Primary Food | What nourishes you beyond the plate?

Welcome back, everyone!

Have you ever wondered why some people rigidly eat their greens daily, avoid sugar and alcohol, bake their own bread and buy the most expensive high quality oils in the world – on the outside they live the healthiest life one can imagine, but they’re constantly suffering from any kind of ailment. Do you know these people? On the contrary, others enjoy their bar of chocolate or glass of wine every now and then, but their bodies seem to thrive and shine?

You probably know that I’m a big believer and advocate of a nutritious, whole foods plant-based diet. If you deeply tune into your body’s cues, it will primarily guide you towards natural foods; at least when you’re in harmony with your Self: physically, mentally, and emotionally. Eating well is – in my opinion – a precious act of selfcare. If you’re not used to nature based foods, your body may take time to re-adjust. But taste buds can adjust. Ultimately, we are part of nature and our bodies are supposed to be fueled by nature: Fruits and veggies, whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds – I’m a big believer and lover of the delicious variety of plant foods.

However, if food would be the one and only solution to optimal health and wellbeing, we wouldn’t have to deal with a chronic disease epidemic. Food nourishes the body, that happens primarily on the physical level. After all, we do not only consume food on a day to day basis. What’s at least as important as food is our environment, who we interact with, where we live, what we consume, what we do, say, think about ourselves and others … Basically, every other area of life that we interact with equally has a major impact on our health and wellbeing.

“Secondary foods don’t come close to giving us
the joy, meaning, and fulfillment primary food provides.”
(Joshua Rosenthal)





~What is primary food? ~

The concept of primary food is a holistic approach to a person’s overall health and wellbeing. The term goes back to Joshua Rosenthal, founder of the world’s biggest nutrition school called “The Institute for Integrative Nutrition”, where I’m studying to become a Holistic Health Coach.

“Primary food feeds us,
but it doesn’t come on a plate.”

© Institute for Integrative Nutrition

This concept basically confirms that we human beings are not only flesh and bones which needs to be replenished by proteins, fueled by carbs and fats. We are spiritual beings living in a “human shell” (or “meat suit”). On a subtle level, we’re made of energy which continuously interacts with everything else. Thus, conversations and intimacy with other people, music, nature, the sun, a book, meditation, a prayer, a run or yoga practice – everything in life can act as food.

We are not only hungry for potatoes and bananas, but deep down we desperately crave connection, love, relationships, movement, heartfelt conversations, a purpose, joy, we thrive only in environments which inspire and nourish us from the inside out. One simple example: Have you ever been passionately in love? Somehow, everything was exciting, colorful, vibrant. You looked at the world with the eyes of unconditional love. You were floating on air and probably even forgot about lunch and dinner, haven’t you? That’s the no. 1 example of primary food, but not the only one. Everything that either nourishes or depletes you besides the food you put into your mouth is called primary food. In other words: our hunger for life!

According to Joshua R. (IIN), there are four key primary foods:

  • Relationships
  • Career
  • Spirituality
  • Physical activity

IIN teaches us 12 primary foods in total which all influence our health and wellbeing. Further examples are: home environment, creativity, finances, education, social life and home cooking. I couldn’t agree more with that concept. As I went through the online program, I was exploring each primary food once at a time: Where do I stand? Where do I want to be? How can I improve this area of life? If you’re deeply fulfilled on a primary food level, the actual “food” becomes secondary.

“When primary food is balanced and satiated, your life feeds you,
making what you actually eat secondary.”
(Institute for Integrative Nutrition)







~ Relationships: the cornerstone of life ~

Relationship is a very broad term as we basically are in relation with anything we put our attention on; you’re even “in relation” with these lines right now. Relationships with other people are the basic primary food. It is about our ability to love and relate to other human beings, whether it’s your parents, siblings, teachers, friends, co-workers, intimate partners, the list goes on.

We all do have a need for connection and support, we desire to give and receive love. Relationships can nourish body, mind, and spirit. Your connection with others does have a massive impact on your quality of life and health. But they can also deplete and exhaust you. Relationships are a form of energy exchange and you can literally feel if you blossom in the presence of somebody else or if this person depletes your energy reserves. Think about your own relationships: How does the connection make you feel? Is it a form of nourishment that supports your health or are you possibly engaged in toxic relationships? Consider that relationships are always made up of (at least) two people, yourself included. Perhaps you can put your attention on specific relationships and renegotiate it, or maybe even take a break or walk away from it.

