Knowledge is power, and in this pillar you’ll gain the power to choose the best foods to fuel your Radical Beauty. As you learn an entirely new way of looking at food, the choices you begin to make will result in radiant skin, high energy, and healthy hair. The Radical Beauty approach stops looking at food in terms of vigilantly watched calories or thinking about eating as an anxious, tightly controlled activity. Beauty and enjoyment are connected, and the greatest enjoyment comes from fulfillment, which begins within. The Radical Beauty approach is something we call Internal Nourishment, a program of strategies to incorporate into your daily dietary rhythm, along with natural, powerful beauty secrets based on enhancing your natural beauty.
You won’t achieve Radical Beauty with one particular measurement like tallying up daily grams of carbs and fats. There is not one set of definitive guidelines that work for everyone. Instead of dictating that we all must eat an exact percentage of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, the latest wisdom is that each body processes these basic food components individually. Your unique response determines the benefits and drawbacks of consuming certain foods. Individual balance is the key, looking at your total diet and how each part works together. This is known as synergy, a dynamic process that takes place in every cell.
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We want everyone to wean themselves off fad diets and nutritional trends that are overly simplistic. So many of them falsely demonize one ingredient or even a single macronutrient, whether it is sugar, salt, fat, carbs, or some other culprit. On the other side of the coin are the false promises made on behalf of a “miracle” food that supposedly makes you thin and beautiful, healthy and totally immune to disease and aging. Demonized foods and miracle foods are both fantasies—not to mention that they constantly keep changing.
In contrast, we are going to dive much deeper into creating long-term shifts in your personal attitudes, coupled with practical tips to support your highest level of authentic, natural beauty. Nourishing yourself with food should be a source of joy, not a source of anxiety.
Shifts, even seemingly slight ones, can powerfully help to raise your consciousness and expand the reality of what’s possible. If the Titanic had only shifted its course by a few degrees, a great disaster would have been avoided. A few degrees turn into a huge change over the course of a hundred or thousand miles.
In your life, a small shift can bring huge benefits over the course of months and years, so the time to start is now. Why deprive yourself of Radical Beauty when your entire well-being can improve so easily? As you start to take baby steps, you will feel empowered to go forward as it feels right for you, so it won’t feel jarring or like a big struggle. You can do it! You can create the life and beauty you want, starting with smaller shifts and building up naturally.
Let Go of Your Preconceived Notions About Food
The Four Common Reasons We Choose Foods
If you’re like most people, you choose what to eat for one of four primary reasons, or a combination of them. Everyone has their own individual priorities based on their background, how they perceive foods, and their personal goals.
Reason #1: Taste
The number one reason we eat the way we do is because of how food tastes. This one is obvious. After years of dietary habits, we are all naturally wired to reach for whatever we find tasty. The alarming trend toward obesity in America is blamed on consuming too much fat, sugar, and too many overall calories. One could just as easily blame our addiction on the taste of salt and sugar, which permeate fast food and junk food. Advertising has programmed us to salivate at the mere thought of more and more saltiness, sugariness, and other tastes that zing the tongue, like the spicy, sour tang found in everything from buffalo wings to the “special sauce” on a Big Mac. Of course, personal tastes vary according to factors such as how we were raised. Many of us continue to choose the same foods we ate as children because we find their tastes familiar and comforting.
Unfortunately, many of the most obvious “bad for you” foods, such as the hamburgers and milk shakes peddled by chain restaurants, taste delicious to a large percentage of Americans, who persist in leading with a few strong, habit-forming tastes in their default food choices. For them, taste rules despite ever-mounting evidence against eating salty, sugary, fatty foods in large amounts. The fact that you are reading this book right now says that you’re interested in looking deeper into the nourishment food can provide.
