It Starts With Food {book review}



This book has changed my life.


From the book cover. . .

It Starts With Food outlines a clear, balanced, sustainable plan to change the way you eat forever—and transform your life in profound and unexpected ways. Your success story begins with the Whole30®, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s powerful 30-day nutritional reset.
Since 2009, their underground Whole30 program has quietly led tens of thousands of people to weight loss, enhanced quality of life, and a healthier relationship with food—accompanied by stunning improvements in sleep, energy levels, mood, and self-esteem. More significant, many people have reported the “magical” elimination of a variety of symptoms, diseases, and conditions in just 30 days.

Now, Dallas and Melissa detail not just the “how” of the Whole30, but also the “why,” summarizing the science in a simple, accessible manner. It Starts With Food reveals how specific foods may be having negative effects on how you look, feel, and live—in ways that you’d never associate with your diet. More important, they outline their lifelong strategy for eating Good Food in one clear and detailed action plan designed to help you create a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation, and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food.

Infused with the Hartwigs’ signature wit, tough love, and common sense, It Starts With Food is based on the latest scientific research and real-life experience, and includes testimonials, a detailed shopping guide, a meal-planning template, a Meal Map with creative, delicious recipes, and much more.

The book starts with a statement, that really made me stop and think.

The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.

Whoa. #truth

The book goes through all food groups and how each of them affect us. Through emotions, nutrients, in our body and how they might be making us feel. They have the science to back up the information and they also share personal stories and experiences.

But, the kicker is . . .

they (Dallas and Melissa Hartwig) say – don’t take our word for it.

In this book, they give you the skills and tools to try a Whole30 for yourself and to figure out once and for all how different foods affect YOU. Because that’s all that truly matters, right?

They claim that “after implementing our program, you won’t have to wonder whether the foods you are eating are healthy for you. You’ll be able to make educated, informed food choices for the rest of your life. And you’ll know how to enjoy treats, sweets, and other “less healthy” foods in a way that is always moving you towards better health, fitness, and quality of life.”

I don’t know about you, but that sounded pretty amazing to me.


And as a doctor, I really liked reading about all the science to back up their thoughts on how specific food groups can cause inflammation that can lead to a bunch of different diseases, symptoms and feelings. The book is also nicely summarized at the end of each chapter, so if you’re not interested in the science-y stuff, you can just skip it and read the highlights.

I’m not going to recap the whole book. .. but I would highly recommend reading it!

So, what is the Whole30?

Basically, it is 30 days of “a short term nutritional reset, designed to help you restore a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive track, calm systemic inflammation, and put an end to unhealthy sugar cravings, habits, and relationships with food.”

They go on to state that “certain food groups (like sugar, dairy and legumes) are probably having a negative impact on your health and fitness level without you even knowing it.”

During the 30 days:

Eat: Foods that make you healthier – meat, seafood, eggs, lots of vegetables, some fruit and plenty of healthy fats.

Don’t eat: sugar (real or artificial), alcohol, grains (not even whole grains!), legumes, dairy and white potatoes.

Fairly straightforward and simple, right? In the book, they give you lots of information about the 30 days with tips and tricks for success and meal plans/ideas.

Literally, after reading this book, I made changes to how I eat, shop and prepare meals.

I haven’t done a Whole30. well, not yet. Winking smile

But over the past few weeks, I have swapped my morning smoothie, which I thought was a pretty healthy way to start my day, but after reading this book, maybe isn’t the best for me. Fruit has a ton of natural sugar, right? Well, even that natural stuff can be hard for the brain and body to interpret. And it was not doing me any favors with dealing with my sugar cravings later in the day. So, I swapped it out for eggs with veggies. Now, I am fuller for longer in the morning and my sugar cravings seem to have calmed down a bit.


I also changed my lunch to their recommended balance of protein + veggies + high quality fat and seasonings. I don’t think I was getting enough healthy fats into my lunches, which then lead to hunger and fatigue in the afternoons. So, I made my own mayo (healthy fats!) and whipped up some chicken salads – chicken + diced carrot + grapes + mayo + pecans = delicious and filling lunch. Usually paired with an orange too. And I haven’t had that mid-afternoon slump or had to go digging in my desk drawer for a snack. Amazing. Finally, I’ve gone back to the clean eating guidelines that I’ve followed with AdvoCare (btw – this Whole30 stuff lines up perfectly with AdvoCare!) and given them the Whole30 twist – no grains or legumes and really made sure that we are getting some high quality fat in our dinners.


And you know what? We have been sleeping better. Yup – even Scott has noticed the changes!

And honestly, after just a few weeks of making some small changes, I feel SO much better. I’m happier (I was feeling a little down there because of my eating habits, low energy, and all the stress of the upcoming move), I have more energy, I am sleeping better, and even though I can’t see or feel it – I know I am healthier. And that’s awesome.

Ok, but let’s not get crazy – I am still drinking  my latte and having dessert – mostly on the weekends. Smile

Anyway, long story short. I am going to do a full Whole30 (probably in February) because I think I deserve it to myself and my body to find my perfect health.

And I love this book. Please read it. It might just change your life.

Have you read it? Any books lately that have changed your life?

Linking up with Amanda today for Thinking Out Loud!


