Archive for the ‘Healthy Living’ Category

July Chemical Elimination- Soap, Shaving Cream, Aftershave, Sunscreen

Okay, so this whole chemical elimination thing has been a lot harder than I bargained for. I apologize once again for my tardiness in posting! But here, at last, is July’s category.

This month we are covering a number of personal care items, such as soap, shaving cream, aftershave, and sunscreen.  Why do we need to make a switch from using these products in our home?  Modern products contain a plethora of harmful ingredients that have a very direct affect on our health and wellbeing.  Unfortunately, the government does not require health studies before releasing these products, since they make no particular health claims.  But the troubling truth is what goes on our skin is absorbed into our bodies.  As we look for natural and healthy alternatives to these products, what are the ingredients we want to avoid?

Look for products that DO CONTAIN:

  • Only high-quality & pure ingredients
  • Organic ingredients as much as possible

Look for products that DO NOT CONTAIN:

  • artificial fragrances or perfumes (these are derived from petroleum and not something we want to put on our skin. Look for  products only scented with essential oils)
  • parabens, phthalates, dyes or sulfates (What is wrong with these?)
  • Genetically Modified ingredients (Why not?)

In keeping with these guidelines, I can highly recommend two companies for their products, and I will also give some homemade recipe options.

Jenuinely Pure is a mom-created company that offers a variety of soaps at a reasonable price.  They are high quality, primarily organic ingredients and they never use harmful or questionable ingredients, artificial fragrances or perfumes, parabens, phthalates or sulfates, or genetically modified ingredients.

Graham Gardens offers a variety of natural products, including soaps, bug repellent, salves, lotions, lip balm, and baby care products.  Their desire is to use natural, safe ingredients that not only work, but heal. And they just added a certified organic line for $5 a bar!

Shaving Cream

Instead of using shaving cream, I’ve taken to just using either a bar of soap and working up a little lather, or some liquid soap accomplishes the same purpose. This is effective, economical, and simplifies what I have in my shower.

Aftershave

Graham Gardens offers a healing salve with safe, natural ingredients.

Passionate Homemaking has a number of recipes for making your own aftershave.

Sunscreen

When looking for a safe sunscreen, it is important to remember that exposure to sun in a limited amount is a very good thing! We seem to have forgotten the importance of getting some sun nowadays as we are so fearful about harmful UV rays and getting cancer from that.  But the sun is an important source of the very important vitamin D that our bodies so need.  It is good to get at least 15-30 minutes of uninhibited sun exposure a day, and even better to be out in the sun at 15 minute intervals throughout the day sans sunscreen.

But for those long mornings at the pool, here are some guidelines for finding a safe sunscreen:

  • Look for a sunscreen that does not contain added vitamin A  or insect repellent.
  • Look for a sunscreen that does not have higher than 50 SPF.  It is not only useless, it is possibly dangerous.
  • DO NOT buy spray or powder sunscreens.  These can be ingested into the lungs.
  • Look for a sunscreen that does not contain fragrance
  • Look for a sunscreen that does not contain oxybenzne, a hormone disrupter
  • Look for sunscreens that DO contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, Avobenzone  or Mexoryl SX.  These are effective, safe UV blocking minerals.

Here is a great resource for finding a good sunscreen.

To make your own, here is a recipe.

And next month we’ll continue our personal care chemical elimination with shampoo and conditioner!

Further Reading:

Cheat Sheet: Paraben, phthalate and PEG free baby products

Recognizing Harmful Ingredients in Labels

How to Recognize and Avoid Phthalates

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GAPS Homemade Chocolate Chips (Grain-free, sugar-free, dairy-free)

If you’re anything like me, you simply have to find a health alternative to all things chocolate.  Since cocoa powder is allowed in the GAPS diet once digestive issues have been righted, I knew I had to come up with a source of chocolate that was sweetened with only honey.

The result was mouthwatering chocolate bliss.

Simple Homemade Chocolate Chips

2/3 cup organic virgin coconut oil

2/3 cup raw cocoa powder

2 tsp raw honey

Melt coconut oil over low heat on stovetop. Remove from heat. Add in cocoa powder and honey. Mix to incorporate.

Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.  Pour chocolate mixture evenly over paper. Place in freezer for 15 minutes.

Remove from freezer and place hardened chocolate onto cutting board. Using a large cleaver, chop chocolate in rows one direction, and then the other, forming chocolate chunks (whatever size you prefer).

Voila! A healthy alternative to a delightful treat! Keep in freezer until just before use, as they begin to melt quickly at room temperature.

Note: These melt when baked into cookies, so just be aware they sort of ooze out of the bottom of your cookies a little–but not too bad!

Simple, Frugal Chemical-free cleaning that WORKS!

I am extremely excited about April’s “Chemical Elimination” Challenge–Natural CLEANING!

In preparation for the blog post, I have been testing a variety of options in our own home, and I simply cannot wait until April before I give a brief plug for Norwex:-)

In my Chemical Elimination blog post, I will be more thorough, but let me just give you a quick overview of Norwex.

From their website:

“Norwex is committed to radically reducing the use of chemicals in personal care and cleaning to promote health. More than ever we feel the need to emphasize the positive environmental impact of reducing chemical use.”

“In the last 50 years more than 80,000 new chemicals have been produced and introduced into the environment. “Ecology” refers to the way human beings, animals, and other life forms and nature interact and influence each other.

The ecological approach considers that all living species and nature are interdependent, and that there are limitations to what nature can absorb in terms of human activities such as pollution.  Change something here, and the consequences will pop up there.  Radical change — manmade or otherwise — may overwhelm the delicate balance in the environment, resulting in unintended and dramatic negative change.

We must find a way to provide for the needs of the present, without sacrificing the ability of future generations to provide for their needs.  Contributing to the change by becoming part of the Norwex family will result in an improvement in quality of life.

“We strive to improve quality of life rather than standard of living.”

Behind this aim lies the value and beauty of life itself, both for us, and other life forms. 

From a health point of view, it is equally important to radically reduce the use of household chemicals.  Research and information on the health effects of chemicals has not kept pace with their development and use. “Most of the chemicals that people are exposed to everyday have never been assessed for their impact on human health.”

The harm chemicals have on humans is extensive.  Chemicals found in the average home are linked to many serious diseases such as allergies, birth defects, cancer, and psychological abnormalities.  Many today believe that the extensive use of chemicals indoors contributes to “modern” diseases such as asthma and allergies.”

Norwex allows you to clean and disinfect your entire home with the use of simply a microfiber cloth and water! Check out their website for their full line of products and how this amazing technology works!  You really have to see it to believe it.

On Tuesday at 7pm, we are having a Norwex party at our home.  If you are in the QC  area and are curious, please contact me–I would love to have you come!  There will be light snacks and Christina will be demonstrating how Norwex works…by cleaning parts of my home!!

If you are already familiar with Norwex and are eager to purchase more of their amazing product, check out my consultant’s websiteyou can place an order on-line through me or her!

I cannot say enough good things about Norwex. It will truly revolutionize the way you clean, and you will never have to stock your cupboards with sprays, solutions, detergents, and chemicals to clean your home with again!

Developing a Taste for What is Good

I have a major sweet tooth.

Not only do I love all things sugary, but I love treats of any kind–special somethings at special times.  And they are usually food related.

I look forward to eating out at my favorite restaraunt.  I enjoy baking warm cookies for game night.  When we have an unexpected visitors, I search the shelves for something delicious I can pull out and feed them. And it seems like it is always unhealthy.

Lately, as I’ve been increasingly concerned about eating healthy, I’ve been really wishing I just naturally desired healthier foods. While I enjoy healthy things, I find that if an unhealthy alternative is in front of me, I will always choose the unhealthy.

I have always envied the people who view apples and natural peanut butter as a “snack.”  I look with awe at people who are satisfied with a fresh fruit and yogurt smoothie as “dessert.”  I have always just assumed this came naturally for them.  And I wish my tastes craved the natural, good things as my treat. I have waited all my life for that magic moment when I would suddenly have an appetite and a natural longing for healthy food, and a distaste for unhealthy food.

