It Starts With Food – $17 for the hardcover/ $9.99 for the e-book
Sugar. Gluten. Grains. Legumes. Dairy. Alcohol. Don’t they just make life a little sweeter? A piece of crusty french bread, smeared with butter. A glass of good red wine with some cheese. Brownies (my favorite!) Well this book is sure to make you think twice about what you’re putting into your body, and the affect it’s having on you.
It Starts With Food is co-authored by husband and wife team Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. Based on the principles of the paleo diet, the book guides you through the healthy eating principles the Hartwig’s have established as part of their Whole 30 program (we’ll get to that later). As the title suggests, food, and the way our bodies utilize it, is the main focus of this book.
The Hartwigs base their clean eating guidelines on 4 principles that a food must live up to:
- healthy psychological response
- healthy hormonal response
- healthy gut response
- healthy immune response with minimal inflammation
The principles take into account any adverse reaction the human body can have to a food, and if there is one, the food is eliminated from the diet. (For example, legumes are left out due to their higher level of phytic acid, which bind with minerals and make them indigestible, plus the sugars that cause fermentation feed gut bacteria, even the bad guys.) If you’ve ever considered an elimination diet before, this might be the book and program for you.
Oh yes, you can have “clean” hot dogs on Whole 30
The most interesting section of the book in my opinion is the explanation of how hormones linked with digestion work in our body, and how they affect our system as a whole. When foods (yes, the carb heavy yummy ones) cause imbalance, things quickly go awry.
After tackling the foods that don’t pass muster, the foods that do, and their touted health benefits, take center stage. Grass-fed, free range meats and eggs, veggies, fruits, nuts & seeds. That’s about it. Nothing processed. Nothing inflammatory (for the majority of people). All paleo. It’s pretty hardcore.
Once they’ve told you the how’s and why’s of the healthy food, there’s a detailed section on meal planning, with explanations on such suggestions as not drinking coffee prior to breakfast. (Blasphemy! But at least coffee is allowed on the Whole 30 program. Now about that half & half…) It also includes a meal map, starting with how to cook a protein, and then several ways to change up that protein using different veggies and seasonings. It also provides a guide on appropriate portions, and staying satiated between meals.
Finally, the book explains the Whole 30 program: a 30 day challenge to eat only the approved foods, as suggested (3-4 meals a day, with enough time in-between to allow your hormones to do their jobs). It also challenges your psychological addictions to and habits with food. Used to having desert every night after dinner? Then that’s not the time to eat fruit. You’re trying to change that. Usually snacking on something carb-heavy mid afternoon, or drinking iced coffee? You learn to make your lunch satiating enough that you can skip that snack.
Protein, healthy fats, and lots of veggies to start the day
Do you feel like crap the first few days on the program? Oh yes. Does your brain rebel? Absolutely. Do you have dreams about your fit husband (who never purchases junk food) buying you your favorite doughnut and his feelings being hurt because you won’t eat it, and as you’re contemplating whether or not you should spare his feelings you’ve been somehow mindlessly snacking on peanut m&m’s? You bet your shrinking booty.
But you do come out on the other side feeling pretty darn good. And the last part of the program (days 31-40) are about reintroducing food groups back in, if you want to. Going in, I knew that dairy didn’t sit that well with me, but I would eat it anyway. After cutting it completely I have no desire to add it back in on a regular basis.
The book also gives information on pre and post workout nutrition, food for kids, food for pregnant and lactating women, and plans for people with chronic illnesses.
If you enjoy reading books based on health like me, you’re likely to enjoy It Starts With Food. It’s written plainly, but with humor injected, and fairly good explanations (if not, there are lots of references). The authors are obviously passionate about the lifestyle they lay out, and they do a good job of inspiring you to want to change for the better!