In this new series, Ask IIN, we round up the most pressing health and wellness questions ‒ from food and exercise to relationships and career ‒ from real people, just like you! Then select Integrative Nutrition Health Coaches and wellness experts will answer these questions so that you can feel empowered to live your healthiest, happiest life.
How do you nourish yourself with primary food?
In this edition of Ask IIN, we asked our graduates and Health Coaches how they use primary food to take care of their well-being. Primary food is the IIN core concept that means you must look beyond the food on your plate to determine what makes you healthy. From fulfillment in your career and relationships to feeling connected to your purpose and having a spiritual practice, primary food is all the areas of life that feed you and make you feel whole.
Juanina Kocher, Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, Yoga Teacher, Creator of Flex + Flow Wellness
My favorite way to nourish myself through primary food (the “food” found off your plate) is by both spending time with my friends and family ‒ my 3-year-old munchkin in particular ‒ and giving myself space to be alone and recharge. My relationships, with others and myself, are incredibly important for how I feel day to day. We so rarely get “quality time” anymore. Between work, busy schedules, and being hooked on our devices and social media, we’re always “on.” When I give myself time to be present and connected, with myself and the people I love most, I feel happy and at peace.
As a mama of a very energetic toddler, alone time, for me, is everything. Any mother knows how easy it can be to get lost in caring for your family, especially your children. And although this is a priority, it should come second to caring for yourself. You cannot properly care for others if you do not feel like you‘re being cared for. I hear it all the time: “You can’t pour from an empty cup” ‒ and it’s so true.
Finding time to recharge and have moments to yourself should be of the utmost importance. During my alone time, a few of my favorite things include doing a good yoga flow or meditation; binge watching a new show; cooking; taking a long, hot shower; or if I’m feeling a little social, meeting up with a girlfriend for a glass of wine. Bliss.
Staci Whitman, DMD, Functional and Holistic Kids’ Dentist
One of the most impressive take-home messages from my training with IIN was the concept of primary food. I was blown away by the simple yet incredible value and power behind this idea. Health is far beyond what we put on our plates, and primary food is something I try to emphasize and prioritize daily, since I quickly realized it was something I’d been missing out on throughout my life.
I am beyond fortunate to have a supportive partner and really amazing kids, who lift me up and fill my cup daily. We try to have dinner together nightly as a family; we reconnect for the day and ground ourselves for the evening. I cherish our nightly dinners together, preparing food together as a family unit when we can, and always adding my favorite ingredient for any recipe: Love!
I make time for daily movement, too, even if I’m short on time, with things like a quick power walk, a basic yoga routine, or a 20-minute HIIT workout. I know myself well enough now that I must move daily or I feel stagnant, stuck, and edgy. Movement is crucial in my life.
Finally ‒ and maybe the thing I value most ‒ is that I feel very lucky to be so fulfilled in my career, solidifying my true sense of purpose on this planet. After working for years and feeling lost and unfulfilled, I finally found a deeper reason for my being when I transitioned my practice model into one with more holistic and functional practices, something I always held in my heart but had been fearful to explore. I also believe in community for immunity, and I feel so loved and supported by my patient families, clients, and followers.
Since prioritizing my primary food, I have found deeper meaning, happiness, and (ultimately) health. I am forever thankful to IIN for teaching and reinforcing this concept and for opening my eyes to its critical importance and value for optimal wellness.
Kimberly Joy Morgan, Health and Life Coach, Actress, Author
Primary food is life to me. Yes, I like to eat my healthy meals, but filling my plate with primary food keeps me full and feeling nourished. I check in with myself during my weekly planning session with my journal on Sunday afternoons, and I challenge myself to do something impactful in each of the four primary food categories each week.
I start with physical activity. I love to dance, stand-up paddleboard (I live in South Florida – see picture below), mountain bike with my teenage son, walk the beach, or lift weights. During a great week, I do all five. I find mixing up my physical activity keeps me engaged and loving my daily movement. I challenge you to find something you love to do and schedule time for it in your life, like you would any business appointment. You’re that important.
I then move on to my career. I ask myself what project will allow me to feel accomplished and bring me a sense of joy. This November, I’m trying to finish my first cookbook, Joyful Nourishment, and have it ready to purchase for the holiday season. Here’s a sneak peek, with one of my favorite recipes.
- 4 medium-size avocados (soft but not too soft)
- 1/2 small red onion, chopped fine
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- Juice from 1/2 medium organic lemon (not lime ‒ this is one of my secrets!)
- Pink Himalayan salt to taste
- Cut and pit avocados.
- Scoop flesh into a mixing bowl.
- Add chopped onion and cilantro.
- Mix thoroughly. I like to cream the avocado; however, I leave some chunks for texture.
- Add lemon juice and mix.
- Add salt to taste. I like to add a generous amount of Pink Himalayan salt, but everyone is different.
Next up, relationships: Doing life with friends and family is what it’s all about. Each week, I challenge myself to have lunch with a friend, my husband, or my kids. I get on a Zoom call with an old buddy who’s out of state or send a card to a family member to let them know how much I appreciate them. No matter what you do, surround yourself with a tribe that elevates your vibe!
Finally, spiritually…I ask The Most High Heavenly One to guide my steps each week. I also take time for daily meditation, prayer, praise, worship, bible study, and servitude in some way.
This holiday season, I challenge you to plan your “meals.” Eat well from a plate of nourishing primary food that feeds your soul and leaves you fully satisfied. You must be intentional with what you eat.