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It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways
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It Starts with Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways

4.08 of 5 stars 4.08  ·  rating details  ·  8,984 ratings  ·  702 reviews
Imagine yourself healthier than you ever thought possible.
It starts with food.

It Starts With Food outlines a clear, balanced, sustainable plan to change the way you eat forever—and transform your life in unexpected ways. Your success story begins with "The Whole30," Dallas and Melissa Hartwig's powerful 30-day nutritional reset.

Over the last three years, their underground
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published June 12th 2012 by Victory Belt Publishing
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Practical Paleo by Diane SanfilippoIt Starts with Food by Dallas HartwigThe Primal Blueprint by Mark SissonWell Fed by Melissa JoulwanThe Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf
Best Paleo/Primal Books
2nd out of 92 books — 118 voters
Why We Get Fat by Gary TaubesWhat's Behind Your Belly Button? A Psychological Perspective ... by Martha Char LoveWheat Belly by William  Davis5 Gears Diet by Diana ArteneMom's Island Bakens by Martha Char Love
Books that Improve your HEALTH
6th out of 139 books — 109 voters

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Community Reviews

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I was fascinated in the beginning with the scientific-like discussion of things like hormones' role in digestion.

However, when it got past the discussion of how sugar isn't good for you, the logic became a little fuzzy. They discredited the studies that have touted the health of whole grains and dairy by saying they were funded by those who have a financial stake in the profitability of grains and dairy. Ok, that makes sense, but then all of the studies the authors cited to back up their case m
Oct 31, 2012 Melissa rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)
As this is the book I wrote, I think it's pretty awesome. But, of course, I'm slightly biased.
Jeremy Preacher
I mostly bought this book to express support for the Hartwigs - the core of their plan, the Whole 30, is available totally for free on the website and has been very useful to me in the past. But I was pleasantly surprised - this is a good book. Readable, clear, persuasive, and it has the best cooking-for-dummies section in the back that I've seen yet. It Starts With Food avoids some of the problems other, similarly-themed books have - Cordain's dry, poorly-simplified science in The Paleo Diet, R ...more
Dan Wool
I devoured "It Starts with Food" in about a day!

For the Hartwigs it comes down to one thing -- is what you are putting in your mouth healthy or unhealthy? They are logical -- not preachy, which I liked. You can do A and this will happen or B and this will happen. They very simply explain what happens with the hormones in your body when you eat a standard American diet -- dairy, grains, sugar, etc. -- and that alone should be required reading for every human on the planet.

I also appreciated the
I started doing a Whole30 (30 day elimination diet with no grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, alcohol, sulfites, or prepared foods with other chemical additives) before I ever saw this book. I give the program itself a five. I can breathe through my nose again, reliably, for the first time in years. My energy has increased and my sense of fatigue has lifted. My digestive system feels right for the first time since I was a teenager. Every day (I'm on day 23 of the 30) has brought some feeling of impr ...more
It Starts With Food: a good message written by zealous messengers, paid for by the Coconut Oil Marketing Board

If a piece of toast with peanut butter, washed down with a glass of milk sounds like an excellent snack to you, this will be a difficult read and and even more difficult Whole30.

I've got nothing against the concept of a nutritional reset. The Whole30 program was beneficial for me and my husband and it made us rethink our eating habits. Considering the average level of physical activity
So I was feeling crummy and decided to try the Whole30, a "paleo" cleansing diet that lasts 30 days. You eat only high-quality meats, eggs, and produce; no grains, beans, soy, dairy, alcohol (even for cooking), or sugar. I made it to day 21. I forgot my lunch one day and the office ordered in from Costa Vida. I caved an ate the innards of a barbacoa pork burrito, including rice and beans, and loved every bite.

What I like about the program:
- Emphasis on whole, natural foods
- They're not selling a
This book and this way of eating has and will change people's lives. It has changed mine.

If you ever wish you felt better than you currently do, please read this book. Give its principles a trial run, and see if you see improvement.

I'm a lifelong junk food and sugar lover. If a doctor had not suggested I go gluten free, I'd have never done it. However, having done it, and having learned how the fuel we put in our bodies impacts how we feel - and I do mean emotionally and mentally as well as ph
okay, fine. it's a hormone-sciencey less carb-phobic Atkins plan. i get it. i am not fooled by the tantalizing inclusion of fruit and sweet potatoes.

that doesn't mean i didn't totally buy into the authors' hookum, though. i did. and i'm currently whittling away all the sugar/grain/legume/dairy products in my pantry so i can start my own Whole30 plan (hopefully in time to be finished it before xmas).

i appreciate their "hormone reset" and "foods with no brakes" mantras. i've lived them, so i know
I must have found this book at the perfect point in my life because, had I seen it even a day earlier, I might have thought cutting all dairy, grains, soy, sugar, legumes, and alcohol from my diet - even for only 30 days - was absolutely nuts. And, trust me, I love food so I can perfectly understand how anyone would think this is crazy.

