All that we consider today as nutrition is really just a secondary source of energy.
Think back to a time when you were passionately in love. Everything was exciting. Colors were vivid. You were floating on air, gazing into your lover’s eyes. Your lover’s touch and your shared feelings of exhilaration were enough to sustain you. You forgot about food and were high on life.
Remember a time when you were deeply involved in an exciting project. You believed in what you were doing and felt confident and stimulated. Time seemed to stop. The outside world faded away. You didn’t feel the need to eat. Someone had to come by and remind you.
Imagine children playing outside with friends. At dinnertime the mother reminds the children, “Time to come in and eat.” “No mommy, I’m not hungry yet,” they respond. At the dinner table, the mother feels that her role is to enforce the rules of good nutrition and instructs the children to eat their food. Eventually, the children force down a minimally acceptable amount of food and rush out again to play. At the end of the day, the kids return, exhausted, and go to sleep without thinking about food at all.
As children, we all lived on primary food. The same as when deeply in love, or working passionately on a project. The fun, excitement and love of daily life have the power to feed us so that food becomes secondary.
Now think of a time when you were depressed, or your self-esteem was low; you were starving for primary food. No amount of secondary food would do. You ate as much as you wanted, but you never felt satisfied. Even in good times when we come home at night, we often look into the refrigerator for something to eat, when all we really want is a hug or someone to talk to.
Primary foods feed us, but they don’t come on a plate. Elements such as a meaningful spiritual practice, an inspiring career, regular and enjoyable physical activity and honest and open relationships that feed your soul and your hunger for living all constitute primary food.
The more primary food we receive, the less we depend upon secondary foods. The opposite is also true. The more we fill ourselves with secondary foods, the less we are able to receive the primary foods of life.
Every spiritual tradition encourages people to fast during the year so that individuals have time to reduce secondary foods, thus allowing for a greater awareness of primary food.