Lost your password? (close)

plus get weekly tips to transforming your health and life!

The #1 Ingredient for Health

No. It’s not what you’re thinking, superfoods like cacao, goji berries, coconut oil or kale. 

Nor is it grass fed pastured happy chicken, medicinal bone broth, or even the latest holier than thou, watercress.

While they are all nutrient dense powerhouses, they are not the most important ingredient for health. At least not in the way I view health as a certified holistic health coach and Natural Food Chef.

After teaching and consulting hundreds of people in the past three years, I can say with confidence that the #1 ingredient for vitality, health and happiness is relationships.

The relationship we cultivate with ourselves and, of course, the relationships with friends, family, and colleagues reigns supreme to all superfoods, which just seem silly in comparison. 

Connecting with the people around you and developing joyful and loving relationships with yourself and others is quite simply one of the biggest keys to living a long and healthy life.  This does’t mean that each relationship is free of bumps in the road or that everyone has to be your cheerleader. Instead, it is essential that we find the people in this world who challenge us to be better and who stick by our side through it all. This holistic take on health may not sound as sexy as a juice cleanse or as exotic as kombucha, but it’s the truth.

I first learned about the concept of “Primary Foods”, coined by the founder of The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Joshua Rosenthal, when I attended the institute in 2010. Joshua explains the concept of Primary Foods as, “foods that feed us but don’t come on a plate” [1]. According to Rosenthal, Primary Food addresses relationships, spirituality, career and physical activity as the main ingredients to health and vitality. Yes, a unique perspective for the world’s largest nutrition school, indeed, but this is, I’ve come to learn first hand, the most important piece in finding health and happiness.

I always joke to people that you can eat all the kale you want, but if you hate your job, and have negative and tense relationships with colleagues, friends and/or family, then chances are you will be experiencing some major physical and emotional health concerns.

I was enrolled in Integrative Nutrition’s Professional Health Coach Training Program (an online course), while living abroad in Hong Kong, when I became obsessed with raw food, nutrients, superfoods and all things green, but it wasn’t adding up. I had made friends while living in Hong Kong, but I was really missing my family and my partner. IIN taught me this foundational concept of Primary Food that has essentially helped me help hundreds, if not thousands of people stay the course and find the health they were seeking.

I am forever grateful for attending The Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and for having been exposed to such a holistic approach to health and nutrition. Attending IIN was a reflection process for me and allowed me to take an honest look at my own life and what imbalances needed to be addressed. I learned about food and healing, macronutrients, studied over 100 different dietary theories but this concept of looking at one’s health through the lens of person first, food second has helped me empower my clients to get “unstuck” in a nutrient/calorie obsessed world. 


In the video above, I say, “food is the easy part” and I stand by that. Because at the end of the day, when I am consulting with my private clients, I am working not with a cancer patient, but a person who happens to have cancer. It’s more important to me what kind of person I am working with than it is the disease they are faced with. I work with the person first, meet them where they are and see how together we can make gradual yet powerful upgrades to their daily diet and lifestyle. I see many practitioners focusing so heavily on macronutrient ratios, caloric consumption and never stopping to check in with the real person who is making the shifts and changes.

Joshua Rosenthal isn’t the only one who sees the very real importance of community and relationships toward living a long and healthy life, just look at the countries like Okinawa and Sardinia who have the largest population of centenarians in the world. The Blue Zone by Dan Buettner reviews the concept that longevity and health are  dependent upon meaningful relationships and living in a community that values you.

On some level, I think we all kind of “get it”, we know that family is important, that friendships are significant and that we need community, but in this world of social media, impulsive and mindless living, we have lost the practical application of this.

Never fear, I have come up with helpful tips to get more love flowing in your life and to ensure that your relationships enhance your healing plan, not detract from it.

My top 5 tips for putting more joy/love in your relationships

1) Self love: You heard it here first people, self care is the new health care. If we don’t take care of ourselves, it will be hard to take care of others and cultivate relationships centered around honesty and love. To all you moms out there feeling like you must always be doing for others, remember that your family and children thrive when YOU are grounded, refreshed and happy. 

2) Hugs: Hugging, much like laughing, seems to solve so much. Hugging and personal touch releases the neuropeptide called oxytocin from our pituitary gland and encourages a state of relaxation and love. Studies have shown that hugging lowers blood pressure [1], decreases stress and increases our happiness by the release of serotonin. Hugging people throughout the day, and really meaning it (no fake hugs people!) also allows us to slow down and connect with someone else on a deeper level. In a world of surface level connections, a genuine good ole’ bear hug can do a lot of good. Try it out 😉 

3) Clarity: Get crystal clear on relationships in your life that need just a little more TLC. Get out a pen and paper and write down 3 people in your life you want to re-connect with or who you need to give more love to.

4) Adventures: Relationships seem to really flourish when both parties move out of their comfort zone. Go hiking, take a road trip or try baking some peanut butter cookies together and share experiences that can you talk about for years to come.

5) Laugh more: Seriously, stop being so darn serious! Lighten up and laugh a little. Rent your favorite comedy, dance, play charades or watch these awesome cat bloopers.

If you are ready to take charge of your health and know that personal accountability

and guidance are what you need, click here to book your initial consultation.

Sources and References

1) Integrative Nutrition by Joshua Rosenthal, Integrative Nutrition Publishing, Inc. 2005.

2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/?term=Grewen+K+2003

3) The Blue Zone TED Talk by Dan Buettner


Like this content? Never miss another post again!