Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Review: It Starts With Food

I'm pretty much finished Dallas & Melissa Hartwig's book "It Starts With Food" and I liked it so much I'm going to do something I've never done before, write a book review (well, other than when forced to in high school). I found the book enjoyable and informative, and I think there is something in there for everybody. So, not only am I going to review the book, I'm going to do three reviews in one. I'm going to review the book and tell you why I think each of these groups should read it: Folks not familiar with, or sceptical of Paleo/Whole 30, those already familiar with both, and the Paleo geeks.

Before I start, if you are reading this and have any of the following conditions you REALLY SHOULD BUY THIS BOOK. I get absolutely no $$ if you buy this book, this is really just me trying to help you. For about $15 and 30 days out of your life IT IS WORTH AT LEAST TRYING.

"diabetes · high cholesterol · high blood pressure · obesity · acne · eczema · psoriasis · hives asthma · allergies · sinus infections · migraines · acid reflux · celiac disease · Crohn’s · IBS bipolar disorder · depression · seasonal affective disorder · eating disorders · ADHD endometriosis · PCOS · infertility · arthritis · Lyme disease · hypothyroidism · fibromyalgia"

Since 2009, Dallas and Melissa have been using their Whole30 program to help folks get in shape as well as manage, and sometimes completely alleviate, symptoms of these conditions. Their program is not only based on clinical experience with real people, but also on numerous studies. The reference section alone is 20 pages long and consists of roughly 400+ reference studies/books/research papers, etc. THIS IS NOT FICTION, NOR RHETORIC.

Now, let us get started with the review for the skeptics and initiated ..

Perhaps you have heard of Paleo or the Whole30 program, or maybe not. If you have, or if you just googled, it, chances are you ran into something along the lines of "cavemen ate this" or "we are not adapted to neolithic foods like grains, legumes and dairy". You probably also have either read or thought to yourself that "cavemen lived short brutish lives" or "but whole grains are good for you" or something similar and brushed the whole concept off.

While it is true that the origins of the Paleolithic diet relied heavily on such observations, it has come a long way since then. Many of those involved in the Paleo or Ancestral Health movement are doctors, researchers, trainers or other folks that deal with health issues every day and are furthering our cumulative knowledge on how food affects our health.

Enter, Dallas and Melissa.

You will find a lot of things in "It Starts With Food" but what you won't find is justifications based on what cavemen would or would not have done. Dallas and Melissa outline their four food rules for healthy eating and then show you which foods fit into that template, and which do not. Their food rules are based on the over 400 referenced articles in their reference section, plus REAL WORD experience with thousands of clients since 2009. Their have been numerous revisions of their Whole30 program, and it shows!

This is not a diet book, this is a book designed to arm you with the knowledge you need to make good food choices and help you get healthy, and stay healthy, for the rest of your life! This is not to say that you will never be able to eat cheesecake again, but you will know exactly what the piece of cheesecake will do to you if you do eat it. I myself indulge from time to time, and enjoy it guilt free. Life is about choices, and this book will give you the necessary education to make them.

If you ever pondered trying a Paleo diet, but though it sounded crazy, this is absolutely the book for you. That may sound funny, but I truly believe this book reflects the current state of the Paleo/Ancestral Health movement and is worth the read. If this book does not convince you that eating this way is completely natural and healthy, then nothing will :)

Lastly, the book also includes a meal map which I think is worth the price of the book itself. With such great recipes as "Creamy Avocado Dressing" and "Mocha Steak Rub" it pretty much speaks for itself. I would have bought the book simply to get these recipes!!! After finishing this section you should have no problems filling 30 days full of absolutely delicious and filling meals, probably without repeating a single meal. You will not feel deprived, you will not let cravings drive your eating habits, you will feel awesome and energized and probably a little bit liberated.

For the Paleo familiar ...

All of the aspects I mention above are relevant to this group as well, since most of you probably came to Paleo or the Whole30 with at least some of the "caveman" reasoning. That is not to say that those observations are not relevant, but as you probably know, it is hard to convince some folks using that reasoning. So if you've had great results yourself but not so much trying to convince friends and family,  this book will go a long way to helping you convince them.

Also, if you are like me, you may find yourself starting to dip back into old habits from time to time. Sometimes that one "indulgence" meal leads to another, maybe a whole week ... not that I know know about the latter :)  This book reminded me just how powerful food can be, especially when you do a lot of hard exercise or are under a lot of stress. My weight has been pretty stable for over a year now so I have not really put too much emphasis on the occasional cheat, but I have been reminded that there are other factors other than weight that need to be accounted for.

Other than being helpful for convincing your friends and family, the biggest plus to this book is that it may inspire you to take an extra look at your food and health again, and maybe make some needed changes.

For the Paleo geek ...

Well, what can I say about this book from a geek perspective. If you enjoy reading blog posts by any of the popular Paleo bloggers, or you find yourself skimming Science Direct on a daily basis for the latest research, you couldn't ask for a better book. Dallas & Mellisa have distilled their knowledge from over 400+ articles plus over 3 year of experience with their Whole30 into one massive knowledge bomb of a book. Not only will you absolutely find tidbits of knowledge you NEVER KNEW all over the place, but the whole thing was reviewed and edited by some pretty big names including Matt "The Kraken" Lalonde and Robb Wolf!  You can rest assured that the science presented is sound and does not taken any liberties.

And lastly .. seriously .. mocha steak rub.