Happy Friday all of you fabulously fit people!
I have so much to tell you guys about the improvements I’m making with my food allergies, but that is going to have to wait for the next post when I have more time to lay it all down in a lengthy post…or it may even need to be a series of posts. We will see! If you can’t wait until next week and are curious to find out now, you can go check out all the yummy gut healing foods I’m eating on my Instagram feed!
Speaking of Instagram, I actually get a lot of comments from people who love to follow me to get healthy food inspiration. My friend, Laura aka Von Hottie, even told me that when she goes to the grocery store and doesn’t know what to buy, she will pull up my Instagram page and use the photos of my food as a virtual shopping list! Ha! I love that idea.
I think a lot of people out there have the desire to eat healthier food, but they don’t really know where to start. It can be really overwhelming with all of the stories out there with conflicting information on what food you should and shouldn’t eat. There is also a big misconception out there that eating healthy is boring or bland, but you and I know that is SO far from the truth!
So a couple of weeks ago, I got an email from the awesome folks at Whole Foods telling me about their personal New Year resolution to make healthy eating easier and tastier for it’s shoppers and to kick the year off, they were offering new healthy eating store tours for shoppers! They invited me to come check out one of the new tours with one of their Healthy Eating Specialists. I am a huge lover of Whole Foods, so of course I said yes!
I was able to choose from the following tours:
- Health Starts Here Tour - Showcasing the company’s Four Pillars of Healthy Eating—eating unprocessed foods, focusing on Plant-Strong™ foods, choosing healthy fats, and considering nutrient dense foods—the tour is designed to help you jumpstart a healthy lifestyle.
- Avoiding Gluten Tour - Spotlighting Whole Foods Market’s expansive offering of high-quality products, this tour offers ingredient-based culinary tips and plenty of recipe inspiration for those who want to avoid gluten.
- Heart Health Tour - With cooking techniques, meal prep tips and tasty recipes that promote cardiovascular health, this tour helps shoppers navigate aisles of each department all while gaining insight.
I decided to go with the Health Starts Here tour because I’m already very familiar with the gluten free lifestyle and right now my heart is in pretty good shape.
When I got there, I was greeted warmly by the Healthy Eating Specialist, Kelly. She gave me one of Whole Foods new gray canvas shopping bags and inside where some of her favorite goodies from around the store. First, she took us to the produce department and explained a little bit about the tour and the Four Pillars of Healthy Eating: eating plant based and whole unprocessed foods that are as close to nature as possible, choosing nutrient dense foods and eating healthy fats made from whole foods.
She pointed out that it’s easy to shop for Health Starts Here approved foods, they are labeled throughout the store and are usually located on the shelves, like you see in the picture below, or on some packaging.
Kelly encourages everyone to eat the rainbow – try and eat as many colorful vegetables as you can in one sitting to get the most nutrients. Go for dark leafy greens and also add in more stealthy healthy greens like parsley, which most people think of as just a garnish but is actually is packed with B vitamins.
We checked out the Meals in a Minute section which was filled with lots of delicious vegetable variations that you can just scoop into a container and take home to throw in a sauté or a soup. At times these are the more expensive option, but it’s a really great option for if you or short on time, you only want a half portion of something and also for those who are just getting started with healthy eating. We chatted about how some people only want half portions of vegetables because they don’t want them to go to waste, and she told me a little secret…the produce department will cut produce in half for you! All you have to do is ask! How cool is that?
We then walked over to the to check out the seafood. Kelly suggested eating salmon for healthy omega3 fats and to also go for shrimp when looking for something delicious to cook. I learned that WFM exercises sustainable fishing practices which is why you won’t see much tuna steaks on the shelves. She suggests to always make vegetables the star of the plate and then add in about 3-4 ounces of fish. If you wanted more meat in your diet, she suggests to go for organic grassfed beef which is also high in omega-3 fats and the taste is much more flavorful than conventional meats! I 100% agree with that statement!
If you are low on time or just don’t feel like doing much food preps, you can grab some of the quick dinner options such as the fajita kits, which have one portion of meat and loaded with vegetables.
We moved onto the healthy fats. Kelly suggested grabbing some delicious olives from the olive bar because they are loaded with healthy fats and also have fiber. Another great healthy fat to enjoy are sprouted nuts, such as almonds. They are more flavorful than normal nuts, but cost a bit more due to the preparation method.
If you are eating whole grains and legumes, she suggests to properly prepare them by soaking and cooking them at home rather than buy canned. Her top favorites are the black lentils which are black in color and when cooked up they are glossy and have a smokey taste. Some refer to them as the caviar of lentils. She gave me a bag to take home to try, so once my gut is healed, I will give them a try!
Kelly also shared with us her own personal success story of how she has lost 30lbs by aligning the philosophy of Whole Foods with her own life goals. After an eye-opening employee healthy vacation trip, she has incorporated a plant based whole food diet which helped her to lose the pounds and made her realize that she feels much better eating this way. She also said that even though she chooses to eat a plant based diet, she respects the eating choices of other people and tailors each tour to fit their needs.
Another top secret tip I learned while on our tour is that if you ever want to try something, you can just ask an associate and they are empowered to open most of the products to let you sample it. While we were in the frozen food section, a shopper asked Kelly for feedback on an item she was on the fence about buying. Kelly said she had not tried them, so she opened the bag up right there and let the woman take a taste test! Now that’s great customer service!
There is a common misconception that eating healthy food is much more expensive. Kelly says that eating whole food can be affordable by watching for sales on lean protein and vegetables each week. Another money saving tip that she pointed out and I have used for the last year or so, is to buy organic frozen vegetables and fruit. They cost about the same and are almost always fresher and retain more nutrients than the non-organic vegetables you find in the produce section.This is because most fresh produce travels long distances and sits on shelves for quite a while before it actually makes it into your kitchen. Frozen is usually flash frozen hours after harvesting which helps to retain the nutrients.
Lastly, we explored the different milk alternatives such as nut, hemp and coconut milk. They are a great substitute if dairy is not tolerated, but you really have to look out for high sugar content. Often times, the problem with people switching over to a healthier diet, especially gluten free, is that people will switch one unhealthy food with a “healthier” version of the same thing. But swaping a conventional cookie, for a gluten free cookie is not what eating healthy is all about and Kelly works hard to educate shoppers on healthy lifestyle changes based on real whole foods.
The tour was a lot of fun and very informative! I think it would be great for someone who is just getting started with healthy eating and needs ideas on new foods to prepare. You could also bring family members or even small children who would benefit from some education on healthy eating. They can ask as many questions as they’d like and also get great cooking tips along the way!
If you are interested in taking one of Whole Foods new tours, you can schedule a tour by stopping by the customer service desk. Tours can usually accommodate 2-3 people depending on what time of day you schedule your tour. What I loved, was that each tour can be customized depending on food allergies and personal food styles.
Now, I want to send you guys to Whole Foods to take your own healthy eating tour! Enter below to win a $50 Whole Foods Market gift certificate!
Sign up here to receive your FREE 7 day meal plan (soy, dairy & gluten free) with tips, guide and shopping list!
*Financial compensation was not received for this post. A gift card was gifted from Whole Foods Market. Opinions expressed here are my own.