Life As Our First Course

Many of us have lost sight of why we eat. Of course, the obvious answer is that we eat to sustain life. Sometimes we eat because we’re bored, lonely, sad, angry; or sheer habit tells us to put something in our mouth. But eating and preparing food should be enjoyed and celebrated; it should help us Thrive, not just survive. It is a daily ritual that can be spiritual and holy as well as satisfying, creative, and fun; yet we often eat with little or no thought about what and how much we put in our mouths. It’s time to remember how to eat with intention—to discover why we eat and what it means to Thrive.

Of course, food feeds us literally. But look around your life. What else feeds you? Family, friends, career, sports, hobbies, all of the above? 

We are inspired by the integrative nutrition work and philosophy of Joshua Rosenthal—in particular, his work on primary and secondary foods. In his book Integrative Nutrition, he states, “Primary food is more than what is on your plate. Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a rich and dedicated spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. When primary food is balanced and satiating, your life feeds you, making what you eat secondary.” Read that one more time. Let the statement and its powerful truth wash over you.

Think about a time when you were out of touch with eating. Maybe you’ve always been. When we are stressed or feeling disconnected from family or friends, or when we are not aligned with our personal integrity and purpose, we are very vulnerable to making poor food choices. How do you tend to eat when you are feeling lonely or less than your best? Do you desire comfort from food? Do you notice that no matter what or how much you eat, you almost never feel satisfied?

Take this one step further and think about when you are connecting with the primary foods that nourish your soul and life. Do you feel purposeful and fully connected? Are you serving and loving yourself and those around you with your best? Being in integrity with your life’s choices feeds you. You gain energy and confidence when you are plugged into what truly and deeply nourishes you.

When your primary foods are feeding your soul, what do you feed your body—nourishing, nutrient-dense whole foods? If your primary foods leave you unfulfilled, sad, stressed, empty, or angry, what happens with the secondary foods? Do sugar, carbohydrates, unhealthy fats, and salt draw you in? We have witnessed what happens when you live in alignment with what truly feeds you first, and we can tell you: this primary food practice serves as a foundation for making impeccable choices with the secondary foods.

Look at your life as it stands today. Does your present occupation support you, not just financially but emotionally? Whatever you need to do to make your relationship with your job feel good, become meaningful, and fulfill you, make those changes now. If there is no flexibility, it is time to reevaluate your current role. How about your relationships? Remember the idea of peopling your life well, and put that in action.

Every morning before breakfast, set an intention to be present to your highest potential—your vision for your best living. Nourish this healthy beginning with foods that will feed this intention. Throughout the day, acknowledge if you are craving junk and notice when you may be off your game. Look within to see where you can realign and refocus your light and love with positive rituals and courageous action, rather than empty calories.