By wellness business coach, yoga teacher and health coach, Victoria Adams.
The four primary foods are Relationships, Exercise, Career and Spirituality. When one (or all) of these categories are not met (or “fed”), we turn to secondary foods instead (e.g. chips, chocolate, crisps, junk food, alcohol). The primary issue is often overlooked and we struggle to overcome our obstacles as a result, using secondary (junk) food or addictions/anxieties/stress to cover it up.
It’s not hard to picture the scene: it’s been a long day, work was rough, perhaps you’ve had an argument with your partner or maybe you’re feeling low and emotional after a night out as you’ve still not met the love of your life. Maybe it’s something else: often we find ourselves in places and positions that we don’t really want to be in, and rather than figure out how or take action to get out of it, the action we take is a big fat nose dive into a packet of crisps or the 2 for 3 on jam doughnuts. Now, let me tell you why emotional eating makes total sense. But also, how you can stop doing it and finally see the positive changes to your physical and mental wellbeing: you’ll be happier with your waistline and with the state of your mind.
We don’t always eat to satisfy hunger. Emotional eating is a response to stress, or sadness, sometimes anger, maybe as a reward, and most commonly a need for comfort from whatever it is that is causing us pain. Usually these foods are high-carbohydrate, high-calorie with a low nutritional value: we rarely opt for a nutrient-dense food such as raw broccoli when we’ve had a bad day. Emotional eating actually is quite a logical thing to do - it lessens emotional turmoil or pain, and if you could eat the food that “helps” you for the rest of your days without stopping even for a second, then there wouldn’t be a problem: you’re almost healed and free from the pain of your problem! Donuts forever you might say. But nobody can keep that up forever. Whatever we eat or drink when we need a “little something” other than fuel for the body, the reason we’ve reached for it won’t actually be addressed. The problem will still be there. We’ve merely put it on pause. When the sound of your snacking stops, whatever you masked with food pops back up again. And to make worse, you’ll feel bloated and full. Now you’ve got more problems. Emotional eating doesn’t fix it, it just covers it up for as long as you’re able to put your attention to something else: eating.
Are you finding it impossible to cut out treat foods and banning yourself from eating crisps, chocolate or wine but it only last for a few days before you’re back on them again? You’re focusing on the wrong foods.
Let’s talk Primary Foods. These are the forces that truly feed you (body, mind, heart and soul):
These are the bonds you have - or feel you lack - with friends, family, even co-workers. Ask yourself how are your relationships? Are you feeling that you are lacking in some areas? Perhaps the relationships you have are too much and too demanding? The way we live out and connect with our loved ones (or otherwise) can change on a daily basis - this means that your mood can fluctuate and how you address this as a Primary Food can in turn affect the way you turn to Secondary Foods (the food you put in your mouth). Effectively, Primary Foods are feeding or draining your heart and energy. When this is challenged or off-balance, Secondary Foods may almost make up for the imbalance but ultimately you have to address the imbalance in your life.
Love your job? Hate your job? Looking for a new one or can’t find one? Most of us spend more time at work (or working from home) than at home with our loved ones. Just think all that time you may be spending in an environment that drains you rather than fires you up. We can’t all quit the day job, but what practices can you incorporate as a daily habit to help you maintain the best life balance possible (as well as your sanity!). Even 5 minutes of meditation, yoga, even self-massage can make a huge difference. Use the video tutorials to help you with this.
Quite simply, are you exercising or not? You have a body and it does need to be used. Your choice of how to move your body is your own: maybe it’s leisurely walking 5000 - 10,000 steps a day, perhaps you love to hike or run 10km most days of the week. If you know you love the gym, then use the gym. Remember, we can experience imbalances in the primary foods in both directions: move your body enough, but not so much that you send yourself into over-exercise which will cause stress. When we exercise, the stress it puts on our muscles and organs should be just enough in order to make us stronger and fitter: this is called productive stress or complementary stress. If you are doing too much exercise, uncomplimentary stress will send your adrenal glands into overdrive and the effect this has on cortisol and insulin levels is often the reason you end up eating too much after training. Especially if you exercise for hours without planning the meal that you’ll refuel with. Plan to eat nothing after exercise and you end up eating more!
This means more than yoga, meditation or candle-gazing. It could be walking through the forest, reading a book, resting by the fire, watching the ocean. It’s whatever it is that takes you back to feeling like you again. It brings you back in touch with your spirit. If you don’t know what that means for you, isn’t now the time to start finding out? It could be swimming in nature or finally writing your novel, but it’s not in the bottom of a packet of crisps.
At various times in your life, the status of some or all of these things can change. Sometimes our relationships are good, but maybe your exercise is off. Simply being aware of the four primary foods is a huge step to addressing whatever and however you may be imbalanced, without unknowingly turning to food and snacks to fix something that can be fixed with one simple thing: clear seeing.
Victoria’s tutorial video series on the Primary Foods and holistic wellbeing is available soon on Breeze. Find out more at explorebreeze.co.uk.
For more follow @victoriaadams on Instagram.