6 Steps To Cleaner Living

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Have you been looking for easy ways to create a cleaner lifestyle for your family? As a mom it can be so overwhelming trying to balance the various demands of motherhood while also trying to find ways to improve your lifestyle, whether it be with healthy eating, ridding chemicals from your home or any of the millions of other ways on the market that tout healthy living perks. We have taken 6 easy steps on our a journey to clean living, and I’m laying ’em all out for you today!

When I got pregnant with my first, I knew I wanted to do everything I could to model and create a healthy lifestyle for my child. I read all the books, I researched everything from diaper creams to laundry soap, I made all my own baby food – I felt like I was on a roll! But then reality set in and I went back to work full time and I was so burnt out trying to keep up with doing the “right” thing. I got busy and naturally reached for convenience.

Fast forward three years and I was pregnant again, excited to welcome my second son. Getting ready for baby number two, I realized just how far we had drifted from the lifestyle I wanted to create for my kiddos. Once again, I attempted to dive in 100%, ready to throw everything in the house away and start over. But it was SO OVERWHELMING! Lotions, medications, cleaning supplies, food – I was seeing stars and the feeling made me want to just give up!

My husband and I had a long conversation about our goals and decided to start small. We would pick one thing to focus on improving, and when we felt comfortable with that adjustment we would add another change. About two years later, we are still far from “perfect”, but we have made more changes to our lifestyle than I could have imagined!

Now I’m no expert here in clean living so this is my disclaimer! I literally look for the easiest way to swap out healthier or cleaner alternatives because I am a busy mom, so I wanted to share these easy swaps with you! Do one or do them all, either way you will be on your way to a better life for your family – so pat yourself on the back!

Here’s what we did, in order:

1. Organic Fruits & Veggies

Our very first baby step was swapping to organic produce. And to be honest it’s not like we threw out all our non-organic stuff and became “Organic Only” snobs. If an organic version of something we were going to buy was available, we would buy that instead, if not we would grab the same old non-organic one and move on.

However, there are a few I pay close attention to, which are coined the “dirty dozen”. If found on this list, it means these items are most frequently contaminated with pesticides and are ranked on the level of toxicity so if an organic version of these particular items isn’t available I usually skip it until my next shopping trip.

Dirty Dozen Produce

I say “usually” because I usually shop with my two young kids, and if I promised them some strawberries and then they see we are leaving without strawberries… well you all know how that goes… grocery store meltdown here we come! I would like to think I am a mom who’s buying habits can’t be swayed or influenced by a public tantrum in aisle 3, but in the spirit of keeping it real for my tribe I will admit that I’m just not.  This is also a huge reason I’m a super fan of online grocery shopping, but anyways back to the dirty dozen!

They are:

1. Strawberries
2. Spinach
3. Nectarines
4. Apples
5. Grapes
6. Peaches
7. Cherries
8. Pears
9. Tomatoes
10. Celery
11. Potatoes
12. Sweet Bell Peppers

You can read more about the Dirty Dozen here.

 

2. Next We Conquered Meats

This one was a little more difficult for me personally because I am notoriously bad at picking out meat. I stand in front of that big meat section and my eyes go blurry with all the options. Which cut would be best for the dish I’m making? What is the difference between the “organic” and “natural” designations? This one says “antibiotic free”, I like the sound of that – I think. Grass fed? That sounds nice. Free range? Yup, that sounds cool too, but what does it all really mean and what difference does it actually make?

Choosing meats for clean eating

I started reading into all this while we were starting our Whole 30 journey and found it was a lot more complicated than I ever thought, but ultimately, we decided what our goal was and don’t stress too much if we fall a little short.

Beef

Our top choice for designation of beef is “Grass Fed” & “Organic”, meaning the animal was able to graze for their own fresh food AND was raised with rules regarding their living conditions, exposure to pesticides and hormones, etc. This diet for the cow results in beef that is healthier, leaner, and higher in Omega 3s.

If we can only find meat with one designation or the other, that’s ok too – it’s still a step in the right direction. I’ve read that “Grass Finished” is even better than “Grass Fed”, but I have yet to see that label while shopping.  If you want to read even more about the beef designations, check this out.

