The Little Known Facts About Fragrance

Studying holistic nutrition has not only taught me about the foods we put in our bodies, but the products we put on them. The average woman uses 12 products daily exposing her to 168 different chemicals, the average man? 85. That’s according to the environmental working group, and one of the many ingredients listed in these is “Fragrance” or “Parfum”. This is an umbrella term that when listed as an ingredient can represent more than 3000 different chemicals. These chemicals include those that are responsible for scent in products, as well as those that are used to disperse the scent, such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance can be made synthetically with chemicals or derived from natural raw materials, or petroleum.

Uses

These chemicals are used in personal care products, cleaning products, colognes, and perfumes. They’re also increasingly found in things like diapers, garbage bags, candles, tissues, toys, and more.

Fragrance is used of course to add pleasant smells to products, however they are also used to mask the toxic chemicals used in products because we would likely not buy and use them otherwise.

Health Impacts

There are numerous health impacts of these 3000+ chemicals. Unfortunately a lot of these chemicals have not been tested for safety yet. As for the ones that have been tested, health issues such as asthma, skin issues, migraines, and allergies can be triggered.

Many of these chemicals are endocrine disruptors meaning they negatively impact our hormones. The major concern with these chemicals is that they mimic and disrupt natural hormones such as testosterone, estrogen, and thyroid hormones. This encompasses issues such as sending the wrong hormonal signal to the wrong tissues, impairing basic body functions like repairing tissues, and preventing the naturally occurring hormones from functioning properly. Depending on the dose and timing, exposure to hormone disruptors has been linked to a wide range of health problems, these include an increased risk of cancers, especially breast and prostate cancer; reproductive toxicity and effects on the developing fetus; early puberty; infertility; and predisposition to metabolic disease such as thyroid problems or obesity. Certain hormone disruptors can also impact the optimum thyroid levels crucial to normal brain development and growth in the fetus, infants and young children.
Recent research has clearly demonstrated that even at low doses, exposure to hormonal disruptors during susceptible periods can have drastic consequences for health later in life. Scientists are especially concerned about the impact of hormone-disrupting chemicals during critical windows of development, such as fetal development.

So, what now?

While this information can be overwhelming at first (it certainly was for me), it is also empowering once you do your research to know that you have other options. Always know that no matter what it is, there is a natural option for you and your family. While it is true that we cannot control some of our daily environmental exposures from living in a suburban area, your home is a place that you have lots of control over. My tips for DIY safe switches are:

1) Ditch the air fresheners- air fresheners are full of fragrance of course, as well as many other chemicals (most companies don’t list most of their chemicals on their products) and this is a super easy switch because there are many natural scents using essential oils. You can use a diffuser to spread scent across an entire room (the oils also have therapeutic benefits such as uplifting your mood-citrus oils, or relaxing you-lavender etc.) Or simply make your own air freshener with this recipe here. We use this in our bathroom and its been awesome! When the scent runs low simply add a few more drops in.

2) Avoid wearing perfume and cologne- I know, I know, everyone wants to smell amazinggg. But, we’re dousing ourselves in chemicals that are doing major damage, and did you know that perfumes and cologne’s contain chemicals that destroy your sense of smell so that you’ll use more of the product (therefore buy more), not so fun sales tactic eh? I always smell like essential oils, mostly because I use them to uplift my mood, calm me down, etc. but there really is an oil for whatever lovely scent you’d like. DoTERRA has many DIY oil blends to replace perfume and cologne, as well as a ready made oil blend called Whisper that works with your body’s own chemistry to give you a scent unique to you!

3) Cleaning products- I’ve talked a bit about this lately with a recent Instagram post about lemon essential oil and how it’s part of one of the easiest and healthiest DIY all purpose cleaners (that works BETTER than chemicals) just lemon oil, vinegar, and water in a glass spray bottle. You get all the yummy smell and shine without the chemicals.

4) Swap more complicated products like shampoo and condition for healthier options. My absolute favourite shampoo and conditioner is a Canadian company called Carina Organics, found here. Guess what? You can pronounce all the ingredients! I always say if you can’t read it, neither can your body. This combo works amazingly well and I love knowing that I’m using real plants in my products over chemicals. Switching out products gradually has helped my liver and body so much.

