It Starts with Food: Not just Another Diet Challenge

“Eat clean for two weeks with 1 cheat day a week!”

“No carbs for 10 days!!”

“I’m giving up ALL sugaaaar”

Question: How often have you heard these claims, whether they come from a highly regarded diet book, or the mouth of a friend?

Answer: too many damn times.

A couple weeks ago, I received a copy of It Starts with Food in the mail to review.


I have to admit, before I actually read it, I judged it by its cover, thinking it’d be one of those diet challenges above. I mean, it’s based off of their 30 day diet challenge – how could it not be? Well, turns out it’s not – it’s about changing the readers’ views on food’s affect on the body. And I’ll tell you how it does this in my review today!

I’d agreed to review the book before I decided to start making changes to help my hormones, but by the time it arrived on my door step, I was in the midst of re-hauling my eating style. Perfect timing!


Yay, food!

Actually, I’d gone into reading this book with the mindset of not following its advice. I simply wanted to read it, hear what they authors, Dallas & Melissa Hartwig had to say, digest it, write a review, and move on. Lucky me, I learned a little and got a lot more than I was expecting in the process.

The Basics

Basically, the book is based on their Whole30 diet, built on four foundational Good Food Rules, which basically support a paleo diet. You know, no grains, dairy, legumes, sugar, or processed food. Eat meat, saturated and monounsaturated fats, vegetables, and fruit. However, they took the time to explain why – based on their food rules. There’s also a lot of science-y stuff, which I much appreciate, as well as how to apply their 30 day whole foods program to your lifestyle.

And to answer what might be your next question, no, I’m still not taking this challenge. While I’m not one to do 30 day challenges (just the thought of "slipping up" brings me stress…I suppose its my inner perfectionist) I can appreciate those who have taken/are taking on the challenge. Actually, tens of thousands of people have taken the challenge, and reported back life-changing results.


The book references several success stories from those who used to have ailments – diabetes, celiac, migraines, and more – which have since disappeared. I love a good success story.

My Takeaways

1.) Yeah, science! (Yeah, Mr. White! Yeah, science!! – name that show)


The entire time I was reading this book, I was thinking, holy time suck, this book must have taken Dallas and Melissa ages to complete!! The entire first half (maybe even 3/4?) of the book is filled with science-y stuff – the how’s and why’s of how the human body works, from digestion to hormones, and how food directly affects these systems. I read statement after statement, wondering if they had done – and cited – the research to back up these statements.IMG_9645

Yup! They did! Not only did they cite studies and journals, but they did a great job of putting them into layman’s terms.

2.) Oh, now I get it!

About those layman’s terms. One example that really affected me is when they explained the hormonal system is words I could understand. It clicked for me! After the science-y jargon, they related the system to a thermostat. When they put it that way, it clicked. They also relate the digestion track to a night club, which was both entertaining and informative, haha.

3.) Healthy, Less healthy, More Healthy


Dallas and Melissa put it simply when they say that food is either healthy for you or unhealthy for you. While that seems black and white, I loved that there were “gray areas” in this book. Sure, they suggest you eliminate certain foods, but they also don’t pretend that one type of “food” is as bad for you as another. In their whole30 program, x food may be off limits, but in the part of the book where the explain why the food is eliminated from the diet, they also say it’s a lesser degree of unhealthy than certain other types of foods.

4.) I got 99 Reasons, but a Conspiracy Theory Ain’t One

I loved that all of their claims are backed up by three factors: science (see #1,) experience for themselves and their clients, and self-experimentation. They don’t go blaming the soybean companies, big name pesticides, and other scapegoats (though I completely agree with a lot of these claims) to back up their statements. I admire that.

5.) Life Application


So they give the reader all this information: now what? Well, the second half of the book explains how to incorporate this information into their life by putting it in a 30 day challenge form, and then applying to your life. It’s 30 days because the authors want to reader to judge for themselves how they feel after eliminating certain foods, and adding in more of others.  Then after the 30 days, the informed reader can be the judge of whether they want to continue eating this way.

OK, this sounds like a rave review, but I really appreciated how the authors put this book together. Do I think this diet is for everyone? Maybe not. But the authors do a really good job of convincing – and backing it up – that this way of eating is pretty healthy.

And with that, it’s breakfast time. Oh! But before I go, I have to do a little teaser here (I know, I know. I’m sorry to tease.) I’ve been working/praying/planning/excited about something for the past month, and I can finally almost spew it out to you guys. But there’s a couple final steps that need to be done first, so expect some big news on Monday!!! Open-mouthed smile Open-mouthed smile

Are you taking any “challenges” right now?

I know there’s a LOT of them swimming around the blog world for the holidays. I’m loosely following Elf 4 Health, just because I think it’s a super fun challenge, but I’m also picking and choosing which parts I want to follow through with Winking smile Missing the point? Perhaps….

