Whole Foods 28 Day Challenge

Whole Foods recently invited me to participate in and blog about their 28 Day Health Challenge. Featuring the plant-based diet outlined in “The Engine 2 Diet” by Rip Esselstyn, the challenge asks that I cut out all meat, dairy, eggs and oils and consume only vegetables, fruits and grains.  Proponents of this lifestyle contend that following plant-based, vegan diet will result in weight loss, lower cholesterol, improved energy and reduction in sickness and symptoms.

Weight loss isn’t important to me right now, but I believe my overall health and well-being can always be evaluated and improved.  So, I’m up for the challenge.  Whole Foods gave me the choice to start full-force from day 1 or slowly ease out of my old diet and transition to full plant-based eating in about two weeks.  I agreed to start right away.  “When people take baby steps, they usually get baby results,” said Rip. “Jump in whole kale – not whole hog!”

"This is not about deprivation. This is about empowerment," Rip said. "You control your health destiny."

I agree with many principles outlined in Rip’s book.  Eating more plants and whole foods sounds good to me.  However, my personal food philosophy aligns with Nina Planck’s as outlined in her amazing book “Real Food: What to Eat and Why.” She contends we should eat foods in their whole, natural form – I see nothing inherently wrong with drinking whole milk and eating eggs.  While I do enjoy poultry and seafood, I’ve avoided mammal meat for years. I am wary of overly processed foods, so fake cheese made from soy does not appeal to me.  But, I am willing to put my personal beliefs on hold for a month while I experiment with a new philosophy.

My husband surprised me when he agreed to take this journey with me.  Chris is a very manly man who exercises every day and looks to animal protein to support his efforts.  Rip tested his lifestyle on the firefighters he works with in Austin, and he said they all embraced the meals and the health benefits that followed.  “If a bunch of male Texan firefighters can do this, anyone can do it,” Rip said.

To kick off the challenge, Whole Foods invited us bloggers to a delicious dinner last night featuring black beans, brown rice, kale salad and an amazing raspberry dessert. I was surprised by how the flavors brightened without cheese or oils.  If I can eat dishes like this for the next 28 days, I don’t think I’ll be very hungry!

I was so fortunate to dine with fellow Chicago blogger Valerie LaMonica from Vegan by Valerie.  She has been vegan for a couple years now, so her expertise will help me with meal planning and grocery shopping.  I have a feeling I’ll be frequenting her site every day during this challenge to find veg-friendly recipes.

OK, today is Day #1.  I’ll be blogging about this challenge on a regular basis.  Follow along and let me know what you think.



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8 Comments for this entry

  1. Amber says:

    My friends did this diet and really liked it. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it. Good luck!

  2. Courtney says:

    I just finished this diet. I liked it for the first two weeks, but I was ready to go back to healthy but less strict eating after that. The hardest part for me was giving up my favorite beverages–coffee, tea, and wine. Good luck!

    • Maureen Smithe says:

      I can already tell that after these 28 days I’ll re-introduce dairy and animal protein back into my diet. But, this challenge will get me thinking of new and fun ways to add more veggies to my diet. Plus, I’ve been a bit of a sugar and sweets addict, so I’m happy to have this opportunity to cut that out for a while.

  3. Judy says:

    Can’t wait to see how you’ll do with this. Very interesting. I’ve been thinking about changing my eating habits and didn’t know where to start. This has given me many places to look. Thanks!

  4. Jane de St. Aubin says:

    Talk about getting back to basics – you’re going waaaay back – back to the Garden of Eden! Admirable!

  5. Val says:

    Hi Maureen, great post! You’re way ahead of me… I’ve had a crazy week at work and haven’t gotten around to doing my recap yet. So far the toughest part, by far, is no sweets and cutting out oil is a close second. And I had some honey this evening and I’m not sure if that’s kosher or not. What did you think of the F.O.K. documentary?

    It was great meeting you and your husband Tuesday, I’ll definitely be following along on your blog – your kids are adorable! Good luck with the challenge! 🙂

  6. I think the no oil part would be the most challenging — I’m assuming you can include other sources of fat, like nuts and nut butter?

    Is Whole Foods providing you with food for the challenge?

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