I didn’t necessarily start with the “big” things first, but the key here is that I started with something. I was already clued in to the glycemic index after having acquired a horse that was a chronic founder case and researching founder to death. Turns out, founder isn’t unlike diabetes. Don’t let them graze on frozen grass, don’t feed first or fourth cutting hay (might have been frozen causing the sugars to collect in the stems), no grain (metabolizes slow just like grains for us) and on and on. This isn’t really the right forum to discuss equine management, but it’s where I started to pay attention to things a little better. I didn’t change anything in my own life at that time (2007), but I was thinking. Then a friends dog had food allergies and his prize hunting dog, whom we all would have put down, went to a big vet lab for testing and was put on a strict diet of meat and sweet potatoes and recovered. More thinking…
Then I became a mom and one of the first things I did before bringing my baby home was order glass bottles. I was terrified of plastic! I also vowed to use only chlorine-free diapers. That lasted about three months as the convenience of the regular ones was easier. Then I quit my job and decided I’d better look at ways to save money and a friend who was cloth diapering encouraged me to give it a try. I ordered two and decided it wasn’t so bad after all. We started cloth diapering. That eventually led to cloth wipes.
The big changes for me didn’t come until May 2010 after I had laparoscopic surgery and hysteroscopic surgery (I believe as a result of taking soy isoflavones which completely screwed up my last attempt with fertility drugs to get pregnant). I had mid-cycle bleeding that was unexplained and not a result of implantation of an embryo. I went in for surgery after not ovulating (the eggs sucked back in (thanks, soy (sarcasm))). My doctor didn’t find a thing other than a plugged left tube which we already knew and polycystic ovaries.
After that surgery, getting incredibly sick from anesthetic and then a slower recovery than I was told, I had nothing left than to get healthy. I needed a break from trying to conceive. My body needed a break. My mind and emotions needed a break. I was done. We were not going to conceive. I’d spent all the money-more than we’d planned to spend on “trying” (again!) and all I ended up with (again) was dashed hopes, a significantly smaller savings account and piss poor health. Great job, Gretchen.
I didn’t want to go back on “The Pill”. I was getting old (32 now). I needed to treat my PCOS the way I knew I was supposed to. Recovering from surgery showed me I was extremely afraid to die of diabetes, heart disease or any of the other “wonderful” things that come as a result of untreated PCOS.
I noted in an earlier post that a friend whom I’d been penpals with since 5th grade sent me Jillian Michael’s book, Master Your Metabolism and then encouraged me to try the Insulite program. I did quit sugar cold turkey and experienced some pretty horrible withdrawal symptoms. Headaches, fatigue, cravings like crazy, grouchiness…good stuff. I failed.
Three weeks later I had the Insulite system at a cost of $85/mo. Cheap. Wayyyyy cheap compared to fertility treatments. And I was chucking things out my cupboards and replacing them with better things. I’ll detail how I started and what I changed below.
First I threw out: Soybean oil (also called vegetable oil) and anything that contained it (Crisco, Miracle Whip, most Mayonnaises, Velveeta, fake cheese slices “singles” candy bars, salad dressings (I never ate much of that), breads, pudding mixes, dessert mixes, boullion). I started reading labels big time. I replaced it with Canola oil at first and then Olive Oil. Now, I use Coconut Oil, Butter and later my own rendered lard (super easy). I added Flax Seed to lots of things, but have backed off on flaxseed as I am unsure about the lignans and how similar/dissimilar they are to soy lignans and perhaps potentially harmful. Until I know more, I’m backing off, although most sources tout the benefits of flaxseed.
Then I threw out anything…and I mean anything hydrogenated: Boullion cubes, lard (for pie crusts), candy bars again, chocolate chips, canned soups, peanut butter, etc.). I started shopping at the health food store for healthier versions of canned soups. Aghast at the price of those things I then made my own. I ordered beans in bulk, flour in bulk, etc. I switched to all natural peanut butter that has to be stirred. Adams is my preferred brand, but there are others that are just peanuts and peanut oil, not hydrogenated palm oil and other “funky” things. I was amazed that there was/is a healthier option and substitutes for everything. You just have to be willing to research it and find out.
I stopped buying white flour. For years I had bought only unbleached white flour for baking. Now I stopped buying it altogether. I instead bought whole wheat flour (Bob’s Red Mill has a great white wheat flour that you can sub), oat flour, barley flour, rye flour, spelt flour and started subbing my baking with those things.
I eradicated High Fructose Corn Syrup and anything that contained the ingredient. I switched to white sugar. The “natural choice”. Whatever! Later, I learned of how toxic white sugar is to your immune system and I began to slow my consumption of white sugar and in an effort to wean myself I used honey, agave, stevia, rapadura. None of which I now feel are great substitutes, but it was a start. I have also used barley malt, but now that I’m gluten free, that is not an option. I have yet to try sorghum “syrup”.
I threw out anything and I mean anything with MSG, “flavorings” (whether natural or artificial) and “spices” (which is often a fancy word for MSG). Except, my husband’s Hidden Valley Ranch. He can’t give it up. I don’t eat it, so I let him keep it. If you are starting out on this purge process you will be overwhelmed that MSG is in so many things. Chicken broth, for instance has HFCS and MSG-why? MSG is a “taste enhancer” derived from soy and was used a lot from 1950-1970. I started reading Excitotoxins: The Taste that Kills by Russell L. Blaylock which detailed it even more than The Whole Soy Story by Kaayla Daniels. It (MSG) was put into soldier’s rations to make their food more appealing. It was put into baby food (seriously! baby food!) to make it taste better. It’s in everything processed, it seems like. But you can very easily make your own chicken and bone broths by boiling the bones and freezing the liquid either in quart jars or ice cube trays. This is what I do now. I couldn’t find a viable and affordable substitute. I hate MSG. The more I’ve learned the worse my reaction when I see it in the ingredients. I am appalled that a can of name brand or store brand chicken broth has 5-8 other ingredients rather than the broth itself. Broth is not supposed to be a main meal or even tasty.