I totally encourage you to try your own DIYs, you can find a ton here. You can also follow me on Instagram for easy peasy DIY’s that save you money and make your body a whole lot happier and healthier! If DIY’s seem like a lot of work (although I promise some take seconds), our team also hosts ‘Make and Take’s’ where you simply bring your oils and pay for the containers you use and we provide all the materials and instructions on how to make them. This is honestly one of the most fun things, last time I spent just over $20 and came home with cleaners, body sprays, air fresheners, creams, etc. it was the best! There is one every month, let us know if you’d like to join!

Happy Oiling!

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Addressing Behavioural Issues Naturally

*The following is part of a Facebook series on How to Address Behavioural Issues Naturally

Behavioural issues are one of the most prevalent issues facing children and teens today. They can also follow us into adulthood with symptoms manifesting slightly differently.

ADD- Attention Deficit Disorder as well as ADHD- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, are two of the most common. ADD and ADHD are found in approximately 5-15 percent of school age children and diagnosis is continuing to skyrocket.

There is about a 2:1 ratio for boys vs. girls being affected. Typical signs are hyperactivity, emotional instability (such as mood swings and outbursts), clumsiness, and disordered attention (short attention span, poor concentration, or easily distracted).

Behavioural issues generally start around age 3; however most are diagnosed once the child starts school and the behaviour becomes more apparent, around age 7.

The causes of these behavioural issues are of course multifactorial and while there is a genetic component, like most conditions, environmental and dietary factors play a significant role in determining how these genetic factors are manifested in the child.

The main “treatment” used for behavioural issues are pharmaceutical drugs such as Ritalin, Concerta, Adderall, and Vyvanse.

These medications reportedly improve behaviour by up to 75% in placebo controlled studies, however in clinical practice it is seen to be much lower. Follow up studies have failed to show long term benefits, and have actually shown many adverse side effects such as anxiety, aggressiveness, agitation, and loss of appetite. Long term effects of these drugs can be extremely detrimental to brain function and behaviour.

These drugs work by pushing an increase of dopamine in the brain to stimulate attention and energy. However, an excess of dopamine can be just as harmful as a deficiency.

Non-stimulant drugs such as Atomoxetine also known as Strattera have been promoted as a safe alternative. However, it comes with it’s own set of side effects including an increased risk of suicidal thoughts. The risk for addiction and abuse of these drugs is also high.

Overall, it’s clear we would benefit from finding more natural solutions that don’t involve scary side effects.

In this post I’m going to focus on foods to avoid in cases of behavioural issues.

Our gut is the foundation of our health and is interconnected to our brain via something called the gut-brain axis. 80% of serotonin (our ‘happy’ hormone) is made in our gut.

The foods we eat and don’t eat influence this directly.

The irony of Ritalin being used to treat behavioural issues is that the non-medical ingredients of Ritalin include Yellow No.10, and Green No.3 which are food dyes known to contribute to behavioural changes.

Researchers focus on 10 food dyes, however, there are over 3000 different food additives that are of concern. There is conflict of interest in the studies done in the US, as most of the negative studies (stating these additives are safe to use) have been funded by Coca-Cola, Nabisco, and other major food corporations using these substances.

Sugar of course is next on the list for its effect on the brain and our blood sugar. Sugar acts as an opioid in the brain giving a similar reaction as heroin, increasing dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter responsible for energy, memory, and focus.

The following list of foods to avoid is taken from this article by Dr. Josh Axe, I have added information to the points where I felt necessary.

 

ADHD Foods to Avoid

Sugar – This is the primary trigger for most children, and some adults with ADHD. Avoid any forms of concentrated sugar including candy, desserts, soda, or fruit juices.

Sugar also causes blood sugar spikes and crashes also known as hyper and hypoglycemia or “hangry” as we all probably know. Blood sugar can have a huge impact on our mood and behaviour causing aggression, anxiety, depression, crying spells and more.

Gluten – Some researchers and parents report worsening behavior when their child eats gluten, which may indicate sensitivity to the protein found in wheat. Avoid all foods made with wheat such as bread, pasta, and wheat cereal.  Look for gluten-free or even grain-free alternatives.

Gluten also docks opioid receptors in the brain causing us to “crave our poison” most people find the thing they’re most reactive to is what their body craves most. Gluten can also cause autoimmune reactions (the body attacks itself) in the brain.

I would say if your child or anyone is severely suffering to ditch the grains completely at least for a while as many find just going gluten free not entirely helpful. I know for myself I only noticed a drastic change in my health when removing all grains. Also be aware of gluten free products and their ingredients as many can be full of modified and unhealthy ingredients. Choose naturally gluten free foods such as brown rice and gluten free oats. My favourite option is organic lentil pasta, its full of fibre, protein, and healthy carbs.