Instead I am living proof of the power of radical diet change as medicine! Gone are so many "complaints" I had just accepted as part of aging: joint aches, poor s
Jen Bergh
This book is well written, accessible, and not heavy-handed with the advice. I like advice with a "but try it for yourself and see what works best" approach; it feels like the authors are more vested in your success than in being right about minute details, and that is refreshing.

This book was the logical next step to my nutritional education after Pollan's Omnivore's Dilemma and Nestle's What to Eat. Early chapters explain the psychology behind our food choices and habits, and those sections re
Well, Jeff and I made it through 15 days of the W30 before he had a CAT scan that sparked the lymphoma diagnosis and cancer treatment odyssey of the past several months. I'd still like to try a full W30 sometime, but for now, here are my takes.

This book distills a lot of information about nutrition and I think it does so in a scientifically sound way. I think it has permanently convinced me of the evils of processed sugars and processed grains. I am less convinced - in part because I believe res
I had already dabbled with a Whole30 (and failed failed failed) before pre-ordering this book. In a lot of ways, I found the information and ideas presented to be a lot more approachable than in Robb Wolf's Paleo Solution. Tone and delivery are key when presenting ideas that go against, dare I say, the grain? :)

I did a Whole30 after I received this book and the results were noticeable - how I looked (lost weight, clearer skin), how I felt (less lethargic, zero IBS symptoms) and my desire to sust
Stephanie LGW
I tried, I really did. I got through the chapters about why you should eat this way and even got about 1/2 way into the how, but I just couldn't do it. This book is definitely not the worst one I've ever read, and I'm sure they had some good points, but I have a serious issue with any diet (and I'm using the term diet in the "all the food you eat is a diet" not "calorie-count to lose weight" sort of way) that recommends cutting out food groups. That is MY issue - I find that when I cut things ou ...more
Jul 11, 2014 Bree rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: food
*paleo/clean-eating/anti-inflammatory diet (no processed food, sugar, dairy, grains, legumes)
*not a 30-day cleanse program if you read the whole book -- authors say it could take 60 days or more
*unless you are very wealthy this diet is going to cost a fortune!!
*focus is entirely on hormone balancing through nutrition (only a minor mention in the supplements section about importance of enzymes)
*authors completely write off raw milk and soaked/sprouted grains/beans as 'too much work' or 'no
Robyn Vines Smith
This was an interesting and informative read on a paleo-type diet. It's an extreme version lasting 30 days meant to break you of cravings, reset your hormones and reduce inflammation. I've read a lot of nutrition related books, some vegan, some anti-grain and others. All make good arguments for why they urge you to drop certain food groups. I'm really not sure I'm convinced about the paleo lifestyle. I'm not entirely discounting it, but vegan books say it's meat that inflammatory and paleo books ...more
In all of the commotion about what to eat, what not to eat and why, this book stood out to me. It was recommended to me by a friend and I know of several others who have gone through it.

I greatly appreciated the straightforward nature (and language) of this book. The book is written so that you can read as much or as little information as it takes to convince you about why they advocate the food choices that they do. Four principles are given and you can choose to read the "scienc-y" reasons be
Tim Kubiak
The book was well written, easy to read, the concepts and science behind their ideas were explained in plain English and used a variety of examples. The one thing I'm not certain of is that a person were to pick up the book who wasn't familiar with the Paleo Diet or hadn't read about the dangers and risks of industrial farming (Omnivores Dilemma, Food Inc, etc) if it would have resonated quite the same way. That said;

The Good
1) They put the responsibility for what goes into your mouth squarely i
I love this book and the Whole30 premise. I'm on day 20 of Whole30, and this program has changed the way I view food and eating. When I first heard that the program prohibited all grains, dairy, sugar, and alcohol, I thought it would be impossible. But the program has made me not want those foods, as opposed to usual diets that make me crave those foods even more. Whole30 has made me love vegetables, healthy fats, and rich proteins. I have started to taste how sweet fruit is, and how flavorful v ...more
Khaye Rufin
I love this book. I couldn't have picked it up at a better time in my life. Last year I went through several health issues. First off, I was having problems with my GI system - I had IBS among several other issues and I could literally feel the inflammation in my stomach. I then became sick over the summer, had bronchitis like symptoms, and was diagnosed with asthma. I had trouble breathing often, could not exercise as much, and also had my anxiety elevated. I could not pinpoint exactly what my ...more
Five stars! This book is well researched, easy to read, practical. It offers the skinny on how to eat well, and it tells you why, too. Don't like the high-protein, low-carb stuff? You're entitled to your own well-researched opinion, but I believe the research here and I know from experience that this diet works. It's similar to Atkins and "paleo," but it feels a little bit more grounded in good philosophy, and it cuts out all the cheater fake stuff that other "diets" allow.

