Make a Healthy Start in your Grocery Cart

Okay, Valentine's Day is over, so now that I've pigged out on chocolates and wine and fine restaurant food, I have no more excuse to fill my body with junk! Okay, that's not true: I actually didn't pig out on any of those foods (although I did indulge in some dark-chocolate covered strawberries, we had dinner at home last night and didn't consume any alcohol). But it is true that I'm determined not to fill my body with junk. I've made a commitment to healthier eating, remember? I'm taking the 29-Day Eat Right America Challenge and Whole Foods is helping me get started -- and they want to help *you* get started, too, with free 30-day access to nutritional tools and emails if you sign up by March 31, 2011 (see my previous post for details). It's all part of Whole Foods' Health Starts Here™ initiative, which offers products, education, practical tools and wellness resources to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Health Starts Here is all about four pillars of healthy eating:
1) Whole, unprocessed foods
2) A plant-strong diet
3) Healthy fats
4) Nutrient-dense foods

If you eat foods that meet those four standards, not only will sticking to the 29-Day Challenge be a breeze, you'll be well on your way towards a healthy lifestyle! But seriously, it's intimidating. Which foods meet those standards, and which don't? How in the world does one get started?

To get me started on the path to healthier eating, Whole Foods invited me to take a special grocery tour. The manager of my local Whole Foods store, Perry, took me around and showed me some of the ways that Whole Foods is helping customers learn more about healthy eating and make better food choices.

I never noticed it before, but Health Starts Here signage is all over Whole Foods! It's in the posters, on the signboards, on the shelf labels.

Foods that meet the Health Starts Here standards are clearly labeled throughout the store.

In case you're worried that eating the Health Starts Here way means slaving away for hours in the kitchen, Whole Foods has a section filled with prepared foods that meet Health Starts Here standards.

To help consumers choose the healthiest foods, select items around the store are scored according to the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index (ANDI) scoring system (see the ANDI scores printed on the signs, circled in green?).

Foods in the produce section have their ANDI scores printed on their signs, so customers get an idea of how much nutrition they are getting when they eat that food. The higher the ANDI score, the more nutrient dense (i.e. the more nutrients per calorie).

Here are more ANDI scores. Did you know that kale, watercress and collard greens have the highest ANDI score possible, 1000? They are nutrition powerhouses, and I'm going to have to learn how to make meals with them!

Other foods have information signs about the nutrients they contain and the health benefits you can enjoy when making these foods a part of your diet.

The tour was a great educational experience and I wish every shopper could get a private tour like mine! Even if you can't, bear in mind, that everyone at Whole Foods has been trained on the Health Starts Here principles, so they (or the store manager) can answer any questions you have about Health Starts Here, ANDI scores, and the like. And you can always start with the Pantry Basics List on the Health Starts Here section of the Whole Foods website.

Speaking of the Pantry Basics List, the final part of my Whole Foods tour was a tour of a shopping cart -- specifically, a the kind of shopping cart that's going to help me meet the 29-Day Eat Right America Challenge. Perry showed me the kinds of foods I should be putting in my grocery cart to make sure I'm following the Health Starts Here principles -- basically all the itmes on that Pantry Basics List, plus a ton of fruits and vegetables thrown in for good measure. Here's what was in the cart:

Fruits & Veggies: carrots, celery, kale, red bell pepper, romaine lettuce, baby spinach, blueberries, limes, tomato, broccoli, bananas (hidden behind the broccoli), lemons, avocado, apples, oranges, grapefruit)Fruits and Veggies

Legumes & Grains (clockwise, from top: pinto beans, black beans, white beans, steel cut oats, whole grain quinoa, whole grain long brown rice, green lentils)
Legumes and Grains

Nuts & Dried Fruit: (clockwise, from top: raisins, almonds, cashews, dates, walnuts, sunflower seeds)Fruits and Nuts

To my surprise and delight, I also found out that a healthy grocery cart can include canned and boxed grocery items! The last thing I want to do is shop for food every day, so it's nice to know I can stock up my pantry with staples like these:

Bottom row, L-R:
Whole wheat pita bread, organic whole wheat penne pasta, organic frozen berries, organic whole wheat spaghetti

Middle row, L-R:
Organic diced tomatoes, garbanzo beans, black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, organic tomato paste, organic dijon mustard, organic almond butter, organic sesame tahini paste

Top row, L-R:
Whole grain cereal flakes, organic flaxseed, organic apple cider vinegar, organic vegetable broth, amino liquid, organic soymilk, gluten-free tamari soy sauce, multigrain bread, organic almond milk

Doesn't all that food look amazing?? And it's not because of my genius for photography; it's just because everything is so fresh and wholesome. There are a ton of foods I have never ever cooked with before: kale, quinoa, tahini paste, and just having them in my kitchen makes me eager and excited to try cooking with them. I only hope the kids and Alfie enjoy the results! Will they? Won't they? Stay with me as I continue this series of healthy eating posts over on Finding Bonggamom -- I'll be cooking, eating and blogging my way through the 29-Day Eat Right America Challenge!

Disclosure: As a thank-you for posting about the Health Starts Here Program and Eat Right Challenge, Whole Foods has generously provided all the groceries you see in the photos above. No other form of compensation was given for this post. Any future posts about these programs are neither reqyested, compensated, or expected by Whole Foods. Program information is provided by Whole Foods and is clearly indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.

2 Comments, Leave yours here:

Suzanne on February 15, 2011 at 12:08 PM said...

I love going to whole foods -- I always feel so inspired to eat better after spending some time there!

linkwheel on April 5, 2011 at 3:06 AM said...

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