The more literal-minded of you will be tempted to correct me. OK, it actually starts with oxygen. And then maybe water consumption would be next in your heirarchy of needs. But pretty soon you have to eat. And if you read Dallas and Melissa Hartwig’s book, you’ll learn that quite a lot about your health actually starts with food.
It Starts with Food explains that food is more than neutral calories. What you eat affects you psychologically, influences your hormone levels and impacts your digestive system and immune responses. In other words, a huge range of health issues start with food.
After going through each of those categories and how the average Western diet works (and making dry nutritional and scientific data sound interesting and applicable, to their credit!), the authors turn to suggestions for how to eat more healthfully and quick and healthful recipes that might make eating real whole foods more of a reality if you don’t have hours to spend over the stove. The book ends with a challenge to eat healthy, whole foods for 30 days. You can read more about The Whole 30 on the authors’ website. It doesn’t have as much explanation as the book does, but it will give you a good overview.
I appreciated that the authors did not set their ideas out there without any research to back them up. I also haven’t read many sources that organized information into the categories of psychological responses, hormones, digestion, and immune system.
I think the attitude the authors brought to the information was helpful. While they equip the reader to make better nutritional choices, they give a healthy way to consider treats. Rather than using terminology like “cheat” or “accident” they say “This food/drink is not making me healthier, but that’s OK, because it’s special/culturally-relevant/emotionally-significant.” It seems more honest and less likely to lead to self-sabotage.
I really got a lot out of It Starts with Food and would recommend it to you if you’re interested in nutrition or how to eat more healthfully. After I get back on my feet a little bit, we are planning to do a Whole 30 as a family, probably in March. I am definitely going to use the easy meal ideas from the book since I’m trying to find ways to limit the time I’m on my feet. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!
While we’re on the topic of the Whole 30, allow me to introduce you to my new favorite cookbook! Well Fed: Paleo Recipes for People Who Love to Eat is like a dream: whole food recipes that are FAST (some are 10 minutes!) and a great blend of ethnic (Middle Eastern, Indian, Asian, South American, African, Italian, etc) and American foods. I love how the author includes ways to use vegetables as noodle-like and rice-like vegetables for meals that need it, like Pad Thai, but doesn’t resort to a lot of “fake” approximation foods. This is a book full of delicious, easy, healthy food. I love it so much I bought my own copy (in the back of the book is a coupon code to lower the cost of the e-book version, FYI in case you get it from the library), which is virtually unheard of for a cookbook. Well Fed makes me excited to start our Whole 30 and makes me feel like I can really do it without having to spend half the day in the kitchen. Highly recommended!
Have you ever heard of the Whole 30 or tried it yourself?
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