It’s More Than Just Food, or Spiritual Nutrition

30.4.2016 | 00:58

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I wanted to continue the exploration I began in my last blog post.

Sometimes we get so focused on macronutrients, micronutrients, food allergies and sensitivities, and everything else involved with diet that we forget that there’s more to health and wellness than just what we put into our mouths.


(Not that that isn’t important, and I’ll discuss that in the next article.)

But, as Joshua Rosenthal of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (of which Debra is a graduate) says, there is “primary food” and “secondary food.”

“Secondary” food is what we eat and drink.

“Primary” food is the sustenance we get from other sources.

Primary food comes from our relationships with others, our careers and communities, and yes, our spiritual practices.

Trust me, you can think you’re doing all of the right things physiologically, but if you don’t have the right sort of mindset in place?

You’re in a lot of trouble….

Yes, we need to worry about protein, fat and carbohydrates.

And yes, we have to pay attention to vitamins, minerals and their various co-factors.

But none of that will do us any good at all if we’re approaching diet from a place of fear, or stress.


If we’re worrying about every morsel of food we put in our mouths, we’re not practicing a healthy lifestyle.

I don’t know about you, but if I can’t indulge in something special now and then – mindfully, of course – then I don’t want to play….

I’ve passed up opportunities to share meals with friends and family because I couldn’t find anything “acceptable” to eat according to my particular dogma.

Know what?

That kind of sucks.


You can follow a healthy diet – barring certain health conditions that require rigid adherence as a matter of life and death – and still participate in social occasions.

It may not be 100% organic, or completely GMO-free, but pretty much every restaurant has a salad bar, or a “veggie plate” option.

Sometimes we just need to relax, because the stress of our “Diet Dogma” causes more dis-ease than the not perfect food….

I think most of us are better off eating mindfully instead of “perfectly,” and practicing stress-reducing activities before meals.

Many people are fans of HeartMath©, which is a wonderful technique for calming your body, and shifting from “fight or flight” mode to the more healthful “rest and digest.”

A lot of other folks recommend prayer, or blessing the food and those who bring it to us – and the Earth which provides it.

Yes, there are obvious exceptions to this, such as food allergies so severe they can lead to anaphylactic shock and require the use of Epi-pens®, and conditions such as Celiac Disease.  And I am by no means making light of these, or making fun of people who need to avoid specific foods for serious reasons of health.

But I’ve seen this movie, and I know how it ends….

I ate a gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free, low-glycemic vegan diet.  I didn’t drink alcohol, and my caffeine came from green tea or chocolate (85+%).

And guess what?

I had digestive issues, thyroid issues, adrenal issues … maybe even heavy metal toxicity.

I’ve relaxed a lot since then, roughly a year ago.


I’ve stopped worrying as much about every single morsel of food that passed my lips.

I moved to a new home, in a new (well, sort of – I’ve lived here before) town.

I’m more physically active – there’s that “primary food” again!! – and I’ve got a better mindset.

And I’m starting to feel a lot better than I did when I followed what I thought was the “perfect” diet….




  1. ursula
    April 30, 2016 | 2:43 pm

    Absolutely fantastic. Gut issues come from stress and other external forces. Sort them out and th healing will follow. I have been treating myself as gluten intolerant but now I feel that this is Transient. .so long as I et good quality food without all the junk processed ingredients I can tolerate a little gluten. Regular meals with good quality food and plenty of fun

    • daletchworth
      May 2, 2016 | 12:52 am

      Ursula — it all comes down to individual tolerance and quality of life. Relaxation and fun are at least as important as the food, and saying good-bye to the processed junk never hurts. Thanks, Debra

  2. Jace
    May 1, 2016 | 12:44 am

    Mindset is huge. Have some fun and get it done… with a little bit of flexibility. Cheers

    • daletchworth
      May 2, 2016 | 12:50 am

      Great advice, Jace! 😉

  3. Brad
    May 2, 2016 | 11:05 pm

    Primary food has that top position because it has impact that tends to be more universal. I really like how you discussed the less universal aspects of secondary food and I also see this type of “food” as having a “two street effect”. We choose certain foods because of how we feel yet we also feel a certain way because of the food we choose.

  4. Cheryl
    September 9, 2016 | 7:33 am

    Hi there.

    I just came across your post and smiled, because the same with me regarding my diet and results. Used to be low-fat, grain-free, gluten-free, high raw vegan. Guess what? Digestive issues and I think I developed insulin resistance. I was bloats and gassy feeling constantly. Now I just eat pretty regularly lots of fresh greens, chicken, fish and some pork, still low grains, but some cheese, etc. I look and feel fine. My spirituality, rest, famil, friends, etc. and always remembering to laugh at life is now my best medicine!

    • daletchworth
      September 15, 2016 | 12:50 am

      Cheryl — This sounds like an excellent eating plan! And having the spirituality, support network and other pieces just adds to your health in a beneficial way. And let’s never discount the value of laughter! 🙂

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