When I arrived back home from Houston, I immediately headed to Whole Foods for my Orientation into the 28-day Healthy Eating Challenge called Health Starts Here. It is based on 4 pillars of healthy eating as opposed to the food pyramid that I grew up with. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect when I signed up for the challenge.
They had green folders for all the participants that came with a ton of useful information!
We got two handbooks – Bulk Basics & Healthy Eating. The bulk basics book goes through all the bulk items you can purchase such as beans, nuts, seeds, & more. It teaches you how to cook them and what they’re best used for. I’m really looking forward to using more dried beans and preparing them fresh.
The Healthy Eating Handbook talks about the 4 pillars of health:
- Focus on Whole Foods
- Eat Plant-Strong
- Choose Healthy Fats
- Consider Nutrient Density
It also goes over some simple ways to make quick meals such as breakfast bowls, smoothies, & mighty bowls of goodness. I’m excited to try my hand at some unique creations using the tips they provide.
One thing I was surprised about during the orientation was learning that meat was optional and that you are not allowed dairy or eggs. Being a vegetarian, the meat will not be an issue, of course, but when I learned about the dairy & eggs, I quickly realized that I’m about to test out an almost vegan diet. There may be one or two exceptions that I’m not thinking of at the moment, but basically I’m going vegan.
One tip that I learned was how to determine how much sodium was too much. I’ve gotten to really enjoy quick microwavable meals for lunch – specifically the vegetarian or vegan lasagna’s. I know they’re not good for me because of the sodium intake and I don’t eat them everyday, but I do indulge probably once a week. You do not want to eat something that has more sodium than calories. For example, if you read a label that has 200 calories, but over 700mg of sodium, that’s WAY TO MUCH! I immediately started reading labels after the orientation. I was excited to find a vegan lasagna made by Whole Foods (365 brand) that had less sodium than calories – I quickly bought that.
One thing I’m looking forward to is testing out new recipes. I haven’t done much cooking at my parents, but I have a feeling that’s all about to change with this new challenge. Whole Foods has a ton of recipes on their website created by the chefs that work for them. You can do an advanced search that only includes “Health Starts Here” approved recipes. I’ve already found some that I’m dying to try!
- Roasted Bell Pepper & Asparagus Tofu Frittata
- Whole Wheat Blueberry Pancakes
- Tofu Veggie Skewers with Pineapple Mango Jerk Sauce
- Quick & Easy Veggie Chili
- Refried Bean & Avocado Soft Tacos
I don’t think I’ll be deprived. It’s not about being “strict” – It’s about choosing foods to fuel your body and foods that are good for you. Also, the healthy eating specialist, Mary Lindsey, is going to label all the items in Whole Foods that are Health Starts Here approved to make it easier on us!
What you can expect over the next month: I’ll be documenting my progress as well as the recipes I use and any changes I’d make to the recipes (based on my preferred taste & number
of servings). I plan on taking measurements at the start and documenting my progress as well as taking pictures of my face. I’ve been breaking out a lot lately and I’m interested to see how my face clears up with a healthy whole foods lifestyle.
Please feel free to ask questions throughout the challenge! Some other aspects I’m looking forward to are the weekly meet-ups where we’ll learn about Bulk Basics & Plant-Strong Cooking. We’re also doing a “Bonus Meetup” with a local running store for a group run/walk with tips from the pros!
I’m so proud of my Mississippi community for taking this step to better health! They had to cap our registration at 80 and are not accepting any more participants for this particular challenge! Due to the involvement though, I’m sure we’ll have another one soon after! If you’re not in the Central Mississippi area, Whole Foods does this program at all of their stores, so try to join a challenge in your local area.
- Have you done the Health Starts Here Challenge with Whole Foods?
- Would you consider doing the Health Starts Here Challenge?
- Take a look at the Whole Foods recipe website – is there a particular recipe you’d like to see me try and share my opinions on? Remember to make it vegetarian & Health Starts Here approved.
I’m off to go plan my meals and seek out some more recipes! The challenge starts Monday, July 28th! Guess I should finish off these hot chips before then.