The Whole30: What the Heck It Is and Why You Should Care

If you’ve been keeping up with me on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook you’ve probably been seeing a lot of hashtaging including #ItStartsWithFood #Whole30 #ChangeYourLlifeInUnexpectedWays #PaleoBeginner #Paleo #EatLessCrap #EatForHealth and #FitFluential.

Yes, I am about to talk about food. Yes, I am about to say why I’m really giving up grains (yes, even-whole-grains), dairy, alcohol, sugar (yes, even-honey-and-agave-and all-that-is-natural-sugar), a lot of nuts and anything that comes out of a package. Sound familiar?

You don’t have to agree with me or even think I am right or wrong or making good or bad food choices (and I’m not about to tell you what you really should or shouldn’t eat); but before you decide for yourself, I am about to say something really radical-

I had the opportunity to review It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig through FitFluential, and I can honestly say it may be one of the best opportunities ever to come across this blog. Let’s be honest, it’s also the first nutritional book I have read cover to cover, unable to put down and not just skimming to get the basic plan either. It was riveting and informational and funny and I don’t think I will ever view food quite the same – hopefully to the betterment of my health. Which, let’s face it, has been in shambles since June of 2012 when I barely survivied a blood clot that broke off from my leg vein and became lodged in my left lung.

It Starts With Food is a nutritional plan (Paleo at it’s core – quality meats, eggs, vegetables, fats, fruits and not much else to begin with) that shows you how certain other foods may be having negative effects on how you look, feel and live – in ways that you’d never associate with your diet. More importantly, the Hartwigs outline their life-long strategy for eating good foods in a clear and detailed action plan designed to help you create a healthy metabolism, heal your digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food. Forever. For good. For once and for all. Because-

I’ve fought with food my whole life – Weight Watchers, No Carb, Low Carb, High Fat, No Fat, Eat More, Eat Less, Eat Clean, Eat Whatever You Want, No Gluten and on and on and on and on. I never stick with anything. I always feel like something is lacking – I never maintain weight loss and I have yet to achieve optimal health.

Until now.

It Starts With Food outlines a clear, balanced, sustainable plan to change the way you eat forever – and transform your life in unexpected ways starting with “The Whole30,” a powerful 30-day nutritional reset designed to help restore a healthy metabolism, heal the digestive tract, calm systemic inflammation and put an end to unhealthy cravings, habits, and relationships with food. The book provides the science, the reasonings, the shopping lists, the basic recipes and the compassion of the Hartwigs (along with a little tough-love too). They want you to be healthy – almost as much as you do.

Per their book, since 2009 the Hartwig’s program has led people to weight loss, improved quality of life and a healthier relationship with food – accompanied by stunning improvements in sleep, energy levels, mood and self-esteem. More significantly, many people have reported the elimination of a variety of symptoms, diseases and conditions – in about 30 days. Food is our best medicine – and our worst enemy.

Grains are bad

The truth? I love that statement. It makes people stop, think, raise an eyebrow and wonder just-what-crazy-diet-you’re-getting-into-now. I don’t believe we need grains – not even the whole ones – they’re not made as nature intended anymore and we are (including myself) addicted to the pleasure they give our brains thus causing us to over consume them to the point that they are destroying our health completely. Read the book for yourself. If nothing else, you will be entertained and might learn something new.

Yet, I know this is right for me. I cut out milk shortly after starting the book 23 days ago (I used to drink several glasses a day) because I was unsettled by the fact that it directly causes inflammation at the cellular level (among many other things), which has also been linked to people with an increased blood clotting risk factor. I drank milk my whole life before now. For two days I have been eating according to the Whole30 plan, and in just that short amount of time I feel more normal, natural and actually have felt my energy levels skyrocket. I wish I was as scared of the potentially negative effects of grains as I am of milk so I could just cut them out and call it done, but grains are where I will struggle in this challenge. Yes, it’s hard and for now, I miss rice and pasta, but I am hoping to change that and I believe I can with It Starts With Food.

I know one thing is for sure, I can’t wait to see how the next 30 days go. For once, I am excited about altering my food choices and for me, I have nothing but health to gain.

What do you think? Have you read It Starts With Food? Do you follow a Paleo lifestyle? Could you conceive giving up grains? Why or why not? Please discuss in the comments below!

Until the next mile marker,

Please Note: I was provided with a copy of It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig in exchange for my honest opinions, which I have expressed here. I was not compensated for this review nor was I asked to write a positive one. Thank you to It Starts With Food and FitFluential for their generosity in giving me the opportunity to review this book.


  1. Good for you, Sara. I hope this 30 day program sets you on the right path to health and wellness.

    I did my Whole30 as you know and loved every day of it. Since finishing I have had the odd ‘non’ Paleo foods, but for the most part, am staying with it, too.

    If you need support, call on me… I am glad that after Day 2 you are already feeling the benefits. Hurray for being craving free!

    • Sara- Words to Run By Blog says

      Thanks, Elle! I’m really excited about it. Day #3! I will definitely let you know if I have any questions or need support, which I find through both of your blogs. I’m hoping to be cooking some of your recipes too. 🙂

  2. Good luck!! I tried it and lasted 3 days. It was ketchup that I really missed. And pasta. I don’t eat a lot of pasta, but I missed it. I hope it works for you and I look forward to reading more.

    • Sara- Words to Run By Blog says

      Thanks, Sarah! I know I will miss pasta and a lot of the sauces I used to cook with – and ketchup too, but maybe some of those things I can have on occassion once the 30 days are over. Thanks for stopping by too!

  3. Can’t wait to hear your results! I plan on doing a whole 30 soon.

    • Sara- Words to Run By Blog says

      Awesome, Courtney! Thank you and good luck on your Whole 30. We’ll have to keep in touch.

  4. I hope it works for you.
    We are researching the Mediterranean Diet, they sound real similiar.

    • Sara- Words to Run By Blog says

      I have heard of the Mediterranean Diet and would be interested in reading more about it too. Thank you for stopping by!

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