I first learned that primary foods, are “healthy relationships, regular physical activity, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice” and the carbs or proteins we ingest are the secondary foods, when I attended the Institute for Integrative Nutrition back in 2014. It was a novel concept for me, I thought I was going to study nutrition!
Instead, I started to learn about nourishment! When all aspects of your life are in sync, we are in balanced homeostasis. When things are out of balance, sometimes it is a matter of “not what you are eating, but what is eating you.” Dysfunction will show up in what you are eating, how you are eating, and other disorders, dependent on the severity of the imbalance.
So how do we nourish ourselves? That is where the practice of self-care comes in. Taking the time for yourself to do things that promote and support your health are essential. So, what exactly could you do to take care of yourself? Here are some example of primary foods:
Drink more water
We are made up of 75% water and can’t go for more than 2-3 days without it, so it is essential to our health. How much should we drink and when? Anywhere from 64 to 96 ounces per day is sufficient, based on your size. I am small, so I really can’t get past 72 ounces on a daily basis. Equally important is when. Upon awakening, try to drink one to two glasses of water immediately to hydrate your body. I like mine room temperature, with either some lemon or vinegar in it, for its astringent properties, in the morning and plain the rest of the day. If you don’t like plain water, add lemon, cucumber, a little fruit juice to make it more palatable to you. The most important thing is to drink it. Try not to catch up late in the day, or you will be waking up in the night to go to the bathroom!
This is a nightly habit that I recommend to those I work one- on- one with, early on. It is so simple and can be done anywhere, yet it has many benefits. It will relax you before bed, increase your circulation and improve detoxification. Stimulating your skin with a hot towel works on your parasympathetic nervous system to relax you and connect you in a loving way with your body. The heat and friction caused by this practice break down cellulite and subcutaneous fat. Stimulating your largest external organ (skin) helps remove more cells, toxins and waste products than any other method. Give it a try and let me know what you think.
When we are feeling depressed or lethargic, the best thing to do is to get up and move. Low levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin can be increased by exercise and changes in diet. Exercise increases endorphins, which are analgesic, helps reduce stress and promotes better sleep. I know this is easier said than done, when you are feeling blue. But even a ten-minute walk can help elevate your mood somewhat. Reach out to someone to “buddy up”, if it seems difficult to get started or keep going.
High quality Whole Food
There is also mounting evidence that nutrition and mental health are connected, that filling our bodies with junk food can detrimentally affect our brain and nervous system. The majority of serotonin is produced in our GI tract, interacts with the flora and communicates directly with the brain via the vagus nerve. It is no wonder the quality of the food we eat affects our mood. Nutritional psychology studies are now linking nutritious food to better outcomes in treating depression. Here are some of the best foods to increase cognitive ability and help ward off depression:
Yogurt and active cultures
I hope you see that you are the sum of all your parts, and a fully nurtured soul is a happy one. Take care of yourself and stay well, my friends, and when you need to reach out for professional help.
Recipe: Pasta with Sardines (fatty fish)
Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta, and cook for about 8 minutes, or until almost tender.
While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for a few minutes until soft, then add the garlic, and cook until fragrant. Stir in the sardines with their sauce. When the sardines heat through, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the pasta is ready.
When the pasta is almost done, drain, and add it to the sardine sauce. Stir, cover, and turn the heat off. Let stand for a few minutes to absorb the flavors of the sauce. Squeeze juice from the lemon over the pasta. Divide onto serving plates, and top with red pepper flakes and grated Parmesan cheese.