My journey of going green has been characterised by surges of energy and passion, followed by moments when I am so overwhelmed by the amount of ways toxins have invaded our life that it takes all of my willpower not to simply give up all together. I’m always moving in the right direction but sometimes my progress is slower than other times, which is OK. I used to fret and stress if I felt my diet was slipping but I’ve now learnt that it is inevitable for my approach to food to change from time to time. If I notice my diet is less than amazing, I just gently start shifting it back in the direction I want it to be. I do this by adding more herbal tea to my day, making sure my snacks draw has plenty of nuts and seeds in it, and by making a big glass of green juice. By starting with the simple stuff, I take the pressure off and find I quickly get back on track.
Obviously the process of going green is different for everyone but there seem to be some common themes. It starts with the decision to get healthier, and what’s the easiest way to do that? Eat more vegetables. You quickly realise it isn’t enough just to eat more of them. You need to eat the organic ones, but the supermarket only has one tiny shelf of produce to choose from. You jump on Google and type ‘organic produce <insert your city here>’, and are confronted with page after page of links to farmers markets and companies that delivery to your door. You order your first organic fruit and vegetables box, and relax into the momentary relief you feel that you’re back on track.
You then start going through your fridge and pantry, and are disgusted by the amount of carcinogenic chemicals you see listed on the packages of your food. You throw them into a bag, determined to rid your kitchen of all things toxic, and are about to chuck the bag in the bin when you remember that article you read about how our throw-away culture is destroying the planet. You give the bag to your in-laws instead, explaining that you’re cleaning up your diet and that they don’t have to eat the contents of the bag but you didn’t want to throw it all out but on second thoughts maybe you should just chuck everything because it is all full of toxic chemicals, and they give you a look that is equal parts ‘you have finally completely lost it’ and ‘please stop talking about toxins because we don’t care’.
With a blank canvas (otherwise known as an empty pantry) you head to your local health-food shop in search of food that is organic, living and clean (whatever clean even means). Your hand is hovering over the organic local honey you just spotted when the girl next to you says, ‘You really should be eating Manuka honey for its medicinal properties. The others are just poor substitutes.’ You’re pretty sure you read that eating local honey is the best thing for your health but you put the jar back on the shelf and head over to organic biscuits section instead. You take a deep breath and wade into the land of agave versus stevia versus Zylitol versus coconut sugar versus who even knows how to pronounce that! You end up with a packet of unsweetened oat biscuits and are feeling pretty pleased with your choice, except you can’t quite remember if oats contain gluten, and aren’t you supposed to be avoiding that? Or was it gelatine?
Now that your kitchen is finally restocked, you’re ready to start cooking but first need to clean the bench. You pause, Ajax in hand, and it suddenly occurs to you that you really should be using natural cleaning products. Into the bin goes your Windex, detergents, shampoo and dishwashing liquid. There’s no chance you’re going to ruin your sparkly clean body with harsh chemicals that are used to clean engine oil from workshop floors! No way. From here on out your showering experience will be a healthy one… except you really should put a filter on your shower head because your skin is your biggest organ and it absorbs everything that touches it. Your relaxing morning shower suddenly became a giant chlorine and fluoride health hazard. Argh!
OK, deep breath. While it can be a bit of rabbit warren of seemingly contradictory information, I’ve learnt that you really only need to keep a couple of things in mind when navigating the land of green:
- Keep it simple and natural. Look for products that have the fewest amount of ingredients and, if you can’t pronounce something you see on the label, it’s probably not something your body wants you to consume. Just opt for real food (that’s the stuff that wasn’t made by a human, in a factory).
- Make sure every meal is centred around organic vegetables or fruit. The easiest way to keep your health on track is to jam-pack your diet with fresh produce.
- Go with your gut. The more you start exploring this world, the more confident you will be in trusting your choices. Most of the time they’ll be the right ones.
- Have fun with it. Changing your lifestyle is about upgrading to the good stuff and crowding out the less-than-great stuff. Enjoy the process and don’t be too hard on yourself. Just by being conscious when deciding what to put in and on your body, you’ll immediately make better choices.
Good luck on your journey! I’d love to hear about your journey or any tips you have.