2019: My Year to Go Natural

food basket

I’ve been feeling drawn to the a more natural lifestyle for years now. This year, I’ve decided I’m finally going to do something about it. This is it — our year to transition into a simpler, more self-sustaining, back-to-nature type of living.

In some ways, we’re part of the way there. I have been gardening and preserving my own vegetables since I got married, we cloth diaper, and we do pretty good at avoiding junk food regularly, but I think we can go even farther than we already are in this type of living.

As we make our changes I hope to do a series of articles so that everyone can share in our experience.

Because I’m a person who loves lists and organization, I have created a Plan of Action for our family to follow as we make this transition.

Phase 1: Work at detoxing the excess Candida in our bodies. This is especially needed for my body, given years of medications and antibiotics, due to being an asthmatic.

Phase 2: Learn all about the different grains and rices and how to cook with them. I think there is a whole new world out there when it comes to what’s available for me to work with and it’s simply a matter of educating myself on that world.

Phase 3: As gross as it sounds, I want to move to cloth products and replace things like baby wipes, tissues, paper towels, and maybe even toilet paper (at least for the peeing aspect). We already cloth diaper, so I think this transition might be easier than it first looks and we will quickly get used to the idea.

Phase 4: I recently read The Duggars: Twenty and Counting, and Michele shared that they make their own laundry detergent. I thought that was a great economy saver as well as an idea that fits well into my desire to be come self-sustaining. So, phase four is to move to natural cleaning products that I learn how to make myself.

Phase 5: If I can make my own cleaning supplies, I’m thinking that I can learn to make my own beauty products too, like lotions, face washes, toothpaste, body wash, and maybe even shampoo. We’ll see how it goes!

Phase 6: I have a friend who has been making her own condiments like mayonnaise and ketchup. I want to give it a try. While I’m at it, and since kefir is big in our house, I want to see if I can learn to make our own cheeses too.

Phase 7: For years now, I’ve been interested in essential oils and think there is a lot of validity to them. I hope to begin to learn all I can about them and begin to incorporate them into our everyday life and occasional illnesses.

Just what is it that’s drawing me to these life changes? I’m pretty sure I seem radical to those around me the few times I mention all of this, and not even five years ago I would have had the same reaction. But things have changed, some for the worst, and it’s those changes that have prompted me to make these changes:

1. I have been an asthmatic all my life and each year it seems my medication load increases. I’m tired of it. I believe that allergies and asthma can be helped with diet. I also have had some health related issues due to eight years of eating disorders and believe that those, too, can be controlled with diet.

2. My husband and I have both been diagnosed with infertility. I believe that diet and supplements can play a role in helping reverse that diagnosis.

3. I struggle with severe depression. I think caffeine, sugar, and processed foods play into that.

4. I believe there is a strong correlation between the growth hormones in our food (milk, beef) and early puberty and health related concerns such as cancer (despite articles that scoff at this notion). I’m also concerned that genetically modified foods have already hit our stores this coming year, but rarely is the consumer notified that they are buying such products. The FDA has approved these foods, including cloned beef, but it still doesn’t sit well with me that we can consume these foods and not be adversely affected in the long run.

5. I have read, and it just makes logical sense, that raw, natural food in it’s original, created state, is better for us than cooked, processed foods.

6. I also believe there are healing properties in plants and herbs. The American Indians were on to something! God didn’t just create plants without purpose. I believe He created them for our (physical) benefit.

7. More reading has made me think as well that harsh cleaning chemicals are not good for us within our homes, especially in the winter months when we’re closed up day after day with these chemicals lingering in the air with no fresh air circulating.

8. Things like cloth diapering and making our own laundry detergent will be much cheaper in the final tally.

9. So will making most of our own foods (rather than buying pre-cooked and pre-packaged foods).

10. I want to live simplistically. Going natural will help us do that. We will live on the essentials and learn how to get away from the frills (like television, toys that beep and talk, fast food and junk food, and every last “new thing” made available to us in the stores). I believe that living simpler will help us focus on the things that really matter, like family and shared memories, love and laughter.

11. There is something appealing to me about being self-sufficient instead of having to run to Walmart every week to replenish our groceries and supplies.

12. It’s a part of my spiritual journey. Even if 1-10 didn’t exist, I would still pursue this path, simply because I feel deeply that I’m being called to it in preparation for the home we hope to start someday for terminally ill, abused, and abandoned children. My heart just senses that learning all these things will help us take care of the young lives that come our way as the years pass.

I’m not sure how far I’ll get this coming year, but I do know that I will slowly and steadily make these changes as I’m able to. I’m excited to see how it affects our budget, our health, and even our emotional and mental outlook as a family.

Moving into an all-natural, self-sustaining lifestyle has not been all that easy. Our transition officially began on January 1 of this year (2019) and though I’m pleased with how we’ve done in some areas, I’m frustrated in others.  There have been several roadblocks that I’ve come up against.