And then it occurred to me.

That point will never come.

Because of sin in the world, we are naturally bent toward wanting what is wrong. Please understand, I am not saying that eating unhealthy food is inherently sinful; I am simply drawing a parallel.  No one has to be taught to enjoy the taste of a cookie or some other sweet.  But how many kids love spinach, or beans, or plain oatmeal? Not very many.  I am finding that I have to discipline my taste buds to love what is good.

It occurs to me that the same is true in our spiritual lives.  We need to develop a taste for righteousness. It does not come naturally.  If we are Christians, we have the Holy Spirit within us, and he gives us the desire for holy, righteous things, but if we quench him out, we are left to our own sinful flesh. If we fill our minds up with unspiritual, worldly things, there is little appetite for the holy.

In the same way, if I am full on junk food, I will obviously have no appetite for what is healthy. When I continuously indulge in unhealthy foods, I will not crave the good stuff.

I have been thinking about this a lot in relation to Lent.  The point of Lent is to remove a desired item to practice self-denial and direct us towards Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf.  1 Corinthians 6:12 says, “‘All things are lawful for me,’ but not all things are helpful.  ‘All things are lawful for me,’ but I will not be enslaved by anything.”  If you feel that an object, item, person, etc. is required in order to be content, then you are enslaved.  What an awful thought!  And we are so deceived to think that we are not enslaved–that we simply have to have this thing to be happy, and to give it up would be unbearable!  But the very fact that the thought is unbearable reveals that our soul places to high a value on it, and that we are indeed enslaved.  And we should not be enslaved to anything but Christ.

That is why fasting is so beneficial. We remove the item of temptation and choose to go without it.  At the end of your fast, you realize that you don’t actually need that item as much as you thought you did. You realize you got along just fine without it, and in fact, you now have a liberty that you had not experienced before. And we now have real desires for the good things. They are not manufactured, but they are real! Denying our flesh enables us to develop affections for what is good and right.

But in our culture, we want everything the easy way. We want to simply naturally desire a life of studying and meditating on Scripture. We think that if we have to work at it, it must be hypocrisy or legalism.  We just assume the really “Spiritual” and godly people were just born that way–not that they may have cultivated that in their hearts through much prayer and sacrifice.  So we just go about our lives, unconsciously being filled up with all the things of the world, so that our appetite for righteousness is nearly nonexistent.

James 4:17 “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”  This verse always convicts my heart, because I know the good things to eat, yet, if given the choice, I will always choose the bad thing to eat. If you set a brownie and a salad in front of me and I have to choose one, I will choose the brownie every time.

But if you remove the brownie and simply give me the salad, I love the salad. If the junk food is removed, I begin to desire the good food.  I see that my heart longs for so many other ungodly things to satisfy it outside of simply food.  In this period of Lent and examining myself, I find that much more sacrifice will be required in order to know God in the way in which I so long to know him. I want him to be my all in all, to fill me up so that I don’t want anything else.

But in order to have room for Him to fill me, I must get rid of all the other junk cluttering things up. I am so thankful for Lent…I will continue to spend this time searching my soul and praying to rid myself of all that is displeasing to God.

Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.”

 

The Idolatry of Eating

Recently, I blogged about why we should celebrate Lent.  Today I want to share what I have given up for Lent, in an effort to encourage you and to be held publicly accountable.
The Spirit has been convicting me lately that I have serious issues regarding my love to indulge myself in pleasant activities.

Especially if it involves eating.

This never used to be an issue for me. In fact, I used to struggle with the exact opposite of overeating. But with this last pregnancy, it was like my “I’m full” button shorted out, and I discovered the ability to eat, and eat, and eat, and eat. And I really liked it! And then I realized I couldn’t stop eating. It was just too delicious. My palate simply had to be satisfied further, most of the time, until I had made myself sick on chocolate chip cookies or a half bottle of sparkling grape juice. Or I would find that I was craving something that we didn’t have on hand, I would load the kids into the car and drive out just to get it. If I did not have something I was craving, I found myself descending into a pit of depression.

