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We pooh-poohed then finally submitted to a guided tour of familiar grocery aisles. Turns out, it was worth it.

Grocery Shopping

My trips to the grocery store are usually like watching Seinfeld reruns—I already know what’s going to happen, so I don’t have pay too much attention. I know what I like and what’s good for me, so why disrupt my grocery aisle autopilot?

But in the spirit of the new year, I stepped into a brand-new episode of grocery-gathering with a guided tour of Whole Foods Tribeca. While grocery store tours are not a brand new concept, I thought it was time to find out what they had to offer, especially since they seem to be popping up all over the city—from the Park Slope Food Co-op to Chinatown markets.

Spark Wellness founders
Hadley Seward (at left) and Andrea Moss, nutritionists and grocery store tour guides

I decided on a tour led by Spark! Wellness, a company founded by health and nutrition coaches Andrea Moss and Hadley Seward, both graduates of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. “The shopping tours reinforce our philosophy that no one diet works for everyone—it’s about finding the food and lifestyle choices that work best for you,” says Moss.

Moss and Seward are ideal guides—knowledgeable, energetic, and, fun. As we steered through the aisles of Whole Foods as a group, we passionately discussed kale varieties, organic chocolate, and seaweed—and I actually learned a few new tips and facts:

PRODUCE: To satisfy a nagging sweet craving, turn to squash, sweet potatoes, or…sauerkraut! Yes, it sounds crazy, but Moss assured us that a few bites of natural, unpasteurized sauerkraut will nip your craving in the bud.

FISH: The omega-3 fatty acids in fish are not a substitute for the omega-3s in chia or flax seeds. In fact, they’re entirely different (DHA vs. ALA), and your body needs both. All of these are available in food or supplement form at Whole Foods.

DAIRY: If you can stomach it, Moss recommended that you drink full-fat milk rather than overly-processed (but less fattening) skim. The best milk comes from grass-fed cows—it’s hormone-free (and tastes better). If you’re anti-lactose, try to buy unsweetened soy, rice, or almond milk, as the added sweeteners are usually made from not-so-natural ingredients.

Thanks to the tour, I’m planning on thinking outside of my ice box and making more inspired choices the next time I shop. It won’t always be an entirely different episode, but I do feel like I’m starting a brand new 2011 grocery shopping season. —Lisa Elaine Held

Spark! Wellness Health Food Store Tours cost $25; free for Spark! clients. Email info@sparkyourwellness.com to sign up for a tour

SPECIAL OFFER: Well+Good readers who book a private Spark! Wellness health & nutrition consultation before February 28 get 50 percent off  ($25, normally $50). Contact info@sparkyourwellness.com to schedule your consultation, and mention this article.

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