Roadblock #1: It’s very expensive.

Can someone explain to me why gluten-free pasta and organic goat cheese is triple the price of the regular stuff? And why in the world does a multi-vitamin need to cost $20 for 30 pills? Does it really cost that much to make them?

Roadblock #2: Time.

Oh, I wish it wasn’t so, but it’s so much quicker to cook up a package of Ramen noodles and buy a loaf of bread than it is to cook the chicken and the veges and the rice for homemade soup, not to mention mix the bread dough, knead the bread dough, let it rise, punch it down, let it rise again…

Roadblock #4: Taste buds that won’t cooperate.

At certain times, these rebellious taste buds of mine would much rather have a raw cookie dough than a banana or an Oreo cookie than a rice cake with cashew butter. This is a constant revolt that I am attempting to overcome!

Despite the roadblocks, however, I am bound and determined we will become more natural as 2009 progresses! My pocketbook, clock, and body are all in denial about this, but reality will catch up to them sooner or later!

Because of the roadblocks, the original phases I had laid out for my family to go through have been switched around a bit. Instead of completing phases 1 and 2, which included doing a Candida (yeast overgrowth) detox and starting to learn about and cooking with different types of grains, I had to go to Phase 3 instead — moving into cloth products.

From paper to cloth

So far, we have successfully transitioned from part-time cloth diapering to full-time cloth diapering. One day we hit our last disposable diaper and I decided that was it for us. Of course, it helped that someone gave us twenty Mother Ease fitteds and gave us four diaper covers besides, thus helping me extend my stash a bit between washings and line dryings (I am currently without a dryer). I solved the problem of nighttime soaking issues by double-stuffing a Bum Genius diaper with the micro-fleece liner that comes with the diaper and a pre-fold. It’s working well.

As far as cloth diapering when out and about, I’ve just accepted the fact I’m going to have a couple of soggy cloth diapers to take care of when I get home. This drives my germophobe personality nuts, as I now carry wet diapers in a plastic bag in my diaper bag that also doubles as my purse, but I’m dealing with it.

I’ve  added to my stash of flannel diaper wipes and have created a stash of flannel tissues, allowing me to save money each month as I no longer buy baby wipes, and buy fewer boxed tissues than before (my husband isn’t on board yet  with flannel tissues, so I still buy some regular tissues). I’m still debating whether or not to move into cloth toilet paper, but am not fully there yet.

I have also gone from using paper towels to using rags to do things like clean up spills and clean my counters and bathroom and sinks. It makes for a bit more laundry, but not enough to make a huge difference.

Homemade baby wipe solution

After experimenting, I came up with a diaper wipe solution that is working great for us! I didn’t like that most of them required baby oil, and wanted something a bit more natural. The combination I found that works, even to get the stickiest poop off, is:

1/3 cup of water
1/6 cup of olive oil
2 tablespoons of witch hazel

I put this solution in a small spray bottle and it lasts me a week. Between each fill-up, I wash the bottle out with vinegar and baking soda to help cut the mildew smell down.

I also discovered just the other night that this same solution makes a great eye makeup remover!

Natural cleaning

For cleaning, I have moved beyond bleach and have moved to peroxide and white vinegar. I do not mix these two products together, as most of what I read indicated this would be unwise and result in toxic fumes. I keep them in two different spray bottles and then spray whatever it is I’m cleaning with them, and go to town. (Mixing and letting them sit results in the fumes, but a quick contact in open air will not).

If something is stained, like my stove top or my sink, I pour baking soda down and then spray just the vinegar. It’s kind of fun to see the fizzing take place — and it works as good as Comet any day!

Natural antibiotics

This winter none of us have been on antibiotics, though we have gotten sick. That sickness has not extended beyond colds, however. This is a big deal, because I am an asthmatic who usually gets bronchitis at least once, if not twice a year. At the start of every cold this year, we have immediately begun taking Elderberry extract four to six times a day. Our colds have not lasted longer than a week and have not gone into sinus or ear or bronchial infections!

Kefir and grapefruit seed extract

We have been drinking kefir regularly with acidophilus powder and I have been drinking one full glass of water with grapefruit seed extract, daily. Although I haven’t been able to take my family all the way in the candida detox, these two steps alone have helped us balance out some of the unhealthy bacteria in our systems with healthy bacteria. I’ve also been eating cultured vegetables several times a week.

Future plans

In the coming months, thanks to a tax return, I hope to back up to phases 1 and 2, while also moving on ahead to Phase 4. In some ways, this has been a lot harder than I originally anticipated. In other ways, it’s been easier and more “right” feeling than I thought it would be. It’s been fun to experiment with making some of my own cloth products and solutions and I have really enjoyed learning about alternative health solutions.

So far, this has not been an annoyance, but more like an adventure, and a very satisfying one at that! I’m excited to see how we feel when we take the full plunge with our eating in another week or two. I’ll  let you all know how that works in a couple of months!

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