My journey toward “getting healthier” started when I was pregnant with my son, 7 years ago. Really, I didn’t do that much to start with, but the things I did were things that have “stuck” ever since. First, I stopped drinking carbonated beverages. This was initially because they made my really bad heartburn even worse, but I made the choice to quit them altogether for the long-term. Then, I stopped drinking orange juice, which had been my beverage of choice EVERY morning since I was a kid. I first stopped when I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes (OJ is NOT on a diabetic diet), but realized that it wasn’t the best choice for me even after Nathan was born. And, on a completely different note, I stopped wearing nail polish that had phlalates in it because I had read that phlalates can harm the baby. Since then, I have learned that they harm big people too (and so can so many other ingredients in nail polish!) These were fairly small steps, all things considered (although some would say giving up carbonated beverages was huge), but I felt like they made a difference.
When my son was just past the newborn stage and starting to play with toys and put things in his mouth, I got very concerned about how to clean things like fabric toys and stuff that was in open-type packages that had been in dirty warehouses and on store shelves. I pictured the countless little kids at Toys R Us and Walmart who touch and finger every exposed toy with germy hands. I knew every one of those playthings would go in Nathan’s mouth, and while I knew could clean the hard-surfaced ones with Clorox Anywhere spray or Lysol, I didn’t know how to clean the soft, fabric ones, particularly those that had noise-makers and electronics inside. I did a lot of research looking for something to use. All my research opened up a can of worms that I wasn’t really expecting. I was completely stunned to find what is considered in our country to be “safe and nontoxic” in the world of cleaners and detergents. The more I read, the more I realized regular household cleaners just weren’t at all good for us. I ditched the Clorox and Lysol and ended up buying a Lotus Sanitizing System which used ozonated water to kill germs without chemicals. (COOL product, by the way, but the next generation—the one currently on the market—has some flaws in the design and doesn’t work as well as the first.) That was the start of a NEW phase in my “getting healthier” plan. My Lotus has since died a sad and painful death (probably from so much use!) but I have found many other methods of healthier cleaning out there, so I don’t miss it quite as much as I did at first.
As Nathan grew, I started reading more. I learned about the dangers of tap water, particularly to little babies, so before we ever gave Nathan water to drink, we researched and purchased a reverse-osmosis water filtration system that we put under our kitchen sink. It filters all the yuckies (even flouride!) out of our drinking water. It also takes out all the odor and funky taste, and in our town, the water is super funky! We drink water more than anything else in our house, so I love knowing that the water is pure, and I love that it tastes so good!
Another thing I learned was that toxins—environmental toxins and also those we consume in processed and engineered foods—are one of the chief causes of cancer and other diseases. A really good way to lower your risk of getting one of these diseases is to eliminate, as much as possible, the toxins that you are exposed to. In our world, there is no way possible to eliminate ALL toxins because there are just so stinkin’ many of them, but if you can significantly decrease them, you are giving your body a fighting chance to combat the excess. After this discovery, our lives have never been the same…for the better! I made a commitment to clean up and detoxify our home, and to feed my family better from then on. The task was a bit overwhelming, but as many will tell you, baby steps in the right direction can add up and eventually you will find that you have come a long way in the journey.
I started by removing MSG and high fructose corn syrup from our diets. This proved to be difficult at first, as so many of the products we ate/used contained one of these ingredients. MSG is a really hard one to completely eradicate because it is known by so flippin’ many aliases! Grocery shopping started taking me much longer because I became an avid label reader. My son, who was two at the time, heard us talking so often about high fructose corn syrup that he started talking about it too. He called it “High Huctose Corn Syrup” and he would tell whoever would listen about its evils! It really is amazing how many things have one or the other of those ingredients in them. I thought I had cut out everything, but learned just the other day that some of the stewed tomatoes I had been buying for years contained HFCS!! I was outraged with the company (Del Monte), and irritated with myself for not checking the labels of those sooner. I guess I was thinking that stewed tomatoes would just be stewed tomatoes. That’s why you have to be so vigilant! It really is insane. One of the most difficult things we gave up was canned cream soups. So many of my recipes called for cream of chicken or cream of mushroom soup! Thankfully, I found a recipe to make my own that is really good. I will post it one day soon.
Next in line was removing hydrogenated oils. Oh man, that was a hard one! Crackers and chips and cookies and so many other things contain this. But we didn’t give up. We became super sleuths, learning how to find the bad ingredients in products, and also learning to find new products that didn’t have all those bad things in them.
We continued on this road, step by step, with a determination to rid our home of stuff that is unhealthy and not good for us. We have continued to avoid more and more foods, greened almost all of our cleaners, have completely changed most if not all of our personal products, and have all but eliminated pharmaceuticals from our home. We are more conscious about the water we drink, the air we breathe, and even the furnishings we allow in our house because of the toxins they tend to emit. We’ve come a long way, baby, and I am content with where we are right now, even though we’re not ultimately where I want to be yet.
I will be talking much more about my journey toward getting healthier and how that has looked and is looking now. It is definitely not something that has always come easily, but it has been incredibly worth the effort, one baby step at a time, and I wouldn’t go back for anything. Wanna come along? I’d love to have the company 🙂 And I’m here to help out, if you have any questions or concerns. I’d also love to hear some great tips and success stories from those of you who are already on this journey. Health isn’t something to take for granted, nor is it something to be careless with. It is a precious gift from God. I want to be the best steward I can with that gift! And I hope that you do, too!