Customer Reviews: It Starts With Food: Discover the Whole30 and Change Your Life in Unexpected Ways
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on June 20, 2013
I am a runner so my eating has been centered around carbs. As a result, I love carbs. I have run several 1/2 marathons but wanted to do at least one full marathon - so at 43, I trained and completed my first full marathon in April. I did not do nearly as well as I had hoped and I noticed towards the end of my training I was experiencing what I would consider an extra amount of fatigue - I also lost no weight whatsoever during my training, something I always do. I chalked it up to too much training and figured after my marathon I would rest and get back to normal. A week after my marathon, I decided to hit the gym and start weight training but had no drive and just felt tired. This feeling just got worse - to the point I thought I needed to see the Dr.
Then my wife started talking about this book. My first reaction - "THERE IS NO WAY I AM GIVING UP GRAINS AND SUGAR! - A PERSON CAN'T LIVE LIKE THAT!"
Another week or so went by AND i WAS NO BETTER. I decided to purchase the book (Kindle version) and started reading. What the authors were saying made sense - as much as my mind could make sense of it. So I thought - I can try it - its only 30 days.

Today I am on Day 20 and here is what I have noticed:
1. THe 1st 2-4 days were rough - I think I was actually detoxing / going through sugar Withdrawals. Not kidding - I honestly felt horrible. Not just hungry but fidgety, hungry, restless, irritable...
2. Days 5-7 the sugar / carb cravings were fading and my desire to snack every two hours was hardly noticeable. Still somewhat tired and not sleeping too well. My morning runs felt horrible - thought I was dying - OK - kidding. But I felt no MOJO. My times were getting worse. I figured this was probably normal SO I kept focused on my 30 day goal. Although, at this point I was convinced this was not going to work.
3. Into the 2nd week, I started noticing this feeling in the afternoon - I felt good / alert...not seeking my 5th cup of coffee. I would catch myself thinking throughout the day, "I feel pretty good."

So here I am on Day 20 - I have lost a belt size and my clothes are fitting differently (I started at 194lbs) and I am back to getting up at 5:30 for the gym or running everyday. I am sleeping better, haven't eaten a Rolaid all month, not craving sugar, and I am eating things I never ate before and just feel overall better.
Note: My whole family is doing this together and everyone one is looking slimmer. My 12 year old daughter had some mac and cheese the other day with some friends (her favorite meal) and was "totally grossed out" by it.

In a nutshell (because I normally don't write long reviews - if at all), this has been a great experience. I am amazed at the differences I am feeling in my body. I'm sure there will be ebbs and flows but I plan on incorporating this into my daily life even after the the 30 days.

Suggestion: If you are addicted to sugar like I was, give yourself a month to prepare your mind. That is what I did. I set a start date and wrapped my mind around it - then I took the leap. Glad I did.
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on October 13, 2012
I cannot begin to tell you have life changing this has been for me.

I have struggled with dieting for the last 15 years. I tried Weight Watchers and lost 11 entire pounds in 6 months-- and had to deal with the constant "You must be doing something wrong..." "Clearly, you aren't tracking your points..." Yes, I was .

I had lost weight in my mid-30's through diet and exercise, but I never got to my goal. I had another kid.... turned 40... and nothing that I did seemed to help.

I did Crossfit over the summer which introduced me to Paleo. I had a few friends that had switched to a more Paleo type diet. Although they hadn't lost a lot of weight, they spoke of their energy, better sleep habits, clear skin, etc. I thought they were crazy- why would I do this if not to lose weight?

Well, here I am 7 weeks later and I am sold.

I am 42. I am on the line between obsese and overweight. I exercise. I ate a "healthy" diet- never more than 1500 calories a day.

Even though they said not to track calories- I did. For three weeks. Then it became apparent- I was eating more, exercising less and the weight was falling off. More importantly, the inches were coming off. It looked and felt like someone had put a pin in me and the air is slowly coming out. No joke.

I am in sizes now that I wore at 20 lbs less than where I am now.

I was NEVER hungry.

I ate until I was full. I relearned what full was.

My skin is incredibly soft. My acne, which I never had until my 30's, is clearing up and nearly gone. I sleep 7-8 hours a night- straight through. I have a ton of energy. My mental acuity has improved.

Oh- and I lost 13 pounds in a month and am continuing to lose about 2-3 pounds a week. But like my friends who talked to me about this, that's the smallest part of this.

I used to say I didn't feel fat, I felt bloated. I don't feel bloated any more.

The first few days- almost the whole first week- were MISERABLE. I was mean. I felt sick. I fell asleep at 9 pm. Then on Day 6, my skin was glowing. I had energy. I was sold.

You do have to prepare for this and put in some effort. Use the master recipes in the back (trust me- I love to cook and I ran out of ideas).