I replaced my toast, cereal and bacon at breakfast with greens, berries and bacon (or some kind of protein!) and milk. I switched from pasteurized skim milk to pasteurized 2% (it was a start) and for a little while found a source for whole unpasteurized (raw) milk locally. Occasionally I would splurge for the $10.50 gallon of raw jersey milk at the health food store, but not often.
I stopped snacking in the afternoons, or if I did, I made sure it was healthy with a vegetable an a protein and/or fat. I stopped snacking before bed. No more ice cream for me. I discovered when I did have a sugary snack before bed, I slept horrible or had bad dreams and woke every few hours thinking I was starving. I replaced those midnight snacks at first with nuts or cheese (real cheese).
I stopped feeding food coloring to my kids and other kids in my care. I stopped making Jello or putting Jello in their applesauce to make it pretty. Food coloring can cause hyperactivity/attention problems and who knew … read the back of the box and it is laced with parabens! Cancer causing agents in food coloring. Yes, let’s toss those things.
I hit WinCo and bought nuts in bulk: raw almonds, raw walnuts, macadamias, pistachios, brazil nuts. I bought whole wheat pasta (I now buy gluten free) as well as beans, other seeds.
I stopped storing food in plastic and switched to glass. I stopped microwaving in plastic and switched to glass. I never was big on baking in aluminum, so that wasn’t a change I had to make. I use Pyrex glass to bake in. I would like to get to the point where I don’t depend on that microwave for much of anything…not there yet.
Then I tackled indoor chemicals. I stopped using chlorine bleach. A good substitute is vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. I mixed up my own dishwasher detergent and made my own laundry soap (also a cheap option for a mommy who just quit her job). I was part of the Melaleuca Company at this time and had their “safer” cleaners. Now that I’m out of those, I make my own. Baking soda cleans anything! I had some friends using natural cleaners who told me what they did, that helped. I subbed Dawn for Seventh Generation, Windex for Vinegar…(or is it vice versa for proper grammar?)…
I stopped using hair spray and gel, it didn’t work anyway. I never used conditioner. I changed my shampoo (to SLS free) and body soap. I use Desert Essence castile soap on my face and have used Dr. Bronner’s (any flavor) on my body. Most of the time, I just use a safer bar soap. I stopped using Secret and Degree deodorant/antiperspirant because of the aluminum and tried a few different brands. I didn’t care for Jason brand and finally settled on Nourish. Yes, I often sweat through it and sometimes I use antiperspirant if I know I am going to be on the chopping block as far as a sweaty occurrence goes. Not often, though. I love the smell of the Nourish brand. You can get it at Mountain Rose Herbs or on www.amazon.com. It’s a little more expensive, but it lasts about a year, so it evens out. I also have a recipe to make my own with coconut oil and baking soda, but I haven’t done that yet.
I switched my makeup to Dr. Haushka, but I wasn’t fond of it, the price, coverage on my skin or the smell (rosy smell). So, I switched to a different kind and now use Lavera foundation topped with a powder. I was using Rejuva Minerals as the powder, but then when the ingredients weren’t any different from anything else, I switched back to a loose powder from Mabelline. Still on a search for a good, affordable powder. I changed my eyeliner, mascara (who knew they put plastic in mascara!), eye shadow, lipstick/gloss.
My face was greasy at this time, so I used a french clay mask from Burt’s Bees to draw out the moisture. It was some $8 for one ounce and had a fragrance to it that I didn’t prefer. I found Rose Mountain Herbs in Oregon and ordered a pound of french green clay for what? $9 $10? My skin is now clear and non greasy (going on 2 years!) so it sits in my bathroom closet. My oldest remembers when I used to put it on my face and he would ask for the “leftovers” so he could too.
These changes happened little by little, but one thing leads to another. If chlorine was something I shouldn’t be applying to my body, then I probably shouldn’t be using topical acne creams, either. Upon more research, I ditched those and did the green clay mask and melaleuca oil. My skin cleared up. I also threw out anything with parabens and dimethicone (some “natural” and “organic” products still have dimethicone) because they are cancer causing and can screw up female hormones. You can check the safety of your beauty products at www.ewg.org and follow the link for the cosmetic database. They also have one for sunscreens-most of which are horrible.
I also changed my feminine products. First I went “chlorine free” using several different brands and trying to figure out what was best. Eventually I made my own mama cloth (because I’m frugal I refuse to pay $5 per pantyliner that I could make for .10c). I still use Seventh Generation products or others that I find during the cycle.
If all these toxins build up in your body and cause reproductive harm, then I was pretty sure this was my problem! There is a fancy term for this…bioaccumulation. It essentially means that the 2% or “less than 2% hydrogenated” or food coloring, minute amounts of chlorine and other harmful chemicals, which are not probably harmful in those small “doses” are accumulating in your system. So, 2% is not being disposed and then compounds to 4% and then 20% until all those little things that said “less than 2% of whatever” have built up to really cause some substantial harm in your system.
I’m not a hippie, nor am I “green”. I’m not a big consumer and I don’t follow fads, but I research and if I find similar information in 2, 3, or 4 unrelated sources, then I tend to see a link. Especially if those sources are not supported by big medicine, pharmaceutical companies, big Ag or big Dairy. There is compelling independent research out there-you just have to go looking for it. And looking is what I did.