You’re hungry. And you’re health conscious. You’re out and about and don’t have any food with you. And you don’t want to spend a fortune for healthy food.

What do you do?

You’ve been here before. We’ve all been in this situation before.

You might have some quick options nearby. Maybe there’s a vending machine with stuff that may or may not pass as food. Maybe you’re at a place where they graciously put out sugar-laden sweets for passers-by.

I found myself in just this scenario a week ago.

I was working at WeWork in Playa Vista. I didn’t bring any food with me. All I had that day was a Bulletproof coffee. So, when 1pm rolled around, I was hungry. I wanted some food!

What were my options?

There was a bowl at the front desk full of chocolates and candies. No thanks.

There was a vending machine selling various food items, some of which were “All Natural” and “Healthy”. I didn’t even consider them as real food options.

Enter Whole Foods

Hacking Whole Foods
Hacking Whole Foods

(or Whole Paycheck as many people call it!)

Instead, I opted for the Whole Foods just a half mile away. I’m not a big fan of Whole Foods for a variety of reasons that we’ll get into soon. But, after all, it was the closest option and there is the opportunity cost of convenience, as compared to traveling further away for potentially better options.

I want to like Whole Foods. I really do. They do a great job of presenting themselves well as a business and the employees all seem happy to be working there. So I decided I’d give them (yet another!) try…

What’s my problem with Whole Foods?

My main beef (we’ll get to that later too) with Whole Foods is the quality of the food they sell. They market and brand themselves as this ultra-healthy store. I think many people truly believe that just about everything sold at Whole Foods is good for them. And that’s simply not true.

The problem is that there’s a general lack of truly healthy food options available to us. And when we do find those healthy options, they are very often expensive. But the question that comes to my mind in this scenario is:

Would I rather pay now for healthy food – or pay later with poor quality of life, disease, and medical bills?

The truth of the matter in my experience is that the price I pay for low quality food can often be felt within just an hour.

You know the feeling. Your stomach isn’t quite right. And not coincidentally you also struggle to get your mind working as well as it should (aka “brain fog”). That’s likely from the food you ate. (It could also be some kind of auto-immune issue, gut dysbiosis, etc – but that’s another topic entirely!)

So, yes, it’s important to eat healthy food.

Which gets back to my point about Whole Foods…

Their food isn’t really the highest quality. Here are just a few of the problems I see:

1. Non-organic foods.

Anymore, it seems Whole Foods sells about the same foods that you could find at any other grocery store. Even Wal-Mart now has a selection of both organic and non-organic foods. This means that much of the food offered at Whole Foods contains nasty chemicals like glyphosate – the main ingredient used in Roundup to spray crops. If you’re not sure that glyphosate is bad, consider this: It’s been linked to the following health problems: ADHD, Alzheimer’s, autism, birth defects, brain cancer, breast cancer, cancer, celiac disease, gluten intolerance, chronic kidney disease, colitis, diabetes, heart disease, hypothyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, liver disease, ALS, MS, Parkinson’s, fertility problems, obesity, respiratory illness, and more.

2. Unhealthy fats.

We’re talking mainly about polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) in the forms of soy-bean oil, corn oil, canola oil, “vegetable” oil and margarine.  These are highly unstable oils that easily oxidize and cause inflammation in your body. The inflammation, in turn, leads to yet another long list of chronic diseases – from obesity to diabetes. And unfortunately Whole Foods seems to be a big fan of canola oil. If you look at their prepared foods on offer, many of them contain canola oil and, if they were fried, it was likely in canola oil.

Broccoli - with glyphosate and canola oil
Broccoli – with glyphosate and canola oil
Veggies with glyphosate - Hacking Whole Foods
Veggies with glyphosate – Hacking Whole Foods

So, when I visited the assortment of prepared foods at Whole Foods, I was disappointed (but not surprised) to see they still served mostly non-organic foods with canola oil. That means glyphosate and oxidized oils. Bummer.

What’s the solution…how do you “hack” Whole Foods?

The obvious solution is to choose the healthiest options possible. For better or worse, this greatly limits your options. It seems that we’re left with the organic salad bar as an option. And it’s a good option and something I recommend. However, this has two downsides:

Organic Salad Bar - Hacking Whole Foods
Organic Salad Bar – Hacking Whole Foods
Organic Salad Bar - Hacking Whole Foods
Organic Salad Bar – Hacking Whole Foods

1. Lack of substance.

You’re not getting any substantial amount of calories – especially in the forms of fat and protein meaning you’ll likely still be hungry after eating.

2. Cost.

The salad bar is expensive! Despite filling your container with light, leafy vegetables, it still somehow costs you an arm and a leg.

Here’s my solution that I’m offering to you.

I ended up checking out all of the prepared options at Whole Foods and then wandered to the other end of the store hoping to find something better. One of my usual travel foods is wild-caught sardines. However, I wasn’t in the mood for sardines. I wanted something different.

I made it over to the meats and seafoods and started looking at some of the options there. They had some prepared options like poke bowls and sushi rolls. But I already knew that they weren’t using the highest quality foods in these prepared dishes. The fish was likely farmed. Or it was tuna which is likely high in mercury. And the other ingredients weren’t organic. No go there.

What about the meats? Then it struck me… A friend of mine once told me that you could buy any meat and take it over to the kitchen and they would cook it for you – free of charge. Bingo! I asked and the staff confirmed that this was indeed the case.

Whole Foods will cook your meat!

Although a ribeye steak certainly sounded good, I didn’t want to spend that much money. So I opted for a grass-fed hamburger patty.

Grass-fed Ground Beef - Hacking Whole Foods
Grass-fed Ground Beef – Hacking Whole Foods

I then picked up an avocado, checked out, went to the bar and asked them to cook my burger rare. Just 10 minutes (and about $5) later I had an avocado burger! Yum 🙂

Avocados (not organic) - Hacking Whole Foods
Avocados (not organic) – Hacking Whole Foods

I really wanted to get some vegetables as well but didn’t find a great option. I used to just grab an organic cucumber or pre-washed greens. But, if you have any ideas, please let me know!

So here’s what you do step-by-step:

  1. Grab your veggies. Cucumber, mixed greens, etc. I’m still looking for a good hack here so let me know if you have any ideas. Perhaps they’ll cook up some broccoli too – along with the meat?
  2. Avocado. Need I say more? Yes, I do. Don’t worry about spending extra for organic here because the glyphosate doesn’t actually end up in your avocado. Just be sure to wash the outside before you cut it.
  3. Meat. To save money, just get the ground beef patty. Otherwise, I’d say go for wild-caught salmon (or some other smaller, low-mercury fish).

4. Enjoy!

Avocado Burger - Hacking Whole Foods
Avocado Burger – Hacking Whole Foods

What do you think?

Are you a fan of Whole Foods? What are your best and favorite hacks?

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About the Author Jason Ryer

Helping people cut through the B.S. to finally lose weight, keep it off and beyond for: fat loss, energy, strength and immunity... to reach their (super) human potential!

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