Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Take the 28-Day Challenge

Health Starts Here

Are you ready to make a fresh start? Though every body has different needs, there are some basic healthy choices you can make that will contribute to your overall wellness.

These simple changes can make a big difference over time.

And one of the best ways to start is by taking our Health Starts Here® 28-Day Challenge! At Whole Foods Market®, we believe that focusing on our four pillars of healthy eating offers the greatest health benefits, no matter what dietary path you follow.

1. Eat whole, unprocessed foods.

2. Eat a colorful variety of plants.

3. Eat foods rich in micronutrients.

4. Get fats from whole plant sources.

And based on our four pillars of healthy eating, we’ve created free weekly menu plans, assembled cooking tips and videos, and put together a four-week newsletter series designed to support you as you travel the path to better health.

Are you up for the challenge?

Each of the weekly meal plans focuses on plant-based, nutrient-dense whole foods and healthy fats. You’ll find a delicious array of flavorful dishes like:

Simple Black Bean SoupThai Shrimp and Carrot Salad

Baked Chili PotatoRoasted Fish and Veggies with Quinoa and Pine Nuts

Southwest Veggie BurgersMighty Bowls of Goodness

Plus you’ll find quick and simple breakfasts and tasty, packable lunches too!

What do you think? Could you change your eating habits in just 28 days?

Leave a reply

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121 comments

Comments

Kim K says …

Hi, I have a portion size question. I am arriving late to the challenge, and just cooked my first meal from it, SWEET POTATOES WITH COLLARDS AND ADUKI BEANS. (It was amazing by the way, I had never eaten collard greens before). My question is this, the recipe says that it is a serving size of 2, but the 28 day plan says that you should save half for lunch the next day. Does that mean if you are cooking for two people, you should double the recipes? Or maybe we should have just eaten half of the meal? Thank you so much for your help!

says …

@Kim Yes, if you're cooking for 2 then one recipe should feed 2 people. However, if you'd like to save some for lunch the following day, you'll need to double the recipe to have enough for lunch leftovers for 2. Thanks for reaching out.

paig292 says …

@Kim Glad you liked the recipe! The menu plan was put together for one person taking the challenge but the recipe are easily doubled, tripled, etc. If you are cooking for two, feel free to double the recipe. Or, you can eat an alternate choice on the day you would have eaten the leftovers. Good luck!

MarieElena says …

I am gluten intolerant and casin intolerant does your meal plan work around that?

says …

@Marie While the 28 Day Challenge Recipes were not designed to all be gluten-free or casein-free, they are created with a lot of flexibility. You should be able to easily substitute with ingredients that take into account your special dietary needs. We also have lots of other Health Starts Here recipes that are gluten-free. Use our advanced recipe search feature and select the boxes for gluten-free, dairy-free and Health Starts Here. Good luck with your healthy eating!

Julie says …

So where's the shopping list? This would be helpful. As of now, I have to go to each recipe and make a list. :-(((

paig292 says …

@ Julie and kitchenvoyage We didn't create a specific shopping list because there are so many different options in the meal plan where you get to choose your favorite veggies or grains, etc. For the specific recipes, you can always choose the "add to my shopping list" feature on the recipe page and if you click that on multiple recipes, it will build a shopping list for you. Try it out and let us know what you think. Thanks!

kitchenvoyage says …

Yes I am agree, we need a shopping list or a whole week menu

Britten says …

This is such a great idea. Replacing processed foods with plants makes such a difference. Creating a 28 day challenge makes the process much easier. The healthy eating conversation and weekly meal plans help keep things organized and well planned. Changing eating habits takes a lot of time and thought. This blog makes it so do-able. Britten Feldman Freeman School Student

Emily says …

I'd like to see a major grocery store get behind the Paleo movement as well as the gluten free movement. Makes me feel good!

Howard O says …

Prior to the Challenge, I thought I was very knowledgable about healthy nutrition. Lara's expertise and guidance helped me take my knowledge and personal commitment to a higher level. Thank You Whole Foods

Alice says …

Great idea, I'm in.

Mary E says …

Actually, I've alreday started eating healthy bc of the classes I attended at the Blossom Hill store in San Jose. We learned about the "pillars of eating" and I've been changing the way I eat for a couple of months now.

Barbara says …

I've started eating vegetarian and I'm here to tell you the recipes I've tried have been more satisfying than many meat-centric meals of the past. Even my midwestern meat and potatoes guy is enjoying the rewards of better flavor AND better health! Wish we had a Whole Foods Market in our town! Thanks for all the great ideas. Count me IN! (These dishes are appropriate for those of us who need to lose a little weight, right?)

