The Bariatric Foodie Survival Guide to Whole Foods

~by Nikki

So I’ve heard this joke made several times about calling Whole Foods “whole paycheck.”

Yeah, the place is a bit pricey. And for those of you who are near a Trader Joe’s you probably laugh in the face of Whole Foods. But the place has some merits, in my humble opinion, for several reasons:

  • There are some things there that I find flat-out cheaper than anywhere else (it’s true!)
  • There are some things there that, while more expensive, are of a quality that is unmatched anywhere else I go
  • And some of those quality things are things that I should NOT eat every day, so the expense of said item helps force my poor arse into a model of moderation

All that said, here is a brief peek into what’s good at Whole Foods. And of course…here’s your downloadable shopping list.

Bulk Bin Fun

To me, the bulk bin is the big draw to Whole Foods. They carry a LOT of things—some more expensive, some less so—in their bulk section. But the beauty of it is that you can pick how much of it you want to buy. One time I needed approximately a quarter cup of pine nuts for a recipe. I measured out my 2 oz., paid for it, no problems!

I suggest using the Bulk Bin as a test lab for yourself. Take a sample size of something you want to try (and yes…they do let you sample everything in the bulk bin but I’m talking about buying a sample size to take home and put into use). That way you know if you like it. In most other stores, you have to pay for a full sized container of something like steel cut oats, TVP or various types of beans or nuts. Use the bulk bin as a sample counter and explore! Here’s what I like.


If you are saying to yourself, “what is TVP?” click here before proceeding.

For the rest of you, TVP is often sold in the grocery store’s natural/organic foods aisle. I usually see Bob’s Red Mill, which usually costs about $3 for a one pound bag. At Whole Foods it’s $1.99/lb. in the bulk bin. No lie…I buy about 2 lbs. a month so it’s worth it to me to get it there instead.


The divas heart granola! Whole Foods carries many kinds in the bulk bin. La Petite Diva is particularly fond of French Vanilla Almond. La Grande diva likes Cinnamon Apple. The stats are on every bin so we go for the lower fat/calorie varieties. I usually buy them 8 oz. and it lasts them about two months (they really only use it atop yogurt).


Need I say more? Pecans, Almonds, Pine Nuts, Cashews, Peanuts, did I mention peanuts???

Fresh Ground Nut Butter

My personal favorite is the honey roasted peanut butter. I have a rule about peanut butter now. First, I’ve become a peanut butter snob. I only really like the fresh ground kind now. And since peanut butter moderation is…challenging…I allow myself one small container per pay period. I use it in 3 days? Oh well. No more until next paycheck (by the way, as time wears on, I am learning to make my supply last a LOT longer than 3 days).


Of many varieties. They’ve got steel cut oats, Irish steel cut oats, Quick oats. All kinds of oats! Theoretically, you have everything you need in the bulk bin to make your own cereal. I’ve never done it…but I’m just sayin’.

Refrigerated Section

I don’t mess with this too often but here’s what I have checked out and liked.

Tofu Shirataki Noodles

These things are interesting. You can use them in place of noodles in most any dish. They come in Fettucine and Spaghetti shapes. They also come in a bag full of liquid. To use they, you have to cut them, parboil (quick boil) them and then I rinse them in a little milk as the soy liquid takes on a slightly fishy aroma that I don’t find pleasing with say…spaghetti sauce. It sounds like more work than it actually is. It takes me no longer to prepare a box of regular spaghetti.


It’s technically a cheese…but it’s packaged like Greek yogurt. It has a similar flavor (although it does read slightly cheesy). Skyr has more protein per ounce than Greek yogurt and is good, to me, as a base for cheesecake fluff because you don’t technically need any cream cheese, just cheesecake pudding mix!

Frozen Section

Not too much going on here for me either. There is but one thing I consistently get from the frozen section and it is…

Arctic Zero Frozen Dessert

Because it is ridiculously low calorie. I think it’s like 32 calories per half cup and it has some protein (it’s not the end all/be all of protein desserts though). The beauty in that is that you can dump almost anything on top and you are still on top of your calorie game! From what I’ve seen, it comes in chocolate, chocolate peanut butter and vanilla (with a touch of maple flavor). Can you guess which is my favorite?

Food Bar

Check out what’s available, as it changes by day but to me this is a great place to get ideas of stuff to try at home. Long-time blog readers might remember this Whole Foods food bar inspiration.

Besides that, I love, love, LOVE the sushi counter. And the price is really reasonable. And they will custom make sushi for you with whole grain rice (yes I eat rolls with rice…let the lightning come down!!!)

Cheese Counter

Oh there’s too much to say to even begin to try to summarize in a blog post! I will say this, though. Every paycheck the divas and I committed this year to trying a new cheese. This week’s cheese is smoked gouda. Verdict: Divas say Divine!

So that’s a brief peek into what’s good at Whole Foods. Again, I would NOT recommend the budget-conscious shopper do all their shopping there (after all, you have to save some room in your budget to go to Aldi) but there are definitely some gems worth checking out.

…And once again, here is your shopping list to get you started. If you find anything at your local Whole Foods worth mentioning, give us a holler! We’d love to know about it!

Happy Shopping!


  1. We don't have Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but we have Earth Fare. This makes me want to walk around it again and re-evaluate it's usefulness. They have lots of cool stuff in there, but a lot of it is just toooo tempting for me! Especially bulk stuff…dark chocolate & toffee covered almonds? It's hard to walk away from that…

  2. Oh there is plenty in the bulk foods that I try to ignore! My children? Do not. 🙂 You know what I do honestly? I go to a store with no money or credit cards and just look around. That forces me to take note of things. Then I go in armed with a list and I do not deviate! It's my personal fortification against bad decisions!

  3. We don't have any Whole Foods or Trader's Joe here in Israel however we do have Eden Teva Market which I think is similar to the way y'all describe those stores.
    Because of you, Nik, I buy TVP in bulk and add instead of soup nuts. I also buy seeds and nuts, and dried blueberries and dried natural cranberries. In the regular supermarket I look for sales on frozen edamame, sweet peas, and baby carrots.
    This post was something I could really relate to.
    Mikimi in Israel

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