Whole Foods Dedham Launches Wellness Club

A few weeks ago I was fortunate enough to be invited by Whole Foods to the launch of their Dedham facility's new Wellness Club, the first of five such sites now planned to be launched across the country. 

The website describes the Club as "an inviting environment where members are empowered to make educated and positive lifestyle choices that promote their long-term health and well-being through coaching, delicious food and a supportive community" (huh?).  What I came away understanding it to be is a beautiful glass enclosed structure smack dab in the middle of the store where - for a substantial fee (for me, anyways, this is substantial) of $199 to sign-up and then monthly fees of $45 plus additional fees for the "Supper Club" - you're coached on developing new healthy eating habits and wellness and can attend cooking demonstrations in their very cool kitchen/classroom.

The blogging evening started with local food and health bloggers coming together in Dedham.  The moment I walked in I was greeted by Lisa Johnson and we chatted before the presentation a bit, Lisa making the very good point of how the health and fitness blogging community has just begun to catch-up to the Mommy blogging community in terms of networking together and community building.

The Wellness Club eating recommendations seem to be based on a vegan diet, although this is only suggested, not mandatory.  The evening started with a presentation by Dr. Matt Lederman, co-author with his wife (who was also in attendance), Dr. Alona Pulde, of the book "Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole: Your Guide to Optimum Health". They serve nationwide as the Club's "Wellness Experts" and "have developed a comprehensive Lifestyle Change Program that is designed to help club members make changes for lifelong health at their own pace." 

From my understanding, the program is based on "Four Pillars" (or bowls as Dr. Matt referred to often in his presentation) of  1) unrestricted whole veggies and fruits  2)  unrestricted amounts of whole starches - both 1 & 2 filling your stomach with bulk and 'stretch'  3) healthy fats and finally, 4) limited amounts of richer, nutrient dense foods that are often slightly more processed, too.

Dr. Matt's presentation offered many new concepts that, honestly to me, were a bit complex to understand for the layman.  I did, however, come away with this understanding:  If you eat whole foods at the beginning of your meal, stocking up on veggies and fruits, your stomach will become increasingly full - add in the starch, and even moreso.  By the time you're eating the third and fourth bowl (his illustration), your stomach is telling you it is full and the size of the portion you will want to eat will be substantially less.

Following the Four Tier explanation and presentation, we were treated to a cooking demonstration using this approach by Chef Ryan Parker, a Culinary Institute of America trained chef, who demoed three recipes for us.

The first was an eggplant and roasted red pepper with chickpea hummus.  I really enjoyed the cooking demo, learning some interesting techniques, and finding out about 'smoked paprika' spice which I had never used before (but bought on my way out of the store).  For my taste, the hummus was a little bland, but perhaps that is because I'm used to very spicy hummus.

 Chef Ryan also made a 'no bake' New England apple spice cake for us which featured a cashew cream which was delicious.  His poached pears in ginger, cinnamon with fresh berries and a drizzle of raspberry sauce also looked delicious and was very easily prepared, illustrating that whole foods do not need to be elaborate to prepare or time consuming.

No bake Apple Spice Cake with Cashew Cream & Berries
and Spiced Poached Pears with Raspberry drizzle
A more comprehensive explanation of the Dedham Wellness Club at Whole Foods can be found here on their website. 

If you read Healthy Loser Gal blog regularly you know I love to promote Buying Local and Farm-To-Table having grown up in rural upstate New York and being an advocate for the small farm.  The signage below on the Whole Foods wall caught my attention: 

Below the "Support New England Farmers" were local produce with the farms that grew them highlighted as well as the whole foods nutrition information which reinforces the Whole Foods' nutritional approach of the Wellness Club.  The local farmers tie-in made me smile, I must admit. : )

Here's to our health, friends!

Dream. Believe. Achieve!
Jan / HealthyLoserGal