As many similar progr
I'm disappointed, though in retrospect I don't know why I had high expectations of this to start with. I've been doing the program for 28 days now and I expect to see it through -- no issues with the program, but the book, my god. My major problems with it:

1) The tone. Good grief, the tone. Cutesy "tough love" and "sugar dragons" everywhere. Condescending rhetorical questions. It seems to be written with an assumption that the reader is a stupid sack of fat who needs to be talked down to on eve
This wasn't consciously a new year's resolution type read, though I did read it during the Dec/Jan week. I read Gary Taubes' massive (and excellent) Good Calories, Bad Calories a few years back, which pulls the curtain back on decades upon decades of poor public policy choices about nutrition education and the negative impact of carbs and processed foods on society. I don't eat many grains anyway, and generally resisted the idea of cutting out agave and fresh fruit, but have known so many people ...more
Really I would rate this at 3.5 but considering some of the reviews that are 1 or 2 stars for this book are inane, I'll be a bit generous and round up to 4.

The book is well cited (they have all their references, by chapter, at the end of the book, if you want to see where they got their information) and easy to read. The tone can get a bit annoying, but their use of easy-to-understand examples (and going back to reference those examples later on when adding new information) is likely useful to i
Eliška Vyhnánková
Konečně kvalitní průvodce Paleo stravováním a Whole30 programem. Teorie, pečlivé rozebrání jednotlivých druhů potravy z hlediska jejich prospěšnosti i škodlivosti, jednoduché návody a na konci i dostatek receptů pro začátek, včetně mnoha zajímavých zdrojů (i českých). Mám radost, že tahle knížka u nás vyšla a já mám možnost na ní zájemce o Paleo odkazovat. Páč já encyklopedie nikdy nebudu a pořádnou teorii ze mne nikdo nevypáčí :D
I read this book at the encouragement of a friend, and I'm very glad I did. I learned lots and I highly recommend it to everyone. The processed food we are eating is killing us, and the best way to correct that is to get back to eating *real* unprocessed foods, primarily meat, seafood, eggs, vegetables, and fruit. It's a simple hypothesis, yet so obvious when you think about it. What I liked is how they pointed out that this is NOT a diet, it's a lifestyle. If you find that you have "fallen off ...more
Vitalijus Sostak
One of the best nutrition books I've read: clear plan (so called "paleo diet"), right persuasive mix of psychological and scientific arguments and a writing style that makes one jump into doing it right away.
Highly recommended!
I love this book. It is straight forward and informative. If you want to know how to change your life by changing what you eat, this is the book for you. It can be summed up in three words: eat real food. But, the details about various foods and food groups, the explanations regarding vitamins, minerals, the immune system, our digestive system, etc. is invaluable. Whether or not you would like to embark on a Whole 30 this book is helpful and recommended reading.
Excellent resource for people interested in changing their relationship with food.

The science is soundly presented in a down to earth way that even non sciency people can understand. I was even able to explain to a friend what PUFA was and why seed oils are not great!

Presented in an encouraging 'anyone can do this if they want to' way with a bit of tough love thrown in... 30 days... you can do ANYTHING for 30 days!
Cheri Portman
I can't speak to the effectiveness of this book; I'm trying the Whole30 experiment now, but even once I've completed it I can't say I'll be able to say if this book is a good idea or not.

I'm extra cautious about the fact that this book is fully on the paleo bandwagon. I just don't get paleo. I respect the decision chose to eat that way, but it doesn't seem... natural. (I'll now politely avoid discussion on this topic. Paleo/non-paleo seems to be a discussion like religion and politics: best lef
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Effective dieting 1 9 Apr 24, 2014 08:18AM  
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  • Practical Paleo: A Customized Approach to Health and a Whole-Foods Lifestyle
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  • Paleo Comfort Foods: Homestyle Cooking for a Gluten-Free Kitchen
  • Make it Paleo: Over 200 Grain Free Recipes For Any Occasion
  • Eat Like a Dinosaur: Recipe and Guidebook for Gluten-Free Kids
  • The Primal Blueprint: Reprogram Your Genes for Effortless Weight Loss, Vibrant Health, and Boundless Energy
  • The Paleo Approach: Reverse Autoimmune Disease and Heal Your Body
  • The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet
  • Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans
  • Primal Body, Primal Mind: Beyond the Paleo Diet for Total Health and a Longer Life
  • Eat the Yolks
  • Perfect Health Diet: Regain Health and Lose Weight by Eating the Way You Were Meant to Eat
  • Your Personal Paleo Code: The 3-Step Plan to Lose Weight, Reverse Disease, and Stay Fit and Healthy for Life
  • Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food
  • Against All Grain: Delectable Paleo Recipes to Eat Well & Feel Great
  • Sweet Potato Power: Smart Carbs:  Paleo and Personalized
Dallas Hartwig, MS, PT, CISSN, RKC earned a BS in Anatomy and Physiology and an MS in Physical Therapy from Andrews University, and has been a licensed physical therapist since 2001. He co-owned and operated a strength and conditioning facility with Melissa until founding Whole9 in November 2009. He is a Certified Sports Nutritionist through the International Society of Sports Nutrition and an RKC ...more
More about Dallas Hartwig...
The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom The Whole30 Handbook: Your Official Guide to the Whole30 Program The Whole 30: The Official 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom The Paleo Athlete: A Beginner's Guide to Real Food for Performance The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom

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“We believe you should consume only foods (and drinks) that support normal, healthy digestive function; eating anything that impairs the integrity of your gut impairs the integrity of your health.” 1 likes
“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.” 1 likes
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