I started 2011 with quite a few fitness goals. Get back into running. Walk the kids home from school at least twice a week. Improve my flexibility. Take a dance class. I'm proud to say that I haven't slacked off on any of those goals in January, and I don't feel any urge to quit.
However, I do have to admit that better nutrition has been conspicuously absent from my 2011 Resolutions. We do have an ongoing resolution to reduce the amount of meat in our diet, and that is going well, but otherwise I haven't done much to eat better. Maybe it's because I've grown too attached to Sprinkles cupcakes and Cold Stone Creamery. Maybe I'm afraid I'll fail.
And then an invitation from Whole Foods to join the 28-Day Eat Right America Challenge landed on my lap. It's all part of their Health Starts Here™ initiative, which offers products, education, practical tools and wellness resources to promote a healthy lifestyle (I'll share more about Health Starts Here™ in a future post).
Here's an overview of how the Eat Right America program works:
The Eat Right America 28-day Challenge encourages participants to take a 28-day pledge to the five cornerstones of healthy eating:
1) A large salad every day
2) At least a half-cup serving of beans/legumes in soup, salad or a dish once daily
3) At least 3 fresh fruits a day
4) At least one ounce of raw nuts and seeds a day
5) At least one large (double-size) serving of steamed green vegetables daily
As an added form of support, Whole Foods Market shoppers are eligible to receive a free online Nutrition Prescription membership, which is an individualized nutritional assessment that offers guidance for a personalized healthy eating plan to achieve optimal health through Eat Right America. The personalized tool includes:
· Nutrient analysis
· Health risk evaluation
· Daily eating plan
· 30-days of step-by-step email support
Challenge participants will receive a daily email for 28 Days with four themes to follow to becoming a Nutritarian (one who eats lots of nutritious foods!):
· Day 1 to Day 7: Start the process of adding health-promoting foods to your way of eating.
· Day 8 to Day 14: Moderate you intake of certain foods (e.g. meat, eggs) and switch to healthier options.
· Day 15 to Day 21: Challenge conventional myths you may have been told such as benefits of milk, olive oil, snacking, meat protein, etc.
· Day 22 to Day 28: Overcome cravings and adopt the eating plan that has been specifically designed for you.
I'm thinking this could be the perfect way to jumpstart my journey to eating healthier food. Of course, I'm nervous -- give up sugar and oil? Even natural sugar like honey, or good oil, like olive oil? Even though they are pretty flexible eaters, I'm not sure I can get my kids or husband completely on board. And I can tell you now, there's no way I'm going to give up dairy products like eggs and cheese. But despite the difficulties, there are some great things about this Challenge that make me believe I might actually be able to complete it:
It has sensible goals
Many of the components of the Eat Right Challenge are things that we as a family are trying to do anyway. For over a year now, we've been replacing the meat in our diet with beans and tofu. My kids already love fruit. Alfie already eats a handful of raw walnuts every single night. We just have to up our game a bit.
You're not restricting portions or calories
The Eat Right America challenge is not a calorie driven program, it's all about eating nutrient-dense foods. They don't care whether you eat a bucketload of kale or a bushel of strawberries (hey, it counts towards those 3 servings of fresh fruit, right?). It's certainly not a conventional diet -- what diet would tell you to eat a handful of nuts every day?
You're focusing on foods you DO want to eat, not on foods you DON'T want to eat
If a diet bans a food altogether, I'm more likely to crave it, and pig out on it when I finally do give in to the cravings. Instead, this program asks you to pledge to do certain things -- and I'm betting that after I've checked off my list of good foods to eat, I won't have space in my stomach for the bad stuff. By the way, calling it a "Challenge" is a stroke of genius because it becomes irresistible to competitive people like me!
It's just 28 days
I like the thought that there's an end in sight. One month, that's all. The time will fly, and you know it. Heck, it takes me one month just to put away my Christmas decor! But the body is an amazing thing, and it can adapt to anything, even in just 28 days. That's 28 days your body is eating right and building its nutrient stores. And I'm hoping that 28 days just might be enough for my body to kick some bad habits and start some new ones, so when it all "ends", I'll find that I can keep going.
The Eat Right America program normally costs $19.95 for 60 days access, but Whole Foods is offering the program FREE for 28 days if you sign up by March 30! You can get a special promo code from your local Whole Foods store, or just go to www.eatrightamericachallenge.com to get a coupon code.
So what do you think? Care to join me?
Disclosure: Whole Foods provided me with the items on their Health Starts Here pantry basics list, as well as an assortment of fruits and vegetables, to get me started with the program. No other form of compensation was given for this post. Any future posts about these programs are neither requested, compensated, nor expected by Whole Foods. Program information is provided by Whole Foods and is clearly indicated in italics. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.