The Non-Toxic Kitchen Blog

Explore the journey to a non-toxic kitchen with our insightful blog. From safer cookware choices to eco-friendly cleaning tips, we're here to help you create a healthier home environment for you and your loved ones.

A Must-Have Resolution: Master the Art of Label Reading!

Happy New Year!  I hope you have survived the craziness and business of the holidays and hopefully enjoyed yourself along the way.  I personally took some much needed time off to be with my family and enjoy our new home over the break.  

But now that the kids are back in school and the busy weeks have resumed, I am ready to tackle the new year and get started working towards my goals for the coming year.  I no longer set resolutions that will soon be forgotten but instead set quarterly goals for myself to work towards each month and quarter.  I find it to be a much less overwhelming way to actually accomplish the things that truly matter to me.  

My #1 goal is to always eat as cleanly as possible.  That means I read every single label of food (and non-food) that comes into my home and am constantly re-assessing the items I buy.  After years of doing this, reading labels has become a habit to me like brushing my teeth.  I don't even think about it, I just automatically flip the item around and check out the ingredient list.   

But I didn't start out this way.  Before I became a mom, I never even thought to look at the label of what I was putting in my body each day.  It didn't matter as long as it tasted good and satisfied my cravings.  And I took for granted that if it was sold to me then it must be safe to eat.  I just went about my day not giving it a second thought.  

Until the day it did matter.  I was holding my new born baby when I got the call from my sister that my mom had passed away from the leukemia she had been fighting for the last year.  She was only 57 years old, and my son was only 3 days old.  I was a new mom without a mom.  She never got to meet him or even see his beautiful little face. 

That day, I vowed to myself that I would do everything in my power to live a long, healthy life so that I would not meet the same fate as my mom.  I was going to be around to meet my grandkids.  And not just hold them, but play with them and be an active part of their lives.  

A few years later, after doing some research, I found out that my mom's eating habits and choices are what ultimately led to her leukemia.  Turns out the artificial sweetener SUCRALOSE which is made in a laboratory by reacting sugar with chlorine, has been linked to leukemia and related blood cancers in animal studies.   It's one of the main ingredients in diet soda which she was very fond of.  As well as many of the so called diet foods she felt she needed to eat to be "healthy" and thin.  

To make things even worse, sucralose and many other artificial sweeteners are approved for use by the FDA.  So they are allowed to be sold to us as consumers even though they have been linked to all sorts of cancers and diseases.  I was not going to be the next victim of these so called "diet" foods or anything artificial for that matter.  And I certainly wasn't going to let my kids eat these things either!

 

So the first thing I did was to start reading labels.  It was shocking to see the quantity of artificial ingredients in the foods we ate on a daily basis.  But little by little, I did the research and learned so much about what is in our food.    And little by little, I started replacing the items that were filled with any harmful ingredients with healthier versions or no longer eating them altogether.

It's been 15 years since my mom's death, and since I started paying attention to what was really in my food.  Reading labels has significantly changed my family's life for the better.  We are healthier, we don't worry about dieting or losing weight, and we have tons of energy!   We are fully in control of our health and do our best to not eat any of these harmful chemicals.  

If you are ready to make real health changes in your life, my challenge for you this year is to start where I started - READ LABELS!  Not the nutrition facts part of the label but the full ingredient list part. 

When we become aware of what we are eating and what it could be doing to our bodies in the long term, we empower ourselves to change out these foods for healthier ones so we can truly live the long, healthy lives we are meant to and can be around to meet our grandkids!

So, how do you start?  There are a lot of ingredients that are incredibly harmful, known to cause cancer, autoimmune disease or heart disease and really should not be allowed for human consumption in our food supply.  These are the types of ingredients we want to avoid and no longer allow in our home. If we truly want to eat clean and live healthier, we have to set limits and not let them in our homes, no matter what.  Your challenge is to eliminate as many of these ingredients as you can, from your diet:

  1. Artificial Sweeteners
  2. Cooking Oils 
  3. Artificial Flavors
  4. Artificial Colors 
  5. Preservatives & Additives

To make it easier, I've created a cheat sheet for you here.  Just choose a category from above and you will see all the different names these ingredients go by on ingredient labels.  You can print it out or save it as a photo for reference as you grocery shop this week.  Don't forget to make sure you don’t have these ingredients at home by looking at ALL the ingredient labels for everything in the fridge, freezer, and pantry. You have two choices when you find something that contains these ingredients:

  1. Don’t eat it and throw it away (or donate).
  2. Do eat it (ASAP!), but promise to never buy that food item again (which should be easy, since you’ll read the ingredients before you put it in your cart!).

You might be surprised where these harmful ingredients hide… I’ve found them in snacks, canned items, condiments, baked items, “natural” ice cream… you can’t assume anything is safe, so make sure you read all the labels!

Where will you start first?  What surprised you the most when reading labels?

Let me know!