I get great satisfaction when a customer comes up to me during a demo and asks, “So, are you selling Product A or Product B?” I proudly respond that I am not selling any particular product, per se, but am trying to “sell” healthy eating; I explain to them that I am the Healthy Eating Specialist for Whole Foods Market in the Pearl and that it is my job to help people understand what a healthy diet entails and what steps they can take to get closer to that way of eating. I often get the response, “What a cool job!”, and I have to agree.
My job consists of demoing healthy products and healthy cooking techniques, offering store tours based on vegetarian/vegan diets, gluten-free and nourishing foods on a budget, assisting individuals in meal planning, bringing in lecturers and instructors for healthy cooking classes, and attending off-site events to encourage healthy living in the community.
I feel so fortunate to work for a company that recognizes that they have a role to play in helping to reverse the negative health trends that are a result of our poor eating habits. And I am even more fortunate to be the one in the position of interacting with shoppers at our store who want to make positive changes in the way that they eat and are simply looking for some direction.
Whole Foods Market has always been a mission driven company, and recently we added a 7thCore Value, to “Improve the health and well-being of our stakeholders through healthy eating education.” With the creation of this core value came the Health Starts Here (HSH) program, with the goal of making our 7thCore value truly live in our stores. HSH is based on 4 pillars of healthy eating. These guidelines aim to give some basic rules about what a healthy diet entails in easy to understand terms. The 4 pillars are guidelines, that if followed, make for a wholesome way of eating that doesn’t require dieting or counting calories, but simply encourages healthy moderation. So, without further ado, the 4 Pillars of Healthy Eating:
Whole Food: Choose foods that are whole, fresh, natural, organic, local, seasonal and unprocessed. Eliminate the consumption of refined, highly processed foods and foods void of nutrients, such as artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats. Try to eat foods that are as close to their natural state as possible.
Healthy Fat: Get your healthy fats from plant sources, such as nuts, seeds and avocados. Minimize extracted oils and processed fats. If eating a diet that includes animal products, choose leaner meats and seafood as well as low-fat dairy products.
Plant Strong™: Reconfigure your plate to incorporate more plants, such as raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Eat a colorful variety of plants to ensure you’re getting the best nutrients for your body, which leads to feeling satiated.
Nutrient Dense: Choose foods that are rich in nutrients when compared to their total caloric content; also known as nutrient dense foods. Build menus around plant-based foods to ensure highly micro-nutrient-dense meals. Choose foods with a wide spectrum of vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants. Look for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scoring system in Whole Foods stores to guide you in healthier choices.
I hope that these 4 pillars can help to guide you in your healthy eating adventures!