I told you I had issues.

But as I am working through this and talking to multiple other brothers and sisters in Christ, I am realizing I am not alone in this struggle.  In fact, it seems to be rampant in our land of plenty.

One of the things we often conveniently overlook is the fact that gluttony is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Food in itself is neither good nor bad.  1 Corinthians 10:23 says, “‘I am allowed to do anything’–but not everything is good for you. You say, ‘I am allowed to do anything’–but not everything is beneficial.” It is not that food and eating are inherently sinful, it is our heart attitude towards food. Why am I eating? Is it because I am legitimately hungry? Is this food even nourishing, or is it simply fulfilling a lustful craving I have?  The truth is, we can actually be eating out of greed and lust, not a real hunger or need for nourishment.

The problem is, eating is one of those necessary evils. We have to eat, or we will die of starvation! So a person cannot simply give it up.  This makes it imperative to be disciplined in our eating.  We simply must learn to control ourselves.

If you are wondering if you have an issue with food, perhaps you might relate to some of my temptations:

If faced with a particularly doldrum task (like filing and paperwork), I cheer my spirits by allowing myself to enjoy a Pepsi and a chocolate bar. If the kids are not behaving well, and I am tired and stressed, I console myself with looking forward to eating dinner out instead of cooking. When I am lonely or bored, I raid the kitchen to fill my stomach with something–anything to occupy my hands and mouth. If I am gloomy, I decide the perfect treat would be playing games with Stephen after the kids are in bed and eating popcorn and drinking sparkling grape juice, my all-time favorite combination.

The problem, however, is not food. It is my heart. It is my flesh that craves satisfaction outside of Christ. It is my sin that causes me to hunger for something edible to fill a spot of loneliness in my heart. It is believing the lie that that brownie, cookie, or sugary beverage will not only fill my stomach, but whatever emotion seems to be lacking.

As I have been increasingly convicted about this area of sin in my heart, I recognize the temptation to attempt self-denial out of my own strength. And that has never worked before. The Lord has convicted me to give up high fructose corn syrup/corn syrup, a sugar that is in nearly everything processed and packaged, over the period of Lent.  And while I am choosing to not eat anything with that sugar in it, to be assessing my heart every time I am tempted to indulge.

To help identify the idolatry in my heart, I am listening to Revive Our Heart’s radio broadcast of “Love to Eat, Hate to Eat” with Elyse Fitzpatrick, as well as reading the book as a devotional.  Another helpful resource has been the Toxic Talk Tuesdays with the Fabry’s on food and eating right.

Over this period of Lent, I do not simply want to deny myself for the purpose of self-discipline. I want to rid my heart of the idol of filling up emptiness with food and pleasure. I want to seek God instead and find him to be more than enough for all my desires.  I want to say “no” to my flesh in something as simple as eating whatever I want whenever I want it, so that I can say “no” to my flesh when faced with a temptation to sin.

Aside: Because my hubby was not giving up HFCS and one of our special date night traditions is sparkling grape juice, I made the exception of allowing sparkling grape juice throughout Lent.  But though I am drinking it occasionally, I am checking my heart for motives and praying over it. Lent does not need to be legalistic–it is for the purpose of examining the heart and coming on our knees before God continually as we recognize our need for Him.

2012 Monthly Goals for Chemical Elimination in Our Home

Becoming aware of how toxic our modern world is can be extremely frightening and overwhelming.  We can have the desire to implement change, but the very magnitude of the task is daunting.  It is helpful to not try and tackle everything at once, but to go slowly, taking baby steps as it were towards a less toxic, more chemical free lifestyle.