There are basically five needs we usually desire from relationships:

  • friendship
  • love
  • intimacy
  • touch
  • sex

Often times we assume or expect one person to fulfill all of our unique desires in a relationship, but usually that’s not the case – and that is totally fine!

The deepest desire a human being can have is sharing profound experiences with another person. Whether that’s a deep diving conversation, an intense physical experience in the act of sexuality, gentle touches you receive that feed your body and soul, or a long lasting tight hug with someone you truly appreciate. I believe we need to approach firstly ourselves and at the same time everyone else from a place of unconditional love, from the root of our hearts. The more love you cultivate within, the more love you can share with others, and ultimately, the more love you’ll be able to receive.

If this area of life is out of balance, it will surely be reflected to you, e.g. in your eating behavior. Sugar cravings at night might represent your craving for intimacy, touch, and therefore connection with someone else. It might tell you that you’re currently experiencing an imbalance in the area of relationships.







~ Career: Live your life’s purpose ~

I truly believe that we all came here on earth for a specific reason, that we’re at this place right now to serve with our unique gifts, talents, and passions. The area of work is such a big piece of the human experience as we are able to learn, grow, gain confidence and excel in something we love doing; something we’re deeply passionate about. I consider the area of career as a way of self-expression. You serve the greater good with whatever you have to share, what you’re good in, what lights you up, and what lets you shine from the inside out.

At the same time it’s really sad to observe people who spend their precious time in jobs that are diametrically opposed to who they are as a spiritual being. When I personally look at someone who found and is committed to his passion, who’s in the flow with what he’s doing and life itself, it lights up my heart on a very deep level. I am convinced that each and every one of us deserves a career he’s fulfilled with. Not a 9-5-job, earning some money, coming home with a paycheck to sustain your living. How can it contribute to your health if you’re dreading Monday to Friday mornings, shut down your emotional excitement and simply act as a robot. That’s a miserable place to be in and can surely make you sick. I believe your career is supposed to be an act of love, something you can connect with and truly relate to, something that lets your soul sing, and at the same time it will bring value into other people’s life. Whatever that might be for you!

“Do what you love.
Love what you do.”

Each and every one of us has certain interests and passions. These are hints for what we’re meant to do in this lifetime. Facing reality it is not about quitting your job right now in order to discover your true purpose. But what I’d love for everyone do is to tune into yourself, to think and feel about your current situation. Allow your mind to open up to new possibilities. Are you happy and fulfilled with your career? Maybe it just needs some adjustment: Engaging in a new project that lifts you up? Make your work environment more attractive and inspiring? And if you’re interested in finding your purpose, head over to my article series on this exciting topic!







~ Spirituality: Connect with your intuition ~

Spirituality is often associated with religion, praying to God, or even being superstitious. However, in essence we are all holistic beings which means we’re living in a physical body, but we also have thoughts and feel emotions. We’re made up of energy on the subtlest level; the physical form is only a manifestation of what has once been thought.

Spirituality means your relationship and connection to something that is “bigger” than you as a person – your body and thoughts. Spirituality goes into the depth and is very intimate. It basically means engaging in anything that goes beyond the physical. Besides the visible life – what we actually grasp with our senses – people crave for depth and meaning; some more, others less. Within each of us dwells an infinite power that we have access to, but forgot how to connect with it. Everything in life starts within yourself, the outside world is simply a reflection of your inner world. The more destructive thoughts you think, the worse (more negatively charged) you will feel, and the more destructive you will face in the world. On the contrary: The more powerful and inspiring thoughts you cultivate, the better you will feel, and the more beauty, love, and good you will naturally draw into your life.

My personal spiritual anchor is a daily yoga and meditation practice. Moreover, I thrive on having deep conversation with loving people in my life, reading mind opening books, listening to inspiring podcasts or videos, doing mirror work, writing “morning pages” every morning, and saying affirmations on a regular basis. What’s more, being out in nature, connecting with Mother Earth is another simple, yet very powerful tool to be spiritually engaged. Nature provides us with a vibration that easily lifts up our own energy levels. These are all supportive tools which may help you process inner wounds, face fears, and sharpen your intuitive connection. Especially in times you feel life is knocking you down, a spiritual practice will give you faith and strength from the inside out.







