When I checked my mailbox on Friday evening, I found a package that contained Whole9‘s new book, It Starts With Food. I have to admit that I shrieked [numerous times] in delight, and that I squealed to my husband [numerous times] over how excited I was to read it.
I have a HUGE amount of respect for Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, and I am extremely indebted to them, as my own “Good Food” journey (and thus, this website) began with a Whole30 challenge almost one year ago… which was before I even knew what “Paleo” meant, by the way. When I heard that they were writing a book, I knew that it would be amazing. I actually pre-ordered my own copy as soon as it was available for pre-order. A few weeks later, I got an email from Melissa, asking if I would like a pre-view copy. Um… YES! How exciting!
How did I know that the book would be amazing? Well, mainly because Dallas and Melissa do everything with excellence. They only make claims that are backed by extensive personal research, they stand firmly on their principles, and they don’t take crap.
I began reading that night (Friday), and I finished the book last night (Monday). I can sum up my thoughts in one bold statement… are you ready? Okay, here it is:
This is, hands down, the best REAL FOOD book on the market today.
Bold, right? I know. But I mean every word, and I’ll tell you why below. But first, let me tell you that I have read almost all the Paleo books out there (cookbooks included), and I have enjoyed almost all of them. But It Starts With Food takes the gold medal for so many reasons!
Top 15 Reasons I LOVE this Book:
1. Dallas and Melissa left nothing out. Maybe you are like I was in the beginning, and you know that you feel better without dairy/grains/sugar/legumes/etc., but you aren’t sure why you feel better. So you continue to avoid them, but you cannot explain your reasoning to those around you. If that is you, you must read this book. It covers all the “less healthy” foods, and provides plenty of reasons to stay away from them.
2. They make everything easy to understand. There is a lot of “science-y stuff” that backs up the reasons we should eat this way… and I’m glad! This means that our food choices are not based on wild claims, government-sponsored programs, or personal agendas! But science is a tough subject for me, and I do not typically enjoy it. However, Dallas and Melissa did an outstanding job making sense of it all! I can confidently proclaim that I understood every sentence in the book, and that it all made perfect sense. They used a ton of useful analogies, included great illustrations, summarized the tough stuff at the end of each chapter, and described everything thoroughly. I cannot tell you how happy I was to have so many things suddenly “click” inside my head (“oh, so THAT’S how that works…”). I used 1.5 entire highlighters as I read.
3. They answer your questions before you have to ask them. As I was reading, there were so many times I thought “Oh, someone is going to ask about _____.” And then, in the next sentence or paragraph, they’d say “Now, we know what you’re thinking…,” and then address the issue. It’s like they really do know what you’re thinking! This is not just a basic “here are the basic facts” book. It delves deep into the issues, and covers all the related topics that you’ve been pondering for so long.
4. They have not written it as “a Paleo book.” I absolutely LOVE that Dallas and Melissa have chosen not to brand themselves, or the book, with the “Paleo” name. They do mention that their ideas fall right in line with the Paleo diet, but they are not defined by it, and I appreciate that! So many people have suspicions that Paleo is just another fad diet (which is hilarious to me), and it is nice to have a book that is not standing on that platform as a base.
5. They have not written it as “Caveman Diet book.” This one is huge for me. I am a Creationist, so while I do believe that Paleo is the natural way that we should eat, I do not believe that it’s because it is how our ancestors ate. I believe that God created the world, and that He put plants and animals on the earth for our food. I believe that the way human beings have altered and adjusted His good creation is shameful, and that God knew what was best for us when He created humans and placed them in the midst of plants and animals. I realize that this is a very different stance than most “Paleo people” take (including Dallas and Melissa), and I’m okay with that.
I love that they based their book on the premise of “biology and the natural patterns of behavior.” They even have a section in the 2nd chapter that is entitled “Creationists Welcome.” When I read this section, I was so thrilled! Finally, a book that doesn’t go on and on about our paleolithic ancestors! Finally, a book that doesn’t make definitive claims about the origination of the human race! Finally, a book that gives Creationists the scientific facts that they have been craving, without clouding things up with talk of ancestors!
Explaining the Paleo diet to friends and family has been tough for me because I do not believe in the idea behind the name “Paleo” itself (see how I’ve explained it here). This is a book that I will gladly pass along to everyone I know… whether they believe in evolution OR creation.
6. They write beautifully. This may not be important to you, but I absolutely hate reading a book that still requires a red pen. I am an English major, and, unfortunately, my tendency is to edit everything I read. I typically find numerous “mistakes” in every book I read, but that was not the case with It Starts With Food. In fact, I was so excited that I could not find one thing to edit, that my heart dropped when I thought I’d found something. However, after re-reading the sentence in question, I realized that I was the one who had made the mistake. Kudos to Dallas and Melissa, and to their editors! The no-mistake streak continued to the end, and I enjoyed it immensely!
