5 Reasons to Read “It Starts with Food”

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When I heard I’d be one of the lucky folks* to receive an advance copy of It Starts with Food by Whole9 dynamic duo Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, I admit to being very excited. In fact, I don’t think I’ve been that excited since getting the newest issue of BOP magazine with NKOTB on the cover somewhere back in 5th grade (c’mon you know you loved “Step by Step”!). What I’m about to give you here are five good undeniable reasons why you need to pre-order and read this book so here…

Wait. What’s that you say? Why am I, lowly Paleo food blogger qualified to review this book? I’m not a nutritionist or an expert in anthropology. I’m not a chef or even a “real” scientist (though I did major in biology and have taught high school science for the past 11 years). I’m not an award-winning journalist or a doctor. So why should you care what I have to say?

Because simply put, the Whole30 program changed my life. You can read all the details here but suffice to say, I battled food for my entire adolescence and early adulthood. In the battle of me vs. scale, food was the ultimate enemy. A few years ago I was introduced to Paleo and though I did a decent job implementing it, I still couldn’t commit 100% until I found the Whole9 and did my first Whole30. So yes, I’m one of those people who has had physical ailments clear up and who finally has a sane relationship with food and my body. What’s awesome about It Starts with Food is that it combines the Whole30 together with other concepts–new and old–from Melissa and Dallas’s blog/seminar and caps it off with some great recipes (because in the end…it’s really about the food, isn’t it?!).

So without further adieu, 5 reasons you need to read ISWF…

#1: It’s the perfect mix of science and practical application.

I’ll admit, I like to nerd out on science books. Truth. In ISWF, the Hartwigs provide enough techy goodness to satisfy the left side of anyone’s brain while telling us how to put the concepts of the Whole9–foods that make us less and more healthy–into action. From a primer in the major hormones involved in digestion and energy regulation to the details of managing inflammation and gut health, this book is chock full of information and leaves no stone unturned. At the same time, Dallas and Melissa don’t hang the reader out to dry feeling lost in a sea of “science-y” stuff…they devote a huge portion of the book to answering the “So what?” questions that come up like, So if dairy makes us less healthy, how do we get our calcium? and the like. I loved that they give the reader the option of, “If you don’t care about the science and just want to know what to eat, how much to eat…skip straight to the food in Chapter 8.” They get it…not everyone wants the science but for those of us who do, we are indulged! There’s also extensive reference section with numerous primary sources cited.

#2: It addresses the psychological aspect of food.

How many of us, at some point in our lives, have felt the following about eating/bodyweight/body composition: guilt, frustration, anger, hopelessness, plagued with uncontrollable habits despite wanting to change? I’m envisioning hands raising all across the globe. I have run across no other food book that addresses these concepts in as succinct a way as Melissa and Dallas have in ISWF. In fact, it’s so central to the story that it appears in the fourth chapter and is interwoven throughout the rest of the book. They describe how modern processed food–appropriately termed “food with no brakes”–makes our brains addicted and shapes our habits in ways that we aren’t even consciously aware of. ISWF also delves into the social aspects of food and how we treat the process of mealtime. Instead of just telling us what to eat, they challenge the reader to think about how to connect to food again instead of just shoveling it in animal-style.

#3: It is realistic.

The Hartwigs realize that at some point, everyone who reads ISWF/does a Whole30/cleans up their diet can’t stay in perfect lock-step forever (and who would want to?). People aren’t robots! How do we transition from ISWF as an awareness tool and framework to something that is sustainable for life?! Luckily, the book delves into this subject and provides the reader with strategies for determining how to continue their newfound healthy way of eating (let’s all agree to stop using the word “diet” okay?!). Also, they’ve included a huge section devoted to special populations like diabetics, pregnant women and athletes and their individual considerations because context matters. As an athlete, I particularly appreciated the post-workout carb refueling chart and how to handle the pre-workout meal. Despite having done a couple Whole30s of my own, I feel like this book will still be a desk reference that I revisit frequently for motivation and inspiration as I go on my own journey.

#4: It’s entertaining and fun to read.

Having been fortunate enough to hang out with Melissa and Dallas in person and interact with them via the Web, I can say that this book sounds like them and is true to their message. They’re notoriously witty, and ISWF is no exception. The book blends some classic zingers and tough love lines with enough motivation and positivity to get you through. Anyone who’s read about the Whole30 before no doubt remembers, “Please don’t tell us this program is hard. Quitting heroin is hard. Beating cancer is hard. Birthing a baby is hard. Drinking your coffee black. Is. Not. Hard.” When you read down to the bottom of the page you see, “You can do this” in bold letters.  It’s like a kick in the pants followed by a hug and then getting a belly laugh all at the same time. The Hartwigs, in typical good educator fashion, use lots of analogies to explain tricky concepts: your body as a nightclub, the immune system like firefighters, and my personal favorite…processed edibles “like the Las Vegas Strip of foods”. Hilarious and relatable all at the same time.

#5: It’s got recipes for amazing food.

Well duh, I’d like this part…this is a food blog after all! I’ve got to say, ISWF has a huge appendix of positively drool-worthy eats (which is no surprise because the ever-incredible Melissa Joulwan of Well Fed and The Clothes Make the Girl is behind it all). In case you didn’t know, I’m a huge Mel fan and her cookbook has permanent residency in my kitchen. The Meal Map is brilliant and contains several Master Recipes…think of them like the Mr. Potato Head of recipes: the same basic structure but a zillion variations all in neat chart form. I read through the section and literally said, “Why didn’t I think of this?!” It’s simple enough for someone brand spankin’ new to Whole30/Paleo while also giving an old-timer like me some new kitchen inspiration. And just to prove how much I was impressed, I made 3 new recipes for dinner: a spicy yellow curry (from Master Recipe: Thai Curry), a ground beef/onion/spinach frittata (from Master Recipe: Frittata) and Dreamy Avocado Dressing (from Finishing Touches: Sauces, Seasonings, and Dressings). So tasty and so easy…just how I like it here at Stupid.Easy.Paleo.! Even if you are an old pro at eating this way, I guarantee you’ll find something new to try (and love)!

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So…are you convinced yet because you should be!! Currently, you can pre-order your own copy of It Starts with Food…official release date is June 12, 2012. Click here to read about how you can help bring the Good Food word to people around the world. Let’s get this book to the top of the NY Times Bestseller List because the message is that important! Click the links to order through Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Happy eating!

*I’m a Whole9 Envoy…hit me up if you ever want to chat about my personal experience with Whole30 🙂

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