Primary food is more than what is 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. When primary food is balanced and satiating, your life feeds you, making what you eat secondary. But what is primary food?
Please think back to a time when you were passionately in love. Everything was exciting. Colors were vibrant. Intimacy was magical. Your lover’s touch and feelings of exhilaration sustained you. You were floating on air, gazing into each other’s eyes. You forgot about food and were high on life.
Remember when, as a child, you were playing outside, having fun? Suddenly, your mother announced dinner was ready, but you were not hungry at all. The passion of play took all your attention.
Sometimes we are fed not by food but by the energy in our lives. These moments and feelings demonstrate that everything is food.
All that we consider today as a source of nutrition, namely food, is really just a secondary source of nourishment, called secondary food.
Primary food feeds us, but doesn’t come on a plate. Love, hugs, touch, kisses, warmth, massage, meditation, fun, freedom, self-expression, tears, hot baths, nature, downtime, close friends, and play all feed our souls and our hunger for living.
Now think of a time when you were depressed or your self-esteem was at a low. You were starving for primary food. No amount of secondary food would do. No matter how much you ate, you weren’t satisfied. Even in good times we come home at night and look in the refrigerator for something to eat, when all we really want is a hug or a friend to talk to.
The more primary food we receive, the less we’ll depend on secondary food. The opposite is also true: the more we fill ourselves with secondary food, the less we are able to receive the primary foods of life. That is why every spiritual tradition encourages followers to fast, to have times during the year when secondary food intake is reduced, so that we are more able to be present to God’s love and the primary foods in our lives.
These perspectives are sophisticated and radical. This is true holistic nutrition. Not just eating vegetarian or touting whatever the top food theory is at the moment, but noticing each person’s life as a whole. What are the strengths? What’s missing? Many people eat a perfect diet and still lack passion and joy in their lives.
As I always like to say: “You can eat tons of broccoli every day but that doesn’t mean that you will be healthy.”