Friday, June 8, 2012

It Starts With Food - Book Review

I received an advanced copy of Dallas and Melissa's new book It Starts With Food on Friday night. By the time I had gone to bed I had read the first five chapters. This doesn't surprise me, I've been a fan of their writing for quite some time and have probably read every blog post they have written for the last two years over at They have a way with words, and a way with dissemination.

Having also read pretty much every nutrition based book on the market at this point, I was curious how the Hartwigs would add something new to the deluge of information available. What they've done in It Starts With Food is to simply removed the dogmatic Paleo or Vegan or Low Carb nonsense and focus on what the science tells us, asking simply "Does consuming this food make you more healthy or less healthy?" - wonderfully straight forward.

The chore becomes, making the science understandable to the layperson. While reading any nutrition book I am constantly assessing whether the book would make sense to a coaching client, to my sister, to my mother, etc. The answer in this case is a resounding YES, and it's the very same reason I think this book is a must read. (As an aside my mother is now down to her "high school weight" after applying these principles)

To make things a bit easier to grasp, the Hartwigs supply ample analogies as breadcrumbs along the path. Take for example the brilliance of comparing a damaged, leaky gut, to damaged, leaky skin from a road rash. Both cause an auto-immune response, one you can see and one you can't, but both now susceptible to foreign invaders - top notch stuff.

I also enjoyed how each chapter started with a short testimonial of affirmation, like this one from Chapter 16:
"I had almost every diet related disease - breast cancer, type II diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. I was also about seventy pounds over-weight and almost completely sedentary. Since I started the Whole30 I have lost twenty-four pounds. I am completely off my diabetes medication and my high blood pressure medication. I had a checkup with my oncologist today, and he asked me he asked me what I was doing to look so much better. I told him about Whole30 and he said it was wonderful that I was eating real food, and doing it for health, not just to lose weight. He told me to keep it up!" ~ Beth T., Richmond, TX

Powerful stuff.

The chapter on Dairy was particularly well written. The biology of the calcium-dairy story is often misunderstood. They lay out what milk is, why humans need it, and more importantly when they don't. I often find myself in conversations with women who are completely locked into the idea that without dairy, they would be too brittle to get out of bed. The Hartwigs break down the complex picture...

"Kale is more bio-available source of calcium than milk."

"Acute restriction of protein reduces calcium absorption and maybe associated with significantly higher rates of bone density loss."

"Adequate protein on the other hand increases calcium absorption."

I of course dog-eared these pages for my friends to read prone or supine, whichever they prefer. I know a book is good if it looks like a beginner's origami project when I'm done, and this one did. I think this book will reach a wide range of folks. It doesn't address any specific niche, but is written for people who want to get healthy and be the best version of themselves, and well... It Starts With Food.

Nutritionist Amy Kubal said sums it up nicely, "This is not some fad diet that cuts calories to a ridiculous level and prescribes pills and powders--there is nothing for sale but health." Pick up a copy and see for yourself.

The book is available for pre-order on Amazon now, and will ship June 12, 2012.

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