Conventional Dairy – Most cow milk dairy contains A1 casein that can trigger a similar reaction as gluten and should be eliminated as well. If problematic symptoms arise after eating dairy, discontinue use. Goat’s milk however does not contain the protein, and is a better option for many individuals with ADD/ADHD.

I would recommend eliminating dairy altogether for a while in order to let the gut heal. Other dairy free options are almond milk, and coconut milk. Always check for additives in store bought versions of these as well (they are both super easy to make at home).

Food Coloring and Dyes – Children with ADHD can be sensitive to a variety of food dyes and colorings, therefore all processed foods should be avoided. Coloring and dyes appear in nearly every commercially processed food. That’s how they market it to kids! Food dyes can be found in sports drinks, candy, cake mixes, chewable vitamins, and even toothpaste!

CaffeineWhile some studies have shown that caffeine may help with some ADHD symptoms, it is wise to minimize or avoid caffeine, as these studies have not been validated. In addition, the side effects of caffeine, like anxiety, and nervousness, can contribute to the symptoms of ADD/ADHD.

MSG and HVPThese two additives are believed to decrease dopamine levels in both children and adults. Dopamine is associated with the brain’s pleasure and reward systems. For individuals suffering with ADD/ADHD, balanced levels of dopamine are essential.

Nitrites – Commonly found in lunchmeat, canned foods and many processed foods, nitrites are linked to an increase of childhood Type 1 Diabetes, certain types of cancer, and IBS. In addition, it can cause rapid heart rate, difficulty breathing, and restlessness which worsen ADHD symptoms.

Artificial Sweeteners – Artificial sweeteners are just bad for your health, but for those living with ADHD, the side effects can be devastating. Artificial sweeteners create biochemical changes in the body, some of which can harm cognitive function and emotional balance.

Soy – Soy is a common food allergen and can disrupt hormones that cause ADHD.

Personal Food Sensitivities/Allergens – Eliminate the top 7 allergens, including soy, wheat, and conventional dairy mentioned above, as well as peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, and shellfish. In addition, eliminate any foods or beverages that are personal allergens. This might include papaya, avocados, bananas, and kiwis (for those with latex allergies), and/or coriander, caraway, or fennel (all from the same family), and/or chocolate.

Overall, it’s clear there can be so many triggers for behavioural issues. It’s so important to eat food without labels (like vegetables, fruit, organic meats etc.) whenever possible. When eating food with labels, carefully check ingredients to ensure you’re getting the highest quality food without fillers and additives like those listed above.

Good guidelines and elimination diets to follow include the GAPS diet (the gut and psychology diet) which has helped so many people reduce or eliminate symptoms of behavioural issues by addressing food allergies and healing the gut. The Specific Carbohydrate diet is similar, removing all suspected allergens from the diet.

The SCD diet is the one thing that helped me when I was suffering so much from digestive/hormonal/completely unexplained issues, I had whole body symptoms that no one could piece together which is what started me on this journey and I have only just figured out that my liver and gallbladder are the root of all of these issues recently by working with one of my teachers. This is most likely from very harsh medications I took as a teen for acne, 10 years later I’m working my way out of the damage. This is why I’m so passionate about finding the root cause of these issues and working naturally to eliminate them rather than turning to medications to mask symptoms, because pharmaceuticals have had a severe impact on my life.

I still mostly stick to a paleo type diet which eliminates grains, dairy and processed foods. Once you start supporting the body with what it needs and heal the digestive system, the brain and the rest of the body thrive. If issues are serious I always recommend working one on one with a holistic nutritionist to address diet and it’s role in behavioural issues.

 

As a dental hygienist I see countless teens on harsh medications to control their behaviour (plus more to control symptoms from the original medication). However, as a yoga teacher, teaching kids, I see first hand the impact of yoga on behaviour and hyperactivity. Finding an activity that can help your child relax, as well as bring the focus to their own breath and body can be extremely helpful in working with behavioural issues where the majority of focus is on external stimuli.

A List of Resources:

Dr. Doris Rapp

Book: Is This Your Child?

https://www.amazon.ca/This-Your-Child-Doris-M-D/dp/0688119077

YouTube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRDpcWZUEiU

Specific Carbohydrate Diet

Book: Breaking the Vicious Cycle

https://www.amazon.ca/Breaking-Vicious-Cycle-Intestinal-Through/dp/0969276818

 

Mind Body Decision Making

How do you go about making decisions? Do you do things because you feel you “should”? Do you need other people’s opinions before you decide? Or do you go with what your body tells you?

