I define a shortcut as something you do in the belief that you are getting one up on the system. In this case, the “system” is your body—but the truth is that there really is no way to fool your body, especially when it comes to long-term health and beauty. I see a lot of fear surrounding nutrition and food habits, largely due to snippets of information promoted by mainstream diets and circulated within the media.
There is currently an unhealthy phenomenon of being afraid—or actually terrified—of eating carbs, to the point where some feel immediately ashamed if they give in to a cup of brown rice or a tiny piece of multigrain bread. But the reality is that carbohydrates are a macronutrient; we need whole, unrefined carbohydrates for our bodies to function optimally.
Beyond the fear of carbohydrates is the fear of eating any kind of sugar— even if it is from fruit. Fruit! Let’s think about this. Yes, it’s true that processed sugar doesn’t do much good for our health—and prepackaged products that contain added sugar might be better off staying out of our shopping carts, too—but real fruit is a whole nutritional package that includes vitamins, antioxidants, and fiber. Sometimes I ask myself what world we live in, when I meet people who are afraid of eating a banana but have absolutely no qualms about filling up on a shortcut meal of packaged protein bars that are filled with many ingredients (like soy or whey protein isolates) that you definitely do not find growing on a tree.
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Feeling like we have to take shortcuts, such as eating processed foods that are marketed as “sugar-free” or “carb-free,” may at first seem like a tempting trick to feel like we’re fooling our bodies. But as I mentioned, this is not a viable strategy for the long term. Our systems are highly advanced and not so easily fooled. Such non-whole foods will create toxins and waste in our body, which is not optimal for digestion. Processed foods also lead to skin that is dull instead of glowing, hair that is limp instead of vivacious, and eyes that are less than bright.
Ultimately, we will feel deprived. The vicious cycle of fear continues with shortcut foods, furthering the idea that we might gain weight or not be able to control our weight properly should we abandon them. Then the cycle of struggle and frustration keeps building and repeating, around and around.
Shortcuts have a close cousin: dieting. Dieting and shortcuts have the “quick fix” mentality in common, which keeps us engaged and focused on achieving our “perfect” weight. However, if women could stop obsessing about their weight every day, it would free up a tremendous amount of energy to focus on their professional and personal goals.
I too, have tried every possible diet in the past—and certainly a bevy of shortcut foods. I know what it’s like to feel out of control with your weight. But then I learned that you can optimize digestion to work for you and your weight loss (which isn’t about calorie counting, by the way), and that you can focus on fiber to actually feel full instead of starving all the time. I know so many women who are dieting that feel hungry all the time, and I can emphatically state: It doesn’t have to be that way!
Shortcuts do not work for long (if they work at all), and rarely if ever do they result in the magnetic, all-around beauty and health that come from living and nourishing yourself in an authentic way. When you embrace the practice of eating a whole-food, plant-based diet, there is no need for shortcuts; you might find that when you transition to this way of eating, you don’t miss your original food habits. Of course, it takes time, but when you’re feeding your body the nutrients it was meant to eat, you’ll find that desires for that piece of cake or huge bowl of chips dissipate.
There is fascinating research to support that there are other factors that we need to become aware of to become our most beautiful and healthy. Key factors that affect weight and beauty— beyond working out and food—also include your gut (the second brain), digestion, thoughts, and beliefs.
When you choose a diet filled with artificial this and low-calorie that— meaning shortcuts rather than whole foods—your life will start to reflect that diminishing of consciousness, that disconnect between mind and body. We are part of nature, and we are meant to eat whole, natural foods. The closer to nature we eat, the more naturally beautiful we become.
Then, we won’t need shortcuts at all.
Kimberly Snyder is a beauty expert and celebrity nutritionist, the author of The Beauty Detox series of books, and the creator of Glow Bio, an organic smoothie, juice, and cleanse company. Visit her at kimberlysnyder.com.