That is why I am excited to announce my 2012 monthly goals for detoxifying our home.  Naturally Simple Solutions will be doing a series over the next 12 months to equip you to eliminate chemicals from your home.   Ideally, I will have already worked out the kink with each category before I post them each month and will have some first-hand examples, recipes, pictures, sources, etc. to share.  My desire is to make the transition from chemical to natural as pain-free and simple as possible!  Here is a rough outline of each month’s feature, although it may be changed or rearranged as needed. You may note that the order does not seem to necessarily reflect a scale of more to less dangerous substances.  That is because I will have a newborn in January and will begin the year with chemicals we have already eliminated in our home, to make things more manageable for me:-)

January – Dishwashing Soap

February – Personal Care – Moisturizer, Make up, Skin care

March –  Personal Care – Deodorant

April – Household Cleaners

May – Pest/Weed Control, Personal Bug Repellent

June – Personal Care – Toothpaste, Mouthwash

July – Personal Care -Soap, Shaving Cream, Aftershave, Sun screen

August – Personal Care – Shampoo & Conditioner

September – Laundry Soap

October – Medicine Cabinet

November – Safe Drinking Water

December – Home/Personal Fragrances

Anyone have suggestions for things I am missing? I can easily combine some personal care items into one month, etc, but I am drawing a blank on other household chemicals I may be missing, so please offer suggestions!

Toxic-Free Gift Ideas

Picking up where we left off in our Toxic Talk Tuesdays, I bring you (albeit a little late!) Chris and Andrea Fabry’s Tips for Toxic Free Living and giving of gifts!  I loved this program, as giving healthy, toxic-free gifts for birthday or Christmas is a desire of mine, but it is not an easy thing to do!

Twelve Tips for the Toxic Trainee:

(Found at MomsAWARE.org.  This is my transcriptive combination of the Chris Fabry Live!’s broadcast, mixed with Andrea’s list on her website, along with my own suggestions.)

  1. Books. There’s nothing better than reading how others have created a less toxic environment. Options include:
    • Better Basics for the Home: Simple Solutions for Less toxic Living by Annie Berthold-Bond. This is one of the most comprehensive books on the market. From personal care products to cleaning supplies to non-toxic art supplies, the author offers an abundance of recipes and explanations.
    • The Naturally Clean Home focuses exclusively on cleaning your home environment. Karyn Siegel-Maier creatively incorporates herbs and essential oils into her unique recipes.
    • Super Natural Home Beth Greer explains how small lifestyle shifts make a big difference in your health and well-being. Her explanations are thorough and concise!
  1. Essential Oils. Give the gift of natural, healthy fragrance. Beginning oils include lemon, peppermint, and lavender. All three have excellent antiseptic qualities and are versatile. Frankincense and myrrh make great Christmas gifts, and each has unique health benefits. The key is the purity of the oil. Diffuser World offers this list of recommended brands.
  2. Diffuser. Anyone interested in improving air quality in an office or home will appreciate this gift! Diffuser World offers an excellent assortment of products.
  3. Safe Cookware. Enameled cast iron is the least reactive cookware. Brands such as Le Creuset and Staub are made in France with no added chemicals. Costco now offers enameled cast iron products made in France.
  4. All-Natural Makeup. There are numerous options for makeup with no synthetic ingredients, parabens, alcohol, or fragrance. Here are three:
  5. Rhassoul Clay. This luxurious clay can be used for facials, soap, shampoos, and hair conditioning. Sources include:
  6. Natural Candles. 100% beeswax candles are optimal, as they contain no petrochemicals. Sources include:
  7. Car Air Purifier. Great gift for the commuter or traveler. Options include:
  8. Collection of Bottles and Jars. This gift is for the person interested in making their own personal care or household products. Choose an assortment of spray bottles, glass jars, and tins. Sources include:
  9. Gift Card to a Local Health Food Store. Gift cards encourage that detoxifier in your life to try something new!
  10. All-Natural Soap. Look for soaps with natural and organic plant oils, pure essential oils, and minimal other ingredients. Opportunities abound from small family businesses to bigger companies. Some options include:
  11. Homemade Bath Salts. Bath salts are simple to make using sea salt, Epsom salts, and baking soda. For the recipe and our how-to video, as well as additional homemade bath gift ideas, see our Bath Bonanza Gift Set Recipes.

Stay tuned for a simple, practical, economical toxic-free gift idea!

Holiday Awareness Tips