Most people know about the “gut feeling”. But what about whole body decision making? Life coach Martha Beck calls this her “shackles on, shackles off” approach.

Start by closing your eyes, take a deep breath, and begin to think of a memory or a period of your life that was very unhappy. Focus now on your physical body, where do you feel this memory in your body? Tight chest? Tense jaw? A pit in your stomach? Notice the places in your body that you feel the sensations.  This is your shackles on sensation.

Now take a deep breath and let go of that memory and those sensations.

Close your eyes again and begin to think of a happy situation or  your favourite memory. What sensations do you feel in your body? Goosebumps? Relaxation? Lightness? Make a note of the sensations you feel and where you feel them in your body. This is your shackles off sensation.

Shackles on refers to feeling trapped, uncomfortable, and constricted. A clear NO from your body. Shackles off is a feeling of freedom and lightness. Or simply, A HELL YES!

The difficulty lies in the decisions that bring up fear. Some decisions aren’t a clear yes or no! The truth is, some of the best yeses for us, scare us the most. So how do you know the difference between shackles on and shackles off? If there’s an underlying feeling of excitement and freedom about the decision that’s your clue it’s a yes! If under the fear is still more fear and dread, it’s pretty clear that’s a no.

Of course we all have some aspects of our lives that are shackles on. Maybe your current job is shackles on because you need to pay your bills while you fund your dream ‘shackles off’ career. Our suffering comes from lack of acceptance, so if this is the case, accepting where you are, while working toward where you want to be can make a huge difference.

The goal is to make as many decisions that are ‘shackles off’ as possible. One step at a time right?

xoxo Heather

Grain & Dairy Free Creamy Pasta + Sauce

Okay so what do you do when you feel like a creamy pasta but you don’t eat grains or dairy? I found the answer!

pasta

The pasta that I used here is chickpea and lentil pasta but you can use whatever you want depending on your dietary needs/what you have on hand.

The sauce:

This recipe makes enough for two large servings of pasta, adjust to your needs and taste buds!

  • half of a ripe avocado
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup (more or less depending on how thick you want the sauce to be) of almond milk
  • 1 clove of garlic (roasted or raw if you can handle it 😛 )
  • salt + pepper to taste

Throw all ingredients in food processor and mix into pasta! Yum, I added broccoli and chicken to my pasta, pictured above. Enjoy!

Stop Playing Small

What is it that you really want? Not what your parents want, or you think society wants for you, what do YOU want?

You may not even know, because you spend so much time worrying about what other people want. Or maybe you’re in a time of transition, you know what you DON’T want, yet aren’t sure what you do want. That’s okay, because awareness is the first step of change!

One of my amazing friends, who I refer to as my life coach because I don’t know where I would be without her 🙂 , is leaving this month on the adventure of a lifetime. She’s traveling Central America for at least 6 months, checking so many things off her bucket list! If you want to follow her journey across Central America (and feel inspired & encouraged) check out her blog here. I am so excited for her, this is something she has wanted to do for years, but like the rest of us, has struggled to commit to her dream because she was afraid of the impact on others.

Life coach Martha Beck says that we each have our “everyone”. This is a group of no more than five or six people that we hold the opinion of and generalize as everyone. For example- “everyone thinks I should stay at my job”, or “no one supports what I want”. These generalizations keep you feeling stuck and powerless. We feel as though we need permission and everyone to support us before we make the change that we want. The truth is that conditions will never be perfect, you need to leap anyway. If you find you really need support, find it! Figure out who your “everybody” is, and look outside those people, I guarantee you will find at least one person who supports you.

We also “mind read” and assume that our ‘everybody’ isn’t supporting us. We’re afraid they won’t, so we don’t even bother discussing our dreams. I did this for a long time and used it as an excuse to not move forward. Give people more credit! The more I started speaking about what I wanted, the more support I got and the more I would hear about people being inspired to go after what they want.

We play small too much, nothing fun happens in your comfort zone. The world needs what you have to offer, plus as I just mentioned, when we stop playing small, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. Stop waiting for all the stars to align, for everyone to support you. Everyone has their own fears that hold them back, and we’re pretty darn good at pushing those fears on other people and calling it love (it’s not). If you’re waiting for things to be perfect, you’ll always be waiting. Do it now. If you still need permission, this is it! No one benefits when you play small and hide your gifts.