~ Physical activity & more ~

Coming back to the physical body, we now truly understand that movement is an absolute necessity when it comes to health and wellbeing. Not only will your muscles grow, bones get stronger, the cardiovascular system be strengthened; being physically active will also improve your mental and emotionally wellbeing. Especially in today’s (western) world, where most people work long hours sitting in front of a computer and being inactive most of the times, it is vital to get movement into your life.

However, as with every other aspect in life, it is about balance and honoring your very individual needs. The most important aspect to consider is having fun, enjoying the type of movement you do. Otherwise it’s not going to be sustainable. Some might prefer social activities, others rather enjoy a run or yoga practice by themselves. Visiting dance classes, going to the gym, hiking and moving your body out in nature, swimming or even gardening – every type of physical movement that lights up your soul and makes you feel good is a win: physically, mentally, and spiritually. Find out what feels best for you and enjoy the process. I personally love moving my body, it’s like another essential form of nutrition to me as I feel a lot more aligned after exercising in the morning compared to days when I don’t engage in movement.

Beyond these four key concepts of primary foods, consider every other aspect of life that may nurture or deplete you. For example: Do you feel comfortable and inspired in your home environment? Or do you desire moving to a different place, country, moving together with your beloved one(s) or out from your family environment? What about the meals you eat, do you prefer eating out or rather cooking by yourself – putting in the extra portion of the frequently forgotten, yet essential vitamin L (“love”)? How is your level of satisfaction around your finances? Your education? Is there room for improvement or even lack and dissatisfaction?






~ Conclusion: What feeds you beyond the plate? ~

The concept of primary food is what complements our overall health and wellbeing beside nutrition. Doesn’t make it sense that an abusive relationship can be as harmful to our health as consuming artificial fast foods and tons of sugar every day? I love the saying that you can eat your kale and broccoli, and drink plenty of fresh water every day; but if you don’t deal with your mental and emotional stuff, you’re not going to be healthy.

“We hunger for
play, fun, touch, romance, intimacy,
love, achievement, success, art, music, self-expression, leadership,
excitement, adventure, and spirituality.
All these elements are essential forms of nourishment.”
(Joshua Rosenthal)

Are YOU struggling with any area of primary food? As a holistic health coach, it is my deepest desire to support people along their own journey. Right now, I’m in the midst of my educational program, but I’ll start seeing clients soon. If you resonate with this content, think about your own current state of primary and secondary food, and do not hesitate to contact me for support. I’m looking forward to hearing from you! As for now, I want to ask you:

What feeds you off the plate?

Sending you a big hug & sunshine from the bottom my heart!


yours Isabel!


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2 thoughts on “Primary Food | What nourishes you beyond the plate?”

  1. Liebe Isa, ein Wahnsinns-Artikel. Du bringst es in kurzen, einfachen und klaren Worten auf den Punkt. Wenn du mal mit Kursen loslegst, dann lass’ es mich unbedingt wissen – so gerne möchte auch ich dich mal persönlich kennenlernen! 😉 Vielleicht schaffst du es ja mal zu Erika in die Schweiz oder wir kommen dich besuchen, das wär toll!

    Ich freu’ mich schon darauf… 🙂
    Liebe Grüsse, Isa

    1. Hallo liebe Isa! 🙂

      Wie schön von dir zu hören. Ich danke dir aus ganzem Herzen für dein wundervolles Feedback, das freut mich sehr!
      Ich lasse dich auf jeden Fall wissen, sobald es mehr von mir (als den Blog) im Angebot gibt. Auch auf ein persönliches Treffen in naher Zukunft freue ich mich!

      Hab einen ganz wunderbaren Tag und genieße die Sonnenstrahlen, die sich zeigen.
      Alles Liebe und beste Grüße,

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Vibrant living foods

Nourish yourself with vibrant foods.

“Let’s be good to the body
so that the soul enjoys living in it.”
(Theresa von Ávila)

Mother Earth

Live in sync with the wisdom of nature.

“We should consider nature our home,
not a place to visit
(Roxana Jones)

Pranic energy

Discover the life force inside of you.

“You are not a drop in the ocean.
You are the entire ocean, in a drop.”