Before we dive into more specific topics, I want to touch upon some core concepts of integrative health that I think are super important to understand when looking at your wellness from a holistic standpoint.
First of all – bio-individuality. This refers to the fact that everyone is different and has different needs. Everyone is completely unique in body, mind, and spirit and people have different ways and do different things to support their health and happiness. Since we are all different at a cellular level, we also differ in the areas of lifestyle, fitness, relationships, nutrition, and what makes us happy. What works for someone might not work for someone else. While getting certified at IIN one of my favorite professors always loved to say “one person’s food is another person’s poison”… and I couldn’t agree more. Health is very complex and because of its multiple facets and dimensions, it is impossible for all of our needs to be the same. Figuring out our health is not as simple as maintaining a ‘healthy’ diet or exercise regimen. Getting it right for YOU implies understanding that there’s much more to it than making what everyone believes are ‘good choices’. Reaching optimal health involves experimenting to find what are good choices for you – the right environment, diet, or workout that helps you thrive right now at this point in your life.
Secondly – primary food. This refers to aspects in our lives which feed us that are NOT food. In integrative nutrition, these areas of our life are classified as ‘primary foods’ because they feed us in ways in which the food on our plate cannot. Primary food emphasizes the fact that wellness goes waaay beyond what we eat. Clearly, we need food to survive, but the concept of primary food underlines the fact that health is multidimensional – it helps bring awareness to the full picture of health. Most importantly, the idea of primary food reminds us to look at our health and wellness from a big-picture perspective, and see what areas of our life may be out of balance when we’re feeling off. It has been scientifically proven many years ago that diet, physical activity, and relationships have a direct correlation with overall wellness. More recently, science has started to recognize the impact that lifestyle factors have on physical, emotional, and mental health. In my coaching practice, I use what I have studied as the Circle of Life, to help clients find what balance and wellness means to them in all aspects of primary food.
Lastly – secondary food. This refers to the food we actually eat – what is on our plate during each meal. In integrative nutrition, secondary food explores the intersection of nutrition and health. People’s secondary food choices are influenced by so many factors – most of which don’t seem connected to diet at all! This is why, if we are only looking at diet, we are only seeing one piece of our health and wellness puzzle. Interestingly, there are many factors that lead us to choose certain foods, including: health, lifestyle, environment, physiology and psychology, society, culture, and economy, personal belief system, food relationship, and knowledge of food.
This is why my role as a health coach is important – when I am looking to improve someone’s diet, health, and overall wellness, it is important to get to know each person at a deep level, as opposed to simply prescribing a diet or a reset program that is the same for everyone.