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Primary vs. secondary food

How often have you told yourself tomorrow is the day, or today is the day you will start a strict diet?  Of those times, how many times did you take action and stay on the strict diet?  And of those, how many were able to sustain their results until the present day?  The answer would be very few!  Dieting or taking on a new fad diet can be very confusing and draining.  Before I work with anyone on their eating habits, I try to get Through to them the importance of balancing what the Institute of Integrative Nutrition refers to as "primary and secondary fuel sources."  

Primary fuel are the things that consume our life—career, finances, hobbies, spiritual practice, relationships, and exercise. Therefore, you must be complete in these areas. In addition, they are essential to your nutrition because all of them together impact your body's internal chemistry, like your metabolism, which plays a role in digestion. 

 Secondary fuel is the food you chew and swallow.  This Stage is the area most people start at, and they begin very aggressively.  Most lifestyle changes are not meant to be sudden or adhere to a time frame.  Nutrition is no different.  Restrictive and in a hurry doesn't usually lead to permanent change.  One of the most common things I hear as a wellness coach after working with clients is that having a clean diet of fresh whole foods helps free up some mental space to assist them in making more conscious choices in their lives. 

 Primary and secondary food create a domino effect for the good or the not-so-good.  For example, suppose you are stressed out because you don't like your job. In that case, that can affect your moods, which may hinder some relationships, making you less likely to adhere to a solid exercise routine. Pretty soon, you are so stressed out you are either not eating, overeating, or eating the wrong things.  Not to mention that your digestive tract may not be running as efficiently as it could if you didn't have so much stress.  If you eat what almost consider healthy, all the spinach and kale in the world won't make you healthy if the areas above are not in line with your authentic happiness.  You can also be complete and happy with all your primary fuel sources but still eat a processed food diet, not drink enough water, and your health will suffer.  There is a balance you can reach.

 First, set small goals.  Evaluate how you eat.  Do you eat out of packages or ready-made meals?  Try to cook one meal from fresh ingredients one night a week for one month.  Let your body adjust, and your taste will change.  Pretty soon, you will find that you crave fresh food more.  Explore that aspect instead of depriving yourself of food.  Before I will talk about any "eating style." I require my clients to drink enough water each day, eat fresh homemade food 80% of the time, and enjoy their old eating style 20% of the time for three months before tightening up their eating.  Again, it's all about small shifts inhabit when playing the lifestyle change game!  

 It goes a tad deeper when it comes to primary fuel, but you can apply the same approach.  First, get clear on how you feel about the areas stated above.  If you feel the need to clean up, start keeping a journal every morning of how you feel about those areas, thoughts about cleaning them up, and a few things you are grateful for.  Aim to do these two times a week for one month.  Practicing gratitude is a great way to bring you back to your reality and a great reset after dealing with complex thoughts.  Pretty soon, your work will produce an action plan.  Start small and be patent!  Good Luck!



Lifestyle Athlete

"train like an athlete, heal like a hippie, and always trust your gut."