One of the key concepts I learned from studying to become a health coach (before I became a dietitian) at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition was thinking of “food” as separated into two categories: primary food and secondary food.
Secondary food is what we know as food, like fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds, bread and pasta, animal protein, oils, sweets, even junk and processed foods. But primary food encompasses everything that “feeds” us in addition to literal food, like spiritual satisfaction, feeling fulfilled with your work and extracurricular activities, robust relationships, and ample exercise. The reason these are labeled as primary food is because they can be considered in some ways to be even more important than the literal, or secondary, food. They nurture and nourish us in ways fat, protein and carbohydrates simply cannot. When our primary needs are well taken care of, our need for secondary food decreases, and we certainly depend on it less for happiness and fulfillment, and instead use it for its ideal purpose, which is strength and sustenance.
Think back to a time when you were depressed or anxious. You might have gained or lost weight, ate fast food or lots of sugary desserts, using food in a dysfunctional way to somehow feel better. But if you think back to your childhood or of a time when things seemed to have fallen into an easy rhythm, you might have eaten more lightly, focusing on other things and viewing food more as an afterthought.
Take some time to think or even jot some notes down about these four areas of your life: career, spirituality, relationships and exercise. Where could you put some more attention? Notice how bolstering these areas affects your hunger for food