Reduce Your Family’s Exposure to Environmental Threats

  1. Buy local and organic foods whenever possible. Reducing the time from “farm to table” preserves nutrient composition.  Eating organic foods reduces your exposure to pesticides.
  2. Drink clean water.  Instead of buying water in plastic bottles, consider using tap water or using a filter to purify water from the tap. 
  3. Use glass instead of plastic and choose smart plastics and avoid putting them in the microwave or the dishwasher where they can degrade under excessive heat.
  4. Replace cleaning products with non-toxic, pesticide-free, biodegradable, natural products that don’t contain carcinogenic chemicals.
  5. Reduce meat consumption to reduce your chances of developing chronic conditions like some types of cancer, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
  6. Avoid pesticides in your home and in your food. Buy organic.  Use natural pesticides.
  7. Look for meat and dairy products that are hormone, antibiotic and steroid free.

 

Host a Healthy Balanced Future event in your home or online to receive discounted products or a free Green PolkaDot Box membership for significant discounts on organic foods.  ($125 value) Ask me how!

Eat Real Food

Good nutrition is the cornerstone to health and yet there are so many forces working against us. The soil is not as rich in nutrients and minerals as it once was. Our food is harvested too early and from too far away leading to reduced nutrient components. Conventional produce is covered in chemical pesticides and herbicides. Junk foods filled with chemicals, additives, preservatives, sugar and sodium are plentiful, convenient and cheap while healthy options are difficult to find. And now, we’ve manipulated many of our foods at their genetics and are eating them without any confidence of their long term effects. Eating healthy is a daily challenge. It’s no longer a matter of counting calories, reducing fats or eating more salads and less meat as it once seemed to be. Healthy eating is a conscious choice and behavior that one participates in every hour of the day and in every decision we make.We vote with our forks for companies we wish to support and we vote with our forks whether we want to get sick or live.

This is all the more difficult when accepting the fact that this return to good food, to cooking from scratch and focusing on whole foods comes at a time when we really don’t have any time for it, any knowledge of cooking or any craving for these whole foods. Our lives are overscheduled, overcommitted, overobligated webs of busy-ness..


We are so busy! And what are we busy with? Taking on these new jobs of reading labels, grocery shopping, cooking, washing dishes, reading recipes, planning meals can be very daunting. Especially when you consider that 28% of American’s can’t cook. I would even argue with this and say it’s more like 28% of American’s CAN cook. Just because you can boil some eggs or bake some chicken breasts in a can of potato soup doesn’t mean you can cook a meal every night or cook a variety of nutritious foods. I certainly fall in this category. I’ve cooked for 20 years but I’m just learning how to cook for health. I’ve enjoyed cooking and could make a fantastic holiday dinner and had about a dozen staples I could count on to throw together for dinner. I even enjoyed trying something new from a cookbook, but if you looked at the foods I prepared compared with what is available, it would appear I only worked with some of the same ingredients over and over again. Further, I cooked with a lot of pre-packaged convenience items. Cans of soup thrown over a chicken breast, boxes of tuna helper, frozen meatballs. These foods made me feel like I was giving my family home-cooked meals without requiring me to actually invest the time in all that prep work. And I had plenty of excuses to support my choices. I work full time in a demanding job, I have two young kids and I’m a single mom. Even before I was a single mom, I was working full time and did not have help in the kitchen and all of this was a lot to take on. Many nights those frozen meatballs meant the difference between eating something that looked like dinner as opposed to eating a bowl of cereal, so I felt like a big success.

In addition to cooking for convenience, I cooked for flavor. That meant I had a lot of cheese, a lot of meat, and a lot of starches that we all love. The vegetables I prepared were more like garnish. If they were on the plate, then I’d done my job as a mom by providing vegetables, but aside from the obligatory “no-thank-you” portion, they went uneaten–even mine.

So, here I am, still working full time, still a single mom, still an average cook but one thing has changed: I am informed. I now know about the consequences of a poor diet. I know about the uncertainty around GMOs. I know about the importance of eating organic, local, in season foods, and eating a variety of them. I know about the nutrients and minerals and how essential they are to your body and immune functions. I know about all the toxic additives, preservatives, food colorings, emulsifiers, you name it that are lurking in those “convenient foods.”

