Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Do You Still Use Plastic Containers?

Most of you reading this will have a hard time remembering back to a time where we didn't use plastic in food storage; whether it's plastic storage bags, food containers or plastic wrap.  So, when we look at being healthy, we don't just look at what we are putting into our bodies, but we need to also look at how our food is stored.  Starting in the late 1800's, scientists had started trying to chemically produce what we now know as plastic.  The problem with this, obviously, is that it is chemically produced and chemicals can leach into the food that you put into the plastic containers.  Interestingly, back in 1957, at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA, Monsanto made the first ever all plastic house in Tomorrowland, showcasing the products of the future.  Many of you will recognize  Monsanto as one of the leading producers of GMOs-genetically modified organisms, which we know to be very dangerous when consumed by humans or animals.  If you would like more info on GMOs, I wrote a blog post in July of 2012. 

What exactly is the danger is plastic?  Phthalates and BPA.  First, phthalates are chemicals used in plastics to make them soft and pliable- also known as plasticizers.  Besides being used in plastic products they are also widely used in beauty products, insect repellants, lubricants, pesticides, wood finishes, and solvents.  Studies have linked phthalates to abnormal male sexual development, male infertility, premature breast development, miscarriage, asthma, premature birth and cancer.  Since phthalates are not chemically bound to the polymer they can easily leach or migrate out.  There are many different phthalates:

Common phthalates:
Di-2-ethylhxyl phthalates (DEHP)
Benzylbutyl phthalate (BzBP)
Di-isononyl phthalate (DINP)
Dicylohexyl phthalate (DCHP)
Diethyl phthalate (DEP)
Di-n-octyl phthalate (DOP)
Dibutyl phthalate (DBP)

BPA, bisphenol-A, is the chemical name for a building block of "polycarbonate" plastics.  It has been in commercial use since 1957 and is used because it makes certain plastics "tough", such as baby bottles, sports water bottles, the 5 gallon water bottles, sports equipment, DVDs and CDs.  BPA can also be used to line the inside of canned goods, which is especially dangerous in canned tomatoes since the acid from the tomatoes can cause the BPA to leach even more into the food.  BPA is a xenoestrogen- it mimics the effects of estrogen in the human body, which can lead to many damaging side effects.  The use of BPA has been linked to:  obesity, many types of cancers, reproductive problems, and early puberty in girls. 

Whew!!  Don't be overwhelmed!!  There are things we can do.  If you do need to use plastic, such as for baby bottles or water bottles, look for ones that say BPA free.  Now, I wouldn't heat in those plastic items, because research is still out on the substitutes for BPA and what happens when hot items are in them.  The best thing you could do is to start slowly replacing your cabinet filled with plastic food storage containers with glass ones.  Keep a few of the BPA free ones if you are going to put cold items in them, but for leftovers, you need to use glass.  I rarely use a plastic container, except for a couple of times when I've made cookies for my sons to take to school for a class- didn't want the possible danger of breaking glass!!  Plastic containers have numbers on the bottom.  If you have any with a number 7, throw them out!!  Those definitely contain BPA.  I still caution the use any plastic though because of the phthalates in them, also.  Numbers 3 and 6 are undetermined as far as danger- they contain a chemical similar to BPA.  I say better safe than sorry!!!  Number 1 is for most disposable water bottles- never refill them!  If you have an Earthfare or Whole foods near you, you can buy plastic sandwich bags, quart size and gallon size that are BPA and phthalate free- and they cost about the same as regular.  If you don't have one of those stores near you, order from  Very reasonably priced!  Remember:  never heat food in plastic, such as in the microwave, or put hot leftovers in any plastic containers. 

As I said before, try not to be overwhelmed, but take this information and google it to get even more informed about how you can make your home healthier for your family.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

Now is the Time!!!!

I am so excited that spring is finally here in Chattanooga, TN!!!!  It was a long winter!  I almost made it through without illness until the middle of March.  It had been 9 years since I had been really sick, besides a little cold or something, and I attribute that to exercise and eating healthy.  Sometimes the winter can get us down because we are stuck inside more and not out being active.  Unhealthy eating can start to creep back in and take over as habits.  But, now is the time to get back on track.  Especially, since the kids will be out of school soon and you will have a little extra time to devote to getting those good habits back in place.  So, how do you do this?

