positive changes.