And once I knew, I couldn’t keep doing what I was doing. Not without tremendous amounts of guilt and tremendous anxiety about what I was eating and feeding to my family and where it would get us.

So, I started to make changes. Some were more painful than others. Some were fun. Some were a disaster. Some were expensive, some were cheap. All of them challenged me to think differently and to consider where my time was best spent because all of them took time. And I’m always short on time. But with practice, things got easier.

The surprise in this was that when we started eating better, I started feeling better and this renewed health gave me a gift I was not expecting: more time. Not only was I getting more efficient in my skills and more prepared with my meal plans and snack plans and lunch plans reducing trips to the store or outings where we had to eat fast food or go home and miss something, but I got more time back in new ways too. There was less time spent on the couch aching and feeling sick not wanting to eat or cook or move. In fact, in the past 6 months now, there has been none of that. There have been fewer sick days for my kids too. We went from about 15 sick days a year for the kids (which would mean more than that for me because once they got better, I got sick) to … wait for it… zero sick days last year. Zero.

I didn’t just change our eating habits, I also removed all other toxins from our house and I know that contributed to our improved health too but that is a discussion for another post. The point is, being conscious of all the things in our environment, our food and our lives that are assaulting our immune systems, our endocrine systems, our quality of life, our pocketbooks and making changes at whatever pace we can handle to avoid, reduce and remove these things from our lifestyle while seeking ways to reintroduce those things that boost our health and vitality is an investment that will pay off for years and in uncountable ways.

Just take it a day at a time, a meal at a time, a purchase at a time. Small changes, even over a short period of time do add up to a big impact. Just think of what one change, avoiding all soda, would do for your health. That would be huge! Then changing your laundry detergent to something non-toxic. That change is practically imperceptible in the scheme of your daily life because it is simply a change in brands and not a change in habits, but it will make a big difference to your health too. One at a time, you can add small things back into your lifestyle while removing others, and before you know it you will realize that you feel incredible and would never go back to those old habits.

Some days, it’s good enough to simply not be part of the problem

So, here’s the dilemma: You are a mom trying to limit your kids exposures to toxic chemicals, additives and preservatives in food and products. You struggle but you are making progress at home. You read labels and cook from scratch as much as possible without losing your mind. You buy organic, garden and limit sugar. While you do all this, you also believe strongly in balance, because getting so consumed by avoidance of toxins and sugars and GMO’s could drive you crazy. On top of that, you have kids and those kids need balance too. So you try to keep things fun and you remember to let go and not let yourself get too worked up, after all, the point is not to keep your kids in a bubble and out of all the fun. The point is to have a full life, will lots of experiences and friends and love. And to do that, you have just let go every once in a while.

My unspoken rule is that when my kids are at someone else’s house, there are no rules on what they eat or play with. So, if their friend takes them to fast food or offers them soda; if they want it, they can have it. Which is all fine–now that they are still young and not out with friends very often. I also pack their lunches and snacks, so they are still eating well when they are at school. I have about 80% of their food choices covered and feel good about what they are eating and using on their bodies. But as my kids get older I feel compelled to be host to the parties, or to supply treats and snacks myself which doesn’t always go over well with the other kids and moms.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed at times and to even play mind games and doubt and think, maybe all this isn’t going to make a big difference after all. Maybe all my efforts are for naught.

And then today,  I went to my kids’ school for a treat for my daughter who had a birthday over the weekend. I struggled to find something to bring her class that wasn’t loaded with sugar and artificial flavors and dyes. I finally settled on two dozen chocolate chip cookies from a gourmet bakery that does not use artificial additives as many of the grocery store variety use. As I was prohibited from making my own cookies due to school regulation, this seemed like thirty dollars wasted. I paired that with Honest Kids juice pouches and headed on my way.

As I brought out the treats, several kids expressed disappointment in the absence of those neon iced cupcakes but took a cookie anyway. They all also grabbed a juice box. After helping them insert their straws, they one by one started to come to me to return the juice. They didn’t like it. It tasted like water. They don’t like drinking water. They hate water. Did I bring any Sprite?

20120910-135918.jpgAs they looked up to me to see if they could turn in their organic Honest Kids juice pouch in exchange for something sweeter and with bubbles, their back teeth glinted in the sun. It seemed all these kids had fillings and caps on their back teeth. Not just one tooth, but as far as I could tell their entire bottom molars were capped in silver. And that wasn’t the only thing extra, they were also carrying an extra 10 or 15 pounds of weight.