1.  Start by cleaning out the pantry.  If it makes you feel better, do it right before it's time to do the grocery shopping for the week.  When I started my family on a chemical free way of eating I had just grocery shopped a couple of days before and threw away much of what I had just bought!!  Read all of the labels and get rid of anything with artificial preservatives, coloring, flavors, hfcs, etc. 

2.  Clean out your refrigerator.  Items such as: salad dressings (tons of chemicals), condiments (hfcs in some ketchups, dyes in pickles and relish, etc.), dairy products made from milk that has hormones and antibiotics, deli meats with nitrites and nitrates (cancer causing chemicals used for curing deli meats, sausage, bacon, etc.), and the list goes on!  Thankfully, the availability of items without all of these dangerous chemicals are becoming more and more readily available.  Look for food coops in your area such as Azure Standard or others that offer the ability to buy healthy foods with a group of people to make delivery cheaper.

3. Make meal plans and grocery lists for the week.  If you aren't caught off guard at meal time trying to figure out something to eat you are more likely to eat healthy.  Build your meals around lean meats that don't have hormones and antibiotics in them, fresh fruits and vegetables and healthy grains.

4.  Spend a little time on the internet researching some new recipes.  If you were to come to my home for dinner you would think we eat just like anyone else.  We have pasta, tacos, and pizza some nights.  But, I make chemical free, healthy versions of all of these and you can't tell a difference, except for the fact that it tastes fresher!!!  Eating healthy doesn't have to look like all you eat is sprouts.  We have healthy balanced meals.

5.  Get your family involved!!  Share the information from my past posts on this blog to let your family know the dangers of the chemicals in the foods they are eating.  I have teenage boys who eat a ton and they love the healthy food we eat because they have realized they feel so much better when they eat healthy.

6.  Use this time to get back into a fitness routine.  Get the whole family active.  I don't necessarily push sports on my kids, unless it's one they choose to do, but I do push working out.  Because, in the end, I want them to have a lifestyle where it's just the norm to exercise at least 3-4 days a week.  Sometimes, sports players, when they are done playing and retire, they end up in a sedentary lifestyle.  I want to instill into my kids the habit of exercising their whole life.  Start by riding bikes, taking hikes on trails, or shooting hoops in the driveway.  Make it fun!  But, get from in front of the television or computer!!!

These are just a few things you can do to get back into your healthy lifestyle.  Sometimes we hit a slump, but you have to get back to it.  I couldn't exercise for a couple of weeks due to my illness and that about killed me!!!  I love the way working out makes me feel and I want to be able to do for decades to come!  As always, if I can help in any way or answer any questions, please let me know!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

New Year's Resolutions????

Well, the end of January is approaching- how are you doing with your New Year's resolution?  That's what this post is about:  those darn New Year's resolutions!!!  Exercise and eating healthy are a year round commitment- not just one for the first 6 weeks of the new year.

I can't stress enough that you have to be very intentional with exercising and healthy eating.  Treat exercising like you would an important appointment- put it on your calendar or on your to do list; set an alarm for it on your iphone and treat it as you would a meeting with a colleague.  Do you want to stop the yo-yoing of "on again, off again exercising"?  Most things take 21 days to become habits.  Exercising takes 6 months to become a habit.  That means you have to be so conscientious about making it happen, especially the first 6 months.

Same goes for eating healthy.  Make a meal plan for the week and get your prep work done ahead of time.  We eat the most unhealthy when we don't have a plan come dinner time.  We do fast food or prepackaged junk when we don't have time to prepare a healthy meal.  Keep veggies pre-chopped in your refrigerator, ready to go, so that you don't reach for something unhealthy instead.  Which brings me to the next point:  Don't keep unhealthy food in your house!!  If it's not there, you can't eat it!  We have to have a plan if we want to succeed- it doesn't happen on it's own.

Focus on the benefits of both exercising and eating healthy.  Doing both of those makes us feel healthier!  We have more energy and less sickness.  We reduce our risk of a multitude of diseases.  Our mood and our sleep are better.  The benefits are countless.  Focus on that- don't focus on the food you think you're missing out on or the time sitting in front of a tv or computer that you're losing.  Health has long lasting benefits, not just immediate ones!

So, get rid of the New Years resolutions and make it a new lifestyle instead!!