It Starts with Food review

January 5, 2013 at 10:51 am

The first time I heard of the Whole 30 was a few months ago when my friend Jenny of Run Hot Momma blogged about her experience with it. I thought, “No alcohol at all? No dairy at all? I could never do this.”

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Then I was offered a review copy of It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. I love reading about diets and nutrition so I thought I would read it and hopefully pick up a few useful nuggets of information. But then in the very first chapter Dallas described how he had been suffering from chronic shoulder pain for eighteen months despite his best efforts to heal it, and how after six weeks of eating “paleo” his shoulder pain was GONE and hasn’t returned in six years. That really got my attention since I am now going on a year of chronic hip pain despite orthopedist appointments, steroids, and physical therapy.

The more I read, the more interested I became. I have had a hard time this fall and winter sitting on the sidelines while all of my friends are running races, especially this weekend while they are all running from Miami to Key West for Ragnar. If there is a possibility that I can cure my hip problems, which have been diagnosed as chronic IT band tendonitis (hello inflammation) due to a congenital defect in my hip, with a radical diet change then maybe I COULD live without alcohol and dairy…at least for 30 days.

It Starts with Food begins by explaining that while the way of eating advocated by the authors is basically a “paleo” diet, they really don’t care whether it is how cavemen ate or not. What they care about is how food affects our health and to that end they evaluated all food based on their four “good food standards” when arriving at their recommendations.

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One of the things that I really enjoyed about the book was that while a good portion of it is very “science-y” (sic…their word!), it is also very easy to read and entertaining. The authors use clever analogies and numerous testimonials that won me over immediately and kept me reading. Dallas and Melissa Hartwig obviously have great senses of humor and this is evident throughout the book. It was compelling and by the end I was convinced that I needed to give this way of eating a fair chance.

The first part of the book goes through an analysis of which foods are considered “more healthy” and which are considered “less healthy” based on the good food standards, and then gets into the nuts and bolts of the Whole 30 plan.

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That’s it…all the rules. They also have suggestions to make the most out of the program, but they do not come across as “food Nazis” and repeatedly state that we are all grown-ups and have to decide what is best for ourselves through careful self-experimentation. There is a post-Whole 30 plan to reintroduce non-plan foods one at a time and see how they make you feel. They are careful to say that this is not the Whole 365, and they admit the value in having certain foods occasionally because of tradition, a special occasion, or because something is just plain delicious.

The book offers many tools such as “Meal Maps” with basic recipes to get you started and a list of many resources to help during the Whole 30. As usual for me, I have become obsessed with learning as much about the program as possible, and have discovered that the Whole30 online community is amazing and the resources on the website are great. One of the things that I think speaks volumes about this way of eating is that many people have done multiple Whole 30’s. They felt amazing after completing the thirty days, but then over time they migrated back to some of their old ways of eating. But the Whole 30 is always there for a reset to come back to, and thousands of people have tried it and liked it so much that they want to do it again and again.

If you have been curious or even skeptical about the paleo diet (like me), then I would definitely recommend reading It Starts with Food. They convinced me to give it a try! I’ll be starting the Whole 30 on Monday. Wish me luck.

I am spending the weekend getting my ducks in a row to start on Monday. I am having my last hurrah with alcohol before the program with a little get together with some of my best girls tonight. They tell you in the Whole 30 community that the severity of the pain you feel during the first week of the program (the “carb flu”) is in direct proportion to how bad your diet was before starting the program. I have been BAD BAD BAD over the holidays with both the diet and alcohol, so I am anticipating severe pain next week. I will definitely be blogging about my experiences along the way.


[Disclosure: through my relationship with Fitfluential I was offered a free copy of It Starts with Food to review on My Fascinating Life. All opinions are my own.]