One of the milestones in my personal health journey was the introduction of Kimberly Snyder's Glowing Green Smoothie into my daily diet. Within a week of drinking a green smoothie each morning - full of organic greens and other beneficial whole foods - I noticed that my energy levels were higher (and more sustained throughout the day), my skin had a new glow, and I generally felt better. Seeing the direct correlation between whole foods and my overall health, it was an easy choice to continue to add them to my diet whenever possible. Stephanie Watson, healthy eating educator at Whole Foods - Buckhead here in Atlanta, explains just how easy and important incorporating whole foods into your diet is.
As we embark upon a new year, it is no secret that the number one resolution is always… you guessed it… to lose weight! With this in mind, it can be easy to reach for “diet” foods because we perceive that they are typically low in calories and fat. What we know too though, is that they are also low in nutrients. At Whole Foods Market, we believe that the cornerstone to healthy eating is choosing more WHOLE foods while minimizing processed foods. When we process our food, we typically have to add something to it like salt, sugar, or other additives to make it shelf stable which can wreak havoc on your body and skin. What we put in our body is just as important as what we put on it!
What defines a whole food?
A whole food is any food in its most essential, pure and basic form: an asparagus spear, a lemon slice, a scoop of quinoa or a fillet of salmon. Take note: these foods do not come with a label.
What is the benefit of choosing whole foods versus processed foods?
The real question is when did we become so reliant on processed foods? We saw a rise in processed foods, specifically “diet” foods, in the 80s and 90s. I remember how often my friends and I would polish off a box of fat free cookies in no time flat (and as the advertisements touted… with no guilt!). I wish I knew then what I know now! The cookies were highly processed and filled with additives. I had really bad acne throughout high school and I never put two and two together until I started learning about the power of eating whole, real foods. Another reason that we are reliant on processed foods is because of our schedules. We are all so busy right?! Convenience foods are, well, convenient! I get it! What is more convenient, though, than grabbing an apple as a healthy snack? A piece of fruit on the go is nature’s perfect fast food. In my opinion, our taste buds are dead due to the sugar, salt, and other additives in our food. Luckily, if you do buy processed foods from Whole Foods Market, you can rest assured that there are no hydrogenated fats and artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners or preservatives — and that’s just the start. We take great pride in our Quality Standards. By choosing to fill your plate with more whole foods, you are choosing foods that will flood your system with vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytonutrients, and antioxidants (just to name a few).
Whole Foods Market is committed to helping people by spreading the healthy eating message to the masses through our Health Starts Here program. In fact, educating our stakeholders through healthy eating education is one of our Core Values. My role as the Healthy Eating Educator at Whole Foods Market Buckhead is to help people make better choices for themselves and their families. More specifically, I encourage people to eat the rainbow every day… and a great place to start is a salad. Start with a bed of greens, and top it with tomatoes, carrots, yellow pepper, purple onion, and cauliflower. Beautiful!
Under the Health Starts Here program, we establish Four Pillars of Healthy Eating that serve as a simple baseline for healthy supportive, nutritious choices:
Focus on Whole Foods – We mean "whole foods" – any food in its most essential, pure and basic form. Favoring a whole foods-rich diet is a simple way to ensure that what you eat is micronutrient dense and free of unnecessary additives. Whole foods are the best ingredients for creating tasty and healthy meals, and diets loaded with whole, unrefined and unprocessed foods may help keep you healthy.
Eat Plant-Strong™- Whether you're going gluten-free or love your dairy, meat and seafood, every diet can benefit from a focus on plant-based foods. Begin to reconfigure your meals so that the majority of your plate contains raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains. When you eat more plants, you're helping your body get the key micronutrients it needs to function at its best.
Choose Healthy Fats- Believe it or not, fat is part of a healthy diet – but only if it's the right kind. Get your healthy fats from whole plant-based foods like nuts, seeds and avocados. Then, minimize (or eliminate) the amounts of extracted oils and processed fats you cook with on a daily basis. Healthy fats are extremely beneficial for our skin. I definitely started to notice more of a “glow” when I started to incorporate more healthy fats into my diet.
Consider Nutrient Density- A variety of nutrients – such as vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients – are essential for good health. Eat a rainbow of fruits and vegetables along with all kinds of whole grains, beans and other unrefined whole plant foods to get the most out of your diet.
No matter who I am working with, I always come back to the Four Pillars of Healthy Eating as a start. I truly believe that eating more whole, nutrient dense foods is the answer to so many of our overall health and resulting skin issues.
I encourage you to choose more whole foods that nourish you from the inside out! Your body and skin will thank you!
Photo courtesy of Brooke Whitney Photography