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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

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  22,163 ratings  ·  1,414 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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Average rating 4.09  · 
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 ·  22,163 ratings  ·  1,414 reviews

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Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)
As this is the book I wrote, I think it's pretty awesome. But, of course, I'm slightly biased. ...more
Jul 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 26, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
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
Dan Wool
Oct 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Jeremy Preacher
Jul 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Amy | Foxy Blogs
I listened to this audio with my husband while we were on a road trip. His chiropractor wanted him to give this diet a try. I figured I'd join him and do it too.

Eating nothing but whole foods for 30 days sounds easy enough and it was once you get past the first week. The first few days were like a mental game with myself. What kept me motivated was knowing if I slipped up my 30 days started over and I didn't want to have to do that.

I gained lots of good information that I still use even though
Jul 30, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 25, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Nov 08, 2012 rated it liked it
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
May 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Stephanie LGW
Mar 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Feb 12, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 25, 2014 rated it did not like it
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
Jun 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 13, 2014 rated it liked it
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
Feb 06, 2014 rated it it was ok
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
Feb 25, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Tim Kubiak
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 26, 2016 rated it did not like it
Shelves: z-read-in-2016
This book reads like a late night infomercial.
Ryan Hawkins
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: food, health
There are two negative things that could've made this book a 3 star book very easily, but there's one thing that made it worth 4 stars.

I will begin with the positive. Melissa and Dallas Hartwig in this book provide a positive, clear, practical guide to eating and nutrition. Their 'diet' is called the Whole 30, and it consists of eliminating any and everything that might cause you bodily troubles, especially inflammation. That means dairy, legumes, alcohol, processed carbs, gluten, soy, vegetable
Joseph Scaduto
Jan 31, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: self-improvement
As many of you know, my wife is a Whole30 evangelist who regularly participates in the program, which she seems to love - mostly because it makes her feel so healthy, with better sleep and more energy, among a host of other benefits. So, after watching her this month on the Whole30 program (for the 4th or 5th time), again with such positive results, I finally read the book that started it all. I must say, as a biologist by education and training, I definitely buy into the author's claims about h ...more
Leah Hortin
Aug 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely the best Whole30 book for me. I would recommend this to EVERYONE, even if you aren't interested in doing the program. It's especially good for questioners, science-driven, "why" people. The science is there, in an easily digestible, and even fun at times, format. Food is SO important. Fueling yourself is important. The things that proper nutrition can do for autoimmune diseases, diabetes, allergies, digestion, the list goes on and on, it can be amazing. You choose whether the food you ...more
Oct 24, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's almost like: "Why we sleep", but for food.

It's a great book to understand a little more of why and how we eat and should eat in every meal.

The book can sometimes be a little repetitive, and in many parts there is no source on the science behind it. But, in my opinion, the message is the most important thing one can get from it: eat well, because how you eat impacts your life in many ways.
Aug 29, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was a tough read for me. It really got into the science which was above my head. I recommend the whole30 website to get started and get going.
Jeanette (Ms. Feisty)
My rating reflects my opinion at the time that I read the book. I have since come to disagree strongly with most of their recommendations. Live and learn.
May 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Additional book status 1 4 Mar 04, 2018 09:13AM  
2015 Reading Chal...: It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig 2 20 May 18, 2015 06:42AM  
Effective dieting 1 14 Apr 24, 2014 08:18AM  
Madison Mega-Mara...: #27 It Starts With Food 1 2 Mar 22, 2014 08:02AM  

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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

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“The food you eat either makes you more healthy or less healthy. Those are your options.” 11 likes
“You cannot “out-exercise” poor food choices and the resulting hormonal disruption.” 10 likes
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