Guide to Food

Though I don’t want to focus too much on the issue of weight when it comes to beauty, it has to be addressed. I’ve had many of you ask for other good book recommendations when it comes to understanding food and weight-loss in relation to health. Because the fact still remains: Only when you’re comfortable in your own skin can you be your most beautiful self. So I’ve decided to give you a recommended reading list of a few more nutrition-related books. Read these in addition to the previously mentioned books Eat to Live and The China Study.

1. In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

This book gives a clear picture of how disturbing the Western diet really is and the effect it’s having on the health of our society.

2. The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite

This book explains how the food industry since the 1980s has set everyone up for a lifetime of food obsession with the ever-present availability of foods laden with salt, fat and sugar.

3. What to Eat by Marion Nestle

This will take you aisle by aisle through the supermarket to show you what the food industry is up to and how they are manipulating everyone through marketing.

4. Eat for Health: Lose Weight, Keep It Off, Look Younger, Live Longer (2 book set) by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and Disease-Proof Your Child: Feeding Kids Right by Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Dr. Joel Fuhrman is still my favorite guru when it comes to breaking down what your diet should consist of. He will let you know the benefits of feeding your body the nutrients it needs in an easy-to-understand way.

And since I have two kids, I think this book by Fuhrman is a must-read for parents as well.

5. Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal by Eric Schlosser

This is an oldie but a goodie. But only read it if you’re prepared to cringe every time you drive past a fast food restaurant from on.

Finally, if you really want to understand nutrition, I highly recommend watching this video lecture entitled Sugar: The Bitter Truth by UCSF Professor Robert H. Lustig, MD. I know it’s an hour and a half long, but I promise you it will be time well spent.

Skin Deep Cosmetics Database

One of the most valuable resources for any woman seeking more beauty knowledge is the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Launched in 2004, Skin Deep is an online safety guide that will help you find safer beauty products with fewer ingredients that are hazardous to your health. The database combines product ingredient lists with information from more than 50 other databases to come up with two “safety ratings” for tens of thousands of personal care products.

The first rating is the most visible–the “hazard score.” This score tells you if the ingredients in the product pose a low or high hazard to your health using a scale from 0 to 10 (with 0 being the best). The second rating is the “data availability rating.” This rating can be: none, limited, fair, good or robust. It tells you how much scientists know about the safety of the ingredients in that particular product. (There are some products full of ingredients that have never been tested. So there are thousands of ingredients that scientists know next to nothing about.)

The Skin Deep Cosmetics Database was created by a research team at the Environmental Working Group in Washington DC. The same group co-founded the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics. The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics is a coalition of groups with the goal of protecting consumers by requiring the beauty industry to phase out the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and a variety of other health problems. The Campaign began in 2002 with the release of the report: “Not Too Pretty: Phthalates, Beauty Products and the FDA.”

If you’re an all-natural/organic product junkie like me, you’re probably already familiar with this report, and you’re probably a weekly regular on the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. But if you haven’t been there in a while, I encourage you to stop by and see the site’s recent makeover. It’s a lot more user-friendly then it was before. Now, when you type in a particular kind of product you’re looking for, it now gives you the optimal choices in descending order, beginning with the least toxic brands first. The ratings are also much more visible for quick reference when you’re researching a particular beauty product.

Beauty From the Inside Out

Beauty isn’t just about what you put on your body. It’s also about what you put in your body. To look beautiful you must first feel beautiful. Because when you feel beautiful, you radiate confidence and people are naturally attracted to you. But no woman can do this when she’s obsessed with her weight. There is simply nothing less attractive than a woman who’s always concerned about the rolls on her stomach or the cellulite on her thighs. No one wants to hear you talk about how many more pounds you need to lose or what new miracle diet or trendy fitness craze you’re currently into. In fact, any woman who willingly engages in conversations about how she dislikes her body is basically shouting to the world, “I’m insecure!” And women who are insecure will never be viewed as truly beautiful. Self-assurance and confidence are the two most important components of real beauty.

So the next time you’re at Barnes & Noble, resist the urge to browse the latest diet books. It’s time to get off the rollercoaster of seeking miracle weight loss solutions in cleverly marketed titles such as The Four Hour Diet, The Flat Belly Diet, The Ultra Simple Diet, The Abs Diet, etc.

If you read just one more book about food for the rest of your life, make it a book that won’t just provide you with a bunch of weekly menus you’ll lose interest in after a week. Instead read a book that will permanently change the way you think about food. Read Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live.

Eat to Live is not another diet book; it’s a book that teaches you how to be healthy for the rest of your life. And we all know that being healthy is the first stop on the road to becoming truly beautiful.

After I had my own personal ah-ha moment as a result of reading this book, I decided to get certified in Plant-Based Nutrition through Cornell University. This was an eye-opening experience as much of the material in my classes was based on Dr. T. Colin Campbell’s book The China Study. (I also highly recommend you read this book if you have time.)

After receiving my certification, I decided to expand my knowledge in a more practical way by taking one-on-one cooking classes with a raw, vegan chef for six months–which continued to radically alter the way I view food.

I do not eat a 100% raw vegan diet, nor do I eat a 100% plant-based diet. I do, however, try to make sure that the meals I have control over contain nutrient-rich foods. This means I sometimes eat an entire head of romaine lettuce and an entire carton of blueberries for lunch. It means I’ve cut way back on dairy and meat, and added lots of fresh juices and smoothies to my daily menus. I’m also part of a local program that drops fresh organic produce at my door once a week.

The point is that even if you just take a few of the steps the book Eat to Live suggests (such as adding more of the top 10 most nutrient-dense foods to your diet), you’ll experience a vast improvement in your overall health, including your mental health.

If you are an instant gratification junkie like me and you don’t want to wait to get your hands on the book Eat to Live , I have good news. Because you’re part of the Beauty Guru community, you have free access to an e-book that sums up the basics of a plant-based diet.

Just click on this link to read the e-book right now:
The Fundamentals of a Plant-Based Diet

Not Just a Pretty Face

I recently read the book Not Just a Pretty Face: The Ugly Side of the Beauty Industry, and I would recommend you read it too if you want to become educated about the business of beauty in America, especially with regard to its effect on women’s health.

Some of the questions raised in the book include:

Why do beauty companies market themselves as pink ribbon leaders in the fight against breast cancer when they continue to include hormone-disrupting and carcinogenic chemicals in their products?

Why do products used by women of child-bearing age still contain chemicals linked to birth defects and infertility?

A few scary facts the book addresses:

  • How the EU has banned more than 1,100 chemicals from cosmetics while the U.S. as banned just 10.
  • How only 11% of chemicals used in cosmetics in the U.S. have been assessed for health and safety.
  • How more than 70% of all beauty products may contain phthalates, which have been linked to birth defects and infertility.
  • How many baby soaps are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical 1,4 dioxane.

The author of this book is more than qualified to address the topic at hand. Stacy Malkan is the communications director of Health Care Without Harm and co-founding member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

You can get the book for as cheap as $6 on Amazon and it’s well worth a read.

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