Awhile back I wrote my piece on Fear and Mindful Parenting when I realized I was becoming very overwhelmed with all the scary ingredients in the world among other things. One of the steps I made to feel less afraid and more educated was to interact more in the Mindful Mammas and Poppas group on Facebook. After all, I knew I wasn’t the first parent to be experiencing this and could get help from some veterans.
The first thing, like any project, is to make a plan and start with basics. We’ve begun eliminating toxic products in our home and replacing them with safer products for us and Arbor. One of the key people who has helped me is Leanna Long. She is the owner of Harmonious Households and I was able to ask her a few questions that I feel could benefit others as well.
What was the defining moment when you knew you had to make a change to the products you were using and foods you were eating?
About 5 years ago, at 27 years old I was going through some major health problems. I felt dizzy, like room spinning dizzy quite often, I had intense heartburn all the time, along with extreme bloating, belching and brain fog. Nothing I ate made me feel good, I couldn’t sleep, I was depleted of all energy and felt anxious and irritable. I went to the doctor and saw specialists many times over the course of 2 years. Where they did a number of tests to see if I had a possible parasite, ulcer, IBS, diverculitis, Crohn’s disease and list goes on. All tests came back negative. The only thing came out of these 2 terrible years was a long list of ailments I did not have, an addiction to Xanax and the necessity to take almost 3x the normal dosage of Zantac twice a day.
After I had exhausted all avenues in Western medicine I knew I could not go on living this way and that I had to take things into my own hands. I started seeing a naturopath and an Ayurvedic doctor who started me on the healing process. I got of the meds and due to help from the doctors and my own research I discovered I have a gluten intolerance. It was great to finally have an answer but I knew I had to change more than just my diet. I did some in depth research and learned more about how the toxins in our food, environment and beauty products affect our health and quality of life. Today I am happily living a toxin-free lifestyle and have made it my mission to share my knowledge with friends, family and clients.
You’ve shared your passion with others in your business Harmonious Households. What is the first change you recommend to families when it comes to getting the toxins out of their cleaning supplies?
The biggest hurdle when switching to toxic-free natural cleaners is the mental attachment to what we like, what we know works and what is convenient. In today’s busy world it can be tough getting around to cleaning, so when we do make time for it we don’t want to deal with something that might make the job tougher. A great first step is to create a natural cleaner that is similar to your toxic cleaner. For example I always loved the smell of Pin-Sol. I know terrible right?! The toxic fumes in that product are enough to give anyone a headache, and a whole list of health problems but I absolutely loved the smell. So I re-created a non-toxic all natural version that smells very similar and does a great job at cleaning.
Here’s my solution:
2 cups water
1 cup apple cider vinegar
5 drops tea tree oil
5 drops eucalyptus oil
Tea tree oil one of the strongest natural antiseptics. It is also germicidal, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial. Bonus! It kills mold and mildew and it gives you that clean scent! Eucalyptus is a disinfectant, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial to name a few. It is also known to support the respiratory system which is the exact opposite effect of what toxic cleaners do to your lungs. Of course it smells great too! Apple cider vinegar is a natural cleaning agent with many different uses. It’s also an anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, anti-septic and anti-viral. With also these “anti-bad stuff” properties you can feel safe knowing you are truly getting a deep clean.
How about the changes to the kitchen pantry? What are the first three ingredients we should eliminate from our diets?
This is a tough one because there are quite a few nasty ingredients food companies add to foods that are targeted specifically towards kids. If I had to choose only three I’d go with:
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) which is a neurotoxin that stimulates taste buds causing us to want to eat more and more. Ingesting this ingredient also comes with a host of side effect such as, headache, chest pain and heart palpitations. MSG can be found in popular kids’ foods like Cheetos or Pringle’s.
These last two encompass a lot of different ingredients. I might be cheating here but they are really important to know about because they effect behavior along with having many other nasty side effects.
- Artificial flavors/artificial sweeteners: (Aspartame, saccharin, sucralose) anything with the word artificial in it is not good for you or your kids. Side effects include, allergic and behavioral reactions, headache, dizziness, memory loss, carcinogen in animals.
- Preservatives, TBHQ- side effects: tinnitus, nausea, vomiting, worsens symptoms of ADHD, Sulfites- side effects: allergic reactions, especially for asthmatics. There are many more I’d like to add but for the sake of sticking to the question I’ll leave it at that. If your readers would like a full list, they can sign up for my newsletter and get a free Toxic Ingredient Grocery Guide at Harmonious Households.
When I’ve switched to all natural products for my home cleaning and personal hygiene they don’t always feel like they work as well. For example, my shampoo doesn’t lather like I expect. Even though I’ve been told that shampoos don’t need to lather to work it’s what I grew up with. Are these expected experiences linked to toxins?
Tali, I think it’s important to expect some differences when switching to non-toxic products. Like you said some things may not “feel” like they work as well but we have to remind ourselves that they do work just as well or even better when you think about it. If you can shift your perspective from missing the way your shampoo lathered up, to loving the fact that you are putting clean, healthy products on/in your body and protecting your family from potential health hazards then you’ll quickly forget about all that lather.
Are there certain brands that are easier for people who are transitioning from the products they grew up with to the toxin free versions?
I always recommend making toxin-free cleaners at home as opposed to buying supposed “all natural” brands in the store because you know exactly what is in the product since you made it yourself. Big companies can be sneaky by labeling their product as “all natural” when there are still some toxic ingredients in there like petrochemicals or things they replace the more well-known toxic ingredients with.
Beauty products can be a bit tougher to make at home and the attachment to these products can be harder to let go of. Just as with replacing a cleaning product, decide what it is about a product. It might be the smell or how it tingles your scalp. Once you know what it is that you like try and replace it with a similar product that is toxin-free. One brand I’d recommend is Dr. Bonner’s Organic Castile Soap. This line of products has so many different uses. I use the peppermint soap as a body wash, it tingles the body and even lathers up!
If you are looking for a great smelling natural deodorant I recommend LaVanilla deodorant. Smells great and it’s very conditioning for the sensitive skin in the armpit.
I’ve often found that natural lotions can feel watery and leave my skin feeling dry. After a lot of trial and error I’ve been very happy with Everyone Lotion.
If my readers want to hire you for a home and lifestyle makeover how can they reach you?
Thanks Tali. They can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, find me on Facebook, follow me on Google+ or they can go directly to the Services Tab to get more details on the Healthy Home Makeover service I provide where I help families jump-start their way to a toxic-free lifestyle.