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Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Journey to a Natural Lifestyle, Part 1

I believe my journey to a more natural lifestyle truly began when I found out I was pregnant with my now 2 year old. I knew I didn't want anything to harm her and so I started her life with a natural birth. No pain meds, no IVs, nothing. It was hard (and painful!) but it was the best thing I'd ever done, too! It led me to rethink everything I'd ever been told about life, food, medicines, and the "normal" way of doing things.

One of the first things I changed in my household was to use coconut oil for EVERYTHING! And I mean, EVERYTHING!! From cooking and cleaning, to health and hygiene, you name it, coconut oil can do it! (You can read my post  "Favorite Uses for Coconut Oil"). We never used diaper rash cream (and thankfully never really needed it), I always reached for the coconut oil. I even used it as the baby's lotion for a time. It's a great hair mask and removes makeup! I use it in my cooking, to season my cast iron pans, to relieve a bug bite itch, and so much more.

Another one of the first things I did was to make my own laundry detergent. It is actually fairly easy and very inexpensive. One batch of soap (dry/powder) lasted my family 6 or 7 months!! And I think I paid around $10 for my ingredients.

Growing up, mom always used vinegar and baking soda to clean the drains, but I took the vinegar to another level. I use vinegar in every wash, to clean the dishwasher, the microwave, and yes, the washer! I rarely use bleach, I always reach for the vinegar (Note: Bleach has its place!) I also use vinegar as a rinse aid in my dishwasher. I mix vinegar with essential oils in a spray bottle for an every day cleaner for counters, spills, and such. And vinegar goes in my mop bucket to clean the floors.

When it comes to food, I love everything sweet! But when my mom had to start her gluten-free journey, we all started learning more about what certain foods were really made out of. I started reading labels and learning about ingredients and what is REALLY in the food I was consuming!! Food Babe is one of my favorite resources for this! I was shocked to learn what was really in my food and what companies would try to disguise as "good for you" food!! Right now, I avoid anything that has high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), ANY food coloring, carageenan (cancer causing agent), and more recently have begun to avoid soy lecithin. Essentially, if I can't pronounce it there's a good chance I shouldn't eat it. I try to buy products with short ingredient lists and no added sugars. When possible, I buy the organic brand or I make it at home.

My daughter and I drink raw goat's milk instead of store-bought cows milk. It is better for you essentially but has less casein in it than cows milk and therefore is easier to digest. When I switched K from formula to milk, she couldn't tolerate regular store-bought milk. When my parents brought home goats milk from a friends farm, we were converted immediately!! (Note: I do still buy organic cows milk when necessary, but still highly prefer and suggest raw goats milk!)

I can't afford organic everything but I try to make the best possible decision for our food based on the knowledge and resources I have.

I believe that part of a natural lifestyle is supporting your local shops and farms. I love when the farmers market is in town during the spring, summer, and early fall!! Fresh fruits and veggies and local raw honey are just a few of the wonderful products you will find at a farmers market. Find a farmers market near you this spring and go experience it for yourself!!

Keep watch for Part 2, coming soon!!

"When we know better, we do better."