7. They use some fantastic humor. This is not just science and facts… it is also REAL LIFE, and it is surrounded by humor. Dallas and Melissa tell some great stories in this book, and those stories related to me on so many hilarious levels! Just as an example, in the section where they describe how to “build your plate,” they describe measurements in terms of palms (like the palms of your hands). For protein, they suggest that you have 1-2 palm-sized servings with each meal. This is the quote that cracked me up: “Also, for the record, these are not your only options. You’ve also got 1.25 palms, 1.5 palms, 1.942 palms, and every possibility in between. This should not be overwhelming. You all have palms. Choose your protein, look at your meat, look at your palm, call it good.” HAHA! Love it.
8. They inspire simplicity. As you know from the title of my website, I am all about helping people realize that whole-food-eating does not have to be difficult. Dallas and Melissa underline that fact over and over again throughout the book. If you come away from it thinking “well, that sounds so hard,” then you have not really read it. Prepare to have things simplified for you. This stuff is not hard.
9. They tell it like it is. Yes, that famous Whole9 tough love is present in their book! I am a very “black-and-white” person. I hate excuses. I believe that you can do anything if you really want to do it. I don’t respond well to wishy-washiness or weakness. If you have excuses (“but my kids need their goldfish!”), wishy-washiness (“maybe I’ll try eating good food one of these days…”), or weakness (“but it’s too hard!”), then get ready to get over it! I was basically shouting “AMEN!” during the entire tough love section. I have heard just about every excuse in the book, and apparently Dallas and Melissa have as well!
10. They get it. Even though there is some tough love in the book, Dallas and Melissa write it from a perspective of understanding. They know that many of these ideas are [tragically] foreign to most of the modern world. They explain concepts in ways that are easy to grasp, they pre-empt your questions before you even have to ask, and they help you figure out how to get started and KEEP GOING!
11. They give you a clear goal. Since I started eating this way, I have always encouraged everyone interested to start with a Whole30. It is the absolutely BEST way to detox your system and learn how specific foods affect you. This book clearly defines the Whole30 program, provides detailed instructions, and gets you excited to get on board! I have completed two Whole30‘s in the last year, and I am beyond excited to start another one soon! If you want inspiration and motivation to get strict and healthier than ever, this book is exactly what you need!
12. They tell you what happens next. One of the biggest problems I have seen from people who complete any 30-day challenge is that they don’t know what to do when it’s over. They will either be ultra-paranoid about testing their system with a few things they omitted, or they go hog-wild and binge on everything from pizza to cupcakes. It Starts With Food provides clear instructions on what to do next… how to re-introduce things and how quickly, and what to expect when you do. Dallas and Melissa leave you completely equipped to make the most of your 30 days, and beyond.
13. They provide an abundance of resources. Aside from the fact that the book is dotted with numerous great, practical ideas, Dallas and Melissa compiled some amazing appendices. You will love their Meal Map (designed by the fabulous Melissa Joulwan), recipes, cooking conversions, cookbook and website recommendations, and suggestions on where to find sources of local meat and produce.
14. They did their homework! They have 20 pages of master references at the end of the book. And I’m talking small-print, multiple listings, etc. This book was not written solely on the basis of opinion. They have backed it all up with research studies, journals, and well-known authors and scientists. Amazing.
15. They have challenged me. I finished the book feeling more enthusiastic than ever about why I eat the way I do (and that’s a big statement for me!). But the enthusiasm is different this time… Dallas and Melissa have made me more of a purist when it comes to food. This way of eating is simple, and even more so when you aren’t trying to convert all your old, unhealthy choices into “paleo-friendly” treats. I am done with that phase of my Paleo life, and, in fact, I have some cleaning up to do on my website. A lot of the snacks, treats, desserts, etc., that I have too often enjoyed are about to disappear. Does this sound sad to you? Well, just wait until you’ve read the book, and you might be just as excited about it!
Aside from my new purist mentality, Dallas and Melissa helped foster a greater appreciation of food itself than I have ever experienced. I am more eager than ever to find the best sources, prepare it purely and simply, and then give it the appreciation it deserves by enjoying it, undistracted, with those I love. Beautiful.
.As you can tell, I really enjoyed the book, and I can hardly contain my enthusiasm and gratitude for the effort that Dallas and Melissa put into it (and it was obviously a lot). This will be a tool that I use in my kitchen, a gift that I give to friends and family, a motivational piece to which I will return, and a guidebook that I will treasure. This marks the beginning of my NEW Good Food journey, and I am crashing through the starting gate!
This book needs to be a NY Times Bestseller!
Click here to see how you can get on board!
*Note: I do not make any commission from the sales of It Starts with Food. I’m just that excited about the way it’s going to change your life!