Three Easy Tips for Natural Living

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” ~ Martin Luther King

When you become a mama, I think you develop a new level of focus and dedication to creating and maintaining a healthy household. If you weren’t very concerned about your own health and the health of your partner before having children, you realize that it is now of utmost importance because:

a) You are now role models for your little one(s). If you make healthy choices, your children are more likely to do the same.

b) Now that you have the most incredible child/children in your life, you want to make sure you and your partner are around to see as much of their lives as humanly possible.

c) Your lack of good health can keep you from fully participating in your child’s life.

d) A healthy household is more likely to be a happy household.

So, what does this have to do with natural living, remedies, and tips? Well, with the above goals in mind, I would like to share some of my favorite natural approaches to health that our family has incorporated into our daily lives. I know the thought of transitioning a lifestyle that you have lived for many years to that of a natural one can seem overwhelming, but as the MLK quotation at the top of the post explains, you don’t have to make lots of big changes all at once. A small step here and there is worth your time and the benefits it will reap.

Here are three of the easiest natural living changes that I think almost anyone can make:

1.  Avoid products that list “fragrance” as an ingredient.

WHY?  There can be hundreds of chemicals involved in making up a single fragrance mixture, and those chemicals do not have to be listed on product labels. They can all fall under the single label of “fragrance.”  Fragrance can contain neurotoxins and it is among one of the top allergens ever.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?  You can easily avoid fragrance by using most products by companies like Tom’s of Maine, Seventh Generation, Badger, and Earth’s Best, but if you’re not ready to leave behind the products you love, simply pick up the fragrance free version of what you normally buy and you’ll be taking an important step towards good health.

2. Use coconut oil whenever possible.

WHY?  I have become a huge fan of coconut oil because it’s the best multi-use product I have ever come across, and its list of benefits is seemingly endless. Just to name a few: fantastic natural hair and skin care (awesome hair conditioner, and if you use it as a face wash, I promise your face will feel like you just had a facial afterwards); it can provide stress relief; it helps with weight loss and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels; it increases immunity, good digestion, and helps your metabolism. Basically, if you need something that is soothing, antimicrobial, antioxidant, antifungal, or antibacterial, coconut oil is your product.

WHAT SHOULD I DO?: Pick up a tub of coconut oil and start trying it in as many ways as possible. I get mine from Whole Foods for about $8 and it lasts a long time, because you don’t need much for pretty much all of its potential uses. Besides using it on my hair and face, I’ve used it on my hands instead of lotion to treat dry skin. I also use it in all of my cooking. I’ve substituted a dollop of it for any place in a recipe that calls for some kind of oil. It does not lend a strong coconut taste if you are worried about that. It’s a nice, subtle oil. It’s particularly great in baking and for making popcorn. I’ve also used coconut oil on Baby’s diaper rash and on his chapped lips and face. Enjoy being creative with coconut oil and just know that no matter how you use it, it’s going to contribute toward your health in some way. I would love to hear how other people have used it in the comments section below!

organic vegetables

3. Buy organic when purchasing foods that belong on the “Dirty Dozen” list.

WHY?  According to the Environmental Working Group, consumers can reduce their pesticide exposure by 80% by avoiding the most contaminated fruits and vegetables.1

WHAT SHOULD I DO?  It’s really hard to afford buying all organic products, so to simplify it, make sure to buy the following organic foods when you have the choice. The hints will offer alternatives if you can’t find that food in the organic section.

