It Starts With Food – A Review
I think that I have let it be known that I was excited for this book to come out for the past few weeks. I’ve let my expectations really climb and thought that this book could possibly have one of the biggest positive health impacts in the United States in a long time, and, after reading it, I still do.
Dallas and Melissa announced that they would be working on a book on my podcast about a year ago. While this is obviously exciting news, and I was excited for them, my expectations were a bit tempered. You see, right around that time the “paleo” book tsunami was starting to peak. There were new books coming out all of the time. Starting with Robb’s book in September, 2010 and continuing into 2012, the amount of books related to anything paleo or gluten-free is overwhelming. So I wondered, as I am sure Dallas and Melissa did, what could make their book different? More importantly, what could make it worth reading?
One obvious answer is the Whole 30. Dallas and Melissa’s “change your life in 30 days” program is one of the things that they are best known for, so why not make that the foundation of the book? That might have worked, but we all know their are plenty of “diet” books out there that make huge promises of results if you stick with them for 30 days, and it could be easy to get lost among them. But the Whole 30 actually works! Look at all the testimonials! I can hear the screams across the inter web. But how can a potential reader tell the difference between legitimate testimonials and air-brushed, photoshopped marketing pictures? In my mind, I thought that for this book to be successful, the Hartwig’s would have to come up with something else, something unique that really told the story.
And. they. nailed. it.
It Starts With The Title
Remember when I said how my initial expectations for the book were low? This wasn’t because of a lack of belief in Dallas and Melissa’s abilities to write, or their understanding of how to help people. It was mostly because I wanted to manage my expectations to prevent disappointment. But when the title of the book was announced, I immediately realized that they had done it. This book could be something special. It Starts With Food. What does? What is it? It is everything. Your problems: obesity, poor sleep, diabetes, poor athletic performance. Your solutions: weight loss, clear skin, reduced symptoms from auto-immune diseases.
Everything that we do, be it well or poorly, starts with the food that we eat.
It Starts Where You Least Expect
“Surprised that we’re leading off with psychology and not calories, energy, or metabolism? Stay with us, because we suspects this section is going to resonate with you.”
That’s how chapter 4 of the book starts off, and they are right from all angles. Without a doubt the majority of “diet” and health related books would normally start right out with calorie counting, portion control, etc. But this book is different. After reading this book, you will understand how food effects your body, and that goes far beyond just the digestion of carbohydrates and calories.
That same chapter also contains a phrase that has particularly stuck with me since reading it. Ancient signals in a modern world. Our bodies (including our brains!) are still looking to the food that we eat for their signals. And because the food that most of us eat is so processed and refined, the signals are all screwed up. Our bodies can’t help but tell us to eat when we aren’t hungry, and worse we eat the foods without the nutrition we need.
It Starts with Standards
The idea of using a framework as your dietary plan and rather than a 100% prescriptive method isn’t completely unique to this book, but it is one of it’s well executed aspects. The four “good food standards” are well laid out, and explained at the start of the book. And by doing so, it makes the later explanations of troublesome foods that much easier to comprehend. For example, sugars and sweeteners fail all four standards. Want to know why? READ THE BOOK. This isn’t a sales pitch, this is for your own good.
Most importantly though, by using a framework instead of prescription(i.e. eat half a cup of strawberries for breakfast every day) and by explaining their standards in a way that is both scientific and easy to understand, Dallas and Melissa enable their readers to honest-to-goodness take control of their lives.
It Starts with the Whole 30
Like I said early on, this book couldn’t have been written without including a section on the Whole 30. The book is full of so many testimonial quotes from people who have had their lives changed (for the better!) by the Whole 30. Some of them had been told they needed medications and would never come off them.
And of course the Whole 30 contains something that sets Dallas and Melissa apart. Tough love. They make no apologies and make it clear that this is something that you, the reader, have to do for yourself. There are no cheats, only choices. As I read through this part of the book it reminded me of a post from the Whole 9 site. You won’t find point systems in this book. Because honestly who would choose points vs a cookie? The cookie would always win, and that’s not what we want.
One Last Thing
There may be some of you out there thinking, “I don’t need to buy this book because I already read the Whole 9 site.” I can understand where you are coming from. You hear about the subjects covered in the book and they align with the subjects covered on the web site, so it’s probably not worth it. I actually had a similar experience not long ago. When I read The Four Hour Body by Tim Ferriss a couple of years ago, I was struck by the fact that entire chapters and sections were literally cut and pasted posts from Tim’s blog. Obviously this left me a little disappointed. After all, I was a loyal reader of his blog, shouldn’t I have been rewarded with a little more info on how he gained 34 pounds of muscle in 4 weeks? Nope, same post I had read a few years before.
That is NOT what you get with Is Starts With Food. Instead you get the book I was hoping for. The book that could possibly have one of the biggest positive health impacts in the United States in a long time.