We're surrounded by information - it comes at us constantly, everyday - over the airwaves, on our smart phones, computers, tv, radio, and from well-meaning friends and family. Sometimes we can be overwhelmed! I know that happens to me, especially when discussing how to live a healthy lifestyle and raise children with a solid understanding of how to look after their own health when they become responsible adults (one day way in the distant future!!! Yikes it's going fast!).
Lately I've been delving deeper into this area, and am finding a wealth of information on every possible related subject - too much information in fact! Some of you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed by just getting food into your kids each day, much less thinking about how to make sure they get all of the vitamins, minerals, fiber, etc that they need each day, and how to reduce the chemical-load on their little systems. It's mind boggling at times!
So, I thought it might be useful if I put together five simple things that you can do to get started on the journey, and that way you can take one step at a time... or five steps at once, it's up to you!
If you're like me, you find the terms 'parabens', 'sulphites', 'trichlosan', 'preservatives', 'BPA', and so on seem to be everywhere. It can seem impossible to avoid all of the nasties when you have a house to maintain, a budget to keep, and children to feed. Sometimes it's good to take a step back, inhale, and start from the beginning.
I firmly believe that God has provided us with everything we need in our natural environment for healthy living. To that end, here are some simple tips to utilise God's provision to get started on a new lifestyle that will help your family to live healthier, happier lives.
1. Ditch the margarine (or anything permutation of it!).
The companies that make this stuff have done a marvelous job of convincing us that lower fat is better for us and artificial is better than natural somehow. All natural butter is chock full of nutrients and vitamins, along with the fats that growing bodies (and not growing bodies) need. In moderation, butter is good for us! Margerine is not! I found a butter at Coles called 'Spreadable Dairy Blend' that seems to be pretty good, I'm sure there are many others out there. All it contains is Cream (70%), Canola Oil (27%), Water, Salt and Vitamins (A & D). If in doubt, find a spread that has the shortest list of ingredients possible.
2. Start to empty your cupboards of all chemical cleaning products.
Antibacterial products are actually causing us worse long term health problems than they are solving by strengthening the bacteria that's out there and weakening our immune systems; and all those chemicals are terrible for your health and that of your kids. Asthma, allergies, repeated infections, food intolerances, ADHD and behavioural issues, and many other common ailments can be the result of too much exposure to chemicals through using these cleaning products in our homes (combined with the chemical load of the outside world). Instead, start to use bicarb (baking) soda and vinegar - they will clean most of your home. Lemon juice can come in handy too. There are also other products out there such as Borax, Liquid Castille Soap, Essential oils (many of which are naturally antibacterial) and tonnes of information on the internet about cleaning with all natural products. And another advantage of losing the chemicals in your home is that the earth benefits as well!
3. Buy organic
One of the most common herbicides used the world over, if swished around in your mouth and then spat out again, causes certain death within minutes from respiratory failure! And we eat products that have this stuff all over them! No wonder the incidence of asthma has increased exponentially as the use of this herbicide has spread! Herbicides and pesticides are everywhere, and not only are they toxic, but they also prevent our bodies from fully absorbing the nutrients in our food. So, even if we were eating a completely balanced nutritious diet (which of course we all are... haha!), we can't absorb all of the vitamins and minerals we need. Buying organic will reduce the chemical interference that asails your body on a daily basis, and will help restore balance and health as you eat nutritious food and better absorb the nutrients in that food.
I know that it can seem as though organic is too expensive, but it's definitely improved. We buy all organic fruit and veges now, and our weekly bill isn't any higher, as we've stopped buying expensive chemical cleaning and personal hygene products, so it all evens out in the end!
4. Buy all natural (and preferably organic) personal care products.
Did you know that all soaps, shampoos, conditioners, toothpastes, mouthwashes, moisturisers and makeup products from the major brands contain sulphites (like sodium laurel sulphate), parabens, chemical preservatives, artificial colours and fragrances, and the list goes on? We're putting these things on our skin and on our children's skin! Time to ditch the traditional personal care products, and instead select all natural, organic products. Instead of buying that brand name shower gel, buy an organic one made from natural products. Instead of the expensive shampoo, go organic or better still, wash your hair with bicarb (baking soda), and rinse with Apple Cider Vinegar and water. It's cheap, it makes your hair unbelievably soft, doesn't strip it of natural oils, and isn't carcinogenic (unlike most shampoos). All-natural makeup is a must as well, and there are quite a few good, even affordable, ones available now days (such as 'Nude by Nature').
5. Use supplements to replace vitamins, minerals and good bacteria in your body.
We try to avoid giving our children anti-biotics too often, but let's face it sometimes they need them and thank goodness we have them available! However, after a round of anti-biotics, it's so important to replace the good bacteria in their little stomachs (and yours as well if you've had anti-biotics). Pro-biotics are great and come in a variety of forms. You can take capsules, or drink a pro-biotic drink (kids love these), or they also come in powdered form. I'm no expert, but I've heard that there is a pretty big gap in quality between the good and bad pro-biotics, so ask around if you're not sure. I've been recommended the ones from http://www.return2health.net/.
Vitamins are also a must. As mentioned before, our diets just don't contain enough vitamins, and that's IF we're eating well. On top of the chemical interferance there's also overfarming of soil, animals being fed the wrong foods and then passing this onto us (ie. grass fed beef contains many times more essential vitamins than grain fed beef does), and much more. Imagine how few vitamins we're getting if we don't get (among other things) green leafy vegetables, fish oil, protein, seeds, nuts, grains and wheat germ into our diet everyday! Vitamin C is known for its ability to support our immune systems when we're sick, but it does a lot more than that and can be taken every day. We should also be taking B Complex, Vitamin A, Vitamin E, and for those of us who are paranoid of sunburn Vitamin D as well. There are of course many other nutrients contained in a standard multi-vitamin that are essential for good health, but I think we should take these other vitamins on top of a standard multi-vitamin (this is for us adults) as the quanities in these tablets are based on recommended daily intakes that assume we're getting three organic, balanced meals each day and not snacking on empty calories (which of couse we aren't, right???:-)).
There you have it!
I tried to keep it simple, but got a bit verbose at times. I guess my biggest advice would be to do the research yourself if you're not sure. But hopefully these five tips might help you get started on a journey towards better health for you and your family.
I'd love to hear your tips on healthy living as well!