Linda says …

It's too bad that "healthy diet" is implemented as a "one-size fits all" because various allergies, diseases and health conditions change what a healthy diet is for various people. As a Type 2 diabetic, I'd be courting complications and faster progression of the disease if I ate your "healthy diet". I have to keep my carbs below a certain level in order to avoid dangerous blood sugar spikes. The reason this is a problem is that your sales and lower prices are geared toward promoting your "one size fits all" healthy diet, so eating whole foods and low carb is extremely expensive. My husband reminds me that it's cheaper than doctor bills, but still-it would be really nice if the foods that constitute a healthy diet for me were more affordable, too. But, the truth is-carbs are the cheapest food and that's what I have to eat the least of. It would be really nice if some of your promotions and sales were geared to people who must restrict carbs; or people who can't have gluten; or people who need to restrict sodium-having low or no sodium versions of your broths, for example, would be a lifesaver; and so on. Anyway, I think you need to broaden your health horizons beyond what the experts say. The experts have a very narrow vision, even as research keeps showing that a broader vision would keep more people healthy.

paig292 says …

@Linda Thanks for asking how our Health Starts Here program works for people with type II diabetes. I checked with our Health Starts Here team and here's their guidance: "Our Health Starts Here program is based around our four pillars: Whole Foods, Healthy Fats, Plant-Strong™, and Nutrient Dense foods. Dr. Neal Barnard (on our medical advisory board) has a book titled <em>Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes: The Scientifically Proven System for Reversing Diabetes without Drugs</em>. This is available in our stores and might be a great resource. Whole grains take longer for your body to digest so they end up raising blood sugar more slowly than refined or “white” carbohydrate sources. One does need to watch portion sizes in order to maintain a consistent carbohydrate count for the day but I don't think turning to "low carb" products is the answer. Whole, unprocessed foods with lots of fiber (veggies!), reducing oils, salts, granulated sugars and other refined or processed products can help you make great strides in slowing the progression of diabetes."

jo says …

how close will this 28 day plan be compared to any of the Dr. Ornish plans?

says …

@Jo The 28 Day Challenge has no connection/affiliation to Dr. Ornish or any of the plans.

Annette Beauvais says …

I have Antiphospholipid Antibody Syndrome and Lupus and a Diabetic on top of that! Can you help me with my health needs? Same amount of Vitamin K on a daily basis and lots of fruits and veggies and whole grains. I am in need of nutritional help -- I would be so happy to get really healthy and eating right is my main goal.

says …

@Annette I'm sorry to hear about your diet struggles. Since we are a grocery, we're unable to give this type of nutritional advice. Please reach out to your physician or a licensed nutritionist for great recommendations on eating healthy. Thanks for reaching out.

Liv Torres says …

Let's get started!!

Meg Bressette says …

I love Whole Foods and I do a fair amount of my shopping with you but I find it distressing that your healthy eating plans are absolutely incompatible with my requirements. I am on a lifelong low fiber/low residue eating plan so that means that 90% of all vegetables, all whole grains, all legumes and a lot of proteins are not possible for me to eat. I would love to see you address this as it is exhausting trying to figure out what I can and cannot eat. This is a great article.

Kelly says …

Oh my goodness people, this is jut supposed to be a jumping-off point for your new healthy lifestyle. You definitely should not be relying on other people to make your shopping list for you, or to cater to your every allergy or diet restriction. Everyone is different. Grow up, be an adult, and take responsibility for yourself and your health. Don't rely on anyone to tell you exactly what to eat. I personally thank Whole Foods for preparing this healthy eating plan because it gives normal people a good starting place for their new lifestyle. Note, I said lifestyle and not diet.

Amy says …

Why is everyone whining on here? Whole Foods is trying to do a free service (granted they are hoping you buy the stuff at their place). They can't make menus for every combination of special eating requirements. Geeesh! And, the horror... you need to make a grocery list? I'm sure there was a nicer way to suggest that. People's expectations stun me.

Vanessa says …

Here's your Shopping list! Quinoa (red quinoa is the best), Brown Rice, Wheat Berries, Nutritional Yeast, Cashews, Almonds, Walnuts, Legumes, Black Beans, Kidney Beans, Garbanzo Beans, Limes, Raisins, Kale, Carrots, Zucchini, Cucumber, Spring Mix, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, Garlic, Ginger, Sweet Potato. Soaking Cashews and pureeing them with nutritional yeast creates a nice cheese sauce substitute, Rutabagas thinly sliced can sub as lasagna pasta. Sweeten and Spice your dishes with dried fruits, fresh spices or juices. Use stocks and juices instead of oils. I have been making a lot of sushi and stir fries with out oil. Talk to your whole foods healthy eating specialist they really help to get started. utilize the bulk departments Farmers Markets and coupons of your local stores :)

Vanessa says …

My shopping list above is usually what I buy to cook with and not geared toward special diets. For dietary needs you can consult a nutritionist or the whole foods healthy eating specialist they are a wealth of knowledge. :)

David says …

think this is a terrific idea and an awesome post. I’m a big advocate of natural and organic/non processed foods, and this is a great way to educate the public and consumers about the benefits of wholesome organic foods. It is a fun way for participants in this 28-day challenge to have fun, eat healthy, and learn more about the healthy choices they can make in their diet. The meal plans look delicious and it helps people with busy lifestyles to construct a quick and healthy meal. This is a great challenge that will mutually benefit participants and Whole Foods because it allows participants to check out all the great and healthy choices at the Whole Foods stores. As a college student, I can definitely see this taking off across campuses around the nation.

