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  • Writer's pictureOlivia Borer

Primary and Secondary Foods

With my Holistic Health Coaching Program through the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, I’m learning about the importance of primary and secondary foods, and I wanted to take a moment to share this information with you today. Hopefully, it will help you take a look at your own life and see where you could improve, grow, and make necessary changes.

Let’s start with secondary food. Secondary food is the food we eat every day: veggies, fruits, meats, nuts, eggs, etc. It is this food that we get our vitamins, minerals, and energy (in the form of calories). Now while secondary food is very important and should be made up of high quality, nourishing foods, what really makes a difference in our lives is primary food. You can eat all the kale in the world, but could still be unhealthy on a deeper level. That’s where primary food comes in.

Primary food is what makes our lives fulfilling, and it gives us nourishment on the deepest level. It is often when our primary foods are out of balance that we begin to see our health deteriorate. In order to balance primary foods, we often have to make difficult changes that might be intimidating. Let’s be honest here: it’s easy to change what you eat. It’s not easy to change your primary food, which encompasses relationships, career, exercise, and spirituality. Let’s break each one down.


When our relationships are out of alignment, our entire being suffers. We aren’t fulfilled or validated on an emotional level through our relationships when they aren't balanced. Now, we often think of relationships as those with people, but our relationship with food, exercise, life, or really anything can fall under this category.

However, in general, most often our relationship imbalances come from those with people that are built on a poor foundation. How can a friendship serve you if it is built upon lies or an inability to be vulnerable with that person? We all need people around us that support us and share in our passions.

As the saying goes, “You are most like the top five people you spend your time with.” This couldn’t be truer.

Evaluate your relationships and the people you spend your time with – how are they serving you?


Another important aspect of primary food is our career. Are we doing what we love? Do we enjoy going to work every morning? Are you fulfilling your passions?

This aspect of primary food is really important for me. As many people know, I have my Bachelor’s degree in fashion design, but obviously now, I am pursuing a different career path. It was a difficult choice to make, but I’m glad I made it sooner rather than later.

When we find ourselves in a job or situation that doesn’t align with our passions, goals, or values, it takes a toll on our overall well-being. We experience stress (which is the main cause of most disease) and unhappiness, all of which are not beneficial in the short or long term.

Evaluate your career – are you doing what you love or how can you get there?


This would be my favorite aspect of primary food of course, as I love a great workout! Our bodies were made to move in a way that makes us feel good, which is where physical activity comes into our lives. As I’ve discussed before, exercise is different for everyone – what matters is that you enjoy it and make it a priority in your life. It could be strength training, which is my favorite, or it could be daily walks or a dance class.

Evaluate your physical activity schedule – could you use some additions?


Now although IIN includes spirituality as part of the four aspects of primary foods, IIN does not adhere to a specific religion or practice. Rather, it just suggests that we make an effort to grow in our spiritual nature, no matter what religion or beliefs we have.

Often, I think this piece of primary food gets dismissed as not as important as the rest, when in actuality, it may be most important. If we don’t have a spiritual practice, we have no one to turn to on that deep, soulful level when we are feeling hopeless, depressed, or just out of touch with the world.

Evaluate your spirituality practice – where do you need to improve?

Hopefully, this small insight into primary and secondary food was inspirational and insightful for you. I know personally that I have a ton of room for improvement in all the areas, which is something I'm always working on.

This is also a great time to mention that when I reach the halfway point of my Health Coaching program through IIN, I can start seeing clients (June 13th to be exact!). That means, I can help you get your primary and secondary foods back on track, in addition to a variety of other things. Keep that in the back of your mind if you would be interested. I would love to help you in any way that I can. There’s always room for all of us to learn and grow – I’m sure I’ll learn from you as well!

Have a great rest of your day

Xoxo Olivia

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