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From Parys, With Love



A healthy-eating specialist explains her devotion to good-for-you food.

Atlanta native Caitlin Parys is an enthusiastic champion of healthy eating. So when she was looking for work in New Orleans three and a half years ago, it made sense to apply at Whole Foods Market.

“It was a really natural fit for me to apply for [the position of] healthy eating specialist,” Parys says. When she was offered the job, she eagerly accepted, and spent close to the next three years being a “living, breathing health advocate” for Whole Foods — putting together cooking classes, working with community groups, and offering health presentations.

Parys, who holds a degree in Health Promotion from the University of Georgia, soon had the Whole Foods’ “Health Starts Here” program rolling smoothly. She began spending more time marketing the program, focusing on social media outreach and developing strategies.

Then, while Parys was traveling through Europe with her husband, a marketing position opened suddenly at the grocery store’s Uptown New Orleans location. Parys filled in and found the job to be another natural fit.

She took on the role of marketing team leader at Whole Foods Arabella Station last September and says she appreciates her work for its diverse day-to-day responsibilities. “I love problem-solving,” she says. “I think it’s really fun.”

Parys became personally interested in healthy eating after reading “The Food Revolution,” a book by Baskin-Robbins heir John Robbins, who turned his back on his family fortune in favor of promoting a healthier lifestyle. Though she often eats non-animal-based foods, Parys doesn’t classify herself as vegan, explaining simply, “I enjoy and celebrate vegan foods, and I eat a lot of vegan foods.” When she’s asked for dietary recommendations, she most often advises people to add more veggies to their daily food intake, along with switching to whole-grain bread products from white or refined-flour bread products.

The upbeat nutrition enthusiast is looking forward to several upcoming projects, including the opening of the Whole Foods’ Broad Street location and the Engine 2 challenge, a 28-day initiative encouraging participants to eat a low-fat diet. She also notes that starting in February, all New Orleans Whole Foods locations will have a healthy eating specialist on staff.

When Parys considers her plans for the future, she foresees food and nutrition continuing to play a major role. “I really enjoy Whole Foods and the food industry,” she says. “I would love to just stay in the food industry!”