Monday, March 5, 2012

Trial and error

Now that I've been researching and chronicling lifestyle changes for a few months now, I've definitively realized that what works for one person is not guaranteed to work for another. We all have a unique body chemistry and finding the products which work for you can take a lot of trial and error. For example, I still love drinking the Braggs apple cider vinegar, but it really didn't do enough for my skin and many of the things I tried just totally broke me out after a while - I'm currently trying organic lemon juice and jojoba oil. I love jojoba oil - it's actually not technically an oil, but rather a "wax ester" - this is important because this wax ester compares to human skin oil (sebum). The ongoing theory is that jojoba can "trick" the skin into thinking it's produced enough oil, which can help you balance oil production. I've used it in the past with success - so we'll see what happens now.

Anyway, I get frustrated sometimes at how much patience it takes to heal things the natural way through plants and diet and water - part of me desperately wants to get some benzoyl peroxide and provide a quick fix for my skin so I can stop feeling SO self-conscious about it, but the other (larger) part of me wants to figure out the root of the problem and avoid the unnecessary synthetic chemicals regardless of how long it takes. I've been following the philosophy "you are what you eat": I know that many detoxes and skin conditions are caused by diet and lifestyle choices, and so I've been making sure I get at least 20oz of green juice per day (with extra lemon juice), drinking at least 2 liters of water / limiting alcohol, avoiding dairy when possible, eating enough greens, exercising, and trying to get enough sleep. It's a tall order, but detox symptoms show up differently for different people.. some people cleanse more through other organs beyond the skin, but that doesn't seem to be the case for me. :)

The conclusion of my hair experiment

Along these lines of trial and error, I've decided to take a break from the baking soda / vinegar hair routine, at least while I live in a house with SUCH HARD WATER. Oh my goodness. There is relatively little consistency which I can rely on when washing my hair: some days it will be so full of static I can't leave it down, other days it will feel incredibly limp, and on those rare but exciting days, it will feel amazing. I love the price and the ease, but the fact that my house has hard water makes the process incredibly difficult, even when boiling the water first. As such, I've switched to this shampoo, Green Beaver Fresh Mint. I feel good about the company (I also use their toothpaste) and they sell this shampoo down at the local health food store I've been frequenting near work. I use roughly a dime-sized amount each time, and thanks to the baking soda/vinegar routine, only need to use the shampoo every 3 days. It's a compromise I can live with, especially if it gives me some reassurance that my hair will look alright when I need it to. :)

Labeling and learning

It's crazy just how much we need to know in order to go to the store and pick up food which honestly describes the ingredients, benefits, and presence of GMOs. Eating well, to me, does not just include cutting out sugar and buying more vegetables. I also want to make a habit of buying locally, as well as avoiding GMO ingredients, synthetic hormones, pesticides, antibiotics, industrial farm practices, and all of the claims made daily by large manufacturers. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of investigative work, so I'm just happy to start small and work my way up. I've been feeling conflicted about Whole Foods in particular, because while their produce selection is amazing (and this is largely where I stay in the store), the prices for most other things in the store are daunting and I've also been discovering some less than savory stories about them lately. For example, this video looks into 365 brand organic frozen foods and points out that even bags which say "California Blend" on them are actually made in China. Another story I saw discusses the presence of non-labeled GMOs in many Whole Foods products. The largest problem I have with stories like these is that people go to Whole Foods so that they don't have to worry about the bad stuff - the hormones and the synthetic ingredients which are known to be harmful. When products are made in China and shipped here, standards for organic food shift and become harder to regulate - who knows if the food in the bag is to the standards you'd wish for when buying organic food?

Another example is Agave sweetener, which I had heard about and decided to try as a replacement for sugar in my tea. Agave is marketed as a natural sweetener with a low glycemic index: the bottle I tried said ORGANIC on the label, as well as WHOLESOME. Upon doing some research, I came across articles like this, which describe how Agave is nothing more than a lab-produced cousin to high fructose corn syrup, and is actually worse for you based on the concentration of fructose. The word "natural" means very little on a label, since no one regulates its use. "Organic" also can't be trusted, unless you trust the source. So, what's a girl to do?

Trial and error, trial and error

Keep trying! Never trust the marketing, and do your own research. In addition, have your eyes wide open about the presence of GMOs in processed foods, as well as the truths about industrial farming. Have you read the Omnivore's Dilemma yet? Do it! :) In the meantime, I'll end on a positive note. I tried this super easy recipe last week and it was delicious! LOVE sweet potato in soups. I substituted veggie broth for the chicken broth and kept out the celery (as I had none), and the leftovers lasted me throughout the week. Yum, yum, yum.

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