Celery – HINT: If you can’t find organic celery, broccoli or radishes are safer options.
Meat – HINTS: Pork fat is more contaminated than pork meat. The thigh is the most contaminated part of chicken.
Dairy Milk – HINT: I LOVE vanilla almond milk! It tastes so good, plus it’s rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, is a great source of calcium, and contains no saturated fat.
Coffee – HINT: As long as you’re going out of your way to buy organic coffee, make sure it is Fair Trade Certified to ensure that the people growing your coffee beans are treated well and paid fairly.
Peaches – HINT: If you can’t find organic peaches, safer options are tangerines, watermelon, oranges, and grapefruit.
Strawberries – HINT: Kiwi and pineapples are safe alternatives.
Apples – HINT: If you can’t find organic apples, pick up some bananas.
Blueberries – HINT: These are among the dirtiest out there, so just avoid non-organic blueberries.
Nectarines – HINT: Try papaya or mango.
Bell Peppers – HINT: Peas or cabbage are safer options.
Spinach – HINT: It’s one of the most contaminated leafy vegetables.
Kale – HINT: Go for the asparagus.
Cherries –  HINT: Pick up some cranberries instead.
Potatoes – HINT: No organic potatoes around? Get some eggplant.
Grapes – HINT: Sadly, this pertains to wine too!
Leafy Greens – HINT: It’s time to see if Brussels sprouts taste better now that you’re a grown up.
Carrots – HINT: Even when they’re organic, make sure to scrub them and peel them.
Pears – HINT: Eat some honeydew.
Tomatoes – HINT: They are no longer to be counted as one of the worst offenders, but it’s still worth eating broccoli if you can’t find organic tomatoes.

What are some of your favorite easy ways to more natural living?

Photo credit: verseguru

This article has been edited from a previous version published at I Thought I Knew Mama.

About The Author: Charise Rohm Nulsen

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Charise Rohm Nulsen is the proud mama of a son born in June 2010 and a baby girl born in May 2012. She is also the author of I Thought I Knew Mama where she blogs about the adventures of stay at home mamahood, natural parenting, and green & healthy living.

16 Responses to Three Easy Tips for Natural Living

  1. Jessica | Cloth Diapering Mama  

    Charise, This list is not only do-able, but it is extremely thorough! You have done an amazing job spreading the GREEN!!! xo

  2. Amanda

    I’ve always used Tom’s of Maine toothpaste, but I know they were recently bought out by Colgate, so I’m not sure how I feel about them now. I really love your post and your advice, since I follow it myself (and am a recent coconut oil convert!)

  3. Chelsea

    Hi Charise,
    I love one part coconut oil melted mixed with one part maple syrup and one part cocoa powder. Melt it all together and half fill muffin tins. Put in freezer for a little while. Spread on some organic peanut butter and another layer of the chocolate mix and freeze again. omg, so good!

  4. Kristin  

    Thanks for the great list! Wow, I will have to try that chocolate/peanut butter treat! The item that my husband finally realized he had a dairy allergy with was actually a peanut butter cup — he’s never had one since!

    I love coconut oil but have only used it for baking. We go through it so fast — I need to find it in gallon size! It costs a lot around here, so I stock up when I find a deal.

    Grapes are so hard for me — my kids LOVE them and they are SO helpful to keep them regular (they are constipation-prone), but organic ones are really hard to come by or totally out of our price range. And wah about the wine, I hadn’t thought of that, either!

  5. Amy  

    Awesome tips – thank you! :)

  6. LovesLocaltoo

    While I agree in the importance of eating organic. I find importance in eating locally equally important. Most of the alternative foods (“hints”) on the list in the post are tropical produce such as mangos, papaya, kiwi, bannanas, and melon. These types of foods would have to travel thousands of miles for most of us to eat them. I suppose this is okay if you are only concerned with eating organic and not local. :)

  7. Lauren  

    What a great list! Thanks for all the hints.

    I love using coconut oil, too. I don’t actually like the taste, so I try to use it for cooking in ways I don’t notice it. But it cooks fabulously. You’ve inspired me to try it for my chapped lips and hands, because nothing’s solving that problem for me right now! Thanks.

  8. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama  

    I hope it helps for the chapped lips and hands!

  9. Kelly  

    Awesome list! And thank you for sharing that quote at the beginning – it is very inspiring to a mama who is trying to change so many things for the sake of my Baby Bean. :)

    I recently used coconut oil mixed with baking soda and arrowroot powder to make deodorant – and it is seriously the best deodorant I have ever used! :)

    I have not had good luck with cooking…I’ve tried it w/stir fry, soups, and smoothies, but that coconut taste always gets me (I really don’t like it! :p) Haven’t tried it with baking yet though…I think that is next on the list! (or maybe I’ll just make myself eat a spoonful of it every day…isn’t that supposed to be good for you?) :) And don’t mind it too much with popcorn.

    Thanks again Charise!

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