My housemate and good friend, Dawn Fletcher of Fletcherfitness.com, suggested that I read the book It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. She told me that it was the book that inspired how she eats (her diet) and it is the book she uses when she trains cross-fit athletes.  Now, I’m not a cross-fit athlete (ha, I wouldn’t call myself an athlete), but Dawn promised me it was a book that would apply to anyone and would be a quick and enjoyable read.

Niether Dawn nor the book It Starts with Food disappointed.

With a bit of humor, a touch of sarcasm, a LOT of scientific research, and a healthy dose of motivational dialogue, this book walks the reader through the ways in which foods fuel the brain and the body, activate or deactivate hormones/hormone balance, how foods are digested (or not), activate feelings of pleasure, and connect us to social outings.

Let me quickly say what this book is not:

This is not a book that is going to tell you to starve.

This is not a book that is going to give you easy answers.  This book is not going to tell you that if you just take this pill or just follow “this diet” that all of your problems, medical and psychological, will go away.

Let me get back to what the book is:

This book was written to help you, the reader, understand the relationship between the food you eat and your body.  Understandably, then, the authors are quite clear that everyone is different.  Therefore, they suggest a program, a diet, that you should try and then adapt to your particular set of needs.  How you adapt will be up to how your body reacts to different foods and how strong your pleasure response is to certain foods.

This book is a summary of what the scientific community is still learning about the relationship between food, hormones, working out, and psychological states.  This book explained that butter is not the “enemy” of the heart way before Time magazine ran an article about that same finding.

This book breaks the myth that your weight is fully determined by a simple calorie intake verses calorie burning mathematical equation.  “You cannot ‘out-exercise’ poor food choices and the resulting hormonal disruption” (pg 60).

This is a book that is going to tell you to eat!  They suggest a diet that should lead you to feeling satiated (full) between meals – and if it doesn’t, they suggest that you eat larger meals.

This book gives you more tools to help you make good food decisions.  It explains how chemicals in foods alter chemicals in the brain and how that can lead to cravings which you give in to, which gives you a sense of short term happiness which quickly dissipates which leads to a feeling of stress which cycles back around to the craving which encourages the overeating of food.  Once this process is explained, you can find ways to short circuit this cycle so that you have more control over what you’re eating.

I will admit, the majority of over the first half of the book is building to “sell you” on a particular diet plan.  At the end of the book, they suggest and describe a 30-day diet called “The Whole 30”.  One goal of the Whole30 is to get you to a place where you can start to determine how your body reacts to food.  Another goal is to help break the cycles of cravings and hormonal imbalances that your diet may have been creating – in other words this diet is a “reset button” or a cleanse so that the body can go back to burning fat the way it is supposed to.

I completed that diet on Saturday, August 30th.  Click here to access the post I wrote on my final day.

This is one book I highly suggest for anyone who is looking for a diet that is based on science, for a diet that they can actually choose to live with for the rest of their lives. for a diet that will help them break bad habits, for a diet that understands that everyone’s body is different, for a diet that understands that food is a social event.  Even if you’re not looking for a new diet, but you’re interested in the relationship between what you eat and how you feel emotionally and physically, I highly suggest this book.

Thanks, Dawn, for suggesting it!