In part 1 of this 2-part special, we began to consider how we can minimise the risk of toxin exposure via everyday products in our homes and lives. I am certainly not trying to terrify you into throwing out every chemical in your house mamas! I know how busy you are with just getting your kids to eat their greens, let alone finding time to rid your home of every know product known to man! My main objective here is to provide you with some very simple tips on how you can easily minimise the most dangerous and common chemicals that have been linked to children’s health and development in particular.
This little guide is something that can easily come in handy the next time you go shopping, allowing you to make informed decisions about what to look out for and which brands to buy.
Last time we looked at bathroom items containing common harmful chemicals. This time, let’s take a look at chemicals in some of the most popular kiddie foods.
We’ve all been there; after a busy day running around, you just need a quick and easy option for dinner to help keep everyone happy.
Maybe it’s canned beans with baked potato and some fresh veggies. Or homemade pasta sauce with a few cans of crushed tomatoes.
You may have heard of a chemical called Bisphenol-A or BPA showing up in the news after it was found that plastic baby bottles were leaching the chemical into the liquids inside and making their way into baby. BPA in baby bottles has now even been banned in some countries.
Canned foods, including soft drinks are lined with BPA to prevent the food from coming into direct contact with the metal and rusting the can. It acts as a non-stick surface. Highly acidic foods – like tomatoes – have a tendency to cause higher levels of BPA to leach out into the food. So why is BPA harmful? BPA is a potent hormone disruptor and low level exposure (like from eating canned foods) has been linked to a number of health issues including obesity, diabetes, infertility and heart disease. Scientists have known for nearly 80 years that BPA disrupts the hormonal system – it was intentionally created to be a synthetic estrogen. And because small children’s bodies are still developing, this is more serious for our kids than it is for us as adults.
So how do we keep BPA away from our kids? The short answer is to avoid all canned foods, and provide only fresh, whole, and unprocessed produce for your family. This is a great solution that will not only keep your kids away from BPA, but will also provide them with more fresh foods in their diet. Studies have shown that when we remove canned foods from our diet, we actually can reduce BPA in the body in just a few days!
I understand that you’ll still need those “quick and easy meals”, so here are a few alternative options:
Look for brands which use BPA-free cans – these are becoming more available, especially in health-food stores and organic stores. Eden Organics and Wild Planet are two such brands.
Look for glass or tetra-pack packaging instead of can packaging
Sorry to say this, but, microwave popcorn is not the healthy treat you thought it was.
Microwave popcorn is such an easy, and in some ways, healthier after school snack than say candy, or other junk food. It’s even a go-to for busy mamas looking for a healthy, low-calorie snack. But microwave popcorn is in fact one of the most toxic items in your kitchen.
Never mind the actual ingredients (gross amounts of sodium, trans fats, and artificial “butter”), eating microwaved popcorn exposes you to the highest levels of a chemical that’s been linked to toxicity of the immune system, thyroid disease, low birth weight, infertility, tumors, endocrine system disruption, and even cancer (sorry, don’t mean to be scary but this stuff really isn’t very good for you or your littlies).
The chemicals we’re looking at here are called fluorotelomers which manufacturers use to coat the inside of the popcorn bag to prevent the popping oil from soaking through the paper bag, and to make the bag more fire resistant. Fluorotelomers break down into another chemical known as PFOA, which is essentially non-stick coating, found everywhere from pots and pans, to candy wrappers.
PFOA takes a very long time to be eliminated from the body, and is often accumulating faster than you can get it out.
But the good news is that this is probably the easiest toxin to get out of your home – avoid microwave popcorn (and non-stick pans actually!).
Go back to what you used growing up – popcorn made on the stove. Check out my recipe below – a favorite in my household for hubby and kids (and dogs if I am honest) alike!
This allows you to have full control over the ingredients that go into your family snack, as well as get the kids involved in the fun process (supervised, of course). Crate & Barrel (MOE) even sells a special popcorn pan to make the task super easy.
Just by making a small change to homemade over microwave popcorn, can reduce their exposure to PFOA significantly. Plus, it’s much more fun and much tastier!
- Large Heavy Bottom Pot with Lid
- 1/2 Cup Organic Popping Corn (organic is best as it is GMO free)
- 1 1/2 Tablespoons Coconut Oil
- Sea Salt or Pink Salt – to your taste
- Optional: For sweetness, add a touch of coconut sugar after popping, or for sticky versions, you can try honey or maple syrup
- Heat your pot over medium heat.
- Add the coconut oil and let it completely melt. Once the oil is completely melted put the kernels into the pan (cover the bottom of the pan, no more) and wait for them to pop.
- Once the first kernels have popped, quickly add the lid
- Shake the pan slowly every 10 seconds or so until you hear the popping slow down. When the popping slows down to a pop every 2-3 seconds remove the pan from heat and continuously shake for another 10-20 seconds.
- After the 10-20 seconds, or you feel the popping is finished pour into a bowl, salt to taste and enjoy.
This recipe makes enough popcorn to fill a large bowl for all the family!
By clearing out the below toxins in your own home – toxic shampoos and body-care, canned foods, and microwave popcorn – you’ll be taking the first steps towards protecting your children’s health in a way that most families have not even thought of yet.
Toxins live in every corner of our lives and home – we cannot get away from them absolutely, but we can certainly work towards reducing our children’s exposure to some of the worst ones.
Keeping your kids safe is a full time job. Keeping your home safe for your kids does not need to be.
Chemicals with the power to impact the short and long term health of your child are in your home right now, 100%. But you can absolutely do something about it!!
READ THE LABEL: look out for these words in the ingredients lists of products to help reduce the chemicals in your home.
NAME: PHTHALATES. Also described as “fragrance”, “perfume” or “parfum” – Phthalates are found in shampoos and body care items because they help to hold the smell. This chemical impact the endocrine system, which is super important as it is responsible for producing the hormones that influence and regulate almost every cell of our bodies.
Where you will find it: Shampoo, body washes, creams, deodorants and perfumes and body-care products generally.
NAME: Bisphenol-A or BPA. Potent hormone disruptor even at low-level exposure (like the kind you get from eating canned foods).
Where you will find it: Canned foods and plastic bottles. You will usually see a triangle shape on the plastic bottle, which indicates BPA is present. Cans will contain BPA, unless stated “BPA –free”.
NAME: fluorotelomers and PFOA, which is essentially non-stick coating. PFOA takes a very long time to be eliminated from the body, and is often accumulating faster than you can get it out. This is a harmful hormone and cell disrupter.
Where you will find it: Pots and pans, to Scotchguard treated carpets, and pizza box, popcorn bags and candy wrappers.
So there you are mamas, a few easy ways to keep your kids healthy and chemical free!
Mia, a Certified Raw & Plant-based Chef, Yoga Teacher and Health Coach (AADP), is the passionate healthy foodie behind Graciously Green where she shares her favourite raw, cooked and plant-based recipes as well as green-living ideas. Mia’s mantra is to eat and live consciously, it’s as simple as that. Chef Mia offers realistic ideas for healthy eating with wholesome recipes that are fun, easy to make and most importantly delicious.You will soon be able to meet Chef Mia and taste her raw, vegan and delightful bites at the NYLA Kitchen, part of a fab new Barre and wellness centre opening up in Jumeirah – watch this space!