Food is so much more than what you find on your plate. Healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career and a spiritual practice can fill your soul and satisfy your hunger for life. Integrative Nutrition refers to these lifestyle aspects as Primary Food, which when balanced and satiated, your life feeds you, making what you eat secondary.
To complete the picture, the plate is surrounded with lifestyle factors that create optimal health – relationships, career, physical activity, and spirituality. The elements of primary food often more important than the food that’s on your plate.
Being well connected with others is an essential part of life, and the quality of our relationships explains a lot about the quality of our health.
Work is a huge part of our daily routine, yet how many of us really enjoy it? Finding work you love or way to love your current work is essential to living a healthy, balanced life.
Our bodies thrive on movement, and quickly degenerate without it. Find a routine that can nourish you on a regular basis. Hang up the car keys and run your next errand on foot.
Spirituality can feed us on a very deep level and dramatically diminish our cravings for superficial rewards of life.
I encourage people to look at these aspects of life as a form of nutrition, a way to feed themselves at a much deeper level than food. The food you eat plays a critical role in your health and happiness, but the four forms of primary food make your life extraordinary.
The Integrative Nutrition Plate (pictured) is adapted from the USDA’s MyPlate nutrition guidelines and emphasizes the importance of local and organic produce, whole grains, high-quality proteins, plant-based fats, and water.
True, organic is best, local is better, and from garden to plate is supreme, I’d like to emphasize that simply starting somewhere; adding more nutrient rich foods and crowding out processed foods is more important.
The Integrative Nutrition Plate serves as a general guideline for healthy eating but should be adapted and customized according to what works best for you. Just as there is a no one-size-fits-all diet, there are no strict instructions on how everyone has to eat all the time.
Here are the essentials you should include every day;
Eat in season, and eat a variety of colors. Enjoy fruit craving sweets and snacks.
Vegetables are nutritionally rich – so fill your plate! Go for many colors, choosing dark leafy greens as much as possible.I’ll be sharing Green Smoothie recipes later on.
Whole grains provide many nutrients and fiber. Avoid refined grains like white bread, white rice, and white flour products. If you cannot digest grains or choose not to eat them, perhaps you’d do better with more veggies instead!
Choose healthy varieties such as beans, nuts, eggs, fish, and poultry. If you eat meat, like I do, choose grass-fed, organic for best quality.
Fats and Oils:
Use plant-based oils like olive oil as dressing on salad. Choose wild fish, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Balance your intake of saturated fats like butter, cream, and cheese (hmph! all of my weaknesses). Avoid trans fats.
Opt for water as your drink of choice. Limit caffeinated drinks and avoid sugary drinks. If you drink dairy, quality is key – choose milk free of added hormones and buy local, organic when possible.
Modern nutrition – carbs, proteins, fruits, and vegetables – is really just one source of nourishment – and these foods do nourish our bodies, but are not able to give us the joy, meaning, or fulfillment that primary food provides.
We hunger for play, fun, touch, romance, intimacy, love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression, leadership, excitement, adventure, and spirituality. All these elements are essential forms of nourishment, and the extent to which we are able to incorporate them determines how enjoyable and worthwhile our lives feel.
When we use food as a way to alleviate or suppress our hunger for primary food, the body and mind suffer. Weight gain is just one of the consequences. Diet-related disorders 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 food when we are really starving for primary food.
Sometimes we are fed not by food but by the energy in our lives. If you’re not getting the primary food you need, eating all the (right) foods in the world won’t satisfy your hunger.
My 1,2,3, Vitality program dives deep into these topics and gives you a roadmap for total wellbeing.