One of the concepts that I studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) that distinguishes my Health Coaching Program from other programs is the idea of "Primary Food". You will not see Primary Food on the USDA Myplate. It is a concept developed by Joshua Rosenthal, founder and director of IIN. Primary Food relates to lifestyle factors that create optimal health. This includes relationships, physical activity, career and spirituality.
When I first began Health Coaching, I did not expect to be discussing these areas of my client's lives with them. I encourage clients to look at these 4 aspects of their lives as a form of nutrition, because these aspects of life "feed" them on a much deeper level than food. The food we eat plays a central and critical role in creating our health and wellness, and it is extremely important for us to discover the right foods for our bodies. However, the 4 forms of primary foods will nourish us and can make our lives complete and wonderful. When our primary food is balanced and satisfying, our life fills us up with joy, it "feeds" us. Our hunger for the food we eat diminishes as we feel "full" in our soul and the food we eat becomes "Secondary Food".
Ask yourself the following questions to see if your primary foods are in balance:
1) Are my relationships with my spouse, children, other family members, friends, co-workers healthy and do they support my individual needs and wants?
2) Is physical activity a habit that I fit into my weekly schedule? Different types of movement nourish our bodies in various ways. I work with my clients to help them identify what form will keep them feeling balanced, nourish them, and fit into their schedule. Some of my clients who have been rigorously doing aerobic exercise several days a week, substitute one day with yoga which helps them in unexpected ways such as reducing their cravings because they are feeling less tight and tense. Ask yourself, does my current exercise routine fit my current condition?
3) I spend 8-10 hours a day at work, am I doing work I love? Maybe you do not need a new career, just a change in work space, a raise, a more flexible work schedule. Go after whatever you need to make your job a more positive place to be. I do not think it is a coincidence that 2 of my recent clients in my 6-month Coaching Program switched jobs within their field. Feeling happier and productive in your workplace will dramatically increase your well-being.
4) What is my spiritual practice that I am committed to and how can I deepen my practice to add more meaning to my life? Spiritual nutrition feeds us on a very deep and profound level. For me, I find that connection when I am in harmony with nature, on a walk or a run, listening to music. I also feel it when I am connecting with my community attending religious services and chanting prayers. When we have meaning in our life, we will stop searching for meaning and purpose in the bottom of the potato chip bag (where it certainly is not hiding), because we feel at peace in the world and that satisfies us and there is no void we need to fill.
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