I recently picked up and left everything I knew on the east coast, and moved to Dallas, Texas. Why? It felt right. Everyone needs a little adventure sometimes. While some people choose to jump out of planes, I chose to move to the state of Texas (where I knew, well… no one).
That being said, when you to move to a new city, in can be difficult to feel at home. Of course, the foodie/nutritionist in me, found one of the nearest Whole Foods and have been there every moment that I have felt displaced (which, come on…vegetarian/vegan in Texas, is quite often). This is nothing new of course—some girls go shopping for shoes, I go to Whole Foods. It has always been this way.
I suppose my frequent trips to Whole Foods may seem over the top to some, but when you are in a brand new city, without the familiarity of family, and friends, (and you are without a kitchen table) we all tend to reach for something that we know. For me, that is wholesome food, and the company of people that don’t look at me in horror when I admit I haven’t eaten a steak in years. A blessing, or a curse, I am passionate about the life I live.
What can I say, for the same reason a diehard basketball player will never forget how to really hold a basketball, or a baseball player will experience an overwhelming sense of nostalgia when he breaths in the aromas of a ballpark hot dog— I simply feel at home at Whole Foods. “It is a feel good place,” and feeling good is the whole idea behind my profession (as a nutritionist).
That being said, I must make a mention of something that I spoke to the marketing team leader of Whole Foods about, and that is that there is a difference between healthy foods, and wholesome foods.
Healthy, healthful foods are the foods that add to the quality of our life. They are the nutrient dense, plant based foods that have been nurtured by the sun (Mother Nature), and provide the body with an assortment of living vitamins, and minerals, raw enzymes, and natural sugars and proteins. These are the essentials that fuel the body.
If you were to look up the word “wholesome” in the dictionary, you are more than likely to find the word “healthful” listed as a synonym. While I think these words can, and should, be used together, I am afraid they are not synonymous. Why?
Don’t get me wrong, a WHOLESOME cookie is a heck of a lot healthier than your typical, run of the mill, synthetic, and refined sugary cookie. However, the Whole Foods aficionado that I am, I come across many a fabulous individual that is mislead into thinking that an organic cookie, means a guilt free, or healthy cookie.
In fact, in college, my Business Marketing group conducted a study to see why people may be more likely to choose “Organic” snacks, over “regular” snacks. The results indicated that the terms “wholesome” and “organic,” made people feel better about junk food. Hey! I am part of this equation too. If I decide to pick up some chips, you better believe I will be scouring the aisles for the “organic,” “blue corn,” variety that are hopefully “baked.” Why? While they may be healthier, my brain validates the fact that these chips, are “organic” and strangely enough blue, which makes it okay to “indulge”… (or ahem, eat the whole bag). However, regardless of their organic demeanor, they are still a chip. All chips may not be created equally, but I have owned up to the fact that they are not a health food.
WHOLESOME vs. HEALTHY
Whole Foods is a wonderful establishment. They support a lot of the local farmers, and their products utilize (for the most part), wholesome ingredients. What do I mean by wholesome? I mean like the full fat, real butter, versus low-fat, chemical induced spray butter, real sugar, versus a sugar that has been chemically altered so that it contains “no calories.” They also carry, of course, a beautiful array of fruits, and vegetables, raw honeys, and oils, grass fed meats, and the whole nine yards. If you are looking to make even the smallest step in improving the quality of your life, Whole Foods is a great way to start it (but most certainly not required).
While it is always much more healthful to use wholesome ingredients like organic, REAL butter, than it is use the chemically altered, low-cal stuff, the rule of moderation most certainly applies here. It can be all too easy to get mixed up in a product that is beautifully packaged and labeled as organic, or wholesome, and lose sight of the fact that it is simply a higher quality dessert, or “snack”. Or that a lot, a lot, of butter, (as delicious as it may be) really isn’t good for anyone…
and cake is still cake, anyway you slice it.
Additionally, when one is enveloped in the radiant walls of a market as tantalizing as Whole Foods, it can also be extremely easy to fall prey and purchase whatever the superfood of the moment may be. Acai today, Maca tomorrow. These foods, albeit perhaps healthful in their original raw state, are simply fruits, (and/or vegetables) that have been marketed to the extreme. While, ultimately certain foods may be more healthful than others, no one food is going to save the day. (And yes… when Maca hit the shelves, I was insanely tempted).
How can we live a healthful, and even wholesome life without falling victim to the grand marketers out there? Simply by remembering that the closer food is to nature, the more healthful it is. Living, plant-based foods will always beat out the Acai concentrated beverages, and those beverages will always beat out sugar-free lemonades. It is as simple as that. A full-fat avocado will always be more healthful than a stick of butter, even if the avocado contains more fat. Why? Raw vs. Cooked, Plant vs. Animal.
Why should we care? When we fuel our bodies with nutrient dense foods that our bodies understand how to utilize, things like calories, and fat grams will become insignificant, and superfoods a mere afterthought. Instead we will be full of life, and energy, and ready to take on the world, sans caffeine.
Why do I write this now?
This is truly a “Dear Diary” entry. A loyal Whole Foods customer, I still believe that we need to be made aware that the foods we eat, wholesome, healthy, or not, can directly affect the lives we lead. While I try my hardest not to give unsolicitated advice, if you were an stock broker, would you nod and smile while a person informs you they are about to invest in a stock, you knew would plummet? Would you teach someone to throw a basketball, or hold a bat the wrong way?
We all deserve to be informed, even if we still want to have our cake, and eat it too. Heck! You might teach me how to throw a basketball, and I still probably won’t do it right.
If you tell me that you are having sinus troubles, and guzzling milk by the gallon, it would feel bizarre to me to keep my mouth shut, and not tell you that milk is highly congesting.
Here’s to baby steps in the right direction. Here’s to never stopping to learn. Here’s to knowing that that the organic dark chocolate I am enjoying, maybe more “wholesome” than a Hershey’s bar, but as far as healthful… well… we all have our vices
What do you think about this post?? How do you differentiate between healthy and wholesome? Was there ever a product you bought because it was marketed as healthy? What “snack” foods do you validate eating? (Mine are the occasional blue corn tortilla chips, dark chocolate, and wine).