It Starts With Food

By Dallas and Melissa Hartwig

This is the book that started the “Whole30” movement — for good or bad.

Whole30 is 30 days of eating very strict Paleo*. I have mixed feelings about it.

If you just want to get healthier and reduce processed food in your diet, but you’re not so concerned about ferreting out food-caused health connections, doing this plan with a relaxed approach can be a great first step. For example, not worrying about whether the food you eat in a restaurant is cooked in soy sauce, or has a small bit of sugar in the sauce. And not feeling you have to go back to Day 1 with any infringement.

Which highlights my major objection to Whole30: it’s very obsessive about the rules. More about this below.

My experience: My husband and I did fairly strict Paleo for three months, and it did fix a number of health issues we both had. He lost weight. (I was already at a good weight and didn’t lose any.) He also saw a lessening of his idiopathic angioedema. I lost persistent shoulder pain and foggy brain! Since then, I’ve relaxed my diet to include some things that are forbidden in Paleo, to make it something that still gets me benefits, but that I can live with long term and keep it up. The experience was very educational, and I don’t regret it.

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Pros and cautions

Pros: If you suffer from constant cravings, lack of energy, achy joints, daily headaches, skin problems, year-round stuffy sinuses, or an auto-immune disease, certain foods might be a factor. This book gives the why and how of conducting your own experiment to determine whether certain foods might be at fault. It’s a 30-day elimination diet to find which foods don’t work for you. Which can be a helpful tool, but…

Caution: Some people have made this plan into a near-religion. They try to make it a permanent way of life, which it really doesn’t need to be, for most people. If you have problems with being too obsessive about food rules or beating yourself up for every infraction, this might not be a good choice for you.

*If you don’t know what the Paleo diet is, I’ve written a thorough article on my food blog: What is the Paleo Diet? Should I try it?

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