The other thing that I found incredibly fascinating was that my taste completely changed. After my 30 days, I tried to eat an Oreo and almost threw up- it tasted like licking the fat off a cold roast. No joke. Today is my husband's birthday and I couldn't eat the cake from the supermarket. And ice cream tastes like scoops of sugar. It's amazing. It's like suddenly I can taste every preservative in everything- it's bizarre.

I don't see going "off" this any time soon. I did the 10 day test after, to see what I reacted to-- pretty much everything except rice. Some things (like wine) are worth it, most of it isn't.

What kept me going through the first week was the comment in the book that if you do have a serious reaction, keep at it because it means this is your issue. It was definitely mine.

If nothing has worked for you- try this. It's 30 days. I've had 5 friends do this since they saw the success I had-- they've all had great success. Insulin resistance may not be your issue, but if it is-- my blood sugar levels kept creeping up every year-- this is fantastic.

On a technical note- the Kindle Edition cuts off the recipes in the back. I just purchased the hard copy for this reason.

And on a final note- read the ENTIRE book first. This is a "try it" lifestyle. The more you know, the more it makes sense and the more you will stick with it.

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on April 6, 2016
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. Do some exercise, use some great supplements (I used atrafex) Atrafen Thermogenic Fat Burner & Appetite Suppressant and you WILL lose weight.

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 physically - I had to grab hold of this book hard and learn more. I was ready for the next step. This book spoke to me. I suggest it may also speak to you.

I believe so strongly in the principles of this book that I'd almost be willing to bet anyone reading this that they will feel better if they try it for 30 days. What do you have to lose? Anxiety and depression, bye bye. Muscle aches and joint pain gone. Headaches a thing of the past. Sleeping better than I have in years. Energy to spare. I could go on and on.
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on June 12, 2012
Co-workers would ask me if I had had lunch if I was critical or demanding. They noticed that I was meaner when I was hungry and, unfortunately, I was hungry a lot. Eventually I was eating 6 times per day, but still got hungry. And as I got older, I got heavier. My body fat ballooned up to 37 percent. If you had known me in 1994 when I was competing in a marathon (26.2 mile) race every month, you might not believe it possible, but I gained 55 pounds.

I decided to do something about it in 2008 and joined a CrossFit gym - lifting weights, performing gymnastic moves, and literally standing on my head doing high intensity exercise three times per week. I ran 5 to 10 miles every weekend. I ate better - lots of salmon and veggies from the frozen food case - but after two years of effort, my body fat was still 27 percent. I had lost 20 pounds, but remained pudgy. Then I heard about Dallas and Melissa Hartwig's Whole30 program.

I did my first Whole30 in 2010. About two weeks into the program, I noticed that I was sleeping better. Then I started to set new personal records lifting heavy weights in the gym. I felt great and my energy levels stayed even across the day. I quit being so grumpy! I decided to keep following the Whole30 way of eating. After a few months, my annual blood work showed big improvements: good cholesterol - UP, bad cholesterol - DOWN. And I was losing weight. Nothing dramatic, but typically two pounds per month. The two pounds per month continued 15 months and I lost 30 pounds! I finally stopped losing weight when I was just 10 pounds above my marathon running weight from the 90's. And that 10 pounds was all new muscle!

I first met Dallas and Melissa Hartwig in 2011 when I attended one of their in-person nutrition workshops. They were just as smart, friendly, and good looking in person as they were online. They are truly inspiring people. And their book - It Starts With Food - is just like them - smart, practical, informative, kind, tough, motivating, inspiring, hopeful...

As someone who has read most of the information on their website and attended their workshops, I expected to be familiar with everything in It Starts With Food, but I was wrong. The discussions of food cravings, the psychology of eating, and much of the science was new to me. And the Hartwigs made the science interesting. I wish my high school and college biology teachers had been as clear and practical as them! The Whole30 program is discussed in the book and the Hartwigs explain how you can do your own Whole30 and start getting the same kind of results I got in mine.

