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You know that your shouldn’t bite your fingernails or smoke cigarettes, but here are 5 bad habits you didn’t know you had:
1. Using Conventional Products
There is a general assumption in the western world that if a product can be bought at the supermarket it must be safe for household and/or personal use. After all, we have governmental agencies whose sole purpose is to monitor and protect us from harmful products, right?
Unfortunately this is not entirely true, especially in the United States.
In fact, hundreds of cosmetics that are sold in the U.S. contain chemicals that are banned in other countries. And this oversight is extended to household cleaning products as well.
Even more frustrating is that marketers are allowed to mislead you with trigger slogans like “all-natural,” “environmentally friendly,” and “natural ingredients/fragrance/flavors,” when there are actually no regulations or standards to define what these words actually mean.
The only way to really know which chemicals you’re exposed to is by doing the research yourself, or making your own products.
This might seem really overwhelming, but fear not!
I’ve compiled a list of resources that can help you become more educated on what ingredients in products are and are not safe to use, well as some websites that provide recipes for homemade, truly all-natural cleaning and self-care products.
- EWG’s Skindeep Cosmetic Database: http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/
I regularly refer to this website when I am considering a new product. They have a grading system to tell you how potentially safe or toxic products are, as well as a survey of the concerning ingredients and studies to back it all up.
- Infographic of chemicals that are commonly added to household and self-care products: http://yoganonymous.com/what-toxic-chemicals-are-being-absorbed-by-your-body-infographic/
- An easy guide on how to spot toxins: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-11449/whats-in-my-cleaning-products-how-to-spot-toxins.html
- A Canadian guide to less-toxic products: http://www.lesstoxicguide.ca/index.asp?fetch=household
- For the do-it-yourselfers amongst you, homemade household cleaning recipes: http://www.apartmenttherapy.com/20-diy-green-cleaning-recipes-141129
- And last but not least, more atural Homemade household cleaning recipes, and natural homemade self-care recipes: http://wellnessmama.com/category/natural-living/
2. Cooking with Olive Oil
Full of healthy constituents like oleic acid and polyphenols, olive oil is undoubtedly one of the healthiest oils available on today’s market.
Combined with high vegetable consumption, olive oil is the ingredient that makes the long-lauded Mediterranean diet a literal lifesaver for so many people.
However there is one caveat that too many fail to acknowledge.
Olive oil loses it’s beneficial properties when it is used at high temperatures, and actually develops carcinogens when it reaches it’s smoke point (this means it should be heated no higher than 220°F, to be on the safe side).
The moral of this story is that to maintain its integrity olive oil is best when it is cold-pressed and used as a finishing oil (in other words, when it is poured on already-cooked food).
That said, olive oil can also be used to cook meals at low heat without any dangerous consequences.
(For more info on choosing the healthiest olive oils, click here)
3. Having Your Drinks on Ice
This one requires a bit of a history lesson.
Unless you lived in a wintery cold climate, ice wasn’t even available to most people before the mid 1800’s, and even then it was delivered by the ice-man in big blocks and mostly used to preserve perishable foods.
Putting small pieces of ice in water was only introduced to society with the advent of home-refrigeration and freezers in the 1900’s. When home-refrigeration was still rare, serving drinks cooled with ice was seen a status symbol.
But even now, in an era where every household has a refrigerator and ice is no longer a luxury item, iced drinks have managed to solidify themselves as a staple of modern gastronomic society.
Now lets travel back in time even further and hop over to India and China. In these ancient Eastern medical traditions cold water was, and still is, deemed to slow down the digestive system.
To help with this metaphor you might consider the stomach as a crockpot, slowly heating the food to break it down into smaller pieces before it passes to the small intestine.
If you pour a cup of ice-water into your slow cooker, it’ll still work of course, but it’ll take a lot longer for your food to be ready.
Same goes for your digestive system.
When you cool down the process in your stomach, the food might stick around longer making you gassy and uncomfortable, or less-digested food will pass into the small intestine making nutrient extraction much less effective.
But don’t take my word for it.
Try drinking only warm or hot beverages for a week or two and see if it makes a difference (for this experiment to work you’ll have to eliminate cold/non-heated food as well as cold drinks).
4. Watching TV While You Eat
Another sure-fire way to slow down digestion is by focusing on things other than food while you eat.
For optimal nutrient absorption eating has to be a full-sensory experience .
Perhaps you’ve noticed that the old phrase “my mouth is watering” is actually literal?
That’s because the sight, smell, or even the mere thought of food induce your stomach to begin releasing gastric juices to better digest the anticipated incoming morsels.
If you are distracted while you eat by watching television, (or reading, staring at your phone, driving, browsing the web, etc.) your body is ill prepared to handle what’s being absentmindedly shoved in it.
You are also preventing yourself from fully enjoying the experience of your food, and that’s not just sad, it can have bad consequences for your waistline too.
When you eat without focus your cravings are not satisfied, making you less likely to know when you have eaten enough, and more likely to go back for more later.
So turn off your screen and focus on your food. When you eat your cake, really have it, too.
5. Keeping Your Cell Phone in Your Bedroom
We are creatures of habit, and our environment can make a huge impact on our physiology and behavior.
Therefore, making your bedroom a screen-free sanctuary is ideal.
If you are able to make the primary intention of your bedroom sleep, that’s even better.
When you use your bedroom as a place to do anything but sleep (I’m talking about things like work, television, and internet here,) you are conditioning your mind to be active in bed rather than slowing down as it should. This discrepancy can lead to serious sleep disturbances and insomnia.
By keeping your cell-phone in your bedroom you are in essence inviting the rest of the world in to distract you when you want to be frolicking in dreamland.
And if the topic of environmental influence doesn’t convince you, there is the matter of radiation.
True, the results of cell-phone radiation studies have been inconsistent, but when you’re asleep you have the chance to reduce your potential exposure for up to 10 hours (if you’re lucky enough to get that many hours of shut-eye.)
If it turns out that cell-phones aren’t as safe as we now assume, wouldn’t you want to reduce your risk while you can?
I certainly do.
Habits can be hard to break, but the first step to overcoming them is knowing you have them.
Are there any other bad habits you’d like to add to the list? Leave a comment below!