AUSTIN (KXAN) - A new year means new resolutions for many Central Texans. If yours includes a healthier diet, you're not alone. Your local grocery store is also on your side.
"I made a couple new years resolutions," said Carry Gray of Austin. "One is to be kinder to everyone that I'm around and the second to eat better. I eat a lot of processed and frozen foods right now because I have twins that are 4 years old. They sure do like a lot of, you know, chicken nuggets and mac and cheese. "
Gray's new plan puts more emphasis on fresh fruits and veggies.
"For me it's not really about coming in with a set menu," said Gray. "It's about what looks good to me."
There are plenty of options at the Wheatsville Co-op. Brand manager, Raquel Dadomo says there's an emphasis on local and organic products here. Dadomo says there's also an added bonus to shopping locally.
"For every $100 you spend at a local business, $45 stays in the local economy," said Dadomo. "Whereas if you went to a larger store that same $100 would yield you about $17 would stay locally. When you buy local produce and products that helps Austin thrive and grow."
The co-op staff can always point you in the right direction.
"One thing we always tell people is to try and eat a rainbow on your plate," said Dadomo.
It's a suggestion Dan Marek at Whole Foods also promotes. An easy first step to big changes, start reading nutrition labels.
"Really avoiding words that have two x's and three z's in them is a good start," said Dan Marek, Healthy Eating Specialist. "I also like to tell people if you don't know how to read labels buy foods that don't have ingredient labels, meaning produce"
Whole Foods' 28-day challenge kicked off Thursday with store tours. The program's focus is on whole foods, healthy fats, lots of plants and nutrient dense foods. Whole foods are unprocessed. Healthy fats include nuts and avocados but no cooking oils. Nutrient dense foods are easy to spot in the store if you know what to look for, higher ANDI, Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, scores. The numbers are posted on the lower left hand corner of signs in the produce and bulk sections. As part of the challenge, you'll have to cut out dairy but not necessarily meat.
"I like to say a lot eat the way your great great grandparents ate minus the lard of course," said Marek. "But if you look at it in the aspect, those local foods are really what we're going to look at."
Sign up for the 28-Challenge by emailing Marek at email@example.com. You get weekly emails with guidelines, recipes, a meal plan option and a list of in-store events.
Here are a few:
• Kick-Start Cooking Class - Whole Foods Market Bee Cave in the Hill Country Galleria, Monday, Jan. 7 at 7:00pm - $15 per person
• Family Fun Run - Whole Foods Market Arbor Trails at William Cannon and Mopac, Saturday, Jan. 19, 10:00am-11:30am – Free
• Rip Esselstyn Engine 2 Foodie Event – Whole Foods Market Downtown, Saturday, Jan. 26, noon–2:00pm, book signing and sampling event – Free
Over at HEB, there's a new Healthy at H-E-B "Total Store Event". Look for shelf tags to help point out healthy foods. Nutrition icons focus on what category important to you like heart healthy or low sodium.
"I think a lot of people don't have the time, they see that as a barrier," said Kylie Bentley, dietician. "I think people want to and they're intrigued by cooking and they love the taste of delicious food but they don't know how to shop for the right ingredients, read labels and they also don't know how to translate those skills into the kitchen when they get the right programs home."
In-store cooking demos and online support can pass along ideas.
Randalls also offers online support with recipes and a nutrition center as part of their on-going program Simple Nutrition .
For Gray, her resolution also means changes for the whole family, including the twins.
"They might not go for it at first," said Gray. "I might have to be a sneaky mom and puree some carrots or cauliflower and sneak it into the mac and cheese or sneak it into the chicken nugget breading. I'm going to have to be creative about it."
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