Primary Food Vs. Secondary Food

As a holistic health coach, I work with many people who obsess about food. The kind of foods they’re eating, the foods they should be eating and of course the foods they crave and can’t get enough of. The truth is, food isn’t everything.


Through my training at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition I’ve learned that food is more than what you put on your plate. Healthy relationships, physical activity, spiritual practice or meditation and a fulfilling career all have the power to satisfy your hunger for life. When your primary food or nutrition is in balance, your life feeds you. What you eat is therefore secondary. Think back to a happy time or memory where your passion and zest for life took all your attention – perhaps when you were a child. Everything was exciting and fun, and mandatory mealtimes were hardly the highlight of your day.


I firmly believe that we are not only fed by food, but by the energy in our lives. Modern nutrition tends to stress on striking the right balance of carbs, proteins, fruits and vegetables, but that is just one source of nourishment considered by integrative nutrition to be secondary food. Seoncdary foods nourish our bodies, but are not able to give us the fulfillment, joy or meaning that primary food provides. It is human nature to crave play, fun and excitement. To hunger for romance, intimacy, and love. To strive for achievement, success, and leadership. Art, self-expression, music, spirituality. All of these elements are essential forms of primary nourishment, and the extent to which we are able to incorporate them determines how worthwhile and enjoyable our lives feel.

When we use secondary food as a way to alleviate our hunger for primary food, the body and mind suffer. Weight gain is just one of the negative consequences. Diet-related conditions such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes are national epidemics, and one of the main reasons is because we are stuffing ourselves with secondary foods when what we’re really hungry for is primary food. If you’re not getting the primary food you need, eating all the food in the world won’t satisfy your hunger.


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