It may be hard right now to imagine your life without eating your favorite treat every day, but rest assured that you won’t feel this way forever. First of all, you don’t have to be “perfect” all the time. Don’t be afraid that you can’t ever have your treats again. Also remember that your tastes can (and will) change over time. You may gravitate toward processed, sugary foods now, but after making several small dietary shifts, biochemistry changes will cause you to crave different foods. Your body will be able to more thoroughly cleanse itself, and you’ll experience more vitality that will make you look more alive and energetic. These shifts will cause the intense cravings you may have had in the past to diminish naturally.
Reason #2: Weight
The second thing most people think about when choosing what to eat is how it will impact their weight. After a quick mental rundown based on the nutritional philosophy you currently subscribe to, you may reduce any and all foods down to one overarching characteristic: “fattening” or “not fattening.” Depending on how diet focused you have been over the years, you might also do a quick scan of the nutritional information on the food’s label, assessing the number of calories, grams of carbs, amounts of sugar and protein, and so on. Some of us perform these mental calculations continuously, day in and day out. It’s exhausting.
The idea that the key to weight loss lies in a simple formula—“calories in minus calories out”—is so pervasive that it is considered a fact in the mainstream belief system. The truth is that this formula is far too one-dimensional. Our bodies digest different foods in different ways, and everything we eat affects our cellular structure. The Radical Beauty shifts will allow you to effectively lose or maintain weight with a much simpler formula that will make calorie counting obsolete.
Chemicals in Processed Food Can Make You Fat
New research is highlighting the fact that tracking calories or other numbers isn’t the best way to control your weight. A study from the journal Nature found that chemicals added to processed and junk foods can alter gut bacteria, which can cause intestinal inflammation. This may in turn lead to various bowel issues and weight gain.1 Instead of becoming a label-reading junkie, use nature as your truest beauty food guide. The closer a food is to its natural state the better, and the more processed a food is, the more you should avoid it.
Reason #3: Healthiness
The third major reason people eat what they do is how “healthful” they consider a food to be. Here the choices are not necessarily related to weight loss but are based on the belief that a certain food will promote good health. A good example of this is when someone chooses to drink a glass of milk because he or she thinks it’s a great source of calcium. (This is actually not a good idea for everyone, by the way, but more on that later.) Your health is certainly a major reason to choose a particular food over another, but unfortunately there is a lot of confusion and misinformation circulating about what’s truly healthful and what isn’t. We will clarify this confusion throughout this pillar.
But the bottom line is that natural, organically raised food is healthful. Over millions of years, the human digestive system has been interacting with the environment. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors left us an incredible legacy—the ability to digest and gain nourishment from the widest possible range of foods. We are the planet’s most successful omnivores. The key to this ability is twofold: our genes and the thousands of kinds of bacteria that reside in our digestive tract. No other creature, so far as science knows, has diversified its diet the way Homo sapiens has.
The upside is that you are equipped to choose almost any dietary plan, with a balance of food groups and nutrients, that suits your climate, body type, and personal preferences. The downside is that there is wide latitude for abusing the body. Pandas cannot survive if their single food source, bamboo leaves, isn’t available, and koalas can’t survive without eucalyptus leaves. Humans, on the other hand, can adapt to unhealthy diets and survive for decades on them—but not without a cost. Healthful eating comes down to using our ancestral gift as wisely as possible while avoiding the abuses we’re tempted into by the forces behind junk food, fast food, and all the processing and artificial ingredients that go into so much packaged food on grocery shelves.
Reason #4: Convenience
The fourth reason we choose what to eat is convenience. Life is busy, and food seems like an easy place to cut corners and save time. Whether it’s fast food, takeout, grabbing something premade from the local deli or the prepared section at the grocery store, or stocking the freezer with a variety of microwavable meals like family-sized pizzas and burritos, convenience looms as a very big reason that many people and families choose what to eat.
