When it comes to health and wellness, the amount of information available for us to consume can quickly become overwhelming.
Add a baby into the mix and the stakes just increased ten-fold.
So what is a parent (especially a new parent) to do when they want to do right by their family but don’t know where to start?
In a recent interview with Leah Segedie, author of “Green Enough”, she shared one motto we should all be living by: "to make your home green enough to be healthy and chill enough to be happy”.
Segedie is quick to point out that small steps are the best things to do because “it keeps you the sanest and keeps everyone on board”. She also adds, “family members become overwhelmed when you try to do too much too quickly (like throwing away everything in the pantry all at once); that’s when you experience mutiny”.
So where should you start when it comes to making your home a healthier place for your family to live? Leah has concise advice, "Focus on what you put in your mouth, what you breathe and what you put on your skin".
To put it in even simpler terms, these are the first three areas your family should make changes when it comes to living a healthier, greener lifestyle: food, air quality, and skin.
Easier said than done, right? Now that we have an understanding of where to focus our attention, let’s take a look at how to make those changes a reality.
The 3 Health Changes Your Family Needs to Make
You likely already know about The Dirty Dozen (the produce with the highest level of pesticides, such as spinach, strawberries & nectarines) and The Clean 15 (produce you don’t have to worry about buying organic, such as avocado, sweet corn & pineapple), but there is one area, in particular, Leah recommends focusing on when it comes to improving what you put in your mouth: animal products.
“Milk and meat need to be a priority (for families). It’s not as much about pesticides, but about antibiotic-resistant bacteria that are killing thousands of people in the U.S. each year. This bacteria can’t be cured with antibiotics, therefore making modern medicine null and void.”
When doing your research, make sure to avoid GMO feed, antibiotics, hormones and pesticides in all your food. Leah also recommends to “think about how your grandmother ate 50-60 years ago; that’s closer to how you want to eat”. When it comes to feeding baby, Segedie suggests investing in a food mill and feeding baby what you would eat, right from the table!
The second area families need to focus on when going green is air quality, especially when getting down on the ground and crawling like a baby. You’ll notice kids breathe in different things from the floor and carpet than an adult would from standing or sitting on furniture.
Leah has four suggestions for how to achieve better air quality inside your home:
- Open a window: the air quality inside your home is 2-10 times more polluted than the air outside.
- Purchase plants (such as aloe vera and bamboo) that actually help clean out air quality.
- Opt for natural cleaning products: re-evaluate the chemicals you’re bringing in your home that are off-gassing (both in cleaners and even furniture).
- Eliminate clutter: dust just means more places for contaminants to hide.
What we put on our skin gets directly into our body. Depending on the age of your child and what’s going on with their life, you’ll want to avoid parabens and fragrance. In fact, Segedie suggests the easiest way to tell if a personal care product is problematic is to flip open bottle.
"Look for the words 'fragrance, perfume or parfum', that means they’re hiding something; phthalates disrupt hormones for young boys, specifically, but you will never see that on a label - they hide them in fragrances. If they’re not being transparent about that, likely they’re hiding something else!”
With so many beauty and skin-care products on the market, where should we start? Leah recommends starting with something like toothpaste, lotion or sunscreen; often it’s easier to find something that works for you within these categories.
But she also warns not to get discouraged, "Personal care products are exactly that, personal, so you may find something that works for you, but not your sister. Only focus on one at a time and look at one thing, like lotion; before you throw away what you do like, find a replacement. Don’t scramble. Buy a few varieties and try it until you like it."
While these three points are crucial, everything we’ve talked about also necessitates parents modeling the right lifestyle and eating habits for their children. Segedie warns, “the challenge isn’t the baby, it’s the older children or the husband, which is why the slow and steady attack is so important; they didn’t sign up for it, you signed them up".
Leah went on to say,
“The crux of everything is this: if you want your child to be healthy, you have to model that behavior to them! You’ll lose the battle if you don’t implement the lessons for yourselves that you’re hoping to accomplish in the household.”
At the end of the day, the answer is simple: you have to pick and choose where you want to be based on your comfort level and what’s important to you…and there’s no right or wrong answer. Keep this one thing in mind: you can’t change what you did in the past - you can only affect the here and now. Now that you have the knowledge, work towards making small steps of improvement each day.
We'gratefulful that Leah Segedie took the time to share her expertise with us through the interview above. For more tips on how to start your family on the slow and steady path to eco-wellness, pick up a copy of Leah's new book, Green Enough.