My definition of clean living is simply to live in such a way that I eliminate as many toxic things from my life as possible – not just from my body, but from my mind and soul, too.
Real food. Simplify life. Reduce stress. Love God and my neighbor. Work/life balance.
Do you beat yourself up because you are interested in clean living but haven’t quite “gotten there”? Well, don’t be discouraged … it is a PROCESS, not just a destination! And it’s a very personal journey for sure. For example, I have been on the path to clean living for years, and I started with two simple things I knew were “poisoning” my body … sugar and white flour. You will have to decide what poisons are in your own life.
I started by eliminating these two things from my daily diet. I’m not a sugar or white flour Nazi per se, and occasionally I’ll allow myself that indulgence, but I probably stick to it 98% of the time. That was my start. After getting that under my belt, I began to tackle the elimination of processed foods in my routine – boxed, canned, jarred goods that obviously didn’t come from Mother Earth that way. That’s a harder mountain to climb. If I’m short on time, I do buy prepared salsa or jarred pesto, etc. I opt for the freshest and best food labeled product I can find. But in general, I probably keep to the “no processed foods” 90% of the time.
Then I began to tackle my skincare and personal care choices. The skin is our largest organ! That’s exactly why nicotine and estrogen patches on the skin work! So I’m evaluating my shampoos and conditioners, toothpaste, moisturizers, make up, and sunscreen.
For the mind, I’ve turned off most TV. I make watching the screen an intentional choice. Instead of the TV being on 24/7, I make a decision if I want to watch someone else live life for two hours or if I’m going to live my own life. If I make the decision to watch (and I DO love movies), I put on Netflix and choose what I want to fill my mind with for a limited time. And books? Yes, yes, yes! The mind can be so much more creative with a book! But again, there are trashy books and there are meaty books. I’m training my mind to reject what I know is trash infiltration and crave intellectual, good story-telling, quality, subject matter books instead.
For my soul, well that’s probably the most significant clean living choice of all! Matthew 15:17-20 in the NIV says: “Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. These are what defile a person…” Enough said. I know my own failings so I enjoy church where I have to be transparent and I am accountable for my actions, reading Scripture, and being challenged through intelligent and thoughtful discourse about God.
But I haven’t “arrived” at fully living clean yet! That’s the personal part of each person’s journey. I color my hair. My bad! Talk about toxins! But I don’t like how I look with grey hair compared to my dark locks. So it’s a toxic choice I’ve willingly made. I occasionally wear nail polish. Another toxin!
And the “toxin”list in our lives is huge … carpets, bed sheets, house paints, teflon cooking surfaces, detergents, etc.
So in your interest and journey toward clean living, don’t get overwhelmed with the whole kit and caboodle! Start with one step, just one “poison” that you know is in your life. Then another. Then another. The important thing is to get on the path and start moving toward the goal. Here are seven starting ideas:
- Substitute water for other beverages.
- Do you drink lots of coffee or soda or sugary juices? Begin to substitute water over these other choices a little at a time until water is your go-to beverage. Water hydrates the body, improves complexion, flushes toxins out of your system, and is the earth’s natural beverage resource to us. It’s the “cleanest” choice of beverages.
- If you are one of those who struggle with drinking water, don’t buy flavored versions! That defeats the purpose of putting something “clean” in your body. Instead, add sliced real food, like fruit, mint leaves, cucumbers, etc. to your water to infuse it with those flavors.
- Coffee and tea
- On my journey, I gradually moved from full caffeinated coffee to half decaf, and also moved to organic. I was raised with offering coffee as a sign of hospitality. There’s something comforting and welcoming about holding a warm mug of beverage with a heavenly scent.
- I began to collect organic teas and green teas, and offer guests hot tea in addition to decaf organic coffee.
- Increase intake of fruits and vegetables
- The more you fill up on fruits and vegetables, the less room you’ll have in your stomach to fill with junk and processed foods!
- Fruit and vegetables are from the earth … no additives and preservatives. Not formulated in a factory.
- Eventually, for truly clean living, you’ll also need to migrate to purchasing organic fruits and vegetables. What you purchase at your local grocer most likely has pesticides, could be GMO (genetically modified organisms), and if it’s an out-of-season/out-of-region food source, it’s been shipped from who knows where to get to your locale!
- In time, farmer’s markets will become your favorite shopping destination!
- Convert to coconut oil for cooking
- Virgin coconut oil resists oxidative damage from heat unlike olive oil.
- Vegetable oils contain long chain triglycerides (LCTs) which are more difficult to break down. This is an added toxic burden to your body.
- Coconut oil contains lauric acid which converts to monolaurin in your body. Monolaurin is known to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antiprotozoal properties.
- Beware: As in many cases with food, not all coconut oils are the same! Mass-produced coconut oils are oftentimes refined, deodorized, and bleached which not only strips the oil of beneficial nutrients but also adds toxins to the oil.
- The BEST coconut oils? Look for ones that are made from fresh coconuts and are cold-pressed. This avoids the need for additives and solvents in the process.
- Decrease sugar consumption!
- Just DO IT! I can’t emphasize this one tip enough. Refined sugar is poison to your body and proven to be more addictive than cocaine. Monitor your children’s intake so you don’t create in them the same lifelong addiction that you experience!
- Begin by taking coffee black, use honey in tea.
- No diet sodas or artificial sweeteners. These are toxins as well. The point is CLEAN living, reducing toxins.
- If you have to use a sweetener, you can use stevia, but once again, not all stevia is processed the same! Use green leaf stevia... it’s the least processed type. The leaves are dried and ground into a powder form. It isn’t as potent as other stevia products. But just because it’s a natural sweetener, moderation is still key.
- Read food labels! Cereals, protein bars, protein shakes, etc… Always be aware of how much sugar you are taking in!
- Don’t eat “white”!
- If you’re not gluten-free, then you can change from white breads, to whole-grain breads. From white rice to brown rice. From white potatoes to red potatoes. You get the idea. If you’re trying to go gluten-free, then you need to dig deeper than just not eating “white”. You can’t eat whole grains, because those will contain gluten and instead will need to convert to coconut flour, corn flour, etc.
- Mind and Soul
- Evaluate your mind and soul. What are you watching? What are you reading? What do you focus your time and energies on? What stress could you reduce? What kinds of friendships and relationships do you keep? Do you seek a place for God in your life?
- DO something about the evaluation. Notice what’s healthy and what’s not. Action plan one thing you could do differently…