It's the strangest phenomenon, but I feel healthier the moment I step through the door of a Whole FoodsMarket (NASDAQ:WFMI). I suppose it has helped my overall mind/body view that I have cut out fried foods and do either yoga or tai chi and meditate every day. However, eating many natural and organic foods has definitely become part of my lifestyle, and it is the foundation that Whole Foods Market was built on.

So has America's fascination/obsession with weight translated into success for natural retailers such as Whole Foods and Wild Oats (NASDAQ:OATS)? Well, it has not only been a recipe for success for the specialty food markets; mainstream supermarkets such as Kroger (NYSE:KR) and Albertsons (NYSE:ABS) have also benefited from these trends. I often shop at Kroger and have been impressed with its expanded "healthier foods" section, which has been quite a departure for mainstream American retailers.

Whole Foods shares themselves have shed some weight today, dropping about 7% following the retailer's announcement of third-quarter results yesterday afternoon. Sales growth of 22% and net income growth of 15% weren't enough to offset the fact that the company's earnings fell a penny short of the $0.51-per-share estimate.

Whole Foods also said there would be a slight slowdown in same-store sales growth, from the 14% increase it announced for the third quarter to an 11% to 13% growth range for the fourth quarter. Also, management said that earnings-per-share growth may not keep up with sales growth in the next fiscal year, thanks to costs associated with Whole Foods' rapid expansion.

However, the firm did reiterate its expectations to grow total sales and earnings in its long-term range of 15% to 20%, and it certainly isn't in any dire trouble here. Shares are now trading at about 33 times the fiscal 2005 earnings estimate of $2.44 a share; with the upper end of the company's growth set at 20%, I see the shares of this exciting growth company as a little overweight but attractive.

Whole Foods Market is a former Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick. What companies are currently on the list? Try it for six months, risk-free. Or, if you'd rather just chat about healthy living, talk to Fools with similar interests on the Health and Nutrition discussion board.

Fool contributor Phil Wohl spent more than 12 years on Wall Street and now concentrates his writing on more fictional characters. He has no stake in any firm mentioned above.