3 Tips To Minimize Everyday Chemicals

grocery shopping

Adriane Cook

B.S. Kinesiology, Michigan State University

www.balancewithme.com

Chemicals, toxins, and pollution, oh my!

Do you ever feel as though every product you buy and food you eat is laced with hidden toxins and chemicals? Do you find yourself overwhelmed, wanting the healthiest life for you and your family, but not sure where to start?

The first step, much like in a 7- step program, is admittance.  I wish I could tell you that it’s nothing to be concerned about, that all those reports and labels were merely a scare tactic, but I would be doing you a disservice.  The truth is, the companies of our world make things differently than they did 50 years ago. The majority of big businesses do what they have to do to mass produce things that result in a large profit. The ingredients those companies use are typically cheap and laden with toxins and unnecessary chemicals, causing us harm on a multitude of levels.

The World Health Organization (WHO) concurs, “The diverse [human] systems affected by endocrine-disrupting chemicals likely include all hormonal systems and range from those controlling development and function of reproductive organs to the tissues and organs regulating metabolism and satiety. Effects on these systems can lead to obesity, infertility or reduced fertility, learning and memory difficulties, adult-onset diabetes or cardiovascular disease, as well as a variety of other diseases.” (1)

Related Article: 5 Ways To Exercise Your Heart

The Affect On Children

Toxins not only affect the functioning systems of adults, but of children as well.  In fact, they are at the greatest risk. The CDC chimes in, “Children are especially vulnerable to environmental contaminants due to their rapid development during the fetal period through early childhood. Children’s age-appropriate behavior also exposes them to hazards. They crawl and play on the floor or in the yard where they can come into contact with harmful substances—and they put everything in their mouths. Just their physical size puts children at greater risk of exposure.

From birth, children breathe more air, drink more water, and eat more food per pound of body weight than adults. An infant’s breathing rate is more than twice an adult’s. Children continue to be vulnerable as they go through the developmental changes of puberty.” If you’d like more information on how to protect your child from exposure to toxins and health hazards in the environment, please contact your nearest Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU). (2)

So where do we go from here? 

3 simple tips to start minimizing every-day chemicals

1: EDUCATE

Woman in Grocery Store

This process can seem intimidating, but begin by educating yourself and analyzing one product at a time, starting with the items you purchase most frequently.  Start by reading ingredient lists and labels.  If there is an element that you don’t recognize, research it and inform yourself on its attributes and affects. This is especially advantageous with nutrition. “Overweight and obesity prevalence is rapidly rising in developing countries. The reading and understanding of nutrition information on food packages has been shown to improve food choices and instill healthy eating habits in individuals.” (3)  This is true for the United States as well. 

As a general rule, the shorter the ingredient list, the healthier the substance; the one-ingredient items are far and away your ideal products and food-sources. The better informed you become, the closer you get to minimizing the chemicals- and their adverse effects- in your life.

2: ONE SMALL CHANGE

Once you start reading labels and becoming educated on your standard products, you will inevitably find that it’s time to replace them with healthier alternatives.  This can feel like an enormous task, so start by making one small change at a time. The American Psychology Association agrees. “Many people run into problems when they try to change too much too fast.

To improve your success, focus on one goal or change at a time.  As new healthy behaviors become a habit, try to add another goal that works toward the overall change you’re striving for.” (4)

A great place to start is with simple fruits and vegetables.  Slowly integrate more organic foods into your diet and reduce processed and packaged goods.  Next, replace one household product at time, such as a cleaning product or toiletry. Seek out companies that adhere to quality ingredients or go a step further and make your own.  This undertaking has the potential to be expensive, but it’s much more manageable if you swap a product or two each week.

Making one small change at a time will ultimately result in a lasting and healthier lifestyle.

3: BE KIND

How can being kind to yourself minimize the effects of every day chemicals? Keeping in mind that maintaining and improving upon positive change is imperative for a healthier lifestyle, having self-compassion is crucial for lasting adaptations.

“Self-compassion is treating yourself with the same kindness and care you’d treat a friend,” says Kristin Neff, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas at Austin and the leading researcher in the growing field of self-compassion. Contrary to what many people think, treating yourself kindly is also good for achieving your goals. “People believe that self-criticism helps to motivate them,” Neff says. Those low in self-compassion think that unless they are hard on themselves, they will not amount to much—but research reveals that being kind to yourself does not lower your standards. (5)

This is great news!  With each small, positive change towards reducing toxins and chemicals in your life, you are making excellent progress! Keep this in mind each time you feel discouraged or tempted to revert back to your old ways.  Each day presents the opportunity to start fresh and make beneficial decisions towards a healthier future.

woman hugging herself

Be Your Own Health Advocate

Until the day when all food and products are made with integrity and pure ingredients, we need to be our own health advocates. This can seem daunting, but with education, small changes, and kindness towards ourselves, we can make amazing strides towards a toxin and chemical-free future.

Related Article: Recipe For Setting And Achieving Goals

References:

World Health Organization (WHO),co-produced with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP): State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals, 2012

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Protecting Kids from Environmental Exposure, 2016

US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health; African Health Sciences: Food label reading and understandingin parts of rural and urban Zimbabwe

The American Psychology Association: Making lifestyle changes that last

Scientific American: Self-Compassion Fosters Mental Health, 2012

You Might Like:

people jumping

3 Benefits of Exercise and Mental Health

Alyssa Bialowas The Mental Benefits of Exercise While the physical benefits of exercise are well documented, there are numerous mental health benefits of exercise. If you’ve ever left a workout feeling on top of the...
surfing

The Surfing Affect on Mood and Well-Being

A Review by Alyssa Bialowas Exercise-induced affect (EIA) is a cycle that includes various characteristics of physical activity and is often composed of positive affect, negative affect, tranquility, and fatigue (Crussemeyer et al., 2017). EIA...

Everyday Tips To Be More Mindful

Gillian White – MSc, PhD (Candidate), University of Toronto Mindfulness Part II. Everyday tips to be more mindful. As I discussed in the previous article, Mindfulness Part I, the pursuit and practice of mindfulness has...
Muse meditation headband

Muse: A heart rate monitor for your head

A Review by Hank Shell I’m all about mindfulness, y’all. If you’ve read my columns, you know this. If you haven’t, then that’s your misfortune. Anyway, mindfulness can have all kinds of wonderful health benefits,...

The Trick Stress Plays on Your Metabolism

Gillian White – BSc, MSc., PhD Candidate A sheep in wolf’s clothing: The mean trick stress plays on your body’s metabolism. University of Toronto, Department of Exercise Sciences For most people reading this article, it’s a...
Mindfulness and HIIT

Use Mindfulness To Weather the HIIT Storm

Hank Shell So, you’re giving this High Intensity Interval Training thing a shot. Good for you! Really. It’ll pay off in the long run. But, oh yea, also, HIIT IS HARD. That’s the point, of...
Meat

The Truth About Red Meat Consumption

Brain health and nutrition

The Importance of Nutrition on Brain Health

Kale

The Ingredient in Kale That May Promote Longevity

A Group of runners running in a running race

Can Intermittent Fasting and Exercise Prevent Cancer?

Box full of vegetables.

How Long Does It Take To Reverse The Effects Of A Bad Diet?

Woman eating chocolate bar.

Does Dark Chocolate Aid In Muscle Recovery?

People eating burgers

Processed vs. Unprocessed Foods

Man lifting weights

Regaining Homeostasis With Diet & Exercise

man asleep on a bed with white sheets

How Intermittent Fasting Affects Sleep

woman standing on a beach flexing both her arms

Prolonged Fasting for Health & Longevity

Leave a Reply