It Starts With Food is an incredible resource for anyone who wants to develop a healthier relationship with food or who just plain needs to because what they are doing now is killing them.
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on January 6, 2015
So basically this is the Paleo diet in a simplified, easy to follow format. I read it and thought this is easy, as I've tried a Paleo lifestyle in the past and cutting out food groups such as grains, sugar and dairy is not all that hard if you are a meat eater and like vegetables which I do. But then I came to two rules I did not think I could or would follow. Somehow I talked myself into it and for the first time in my life (after dozens and dozens of dieting attempts) I have followed a diet which does not feel like a diet at all. You feel like you are just taking really good care of yourself and treating yourself to high quality, high nutrient, delicious food. The first rule I thought would be hard to follow is no alcohol. I stuck with it but one night had a glass of wine. Guess what? I ate everything in sight. No more wine. Second rule which I thought would be impossible to follow is no weighing yourself. This terrified me. What if it wasn't working... how would I know? In the past I would weigh myself every day on a diet and if I happened to be up a few ounces because of water weight or my monthly cycle, I would get very frustrated and angry and think why bother? Then I would proceed to eat everything in site. This has gone on for YEARS!! So for the first time i have forced myself to stay off the scale. It was not easy, but for the first time I have stuck to a diet with no stress, no obsessing, no frustration, no binging... I lost 7 lbs in about 10 days before a trip (just had to take a peak at my weight!) and looked my best in a bikini. LOVE this diet!!! Follow all the rules... these people know what they are talking about. Also a tip: One day I ate fruit earlier in the day (I usually naturally crave fruit after dinner for something sweet before bed) and by night time I was having cravings. Didn't happen on any of the days I ate my fruit at night. Also eating your carbs (fruit, potatoes etc...) before bed helps you to sleep. One other thing… if you continue to consume the same amount of food while on this diet, the weight loss will be very slow or nonexistent. If one of your goals is weight loss I found you also need to reduce portion sizes which can be done easily by using smaller plates (7") as opposed to our modern day plate sizes (10-12").
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on June 21, 2012
One quote that keeps popping up is "this is not hard compared to birthing a baby, quitting heroin, or beating cancer." Actually, it is. I haven't got any experience with heroin, but I had 7 unmedicated births, 2 c-sections, and I beat cancer. Those things are hard, too but that doesn't make this easy. This is hard. It's hard to eat this way in a world that doesn't. It's hard to cook for a big family -- either all eating this way, or them eating this way and me not eating what they're eating. It's hard to stick with it day in and day out. It's not too terribly hard for a few weeks, but it is hard as a lifestyle. I feel anti-social. I know my eating habits put a damper on others' enjoyment when our eating out choices are dictated by my "can'ts." I know I've offended more than one gracious hostess with my polite, "No thank you." And I do miss crafting a perfect loaf of artisan bread or making my grandmother's homemade pasta. I miss tomatoes fresh from the garden with olive oil and fresh mozzarella. I miss handing on food traditions of generations to my own children. I couldn't care less about sugar and I'm not lamenting processed foods at all. They were never in my diet. I'm struggling with the limited choices of real food left for me.

Admittedly, because of autoimmune issues, I'm eating the extreme end of this spectrum, eliminating nightshades, eggs, nuts, and coffee in addition to the other foods. This kind of eating got just a passing mention in the book, yet a large population of readers is reading precisely because they're battling autoimmune disease. Note: this book doesn't recommend giving up coffee even in cases of autoimmune disease, but other research (and my personal experience) does bear that out. And giving up coffee wasn't terribly difficult. Peppers, curry seasoning, eggplant... those things are missed.

I'm not complaining and I think it's worth it, but I do think that in a future edition, the reader would be better served if there were more practical ways to cope with the everyday challenges of eliminating what is objectively a lot of food choices. For instance, two of the "go-to" recipes call for nuts. That works for some readers, but it doesn't work for the autoimmune folks. So, what's offered as a standby is just one more (two more) thing on the "don't" list.

I still think this is a valuable resource, but for most folks, longterm success with eating this way is going to take more than, "You can do it. It's not as hard as childbirth or cancer."
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on April 28, 2013
Documented by my blood work.

Total Cholesterol down from 241 to 121.
Trigylcerides down from 202 to 84.
LDL Cholesterol down from 156 to 63.
A1c down from 9.0 to 6.7
Fasting Blood Sugar down from 245 to 148.
Great Blood Pressure reading 123/82.
Total Weight Loss: 27.
I feel the best I've felt n years. I was on the Whole30 plan for 10 weeks & I started walking every day. I'm off the cholesterol meds and will not have to take the blood pressures meds.
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on February 20, 2015
Let's start with what is good. These guys are naturally born marketers, and their narrative is compelling. Overall, you have yourselves here a plan that anyone should be able to follow....for 30 days. You're eating good and clean whole foods. You're striving to eat the most natural versions of those foods, e.g., organic produce, grass fed meats, etc. No sugar, no booze, no dairy......

And now my issues: so much marketing and so much hype. The book is not enough. They encourage you to visit their website, join their community, 'like' their Facebook page, watch them on Dr. Oz (ughh!!!!), upload your own success photos to Pinterest and share your success stories. It seemingly never stops. I know I sound like an old school Luddite, but the book is not "the end." It is just the beginning. Case in point, I neglected to mention the array of Whole30 partners, including food companies who clearly pay a licensing fee to use the Whole30 name, and for the Whole30 folks to help market THEIR well as other blog and book writers who are drafting off of Whole30 to gain more eyeballs and/or sell more of their own wares.

