Nourish Yourself With Primary and Secondary Foods

June 18, 2018

Nourish Yourself With Primary and Secondary Foods

By: Janelle Avery

Healthy living it's not all about food. If your primary foods are out of balance, chances are, your food choices are too.

After five years of living in Nashville, I felt like I was at the point of truly experiencing all that Nashville had to offer. I don't know about you, but moving to a big city can be intimidating and scary. Questions like, "How do you meet people if you have a shy personality?" and "Where do you even start?" constantly ran through my overwhelmed mind. My first year here, I did not love the job, I did not have a community of friends, and I was not exercising regularly. 

I felt off balanced.
Unhappy with my life.

Photos: @wholefoodsnashville + @eatavo

In the mist of that, my food choices were great! I cooked often and experimented with new recipes without blowing up my kitchen. Although I would consider myself a healthy eater, I was not living a healthy lifestyle. Sure, the quality of food I was consuming was good, but my quality of life needed a little TLC. I had to do something different.

Maybe that's you. Maybe you courageously moved to Nashville from a small city wanting to pursue a dream career or just simply live a different paced life. Now, that you are here, you have no idea where to start.  After studying at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, my perspective and paradigm about healthy living shifted, dramatically. Healthy living was not about how well one managed their behavior and choices about food. Healthy living is more than eating the right food, but it’s living the abundant life we are supposed to life in our relationships, physical activity, career and spirituality. 

The problem is, many people think they will find happiness trying the latest fad diet (with a group of people) to feel like they belong. Sure, food education is super important. I believe everyone should learn what's good for their body as an individual. I am a strong believer in bio-individuality. However, I want people to know that secondary food should nourish our bodies, not our emotion. That is what primary food is for. So with that being said . . . 

Photos: @wholefoodsnashville

What are primary foods?
Great questions! According to IIN, “primary foods or nonfood sources of nourishment, are what really fuel us. When you are nourished and happy in the ways that truly matter, food becomes secondary.” By just changing the way we eat may not be enough to help you thrive in life if other areas of your life is out of balance. 

Primary Foods are:
Relationships- meaningful, uplifting, empowering, fun and positive 
Career/School- fulfilling and purposeful
Physical Activity- regularly exercise and active lifestyle
Spirituality- (my perspective as a Christian) pursuing a relationship with God. 

After working with many women over the years of my practice, I have found that they try to manage their emotions with food. For example, how many times have you came home from work--after a long, stressful day-- and all you wanted to do was to binge on ice cream or chocolate? Or what about that guy you desperately want to impress, therefore you would restrict your food to look a certain size so that he will notice you. There are two major emotions we are speaking of: comfort and love. It is not okay to turn to food for comfort and love. Food is meant to provide life and energy to life to our bodies. It's important that we learn how to manage our emotions in another way that does not affect our bodies in a negative way. From the two examples I mentioned, career and relationship category are out of balance. 

(Now that you identified the issue, it's your job to find balance again. If you need help, below in the "resource" category are a list of people that could help you.)


Photos: @wholefoodsnashville

How Can Nashville Help You Nourish Your Primary Foods? 
Below are some of my favorite ideas, places and events that helped me feel balanced and well-nourished in Nashville:

Relationships (building friendship): 

  • Nashville Meet Up Groups or Jazz on the Cumberland
  • Pinewood Social, Kings and Top Golf
  • Predators, Titians or the Sounds game with friends


  • Working/Volunteering at local non-profits like: Mercy Multiplied, People Loving Nashville, Girls on the Run, The Bridge Ministry
  • Attending any of the local universities for more education Lipscomb University, Belmont University, Vanderbilt University, Tennessee State University, or Fisk University to name a few 
  • Events with like-minded business owners people like the Nashville’s Business Boutique

Physical Activity:

  • Work with  One of Nashville's Top Trainer Justin Crutchfield (
  • Free workout at the Capitol Steps (Mondays and Thursdays at 6pm)
  • Running groups Fleet Feet or The Crag: Rock Climbing Gym


  • Attending church: my favorite Bethel World Outreach and the Belonging
  • Join a bible study group
  • Attending worship concerts/events:
  • Outcry April 26th at Curb Event Center
  • Third Day June 23rd at the Ryman Auditorium
  • Priscila Shirer April 28th Simulcast at Cornerstone Church

Photos: @eioandthehive + @eatavo


  • Christian Counselor: Shelly Alfred (
  • Life Coach: Tyra Woodall (
  • Health Coach: Janelle Avery (

What are secondary foods?
Secondary foods are physical food itself: complex carbohydrates, protein, fruit and veggies, healthy fats and water. Now, let me beat you to the punch. I am NOT recommending a certain way of eating to anyone right now. I believe in the concept of “bio-individuality, we are all unique and it's about recognizing and honoring our uniqueness. In other words, one way of eating is not feasible to everyone on planet earth. We are all different, our bodies operate differently, and our lifestyles are different. Find what best fits your body type and lifestyle choice. 

In general, food can make a big impact on how you feel. My free little time is this: It wouldn't hurt to minimize your consumption of high inflammatory foods like dairy, refined grains, soy, sugar, trans fat, artificial food additives.

Below are my Favorite Healthy Restaurants in Nashville:

First Watch
Urban Juice

EIO and the Hive
Sunflower Cafe

Grocery Stores:
Whole Foods
Trader Joes

Photos: @theurbanjuicer + @fidonashville

A few years ago, I came across an article Happy Exercise vs. Stressed Exercise by the Psychology of Eating. In that article, a nutritionist shared how he worked two clients with similar health histories. Client A was an ultra-marathon runner who was ate healthy and was not losing weight. No matter how many miles she ran, she could not shred off the pounds. The nutritionist altered her meal plan, recommending her to eat five smaller meals a day rather than three large meals. The result, she gained weight and quit coaching sessions. 

Client B was an ultra-marathon runner as well. She ate healthy and ran many miles a week and was not losing weight. The nutritionist recommended the same thing for her. . . eat five smaller meals a day rather than three large meals. The result, she gained weight but continued coaching. The nutritionist was very puzzled, until an exercise physiologist told the nutritionist to suggest her doing another form of exercise other than running. The nutritionist did just that and recommended her to try another form of exercise that she actually liked. As Client B changed from running to doing boot camp styled workout, her weight started dropping pounds at a time. 

The moral of the story, if we are not doing things we actually enjoy, we cause our bodies to go into stress mode. When our bodies are under stress, it increases the serotonin hormone that prevents you from lose weight and possibly gain weight. 

My encouragement to you is to find a balance in your primary foods and enjoy the lifestyle you choose. You will get a lot more out of life that way. Now, go explore Nashville!


Janelle Avery is a 28- year- old is a certified health coach from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition. She has her Master’s degree in Exercise and Nutrition Science and started Loving Me Healthy about three years ago. As a health coach, she helps women who struggles to find long-lasting success dieting, create ways to ease life’s stressors, and discover a sustainable healthy lifestyle they enjoy.
FB: Loving Me Healthy
IG: Loving_Me_Healthy


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