It's been about six months since I read and reviewed Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition. Near the end of my post I vowed to get rid of red meats and moderately eat other animal proteins and dairy while making fruits and vegetables my staple foods. Well, that just simply didn't happen. I tried to do those things, just as I suspect many of you have tried something similar, but I wasn't really motivated, and I didn't feel that path was working for me because I didn't have the right starting point. It was healthier than the alternative, but I didn't really feel better. It's not just about weight, after all, but also about how you feel. After a brief hiatus from healthy lifestyle choices, I'm back with more determination than ever. That being said, I needed a starting point. I needed a challenge that understood the importance of feeling healthy, not just looking healthy.
It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig sounds like the starting point I need to get moving with my health. They understand the importance of both looking and feeling great. They understand food in a way that I was only beginning to understand six months ago. Instead of focusing on how much you're eating and how many calories you're consuming, they focus on what foods you're eating and, more specifically, what foods not to eat. They break this into several categories and chapters, but I'm going to keep it simple by calling them "The Bad" and "The Good".
There's a lot going on in your body, some of which is hard to understand without getting too "science-y," as Dallas and Melissa call it. I'll leave the science up to the book, but what it comes down to is that there are certain foods and ingredients your body was never programmed to handle. These include dairy, grains, legumes, sugar, alcohol, MSG and trans fats, just to name a few. The book breaks down the "why" on all these foods, so please consult it for more information.
Your head might be swimming with all the foods you shouldn't be eating according to It Starts with Food, but this is where the good part comes in. (I wouldn't give you the bad without a lot of good!) I understand how hard it is to change your eating habits, especially when it might feel like you can't eat anything, but there's a lot of good involved to make up for it if you give it a chance. You can eat vegetables, fruits, animal protein, seafood, eggs, healthy fats and oils like avocado, olive oil and coconut oil, and nuts and seeds along with their corresponding butters. Again, the book gets more technical with all of this, but those are the basics.
You might be thinking, "That's nice, but where do I start?" Well, the book tells you that too. If you want to incorporate the guidelines of It Starts with Food into your life, there's a challenge called Whole30 to assist you. Dallas and Melissa designed this challenge to help you get back to the basics with food, which will in turn give your body what it really needs—healthy and whole foods, just as nature intended.
For 30 days, the Whole30 Challenge strives to help your body reset and get you used to the foods outlined in It Starts with Food. The book includes several tips and recipes. You can also sign up at their Whole9life website where they will set you up with an account and send you daily information as you work through your challenge.