Seven years ago (this month!), I began transitioning to a vegan diet, and it was the lovely nutritionist Kimberly Snyder who inspired me to do so. Once I started digging into her first book, The Beauty Detox Solution, I couldn’t stop. Within a few months, I was eating a meat-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free diet (and drinking green smoothies every morning). While I’ve ultimately moved away from Synder’s philosophy in some ways. (I now eat food with gluten, and I don’t follow any food combining rules), I have her books and accessible recipes to thank for my entré into unprocessed, plant-based eating.
Since the publication of her first two books, which focused primarily on food and recipes, Snyder has expanded her focus to holistic wellness, and, in particular, the connection between emotional and physical health. Snyder recently published her fifth book, Recipes for Your Perfectly Imperfect Life: Everyday Ways to Live and Eat for Health, Healing, and Happiness in which she challenges our traditional associations with perfection and encourages her readers to completely reframe their thinking for the better—better emotional wellness and better physical health (especially better digestion).
Although I’ve adored Snyder and her work over the years, admittedly, I was skeptical. After all, I’ve actually spent emotional energy detaching myself from the compelling promises of gurus (otherwise, given the booming wellness industry, I’d be buying self-help books and making dietary tweaks every week!). Snyder would never call herself a guru, of course, but a part of me felt oversaturated with the advice of well-meaning experts, especially advice pertaining to what we should be restricting, detoxing, or cutting.
I decided to read Kimberly’s latest book, anyway. Perhaps the title gave me the sense that she’d be discussing a balanced approach to wellness, or maybe I’ll always have a spot in my heart for Snyder’s work. I’m glad I gave it a chance. Recipes for Your Perfectly Imperfect Life was a refreshing read and offered several welcome reminders and encouragements that are actually applicable to everyday life.
5 Unexpected Lessons I Learned From Celeb Nutritionist Kimberly Snyder
Embrace an “And” rather than an “Or” outlook. When we’re grappling with our identity, we’re often confronted with the sometimes frustrating realization that parts of ourselves seem to contradict each other (who even are we??). Snyder tells us that we don’t have to fight the seemingly disparate elements of ourselves, however. “When we embrace and ‘and’ life, we don’t have to feel bad when we screw up, nor do we have to judge ourselves or others because what often seems like contradiction is all part of our journey.” This means that you can be grounded a joyful while also experiencing worry over finances, relationships, and the like–it’s all part of the beautiful person you are.
Actively practice letting go of trauma and stressors. Snyder makes a compelling case for the relationship between stress and ill health (including chronic inflammation and its myriad consequences): “Taking care of our emotions is as critical to our health and well-being and warding off inflammation as eating properly!” She recommends being present for our trickiest emotions and letting them pass through us rather than pushing them down. The next time something triggers you, pause and observe how it feels in your body (does your chest tighten? does your forehead feel tense?). Allow your body to process the feeling with judgment—you don’t even have to name the feeling, just sit with it. By paying attention to these moments, Snyder explains, we can more effectively move past them so they don’t bog us down and disrupt our health.
Turn to food for healing (real food!). Sometimes, food really is medicine, especially when we’re feeling low. But don’t worry, Snyder doesn’t insist that that food be low-calorie or restrictive. In fact, she’s a big fan of home-cooked soups with nourishing ingredients. “When we start to feel a little off-balance, a great self-care practice is to eat a cleansing and nurturing soup, which is full of easily digested nutrients, as well as fiber and liquid to help you feel satisfied and present within your body without feeling heavy.” Unlike many trendy wellness books, Kimberly’s books have always emphasized how we can eat healthy, beautifying foods made with accessible ingredients. While there are a few specialty ingredients here and there, just about everything can be made with easy-to-find, affordable ingredients like cabbage, chickpeas, lemons, brown rice, etc.
One of the healing soups featured in Kimberly Snyder’s newest release.
Celebrate what you do love about yourself—and avoid the “compare and despair” trap. Our brains are geared toward comparison, but sometimes, especially when we’re comparing ourselves to others, this can lead no where good, fast. Snyder recommends avoiding turning to others for the standards by which we measure our achievements or physical appearance. Rather, we’re better off focusing on three things we love about ourselves and celebrating those things. Quick—think of three things you love about yourself!
Try to maintain some degree of detachment from your opinions. We all have those times when we feel jerked around by our emotions, especially when something unexpected happens or when something doesn’t go our way, and we feel that it’s “bad.” (Snyder shares the story of how her natural home birth turned into an emergency C-section at the hospital. What she thought was something she absolutely wanted to avoid turned into a beautiful, positive experience.) By recognizing that our opinion of something may pass, evolve, or do a complete 180° turn, we can potentially avoid feeling utterly defeated by the rollercoaster of life: “Try to sit back and stay unattached to your opinions. They evolve as you evolve. Being open and flexible to new ideas and perspectives allows us to learn important lessons and increase our wisdom.” This can also apply to things about ourselves—not just things that happen to us! Is there something about yourself that used to bother you that now you embrace as part of your unique beauty?
Have you read any good wellness books lately? Share your recommendations in the comments below!
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Photo: Kimberly Snyder via Instagram
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