When I left with a bag of leaking, mostly full juice bags, I felt reassured that even though they didn’t like the snack, at least I was not contributing to their poor health by giving them one more sugar and corn syrup filled snack.

I turned into the cafeteria to dispose of the bag of leaking juice pouches and saw my son sitting with his class eating lunch. The school lunch was waffles drenched in maple syrup with eggs, apple slices and chocolate milk. My son was happily eating leftover vegetarian lasagna, carrot sticks in his Lunch Bots Containers, happily drinking the same Honest Kids Juice pouch denied by my daughter’s classmates, all packaged neatly by me this morning in his his PVC free lunchbox from Hanna Andersson, I thought, “At least I’m making a difference in two lives and not contributing to the burden of obesity from sweets and candy and soda and sugar at every turn.”

There is a famous quote that I enjoy that says,

“You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem.” — Eldrigde Cleaver

And today I decided, some days it’s good enough and I will be satisfied with simply not being part of the problem.

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Purging the Plastic

I’ve been purging the junk, switching brands, minimizing, recycling, reusing and changing habits. It sounds like a lot of work but it has been easier than I expected and loads of fun.

Reading about the toxicity of plastics, particularly the harmful chemicals Bisphenol A and Phthalates, that are present in so many plastics, I really took a long look at all the things in the house that I can replace with safer products.

One product that seemed to be potentially one of the most harmful was in our reusable plastic food storage containers. Replacing these posed a dilemma. What do we do with the old containers? We certainly don’t want to throw them away in a great big nasty landfill? So, we decided to keep them but use them for non-food items, like crayons, beads, thread, buttons and markers.

We replaced them with glass storage containers by SnapWare. These are BPA free, nesting and stackable. So far they are working out great. Storage is easy, they are easy to clean and they stack well.

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Living in a Toxic Environment

  • According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average home generates over 25 pounds of toxic, hazardous waste each year. Much of this waste can be attributed to household cleaning products.
  • According to a 15 year study presented at the Toronto Indoor Air conference, women who work at home have a 54% higher death rate from cancer than those who work away from home.  The study concluded that this was a direct result of the exposure rate to toxc chemicals found in common household products.

Natural Beauty

Natural beauty is healthy beauty.  The same nutrients that keep your body healthy, keep your skin healthy.

Shaklee beauty products are formulated without parabens, propylene glycol, animal products or by-products, mineral oil, petrolatum, FD&C and D&C dyes, phthalates or 1,4-Dioxane.

In 28 days, clinical studies confirmed, 665% increase in skin firmness, 421% reduction in the appearance of wrinkles, 88% reduction in the appearance of fine lines. If you don’t see the difference, Shaklee always offers a 100% money-back guarantee.  Shaklee is as committed to preserving the earth’s natural beauty as it is to preserving yours. Packaging is recyclable and free of toxins such as bisphenol-A, phthalates, and toxic inks.

Before and After: Charred Stuff on Stovetop

I really love testing out new products that are green and clean.  I love that they usually save me money and of course are better for my health, but when I find something that works better than every other thing I have ever tried on some nuisance thing in my house — well, you just might catch me dancing and singing while cleaning. It really is THAT exciting. (To me anyway.)

So, today I was cooking some meals for the week ahead and as I was putting my shiny stainless steel pot on the stove top to start cooking I was confronted by this…

If you are anything like me, I had to put all cooking on hold to clean.  Had it been a few months ago before I found scour off, I might have rolled up my sleeves to prepare for some scrubbing.  But as I now have substantial experience with charred on nasty stuff on the stove and scour off, I was excited! I love proving over and over to myself how well this stuff works and how little product, time and energy it takes to clean it off.  So, I decided it was time to share my excitement.  I took the photos in such a way to show the time.  Unfortunately, it’s also a little deceiving because I believe I was late in the minute taking the picture and early in the next minute. It’s really that fast and that easy.  But, by the time I realized that I needed a second timer, it was too late.  I will find a digital second clock soon so I can start racing through tasks.  Maybe we can get an olympic sport?

TA DA!   (For effect, I showed the blackened sponge.  That’s black from the stove, not from the cleaner.  The cleaner is pink. 🙂