Book Review: It Starts With Food

Book Review: It Starts With Food


A couple of weeks ago, I received a copy of “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  I was really excited, as this book has been on my wish list for a while now.  Of course, it arrived right before finals so I couldn’t get to reading it any faster but I’m finally done!  So on with the review!

The Basics:  This book basically covers the Whole30 program which is essentially a 30 day diet (food and drink regularly consumed) geared toward finding foods that may cause inflammation or other bodily reactions in a person.

The Meat: 

So the book is very long but such an easy read.  The first section is just gearing you up as to why you should give this book and the Whole30 a chance.  The second section goes into their definition of food and how different foods react in your body.  This is basically the science-y section.  Don’t be afraid though if you don’t like science.  They have great analogies to clearly explain things.  I’ve read other books with this same information but this book seemed the most clear to me.  Things just clicked and made sense.  It wasn’t dumbed down too much either so if you really want to know what is going on, it is there, but it is just very simply explained.  This whole section lays out the scientific “why” of the Whole30 plan.

The next section goes in to the foods that are no allowed on the plan, the “Less Healthy” foods.  It approaches each group: sugar, grains, dairy, legumes, and certain oils.  It goes into each group and explain how they negatively affect your body, and why they are not allowed in the plan. 

Next, they discuss all the foods that are allowed: meat, fish, eggs, veggies, fruits, and good fats/oils.  They again tell you how your body handles these foods positively.

The Plan:

The next section goes into explain how the Whole 30 plan works.  The diet is basically a strict Paleo Diet (right up my alley!) for 3o days. Meats, veggies, fruits, nuts, and some oils. No sugar, grains, dairy, or legumes.  Here, they give you everything you need in order to properly follow the Whole30 plan.  After the 30 days, Dallas and Melissa give you instructions on how to add foods back into you diet in order to determine if you have a reaction to certain foods. It is all easy to understand and well laid out!


Finally, they give you a section on modifying the plan for certain restricted diets such as those with autoimmune disease, athletes, vegans, and vegetarians.  They also discuss supplements in this section and how to have “long-term success” with the plan.  They don’t leave any strings left untied!  Finally, there is an Appendix with an excellent “meal map” to help you learn how to construct a meal plan around the Whole30.  This section is really useful and I can’t wait to use it in my kitchen every day.  They give you great charts and recommendations on putting together meals.  Honestly, if you aren’t a great cook, this section will help you learn how! 

Other Thoughts:

I seriously loved this book!  I have read other books on the Paleo Diet with a lot of the same information but this one is by far my favorite!  It is so well laid out and easy to understand.  Also, it follows a lot of my philosophies:

Eat the way that makes you the most healthy.  Don’t follow a diet just because. – I follow Paleo because it makes me feel good.  In this book, they teach you how to figure out what affects you and what doesn’t.  They encourage you to eat whatever doesn’t affect you negatively.  They don’t think one diet is the best for everyone.  They encourage self-experimentation to learn what works for you.

Everything in moderation.  Weigh the pros and cons.I eat ice cream because I enjoy it.  I know dairy affects me but the joy of eating it outweighs the cons for me.  They encourage you to figure this out, of course after you are no longer addicted to those foods.  Once you don’t need a food, they let you decide if you want to still have something occasionally because it is enjoyable.

No faker foodsJust eat real food. – That is what I call foods that are trying to be what they aren’t.  Cauliflower pizza crust, oatless oatmeal, almond flour cookies.  Part of this plan is to pull you away from those trigger foods, the ones you might be addicted to (they also talk about super-stimulating foods and how they affect your brain).  The plan has you eat real, whole foods.  This requires more planning and work but I think it is the best way to break those addictions.

So basically, I loved this book and I think everyone should read it.  I’m serious: everyone.  Like I said, they don’t expect you to eat this way forever (unless you seriously have problems with all those foods that you eliminated).  The book is littered with personal testimonies on how the Whole30 changed their lives.  They also mentioned that for some people, it took 60 or 90 days even to really make the changes (it depends on your state of healthy).  People talked about how their health problems were relieved or reversed.  Just read it and decide for yourself.  Besides, you can just try it for 30 days, decide its not for you, and go back to normal.  In the long run, 30 days is really not that bad.  I do encourage you though that if you do try the Whole30, you do it for the FULL 30 days.  It will be hard, but challenge yourself.

Finally, (really this is the longest book review ever), the Whole30 is completely available on their website BUT I still think you need to read this book.  It has so much more than what is on the website.  The supplemental information is really excellent and will get you through the hard times of the Whole30.  But if you are already convinced, how about doing the Whole30 with me?  I start January 1st!

Disclaimer:  I received this book for free for review purposes.  All opinions here are my own.

10 thoughts on “Book Review: It Starts With Food

  1. Nice job! I’d flipped through it last week while at the book store. I ended up buying the ‘Practically Paleo’ book instead – I was looking for more recipes and it does have a lot of other great “why” info, so that was good for me so I can share with others. I think that I will see if I can get ‘It Starts with Food’ on my Nook…hopefully, it’s available!

  2. And I’ll again state: this (from what I read on the website) seems to correspond to the CONTROL part of food elimination testing, which is usually supervised by a doctor (for safety, since THAT is done for people like me who are ‘allergic’ or intolerant of ‘everything.’ (‘Food challenges’ are the next step after 4-8 weeks of ‘getting cleared’ of things that are across the board troublesome for humans–you food challenge one at a time)

    Certainly for people who aren’t facing immediate health THREATS but finding what foods fuel them and won’t hold them back, IMO everybody should do this!

    I also have found what I call faux foods (trying to makeover a recipe to fit your dietary needs) usually flops. They’re often disappointing and that leads to (for me) feeling like a cripple…cos I can’t run to Dominoes — ever. I just made those Fig Pinwheels and they were lovely (didn’t leave me wishing for anything — loved ’em!) but dear. I didn’t cipher the whole thing; I stopped at $15 worth of ingredients and decided only on a RARE occasion would I make them. Mum didn’t like them (not sweet enough, 1 C of dried fruit for 25 cookies) but I loved them and so did dad (who’s extremely picky).

  3. I am on day 25 of my Whole30 and amazed at the changes. Sound, peaceful sleep! I have gained muscle but lost fat and am alot more defined, energy like crazy and no longer sugar dependent. I have been keeping a journal on my blog and I must admit Im kind of freaked out that this Whole30 challenge of mine ends in just 5 days…

  4. Thanks for linking this in. I have signed up to follow you via Google Reader. A follow back to Carole’s Chatter would be wonderful – or are you already following? Cheers

    Ps If you would like email reminders of future editions of Books You Loved, just pop by and comment and include your email – I won’t publish it – and the reminder will be by bcc so it will remain private

  5. I am a sedentary mama, introduced to Paleo by my 39 yr old son. I completed the Whole 30 and feel good. People say I look good, but they can’t figure out why. I’m sleeping better, have more motivation to keep going and haven’t strayed since 1/8/13. I am physically challenged, so exercise is pretty much out. But, I am motivated to feeling better. I read “It Starts with Food”, bought it for my nook. Also got “Well Fed”. Some good recipies. Hey, talk to you later.

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