It’s a Journey

Nutrition Program Director, Dr. Akua Woolbright, shares inspiration and tips for creating a great relationship to healthy, whole foods—and healing your body.

Where My Journey Started

My love for the tastes of fresh produce began with my early life on a small Texas farm. We ate from the land, and my grandmother cooked full meals from scratch every day.  If I wanted a snack, I went outside to our large garden and grabbed a juicy ripe tomato right off the vine, wiped it on my pant leg and ate it.

I grew up surrounded by bounty, with fruit and nut trees heavy with delicious pears, pecans, persimmons and plums. A typical afterschool snack included corn on the cob or a baked sweet potato. We drank fresh well water straight from the tap. Life was simple but good.

I didn’t appreciate how these experiences were shaping my lifelong relationship with food. It was just the way things were. I strayed from healthy eating in college and as a young adult, but the foundation I needed for my life of eating whole, fresh foods was already in place. I now want to share that passion with you.

Where Did Your Journey Start?

To get started, you may want to examine your early childhood experiences with food. You can learn a lot about your current relationship with eating by taking a visit to the past. When you were growing up, where did your family get their food? Was it scarce or abundant? Was there plenty to go around?

Is food purely nourishment for you, or is it a special companion? Do you typically make healthy choices, and/or do you eat for emotional comfort or convenience? Understanding what food means to you can provide a starting point for a well-nourished life. 

In my classes, I like to lead people in a journaling exercise. I invite you to try doing this yourself. First, find a quiet spot where you can reflect for a few minutes.

  • Write about your early childhood food memories—the tastes, the dishes, the table, your feelings.
  • Recall where your food came from. Was it prepared at home from scratch, or did it come from boxes, fast food chains, or local carry-outs?
  • Identify the positive things you’d like to keep from that history.
  • Identify the less positive things you might consider letting go of.
  • Consider what challenges or obstacles keep you from making healthy food choices now.
  • Once you have identified your real-life obstacles, try to come up with three solutions you are willing to implement today. How can you start where you are, and move forward?

After you think and write about your relationship with food, find someone supportive to talk to about it. No matter what’s in front of you, simply start heading towards your goals. Every little choice will make a big difference in helping you create the body and the life you want.

Come back soon for more from Let’s Talk Food!

Dr. Akua Woolbright lives in Detroit, MI where she enjoys the farmers’ markets and local culture with her young son. She is the Nutrition Program Director at Whole Cities Foundation.