The last 6 months have been a game changer for me, prior to that I had been keeping myself stuck in fear, avoiding creating my own yoga business because I was afraid it would ‘fail’ or I wouldn’t know what I was doing. Fortunately, I’m happy to say I’m leaving that behind! I ordered business cards and launched my yoga business and have a class for dental professionals, which I will post about next! I am so excited to see where it takes me and how it evolves when I graduate as a holistic nutritionist.

I’ve challenged myself to stop playing small, you in?

xoxo

Heather

Grain and Dairy Free Nice-cream Sandwiches!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last post! I’ve been enjoying my summer and had an amazing vacation in Tenerife, Spain last month. I’ve still been cooking/baking and mess making 🙂 These copycat ice cream sandwiches are perfect for this summer heat. The idea was inspired by Holistic Nutritionist Miranda Malisani, when I saw her version on Instagram.

The cookies for these are ones I’ve already posted from detoxinista. Super simple grain free diary free chocolate chip cookies! Always the option to switch it up and use your favourite cookies (peanut/almond butter, vegan cookies, etc.)

The filling for these is really simple as well. On it’s own, it makes a great pudding, and frozen in the middle of two chocolate chip cookies is even better 🙂

Ingredients (makes enough for 12 sandwiches):

  • 2 ripe avocadoes
  • 1/3 cup raw organic cocao powder
  • 1/4 cup organic maple syrup (more or less depending on your taste)
  • 1 tsp organic vanilla extract
  • pinch of Himalayan sea salt optional

Add all ingredients into food processor and mix until combined.

Once the cookies have cooled, spoon the filling onto one cookie, top with second cookie. Once you have used up all the cookies, (I doubled the cookie recipe and got 12 sandwiches out of it). Place in the freezer!

The sandwiches taste best when they are slightly thawed, so I recommend taking them out 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

 

When Nothing is Sure, Everything is Possible

Do you love to plan? There’s a big difference between having goals you’re working toward, and trying to control every detail of a situation (or your life). The first is healthy striving to create a life you love, while the latter is a fear-based response in an attempt to avoid pain and suffering.

In case you haven’t noticed in your own life, trying to control does us no good. Shocking right?! If you’re like me and you’ve heard time and time again, to “just let go”. All you think is “yeah, that’s a great idea, but HOW?” Like most things, easier said than done. My best friend showed me a picture that says “Never in the history of calming down, has anyone calmed down by being told to calm down.” I feel the same way about letting go of control. Telling people to let go is pretty useless (and if they’re really overwhelmed about a situation it can even make it worse because they could feel discounted and as though their feelings aren’t valid.)

I’ve been a planner ever since I can remember. My career especially, I had picked out by the time I was in third grade. Sure I checked out all of my options throughout high school, but I was sure I was going to be a dental hygienist for my whole life. I had a huge fear of the dentist as a kid (cavity prone) and my hygienists and the assistants always worked wonders at helping me feel comfortable and helping me overcome my fear. I knew I wanted to do that for others. While I absolutely love that part of my job and LOVE teeth (I know, it’s weird to people not in the dental field), I had absolutely no idea I’d go through the major struggles with my health that I have in the last 3-4 years. This completely altered my path. I became so passionate about holistic health through this process and it has opened my eyes and continues to change my life for the better, every single day! Now that I’m back in school part time studying holistic nutrition, I’m continuing my passion of helping others (and myself!).

“WE MUST BE WILLING TO LET GO OF THE LIFE WE HAVE PLANNED, SO AS TO HAVE THE LIFE THAT IS WAITING FOR US”- Joseph Campbell

I love this quote by Joseph Campbell, it really encompasses how we can live our best lives. When we try to control, we are limiting ourselves. Margaret Drabble said “When nothing is sure, everything is possible”. Think of all the amazing possibilities you could be closing yourself off from by controlling!

So the little question is, how does one begin to let go?

The thing that has helped me over the last year to let go of expectations about my health especially, has been to ask myself “has there been a time when things haven’t worked out the way I planned- a time when I tried to control the outcome, that ended up working out even better than what I had planned?” and to that, there are countless situations where the answer is a massive YES. I truly believe things in life happen FOR you, not TO you. If, in times of feeling we need to control, we can instead remind ourselves of the times things worked out better than we could have imagined, we can begin to shift our belief that we need to control everything. This will open us up to the mindset of trusting that everything is happening for our highest good.