Paleo Power: 5 Tips for Optimal Healthy Eating from ‘It Starts With Food’
By Rachel Chemerynski
It’s no lie that we’re lovers of food over here at Spafinder. From decadent comfort foods made healthy to cancer-fighting super foods, we know that healthy living starts with good food! So when certified sports nutritionists, wellness warriors, and founders of Whole9—a Paleo diet-focused community encouraging healthy eating and home to the Whole30 healthy eating program—Dallas and Melissa Hartwig came out with their new book It Starts With Food, we were curious as to what kinds of healthy eating tips they had to share.
It Starts With Food states that every bite we take either makes us more healthy or less healthy. So what is “good food,” you ask? Their philosophy is that food should create a healthy mind, hormone response, gut, and immune function (while reducing inflammation). Simple enough, right? Not so much! Fortunately, these key concepts are broken down into four easy-to-read chapters to explain it all in detail. While some of it is pretty science-heavy, they do a great job keeping it light with lots of analogies and humor thrown in.
While the Paleo diet has been met with some controversy, there are some insightful healthy eating tips that apply, regardless of your stance. Here are five from It Starts With Food.
1. Beware of fake food…load up on whole foods!
Picture your great-grandmother walking into a supermarket today. Can you imagine her reaction to the colorful packages of processed, chemicalized, nutrient-depleted fake food (dubbed “Franken-foods” by the Hartwigs)? She’d likely be mortified! While many of us are addicted to said “Franken-foods,” it’s not 100 percent your fault after all.
“These foods light up pleasure and reward centers in the brain for a different reason than nature intended—not because they provide vital nutrition, but because they are scientifically designed to stimulate our taste buds,” the Hartwigs write. This is part of the reason why we develop crazy cravings or can chow down on a bag of chips or box of cookies (empty calories) without ever feeling full. The problem is that these foods don’t only affect our ability to lose the last five pounds, but according to the Hartwigs, “over time, they literally rewire our brain.” Scary stuff, huh?
When cutting out unnatural, refined “fake” foods, it only makes sense to add in more of the real stuff, that is, whole foods. This includes high-quality, all-natural, hormone-free proteins (meat, fish, and eggs), healthy fats (including ghee, coconut oil, olive oil and avocados), and a variety of fruits and vegetables.
2. “Aunt Flo” isn’t the only thing that messes with your hormones
At some point or another, you’ve likely complained about your hormones being completely out of whack, whether it’s due to stress, life-changes, or “that time of month” for the ladies. Did you know that the food we consume can mess with our hormones, too? As one of the key concepts (and the most scientific part of the book), the Hartwigs explain how poor-quality, sugar-loaded foods can impact our hormones in a big way, over time leading to serious health concerns, from diabetes to high blood pressure.
“Your hormonal troubles start with ‘overcarbsumption’: the chronic overconsumption of supernormally stimulating, nutrient-poor, carbohydrate-rich foods,” the Hartwigs write. We love that they don’t just leave us hanging there; rather they explain, in detail, how little choices we make every day can add up, all starting with—you guessed it—food.
3. Treat your gut with love…and good bacteria
We often listen to our gut when making tricky decisions, so why aren’t we treating it with more love? Adding in just the right amount of good bacteria improves the gut’s function, while helping the body digest its food, soak up nutrients and boost the immune system. Not all bacteria are “bad” bacteria after all! The Hartwigs explain that the main goal is to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria, by cutting back on things that mess with the gut (like alcohol and stress!), and slowly adding in natural fermented foods such as sauerkraut.
4. Educate yourself on how your body reacts to certain foods
While the Hartwigs are pretty strict when it comes to which foods to eliminate (especially during their Whole30 Program), it mostly boils down to cutting back on refined, unnatural, and addictive foods for a healthier body. That’s something we can all agree on, right? Their “Less Healthy” list includes added sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol, most dairy, white potatoes, and refined oils (which have been altered from their original state). They even steer away from legumes and grains, a controversial topic for many.
The Hartwigs explain that their intention isn’t to 100 percent ban these foods from our diets forever, but rather to educate ourselves more on how we react to certain foods. Treat it as a science experiment for your body, and find what works for you!
5. Don’t obsess over the scale; focus on how you feel
We love that It Starts With Food doesn’t just focus on weight loss, measurements, and the number on the scale. In fact, one of their ingrained Whole30 “rules” is to quit the scale altogether for the 30 days of the program. Why? As the Hartwigs stress over and over again, it’s not just about weight-loss; it’s about jump-starting your overall health for life. After all, we all know how hung-up we can get over those last few pounds, in turn sucking out any motivation we had left! Instead, focus on how you feel.
While most of the book focuses on the “how and what” of food, the last few chapters focus on the how, the heart of the Hartwig’s renowned Whole30 program. We truly appreciate their “tough love” approach, as they admit their program is strict without sugarcoating anything.
Those who choose to dive in must remove all the “Less Healthy” foods listed above for 30 days straight. There is no cheating, sneaking or slips allowed but they make their point in that it’s only 30 days of your life. We’ve got to admit: their mouth-watering recipes like Green Beans with Fig Vinaigrette, Dreamy Avocado Dressing, and Hazelnut Roasted Salmon make it look not so bad!
You might also like:
Change My Breakfast: 3 Deliciously Healthy Oatmeal Recipes
Foods for Stress: 7 Ayurvedic Foods to Find Your Inner Calm
Go with the Grain: 12 Whole Grains Recipes
5 Foods to Boost Metabolism