Chicken/Pork

We go for “Organic” here, bonus if it’s “Pastured” meaning they are allowed to roam in open pastures for a majority of their life. If these alternatives aren’t available, I’ll at least look for one labeled “no antibiotics”, however this label is not certified by a third party so is often abused. Don’t fall for “no added hormones” in this category as the use of added hormones in poultry and pork is prohibited by the USDA so this label is a false sense of security!

Fish

We look for “Wild-Caught” and “Sustainable” options when shopping for seafood. This means they were caught in their natural habitat AND their population is managed in a way that minimizes effects on the ecosystem and reproduction abilities. I’m big time softy for anything ocean-related, so sustainable is a big one for me!

Bonus category – Deli Meat

Almost any deli style meat has preservatives, so I usually try to avoid those whenever possible. But let’s be real, I get a twice a year hankering for a homemade turkey sandwich and I don’t deny myself.

Whole 30 has a great download on these terms and more, that you can check out here.

 

3. Household Items & Toiletries

This category will probably always be a work in progress because there are so many items to replace, but just like with everything else so far, we started small with one or two items a shopping trip to start replacing things in our home. One of my early favorites is this Trader Joe’s Liquid Laundry Detergent. This stuff is nearly impossible to find online, so save the picture and head to your local TJ’s.

In fact, Trader Joe’s has made this transition easy on us with their great selections of Organic and/or natural food & household items. We have found that specialty stores like Trader Joe’s or Sprouts quite often had a better supply of these “specialty” items than your usual big box stores.

I also fell head over heals with Earth Mama Organics! I initially fell in love with their Perineal Balm (previously called Mama Bottom Balm, which I liked better for the comedic value) after having baby number two, and I give that to every one of my friends who has a baby now!

Now that my pregnancy/newborn days are over, I use a few items from their Breastfeeding Products and Baby Products lines, as well as their natural deodorant. The deodorant thing was such a huge step for me, I’ll actually share this in it’s own step below!

Another area that was quite the doozy when I started checking ingredients was my cosmetics bag. I’ve slowly replaced items as I run out, but with so many options it can be tough to know what will work with my skin. I have really come to love the products from 100% Pure Cosmetics, and their Bamboo Blur Powder is like photoshop smoothing tool in real life.

Memorizing harmful ingredients can be difficult, so beyond looking for “organic” or “natural” products, you can also look for companies who’s products have been verified as compliant with European standards. While this won’t guarantee a pure product, European standards ban over 1,300 harmful ingredients, while U.S. list of banned ingredients sits closer to 10. That difference will at least limit your harmful ingredient exposure.

Earth Mama Organics - Breastfeeding

4. Pantry & Spice Cabinet

This particular category was also a bit overwhelming at first glance due to the number of items we have in our pantry. Where do I even begin? Luckily, I happened to be introduced to Laura at just the right time and she has been such a great resource for me, and Wildtree has made the transition super easy!

If you haven’t checked them out yet, Wildtree is like a dream come true for busy moms trying to eat clean! They are committed to providing simple solutions for the kitchen that are held to the highest standards. Organic, free of GMOs and artificial colors, kosher, peanut free, and the list goes on!

First, I attended one of her Food Prep Workshops, where I purchased a kit that came with all of the spices, seasonings, oils and instructions to make 10-20 freezer meals. I ended up with some seasonings left over from my kit and worked those into our rotation, and we LOVED the meals so I was hooked!

Wildtree Cabinet

 

Next I hosted a workshop of my own, which meant I had the chance to earn some free product! We took the opportunity to make some big upgrades to our spice cabinet. We got everything from tzatziki dip to guacamole mix and it’s been a blast trying new things and feeling good about what I am feeding my family.

I also utilize the Wildtree App quite a bit to find recipes that I can make with what I have in my kitchen. Laura runs an awesome facebook group where like minded mamas swap recipes and kitchen hacks. Finding resources like this will be key in helping you make this a life change and not just a phase you try out!

Another great source for healthy eats is UrthBox. They have organic, vegan and gluten free snack boxes delivered right to your door. Doesn’t get much easier than that! And with me, if it’s not easy it probably isn’t happening.