And finally, despite their protestations, this IS a diet. Any choice of eating plan is a DIET (you can live on a DIET of KFC). The authors repeatedly cite that the goal of Whole30 is not to lose weight, and yet they gladly share success stories of those who have lost weight -- in some cases, massive amounts of weight.

And yes, this is indeed also a fad. Any plan that asks (really 'tells') the reader to give up entire food groups like grains and legumes without truly hard scientific data (I'm sorry, but pointing to other Paleo authors doesn't equate to scientific data) is faddish. Some may be able to stick to most or parts of this plan for the long haul. But why? Really....why? And yes, although I admire select Paleo gurus like Mark Sisson, PALEO is a fad as well. This too shall pass, people of the planet.

Full disclosure: I did the Whole30 last Fall and lost 10 pounds. In four-plus months I have since gained almost all of that weight back. Because I really like my 'drink,' I estimate that more than 70% of the weight loss was due to giving up alcohol, alone.

If you want to give this a try, go for it! There is nothing bad, per se, about the plan. Just be careful not to get sucked too far into the Kool-Aid marketing mix. Incidentally, Kool-Aid is definitely not Whole30 approved.
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on June 13, 2012
I am not a nutritionist, food blogger, medical professional, or anyone 'notable' in the food and nutrition industry. I am just an average mom of 2 who happened to stumble on a new lifestyle. I feel very fortunate to be able to have received a copy of this book for review. Here is my (abbreviated) story:

In February of 2011, after being inspired by some incredibly amazing results achieved by a good friend of mine, I jumped in with both feet and started a Whole30. After 2 difficult pregnancies and some pretty steady post-pregnancy weight gain, I found myself about 100 pounds over the limit. Something had to give - I decided to start with food, and Whole30 seemed like a pretty easy and sound way to do it. The first time I hit the Whole9 Life blog, I rolled my eyes at the "Let Us Change Your Life" banner. I mean, how many times had I seen a similar message crammed into some infomercial promising miracles, right? But this wasn't something I had to buy. The information was right there on the blog, free for all to use and try on their own. So I tried it. I figured I would give it 30 days and see how I felt. I really had no intention of making permanent changes to my diet. But after 30 days, I was amazed at how I felt and how my body was already changing. Maybe that tagline wasn't so much BS after all...

Within the first week, the ever present hunger that I had been experiencing since the beginning of my first pregnancy: GONE.
By the second week, energy levels were up.
By the third week, I felt AMAZING. Seriously, amazing. Even with the limited sleep that my youngest child was according me.
By the fourth week I was dying to jump on that scale to see if there were tangible results to go along with how great I was feeling: 10 pounds down. INCHES gone from my body! I was in tears. I had not seen the scale move any way but UP in years.
And do you know what? They were right! This.Is.Not.Hard!

I began to devour anything and everything about Whole30 and paleo and clean eating that I could get my hands on. I am an active member in several communities and I HAVE completely changed my life - all due to Whole9 and this simple little program.

Over the next year: exercise, 4 more Whole30s, and a solid paleo lifestyle in between - and I lost 70 pounds and over 40 inches from my body! I have lost more weight than my 2 children COMBINED! Whole 30 and clean eating just plain works. It gets the garbage out and gets the good stuff in. It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change.

The information in this book is life changing, life saving, and a guide to a healthy and vibrant lifestyle. Dallas and Melissa manage to present the information in an incredibly straightforward, simple, and humorous manner. They cut right to the chase explaining why and how consuming foods make you either more or less healthy.

It Starts With Food is downright brilliant. Even as a reader who is versed and experienced in Whole30, I am finding this book to be a valuable resource. Not only for myself, but as an easy way to explain to others why our food choices are so powerful.

Kudos to Dallas and Melissa: you really hit this one out of the park.
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on October 27, 2013
It all started in the hospital. I was having bouts of unexplained dizziness, and no one could find a reason. A Neurology Nurse Practitioner came into my room and started asking me the weirdest questions: How was I sleeping? What was I eating? No one else had asked this. I explained that I had recently stopped eating wheat and gluten grains. She smiled and said "When you get out of here, check out the book "It Starts With Food". Two days after discharge (turns out the spells were due to low blood sugar and hormonal fluctuations), I ordered the book for my Nook. And that's when my life changed. It really does all start with food. Within a week of reading the book, I started my first Whole 30. It wasn't nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. The results? Cholesterol numbers dropped over 40 points. Blood sugar spikes and dips almost completely disappeared. Hot flashes and other hormone-related issues almost disappeared. Full night's sleeps for the first time in years. Almost NO fibromyalgia flares. And over 20lbs lost. But the most amazing thing? I recently had a colonoscopy to check the progress of my Chronic Ulcerative Colitis. The result? No inflammation present. At ALL. After more than 15 years, I no longer have ANY sign of colitis. At ALL. I've given copies of this book to friends and family, and to my PCP. It really has changed not only my health, but my life.
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