Ericka Bradbury says …

I love the meal plans...but if Whole Foods offered a shopping list to go w/it would be great. It would benefit Whole Foods too because I'd print the shopping list and take it right down there to buy everything I needed to follow the meal plan:)

Jonathan Aluzas says …

What I love about this approach is that it's so simple.....maybe not behaviorally, but ideologically. This is very much like the Michael Pollan approach; which is, basically, eat good, real food, avoid processed foods. Great plan. I think if we can adhere to this even 80% of the time, we'll all be a lot healthier.

Pat Chiappa says …

Week 3 of the challenge and so far so good! My biggest challenge has been not cooking with oils

soon to be RD says …

@Annette You really should find a Registered Dietitian (RD) to help you with your diet, as they are certified to educate and create meal plans to manage chronic conditions. Depending on the state you live in, some people may be able to call themselves "licensed nutritionists" (GNC employees, etc), however this is NOT the same as a Registered Dietitian. Eatright.org can help you locate a dietitian, or you can ask for a referral from you physician.

Gina says …

This is my 1st time seeing the challenge &amp; I'm so excited. I too have many health challenges two if which are gluten intolerance &amp; diabetes). Thanks for all the AWESOME recipes. When I was 1st diagnose with diabetes in 2010 I was in the ER and my blood sugar was 600+. I have benn making diliberate healthy choices daily since then and I am NOW off of all insulin (YIPPEE), By making the baby steps, introducing one new recipe a week, and making different choices I can tell such a big difference. When 1st diagnosed it was all overwhelming, but now....I seek new ways of eating old foods. Thankk you WF soooo much for the recipes and suggestions on this blog and alll your help!! I look forward to tweaking some of these recipes for myself. See you tomorrow :-)

Lauren P. says …

I love the idea of the 28-day challenge. It is like "spring cleaning" for your body. As an athlete all my life, I focused left on what I ate and simply focused on simply getting enough calories. However, recently I have discovered even small changes in my eating habits have made me perform and feel better over all. I have more energy naturally and depend less on caffeinated beverages to get me through my classes. I appreciate the link with suggestions, especially the guide on portion control. I also feel like you have provided great support for those wishing to follow your meal plan with specific recipes. Thank you Whole Foods! Tulane University- A.B. Freeman Student

Hungry Peter says …

The link to the meal plan is broken. :-( 404 error. But I do have a couple of questions. If we do take the challange. Does it come with a weekly grocery list or does that have to be derived from the meal plan? Also, is there is discount on groceries if we commit to this? (family of 4 here). Thanks! Hungry Peter

Gloria Henry says …

I am interested.

Ronnie says …

I've just started a low carb diet about a week ago, but am new to this. Are there any suggestions on meals i can prepare or even if i eat at a restaurant or anything like that? Any comment helps

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RONNIE - The 28-Day Challenge is not specifically designed to be a low carb option. You can find a weekly meal plan at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/healthy-eating/health-starts-here/meal-planning-cooking that will give you options that are under the Health Starts Here program. You might be able to find recipe ideas on that page. You can also check with your local store to see if they have products that are considered "low carb". Unfortunately at this time, we do not have any lists for low carb options for restaurants.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@HUNGRY PETER - Sorry for the delayed response! I believe I wrote back to you but might have incurred a technical glitch. I have fixed the links in the post above. I was unable to find a grocery shopping list but yes, you could take the recipes listed and derive a list. At this time we do not offer any discounts on following the 28-Day Challenge.

crystal says …

Excited to start

Kelly twigg says …

Excited to start

Jessica says …

Sounds great!! Lets do this!

Sonia Burgess says …

I am looking for "normalish" recipes my kids will eat and won't notice are "different"

manny says …

Hi,i am looking for a 28 day cycle menu and must be budget please B/fast , Lunch and dinner Also looking for Menus and ideas for a Lunch pre made meal packs with a snack item and a fruit Thank u so much

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SONIA - We have you covered! In a more recent blog post, you will find great ways to add in nutrition for the kiddos! http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/easy-tips-new-year-9-ways-sneak-nutrition

Catherine says …

I just went and bought all the food for week one and now the menu is not online any more. Does anyone have week one that they could send me?

Reets says …

Interested in trying this out.

patricia gass says …

I was enjoying the 28 day challange went to log onto to see this weeks meal planner and noticed it was gone is there any way I get the plan again.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@MANNY, @CATHERINE & @PATRICIA - Since this is a blog post from last year's challenge, the menus have been removed. This year, each store Healthy Eating Specialist will be working with their region to design their specific challenge along with menu/meal planning. Reach out to your local store HE Specialist to get on their email distribution list for great ideas. Best of luck with the challenge!

VANESSA SEAGRAVES says …

I would love to be on your 28 day challenge of healthy eating.

Teresa says …

Thank you whole foods! I agree people need to recognize they are offering a free service to help us make better decisions. Be grateful not hateful ! :)

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