Even though awareness of natural, organically raised food is growing—for instance, the largest retailer of organic food in America is Walmart—for countless Americans convenience is paramount. Around one out of every ten meals in this country is eaten at a single fast-food chain: McDonald’s. We can’t expect to turn back the clock. Unlike a traditional village in India, Tuscany, or South America, our lifestyle doesn’t include extended families in which typically a woman, either the wife, mother, or grandmother, is expected to make a daily round of the baker, vegetable monger, fruit seller, and possibly butcher, bringing home the ingredients and cooking every meal of the day. Social roles have changed too much for this way of life to be more than a romantic fantasy (or a daily grind, if you are the designated cook for everyone). The real question is how to balance convenience with freshly cooked meals in such a way that everyone is satisfied, no one is overly stressed, and the resulting meals are truly nourishing and delicious.
A New Reason to Choose Food
So much for the reasons that shape our eating right now. There needs to be a better way. With this book, we hope you will consider an entirely new reason to choose certain foods, and that is to build your dynamic, authentic beauty. The foods you choose to eat have a profound effect not only on your level of health but also on your tissue quality and therefore your outer expression of beauty. Achieving Radical Beauty also means you will achieve superior health.
Waking up to this awareness is, in itself, liberating and very empowering. You have a choice. Each day with every meal you eat, you can choose to apply this knowledge and eat in a specific way that enhances and supports your natural beauty. What’s on your fork, the foods you reach for at the grocery store, and even the way you prepare and eat those foods are all vehicles for great change. You can employ any and all of these strategies to claim your Radical Beauty.
There is so much confusion about the connection between food and beauty. Despite all of the information circulating out there (including Kimberly’s Beauty Detox books), many people struggle to apply these concepts. They use artificial sweeteners to quell cravings and try to avoid white sugar despite the fact that artificial sweeteners are even more detrimental to their beauty. People are scared to eat bananas because of their natural carbs and sugar, yet they gnosh on packaged bars filled with fragmented, processed ingredients such as soy or whey protein isolates, fractionated palm kernel oil, and invert evaporated cane syrup.
You are not what you eat but what you assimilate and digest.
Perhaps you, too, are confused. We don’t blame you! When bombarded by snippets of information from casual conversations, a fitness app on your phone, or the latest diet circulated in the media that guarantees fast results, many people react by growing afraid of real food. They choose “safer” items that have their nutritional information neatly printed out on the label. Over time, they ignore their constant bloat, the din of a rumbling belly, or the increasing rate of acid reflux, and are too embarrassed to bring up the fact that they don’t go to the bathroom every day. Then they wonder why they have deepening bags under their eyes, breakouts and patchiness, and increasingly brittle and lackluster hair.
Here’s the truth: it’s all connected. What we eat and the whole basis of integrating these foods and our bodies—digestion—must be approached properly to support our inner glow and our outer beauty. Digestion is truly a key to unleashing your Radical Beauty. Referred to as agni in Ayurveda (the oldest known medical system, founded in India about 5,000 years ago), digestion is at the center of our health and our beauty. You are not what you eat, but what you assimilate, or absorb and utilize as nourishment in your body, and digest. Numbers alone will never give you an accurate sense of that picture.
Chronic Diseases and Premature
Aging: Not Natural or Necessary
Numbers-based dietary assessments have no place in traditional wellness systems such as Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine. Both have become popular in the West over the past few decades, as people have become heavier and more prone to illness and aging because of damaging lifestyle choices, especially in the typical American diet. Some negative trends, given our aging population, are advancing upon us faster than ever before. Until around World War II, the leading causes of death were infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, influenza, and pneumonia, which are airborne, along with waterborne diseases like cholera.2 Degenerative diseases, which involve the deterioration of the structure or function of tissue, such as type 2 diabetes, were actually quite rare. At the turn of the twentieth century, it was considered highly unusual for a physician in a general practice to see a patient complaining of angina, the typical chest pain due to heart disease. With improvements in sanitation and medical care since then, we’ve fortunately seen an immense reduction in infectious diseases.
Excerpted from Radical Beauty by Deepak Chopra and Kimberly Snyder. Copyright © 2016 by Deepak Chopra. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.