Book Review: It Starts with Food

11 Feb

Before I start: I started a Pencils and Pancakes Facebook page! It would mean the world if you ‘liked’ me!!! Winking smile

I searched for a good couple of weeks for a quality nutrition book that would really help me with meal planning and getting back on track. Truth is I’ve been all over the place, unhappy and uncomfortable with my food lately. Ever since I stopped working out intensely because of my back, what was working for me wasn’t working anymore. At first I tried to cut back calories and felt fine….then I started feeling hungry…all.the.time. But I felt guilty going back to what I was eating before when I was working out. The key word: guilty. I shouldn’t feel guilty over what I eat. I don’t want to think about food as a reward, certain foods as ‘good’ and ‘bad’, or whether or not I could ‘cheat’ that day. It was all becoming a little overwhelming.

I needed direction and researched advice about how exactly I should be eating. This book has given me just that. It’s called It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.



The authors. both certified sports nutritionists and owners of a gym, start off by explaining dangers of the modern processed food and how the high carb/sugar diet causes all sorts of health problems because of silent inflammation. Health problems ranging from infertility to high cholesterol, IBS, and even stroke.

I found most of the beginning a bit obvious. I don’t think I eat the ‘typical American diet’ they were talking about, but people who are close to me do and it makes me scared for them.

The authors then describe the major food groups that are linked to silent inflammation and insulin resistance: sugar & sweeteners, alcohol, legumes, dairy and grains. They go into detail about the harmful effects of these food groups on the body. The food groups not only cause hormonal imbalances, but also have negative psychological effects that are equally as damaging.

The authors propose the reader adopts what they call the ‘Whole 30’ lifestyle and diet, which is cutting out all of these foods in entirety for 30 days in order for the body to do a ‘reset’, get hormones under control and counteract the effects of inflammation. They include a really easy to use meal plan, pictures and some great recipes for Whole 30 approved food, and what they call the ‘meal template’.

You should eat three meals a day, each comprising of 1-2 servings if protein and 2-3 cups of veggies, and one serving of healthy fat. It also leaves room for a pre and post work out meal of protein and carbs if you’re intensely working out.

Yup, that’s pretty much all there is to it. And you can eat fruit, but not too much.

So the big question is….am I doing it?

Today I started this style of eating….and thus far it has been a huge success. I was so scared about only being able to eat three times a day, but the template makes sure you are FULL from those meals. I was the fullest today (healthy full) than I have been in months. But it’s only day one. Why do this meal plan if I have no immediate dangerous health problems, you ask?

My main concern is my psychological relationship with food, which the Whole 30 really strives to change. The Whole 30 is not about losing weight. I want to change the way I look at food- not look at it as ‘good’ and ‘bad’ and ‘cheating’ if I go off-plan. I am so ingrained in some of my eating habits I’m not even eating when I’m hungry. It’s getting annoying.I also want to clear up some other health issues I suspect might be caused by inflammation, as well as put an end to the CRAZY carb and sugar cravings I’ve been having.


Noooooo more of these for a bitSad smile

So yes…this meals no oatmeal, cereal, or (dun dun dun) PANCAKES for the 30 days. Also peanut butter (it’s a legume). But it’s just 30 days. The book also includes a reintroduction guide for you to start reintroducing these foods and see how you feel. To me it’s not really a surprise…cut out sugar, alcohol and bread and obviously you’re going to feel better! I’ve been playing with the idea of trying Paleo for awhile…this is basically Paleo but excludes more (like natural sweeteners). You also CAN’T try to re-create desserts or treats like Paleo muffins or pancakes. It’s part of the ‘healthy relationship with food’ deal. Actually, most of the pancake recipes I make for myself WOULD qualify, but it’s not allowed for the 30 days.


Frank loves the book too!

So overall, this book was informative and extremely beneficial. I can’t wait to see how I feel at the end of 30 days. I know it’s going to be hard, but I mean there’s way worse things to go through in life so I think I can handle not eating cereal. I decided that I’ll really just take it one day at a time, however. The program is really strict, and although I want to get all the benefits, I decided I’m not going to let myself get stressed out about whether or not the peppers I ordered at some restaurant were sautéed in soybean oil. I will avoid it when possible, but I don’t feel like I have the health problems to really stress out about it. I will keep you posted with recipes, updates and hopefully good results!

Visit their website if you want to know more about the Whole 30 and It Starts with Food.

How do you think you’d do on the Whole 30? Or have you tried Paleo? What are your thoughts?


6 Responses to “Book Review: It Starts with Food”

  1. Fitcupcaker February 11, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Looks very interesting, cutting out PB would be so hard for me…good luck with this 🙂

  2. Kate @ Quarter Century Southern Living February 11, 2013 at 9:05 pm #

    This sounds like a super interesting read! Thanks for sharing it!

  3. runcolbyrun February 11, 2013 at 10:23 pm #

    Interested to hear how the week goes! Keep us posted! (You can do it!)

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