Filed under Recap, review

21 Responses to It Starts With Food {book review}

  1. You have peeked my interest with this book, I definitely want to read it! Thanks!
    Jen @ SavedbytheKale recently posted..5 Things Making Me Happy #13My Profile

  2. There are things I like and things I definitely do not like about this book. Obviously, I like that they’re suggesting people eliminate the shizzzz foods from their diet – processed, sugary junk that doesn’t do any good for anyone, and helping people learn to eat better as a whole. The things I don’t like are that neither of them have a degree in nutrition (I think the husband is a PT if I remember correct, though?), they suggest eliminating entire food groups (unless it is sugar, I don’t think it should be donezo from anyone’s diet), and I don’t believe it is sustainable. Whenever an author criticizes sugars in fruit, it makes me cringe 🙁 There are so many good vitamins, nutrients and things like fiber in fruit and most people don’t get enough so I always question a book that suggests cutting down on “nature’s candy.” I also don’t like the elimination of beans and whole grains. Honestly, besides the whole allergy thing, I think most people just eat too many grains at a time (3 servings of pasta for dinner is bound to make anyone sluggish, have fitful sleep and give them a belly ache) causing issues. And, along with fruit, beans have a ton of good-for-you things in them and they are a great (cheap!) source of protein for veggies and people on a limited income. I guess there were just a lot of things that irked me in the book and I didn’t feel like I learned that much which is why I’m super critical 😉 If it helps people get healthier, I’m all for it, I just think it needs to be a bit more sustainable in nature and not cut out major food groups that are good for the large majority of people.
    Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted..Pregnancy Thoughts #4My Profile

    • Anddddd I wrote a novel, LOL. Sorry!! I hope you’re having a good vacay!
      Becky @ Olives n Wine recently posted..Pregnancy Thoughts #4My Profile

    • KT

      Great thoughts Becky! And I agree with you about some points. While I agree that eliminating whole food groups from your diet is not a good thing, I agree with the thoughts in the book of trying it for 30 days and then following the reintroduction plan (the after the Whole30 chapter) to figure out how foods make you feel. And then you can use that knowledge to decide what is best for you and your body. Obviously, I 100% agree that the Whole30 is not sustainable, and I love that the book never suggests that it should be. It’s all about figuring out what’s best for you, right? And I agree that they don’t have any medical degrees, but their research and facts are scientifically based, which I appreciate. And fruit. That’s a tough subject, right? From my personal experience, eating too much fruit doesn’t do me any favors with my sugar cravings. Would I ever not eat it completely? Heck, no. But for me, fueling with other foods – more veggies and protein at times instead of fruit, makes me feel better. And LOL, I don’t like beans, so I don’t have a problem with that one. 🙂

  3. Katie- I just read (well, actually listened to- I bought the audiobook) on our honeymoon and absolutely loved it. Scott and I plan on starting the Whole30 on Monday!
    Katie @ Daily Cup of Kate recently posted..Playa Del Carmen, Mexico: Where We AteMy Profile

  4. Interesting! I’ve heard good things about that book. I don’t know if I will ever attack a plan that eliminates whole food groups, but I think educating yourself is always a good thing and can at least encourage you to cut back on certain foods. If only that book came on Kindle Unlimited!
    Kelly @ Kelly Runs For Food recently posted..The snow day that wasn’t and an empty yoga classMy Profile

    • KT

      I agree with you about eliminating whole food groups, but I agree with the science and research behind it. . . as well as the book has a whole reintroduction plan for after the 30 days so you can decide for yourself which foods are good for your body and which aren’t the best. Interesting read!

  5. Chris

    I also have the book after seeing your last blog on it and I am all on board with the logic…I have lived most of it for years…but still need to conquer the sugar monster! I am up for a Whol30 also! Let’s do it!

  6. I deff want to read this! I always like to be enlightened!!! 🙂
    cait @pieceofcait recently posted..Favorite pot luck dishes?My Profile

  7. I’m definitely on board with the idea of sticking to whole foods and eliminating processed and refined foods from the diet, but I can’t really get on board with any kind of lifestyle that promotes eliminating perfectly healthy foods like fruits, legumes, and whole grains. There are SO many valuable vitamins and minerals in those foods, and they’re extremely beneficial for balancing out the diet. Heck, there are just as many people who have healed their bodies and lost weight by eating super high-carb diets (think Starch solution), so I think it all comes down to figuring out what works for you and sticking to REAL foods, the way nature intended.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted... thinking out loud #115 .My Profile

    • KT

      I 100% agree Amanda and perhaps if you read the book (and maybe I wasn’t clear in my post), you might understand that it’s not advocating exactly what you think it is, but, that you are eliminating some food groups for 30 days and then you reintroduce them into your diet to see how they affect you and your body – it’s not a forever lifestyle. And fruit is NOT one of the food groups that is eliminated – FYI. I would never advocate for a lifestyle that eliminates whole food groups forever – both personally and in my professional opinion. But, YES – it is all about figuring out what works best for you! That is what it is all about. And that is what I am searching for – my best life. 🙂

  8. I have this book in the queue to read! I really want to try Whole30 but I can’t seem to find a time that I can fully commit. If I am going to do it I want to do it all out. This post makes me want to go back to the drawing boards and do it sooner than later.

    • KT

      Totally agree -there is never a really good time to try something like this. . . I’ll be interested to hear what you think if you try it out!

  9. I am still SO skeptical about giving up legumes! I just can’t imagine not eating them or them being “bad.” 🙁
    Hannah @ CleanEatingVeggieGirl recently posted..Three Cooks One Kitchen: A Fish FiestaMy Profile

    • KT

      I think each person would have difficulty with at least one of the food groups that are recommended to be avoided for the 30 days. . . the other thing is that no foods are “bad” – just some make you more healthy and others make you less healthy. And each person is different! And I totally agree that the Whole30 isn’t for everyone, but I think it might be an interesting thing to try for me!

  10. I really keep meaning to read this book. I’ve heard such good things. I follow a pretty paleo lifestyle (dang dairy here or there), but I would love to read their take on things!
    Lauren @ Fun, Fit, and Fabulous! recently posted..Thinking Out Loud – Barre, Belle, and Beauty Products!My Profile

    • KT

      Yes – it’s definitely similar to paleo and has some interesting points. Let me know what you think if you read it!