The St. Peter’s Health 2022 Whole Food Challenge runs Sept. 12- Oct. 16. It is free and open to the public.
This self-guided assessment focuses on helping participants understand and follow a whole foods, plant-based diet plan. Whole foods with minimal processing and natural ingredients are the nourishment we need to live well. Eating more natural, healthy whole foods instead of highly processed “food product” can help improve overall health, and studies have shown it can also help lower the risks of chronic illness like high blood pressure and diabetes.
This four-week challenge includes free materials to help you:
- Learn the difference between whole foods and highly-processed foods
- Assess your diet’s whole food gaps
- Add whole foods to your diet and track your progress
Register to receive informational messages and event notifications by completing the form on this page.
Use the downloadable handouts on this page to assess your current intake of whole foods, identify your gaps, choose where you can include more whole foods, and continue to assess your progress during the challenge. The goal is to always be working your way to a balanced, healthy diet filled with whole foods.
Step 1: Assess your current intake
The first part of any whole-foods challenge is to assess your current eating patterns so you know where to focus. Use the ingredient lists of your favorite foods/food products to determine if they’re real food or food product (processed) and/or if they contain too much added sweetener.
Step 2: Identify your diet gaps
Once you’re able to identify whole foods, use the Nutrient Dense Checklist to assess your current intake and where you see gaps in whole foods consumption based on the five quality food groups that make up a healthy diet. Where are your gaps?
Nutrients-dense Foods Checklist
Step 3: Choose more whole foods
You’ve now identified your gaps, it’s time to determine what whole foods you can include in your day to balance out your nourishment. Hint: increase of fruits and veggies is a great place to start. Find more information on quality food groups using the links below.
Step 4: Track your progress
Continue to assess your intake using the Nutrient Dense Checklist to gauge your success. Remember: only whole foods count toward the daily servings.
Registration is not required, but by completing and submitting the form below, you can join a community of participants who will receive:
- A welcome email to help prepare for the start of the challenge
- Information throughout the challenge to help prepare and keep you motivated
- Information on challenge related events
Whole foods vs. highly-processed ‘food products’
It’s important to know the difference between whole foods and highly-processed foods, which do not provide nourishment for the body and, in fact, causes harm. While certain foods are processed and can still be labeled “healthy,” and other processed foods can be enjoyed in our diets as special treats, our health goals are determined by our foundation of nourishment coming from whole foods.
- Whole foods have wholesome ingredients from the five food groups: dairy, whole grains, meat and non-meat proteins and fruits/veggies
- Whole foods do not contain any synthetic ingredients (ingredients only food manufacturers have access to), alternative sweeteners or too much added sugar
- Whole foods may or may not have a food label and ingredient list. If a food does have a food label, always look to the ingredient list FIRST to determine if it’s a whole food. If you could get all the ingredients yourself – it’s a whole food. If not, it’s a highly-processed food product.
Health benefits of whole foods
- Increased energy – when the body gets nourishment, our blood sugar stabilizes and our feelings of fatigue, cravings and overall “yuck” decrease.
- Improved mood – don’t forget your head is connected to your body! Additionally, our brains talk directly to our guts. This means whatever we consume (or don’t consume) directly affects our mood. Nourishment keeps our body and brains healthy.
- Nourishment – the variety of nutrients found in whole foods meet our requirements for health – the things we need to function. No one food, or food group, meets everything we need. By increasing consumption of whole foods across the food groups we can help fill in nutritional gaps.
- Food as medicine – medical professionals know that chronic inflammation (caused by eating too many inflammatory products AND not getting enough nourishment from whole foods) is the root of most disease. Nourishment is preventative medicine that can reduce and prevent inflammation.