 

5. Essential Oils

I just recently started diving into the powers of essential oils, so my knowledge is still limited here. However, I can say I have been really impressed with what I have learned so far! My friend Brandi introduced me to Young Living Essential Oils, and she has an awesome group where she shares tips on how to use oils to replace icky things in your home!

Our whole family has pretty bad spring time allergies, so the first thing I tried was this roller recipe to help, and boy did it! Within one day my kiddos went from red eyed sniffle monsters to normal (ish) tiny humans, and I was able to ditch my daily allergy pill.

All the ingredients for the allergy relief roller came in my starter kit, so I was pretty happy I didn’t have to order any more oils just yet. I think the reason I hesitated for so long on getting on the EO bandwagon is the overwhelm of learning ALL THE OILS and which oils to use for what. The starter kit was the perfect introduction to what oils can do, and now I’m starting to build my wish list for oils to add to my arsenal, like clove (great for pain relief) and citronella (hello summer bug spray).

They also have a great concentrated cleaning solution you can use for a variety of uses in your home, and kick even more chemicals to the curb. Mix some oils in with sugar and grapeseed or coconut oil for a dreamy body scrub. I’ve even started diffusing oils in our home, and I have noticed it can have a big effect on my mood. I still have a lot to learn about unlocking the potential of these oils, but I am pretty excited about to the possibilities!

 

6. Natural Deodorant

This is the most recent change I made, and it was a huge one for me so that’s why it gets it’s own category! I had been reading forever about the negative effects of traditional aluminum deodorants on the market but I just couldn’t bring myself to take that plunge! Full disclosure, I’m a sweaty person so I was pretty uneasy about how this would go.

My biggest recommendation if you choose to try this out is doing an armpit detox first. Yes, I said it, AN ARMPIT DETOX! Hear me out. Aluminum deodorants block your pores, and you have build up of toxic ingredients and bacteria from your sweat. That’s what makes the stink. When you transition to a natural deodorant that build up will naturally begin to come out since you aren’t lathering more on top of it, but this can cause irritation. Detoxing ahead of time can minimize discomfort from the transition.

The detox is easy, just mix Bentonite Clay and Raw Apple Cider Vinegar with enough water to make a paste, apply to your pits and let sit for about 15 minutes. I have also been using the bentonite clay to make some dreamy face masks, so don’t worry about any going to waste!

You may find you sweat more, but that is natural! Sweat has a number of functions for your body including releasing toxins and lowering your body temperature, so blocking that is not great (when you really think about it, it makes sense). To read more on the effects of deodorant and armpit detoxing, check out this post by Organic Olivia.

I initially ordered the natural deodorant through the same company as I got my oils, but their scent was a little too, how do I say this?… Nature forward? I’m all about saving the forest I just don’t want to smell like the forest. I’m pretty partial to the traditional baby powder scent of my old aluminum filled friend, so I went on a hunt for something that smelled a little less “nature like”.

Earth Mama Organics Deodorant is an options that I really like, and for a super budget friendly alternative I also enjoyed Schmidt’s Deodorant. A few friends who also took the plunge around the same time I did highly recommend LAVANILA The Healthy Deodorant. While I haven’t tried that one personally, I can say that I have smelled it on another person and the scent was nice. Am I allowed to say that about my friend’s pits without it being weird?

Earth Mama Organics - Deodorant

Honest confession here. I am excited about this transition and have had relatively few inconveniences from this change, but I am a little nervous with summer coming up. I will probably sneak my old aluminum filled stuff in my bag when we head to Hawaii this summer. You know, just in case. But I am going to try really hard to stick to the natural stuff whenever possible. Like I said before, I am not perfect, just trying my best!

 

The Wrap Up

Ultimately, there are many things you can do to clean up the items we bring into our home.  I can look around my home and spot dozens of items that are probably equally as bad as the things we have ditched. The point is that one less chemical is still an effort in the right direction.

For now I choose to focus on the tremendous strides we have made in the right direction. The next step I am anxious to tackle is growing some of our own food! I recently started with some herbs, but so far I haven’t had a ton of luck (i.e. I totally killed the first round!). After some research to pinpoint what I did wrong, I started a new batch so I will keep everyone posted! I would also love to hear about ways you have made your home healthier and cleaner in the comments!

Cheers!

Amy Manos Signature

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