Sometimes I wonder if it just seems like the topics I’m interested in are becoming mainstream because I live in a sheltered “wellness bubble”, as I like to refer to it as. I surround myself with other health and wellness junkies and it can appear that the vast majority of the population is living a somewhat similar lifestyle to my own. Luckily, something eventually pops that beautiful bubble and I am faced with the reality that, of course, this really isn’t the case at all. Although I do believe more and more people are taking steps to lead a healthier lifestyle in general, there is still such a long way to go in terms of educating the masses on important health related issues and lifestyle choices.
It took me a while to even start this post because of its scope. Low-tox living has been at the forefront of my mind lately, but there is just so much to say about it and so much ground to cover, that the idea of writing about it seemed daunting. Too big. And you know how I have a tendency to ramble on… I want to say it all, but that would mean writing a book, not a blog post.
So I decided the best thing to do was pick one area of focus per post and today I am choosing clean beauty.
When I first began to detox the body and our home, I started with food. I slowly switched out conventional foods for organic ones and made the added cost of quality, chemical-free foods work for us because it was deemed priority. That was many years ago now. However, one of the last things I did was switch out my makeup for clean, chemical-free (or at the very least, highly reduced) products. And I’m probably not alone in this. Women become particularly attached to their beauty potions and lotions. We have specific brands and products that we’re loyal to and have been using for years. Letting go of that relationship and stepping outside of the comfort zone of knowing what gives you your desired look is a little scary. And, quite honestly, can leave you a little grumpy. I think it took being bombarded with daily messages of clean beauty before I finally uncrossed my arms, rolled my eyes and said, “Fine!"
As we start to settle into life as a family of four and find our daily rhythm, I’ve created a weekly routine for myself that I’m pretty happy with. I’m getting in regularly scheduled workouts (which, if you read my last post you know is a non negotiable for me), spending quality time with my family, and focusing on this blog and my own studies--all activities that I would classify as some of my favourite things. Maternity leave in Canada: it’s pretty sweet. It allows you time to really lean into the things you love. And it’s not to say that I don’t enjoy my job, but there’s nothing quite like making your own schedule and being really picky about how you spend your energy. A structured 9-5 doesn’t quite allow for the same flexibility.
Last week, I was hyper aware of how level I felt. And by level, I mean blood sugar wise. I wasn’t craving sweets the same way I have been known to (not saying I didn’t have my daily dark chocolate. Because I did. Let’s not be ridiculous). And I was just feeling super satisfied by all of my well thought-out, real food meals. I was motivated in the kitchen to create nourishing dishes for my family and feeling more creative when it came to our meal prep. Just because I am a health and nutrition enthusiast, doesn’t mean my level of enthusiasm is consistent. Like anyone, it ebbs and flows and from time to time, I fall into a rut. Sometimes life gets away from me and my planning isn’t as top notch as it needs to be, or I have a difficult time coming up with new and interesting meals that also meet my nutritional standards.
I began to wonder why, exactly, I was feeling this way. Why is it that my eating habits are better at certain times than others? When I really sat with this, I came to the conclusion that my eating habits are strongly correlated with my overall life satisfaction. When I feel fulfilled and generally happy, as well as minimally stressed (at least in a negative way), my food intake and eating patterns are optimized. Reflecting on periods of my life when I am not as satisfied by my daily routines, have less satisfaction by my close relationships, etc., I noted that my eating habits are more likely to stray from my ideal standards. There is an obvious emotional connection.
There is a lot of talk about sugar and its negative effects on our health. From diabetes to heart disease, to obesity, the laundry list of reasons not to consume too much is never ending. Personally, I haven't baked with regular white refined sugar in a very long time. My guess would be years. I do, however, like to use natural, unrefined sweeteners like maple syrup (my favourite) and honey. I will also choose something like coconut sugar and dates--both which have a lower glycemic index than refined sugars. Ayla is at an age where, if dessert is on the menu, she is offered it. It isn't contingent on whether or not she ate her main course, and often I will actually serve it at the same time! Limiting labels creates less emotion around what she is eating and helps her develop a healthy relationship with food. Although we don't eat dessert every night, I do like to experiment with baking (obviously), so it's important to me that I am offering her desserts that are made with real ingredients and are low in sugar most of the time. Of course, we have the odd treat not made at home and fully enjoy it. I don't deprive her of that, but it's certainly considered a special occasion. When we are home, I have the power and responsibility of offering nourishing, whole foods.
Sidenote: please bear with me with as I experiment with developing my food photography skills. I am not a photographer, but am enjoying trying new things and learning as I go. If you have any tips, please feel free to send them my way!
Traditionally, I have found brownies one of the easiest desserts to make gluten free. It isn't difficult to find a flourless version of this tasty treat. However, I was really on the hunt for something low-sugar as well, and sometimes that can make things tricky. However, once I started looking around at a few different recipes, I was confident I could create what I was envisioning. And sure enough, the result was this decadent, fudgy, chocolate dream brownie. Bonus: I made it without any sugar!