t's almost 2014 and you've probably already started on your New Year's resolution. Sometimes it's hard to commit to a resolution especially if losing weight, dieting or eating healthier are at the very top of the list. Sometimes we just don't know where to start, so Akua Woolbright, senior healthy eating and wellness educator at Whole Foods Market, offers a few tips, known as the Four Pillars of Healthy Eating, to lay down the foundation for that new healthy lifestyle you're aspiring to have.
The first pillar is whole foods, which are organic or unprocessed. Woolbright says whole foods are foods your great, great, great, great grandmother would be able to recognize, get from her backyard and prepare in her kitchen.
"That's how I define a real whole food. So it's eating food made by nature not by factories," Woolbright says. "We talk about the packaged processed foods as not necessarily being a whole food. You want your grandmother to be able to recognize the food and be able to prepare it herself."
Whole Foods Market also suggests eliminating things like artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, sweeteners and hydrogenated fats.
Plant-strong is eating mainly plants on a daily basis, but Woolbright says that doesn't mean you have to adopt a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle.
"The goal is to consume, a little bit everyday, a rainbow of color. You have to get some purple, some blue, some red, some orange, some yellow, some light green, some dark green, some black, and some white into your diet throughout the day every day," she says. "Every color has a different nutrient; your body needs them all. So I challenge people with those first two pillars to really play the whole rainbow color game. At the end of the day, see how many colors you consume."
According to the Whole Foods Market Four Pillars of Healthy Eating, "When you eat more plants-like raw and cooked vegetables, fruits, legumes and beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains-you're helping your body get the key micronutrients it needs to function at its best."
Each pillar works together. You can accomplish getting your healthy fats by the plant-strong, whole foods you already consumed carrying out pillar one and two.
"So we are going to get healthy fat, not from extracted oils or pills and supplements, but from those first two pillars," Woolbright says. "So healthy fats will come from whole plant foods such as avocado, nuts and seeds. And we are only going to do a little because these things are extremely high in calories. Yes they are healthy fats, but your body doesn't calculate calories from healthy fats any differently than calories from anything else."
Woolbright says you can get all of the healthy fats you need in one day by eating half of an avocado, eight walnuts or 15 almonds. Fat consumption should only be about 20 percent of your daily calories.
Once you do all three pillars, the fourth pillar is automatic.
"You look at your food and all of a sudden you are consuming fewer calories, very little cholesterol and very little saturated fats, the things you don't need," says Woolbright.
What you are consuming loads of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which means your food has become your daily supplement, she says.
"By doing these three pillars this is how we make our food, our medicine."
When carrying out that healthy eating resolution, Woolbright says you must make "whole foods, plant-strong," your mantra.
"You look at your food and you ask yourself a few questions: 'Am I eating real food? Did nature make this? Am I eating enough plants today,'" she says.