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  1. omg breaking bad quotes make my day :)
    Lindsay (@LeanGrnBeanBlog) recently posted..Thirty for Thursday: BookmarkedMy Profile

  2. This sounds a lot like how I felt when I was reading through Michael Pollan’s book… I really liked getting past all the science and seeing how it was applied.
    Amy @ Second City Randomness recently posted..Sometimes… (Round 2)My Profile

  3. I read the book for a Read Well/Live Well book club that I’m part of but ended up not being convinced to do the challenge. I agree that all of the science behind their points are very detailed and interesting but the lifestyle is just not something that works with mind. Also, you win at life for the breaking bad quote. Bahaha love!
    maria @ lift love life recently posted..Korea Day 4My Profile

  4. I do love a good challenge, its more for the mental/ emotional side of it (fun, inspiring, social, etc), but there is no ‘diet’ challenge or ‘diet’ in general that can beat an overall healthy viewpoint on food and wellness! Sounds like an interesting read…
    Sarah (Shh…Fit Happens) recently posted..My Organic Coffee and Chocolate ExperienceMy Profile

  5. I loved this both too! I loved how simply the science was broken down to a place where it really made sense and was applicable to everyday being. Such a great and informative book!
    Danielle (@CleanFoodCreativeFitness) recently posted..Why Should You Take Nutrition Advice From Me???My Profile

  6. I need to get my hands on this book! A lot of people are talking about it and are saying very positive things :) Thanks for sharing your review, Paige!
    Molly @ Just Your Average Athlete recently posted..Fast and loose with a food allergyMy Profile

  7. I <3 Breaking Bad! "It Starts with Food" is on my to read list, sounds like it's cumbersome though! I'm doing #Elf4Health also and #MerryPlanksmas with a plank challenge. It's always fun to have something to focus on. But I agree with; "If it's stressing you out, don't do it!"
    Katie @ KatieEnPursuit recently posted..Tiny Elves Will Make the Almond ButterMy Profile

  8. I want to read this book too… I admire your honesty and forthrightness about not taking on the challenge yourself.
    Elle recently posted..Workouts I am Loving NowMy Profile

  9. I just started reading this too. I went in not really expecting to change my way of eating, just curious about what it was. So far, I’m intrigued. I like the science part. Although I’m not done with it, I can tell you I’m not changing my way of eating. I’m semi-vegetarian so I’d be miserable. :)
    Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..A Few Of My Favorite ThingsMy Profile

  10. i agree with you 100%! i actually hate challenges but i needed to rid myself of stevia and thought this would be the best way possible – i’m on day 14 and i feel great! it’s really made me realize that 1. food tastes good with less shit in it. 2. life is fine without stevia. 3. i ‘can’t’ is not really a choice – you can do anything you want. 4. the importance of fat in your diet. and 5. food should not rule your life
    juliegolean recently posted..everyone makes mistakesMy Profile

  11. this book sounds super interesting! you’ve convinced me to buy it :) perfect book for christmas break when all you want to eat is LOADS AND LOADS of holiday food.

  12. I love the Breaking Bad reference! I’ve heard really good things about this book – it’s on my Christmas wishlist!
    Tara @ Sweat like a Pig recently posted..Is weight lifting manly?My Profile

  13. I like any eating plan that promotes whole food and balanced eating. I’ve read a lot about paleo lately, and while I’m sure it works for some people, it’s not for me at all. I have tried many ways of eating and I really feel like everyone needs to find what works for their body.
    Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) recently posted..Variation On A Theme or Flatbread Addiction Continued…My Profile

  14. Very interesting stuff… i really need to start eating healthier AND better. I take for granted that I can run off the calories and help maintain my weight. Fact is, I would be a better runner if I didnt HAVE to do that. Take notes self.
    Pavement Runner recently posted..Playlist Thursday: High School JamsMy Profile

  15. I’m about ready to start the book and to be honest, all the science y stuff doesn’t intrigue me. Hopefully I don’t get bored too quick and I’m not sure that I knew it had to do with Paleo and I don’t eat meat lol We’ll see how far I get. I’m sure I could gain something from it.

    As for challenges, I’m doing Best Body Bootcamp which I have been doing since round 1. Round 4 starts in Jan. And I’m doing the Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge however I’m not doing it for the prizes just for the accountability.
    Angie @ Losing It and Loving It recently posted..Ready for the Next Online Fitness Bootcamp?My Profile

    • LOL! My friend – who doesn’t care about nutrition at all – picked up the book and randomly opened it to the most science-y page, basically, and said, “wow, this is a really boring book!” I find that stuff fascinating, though haha

  16. I’m reading this book right now!! :) I can’t wait for the exciting news!! Now you have me on the edge of my seat!
    Brittany @ Delights and Delectables recently posted..O Christmas Tree, O Christmas TreeMy Profile

  17. AWESOME review.

  18. Great review. Do you have the home or pro trx trainer?
    Trying to decide which one to buy. Thanks

    • I *believe* I have the pro trainer. However, the kit also came with a door attachment, so it works if I want to bring it to clients’ homes.

  19. This is a great review! I had no idea it was that scientific based and just for that reason alone I want to buy it. I loveeee science info, I’m a huge nerd ha. Even though I’d never do the challenge myself (I have those same perfectionist tendencies) 😉 I always find it fascinating to learn more about different lifestyles!
    Lisa recently posted..Confessions and Coconut FrostingMy Profile

  20. That sounds interesting. I really have been trying to focus on eating less grains, or at least empty ones – but it’s not going so well. Maybe next year? 😉
    Kacy recently posted..She’s writing, she’s writing, she’s writing a novelMy Profile

  21. I almost never create remarks, however i ddid a few searching and wound up hewre It Starts
    with Food: Not just Another Diet Challenge – Your Trainmer Paige.
    And I actuallly doo have some questions for youu if it’s allright.
    Could it be simply me oor does iit look like some of these comments appear like coming from brain dead visitors?
    😛 And, if yyou are posting at additional online sites, I’d like to follow everything neew you have
    to post. Could you list of all oof all your shared sites lik your twitter
    feed, Facebook page or linkedin profile?
    7Z.Exe recently posted..7Z.ExeMy Profile

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