Posts Tagged ‘health’

Today’s lunch box

I am going to start sharing my kids lunch boxes in hopes that it may give parents other ideas about healthy lunches. What got me going was a few weeks ago having lunch with my daughter and seeing some of the lunches other kids brought. My friend and I are health food eaters and feed our family this way. Our daughters both have the PlanetBox lunch system and we pack it full of lots of fruit, beans, proteins, and veggies. Everything is fresh, homemade, healthy and delicious!

One mom who was having lunch with her son, made him hide his lunch after seeing my daughters and our other little friend’s lunches. It was funny, but it occurred to us while she was asking all kinds of questions about the lunch box and food, that most parents don’t know how to pack a healthy lunch.

Aim for color: fresh fruits and veggies, a protein, a grain. Actually, the PlanetBox has 4 compartments and each holds about the correct portion size as what the USDA recommends for these basic food groups. I hate to break it to you, but a healthy lunch does not include pre packaged food, white bread, Fritos, etc.

So, that’s what’s getting my started on sharing my lunches. I hope it will inspire some healthier lunch box choices!

Today’s lunch was a egg sandwich on a whole wheat tortilla, pear slices, raspberries, sliced carrots with homemade ranch dip, and a few chocolate covered almonds for a treat. And as always, we had water in our stainless steel water bottle. She is thankfully not a big juice drinker and prefers water!

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Use whole wheat bread, tortillas, etc. They offer more nutrients and have more fiber than white bread and flour tortillas. Tortillas are also a great way to make sandwiches more interesting.

I soaked the pear slices in a lemon juice and water mixture then rinsed well to keep them from browning.

I made the ranch dip using this recipe from weelicious. Its healthy and amazingly good!

See other lunch box ideas.

Easy do-it-yourself eco-friendly disinfectant spray

I just made some of this today and it smells so wonderful! I felt like I was at a spa, even though I had 4 young children (3 in diapers) running around me all morning.

Disinfectant spray
1 ½ cups water
20 drops tea tree oil
20 drops lavender oil
Combine in spray bottle and shake vigorously. Spray in the air to disinfect. Tea tree oil and lavender oil are anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-whatever!

If you want bonus points, you can up the water (roughly 1/2 – 3/4 cups for every 20 drops of essential oils) and add 20 drops of orange oil, lemon oil and/or eucalyptus oil. These oils also have antiseptic and disinfectant properties. I added the orange oil to the above and wow! Love it!

Making your own allows you to avoid the toxic chemicals found in common disinfectants.

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Health Concerns of Lysol

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The health effects of Lysol

When my kids get sick, I want to reach for the Lysol spray, just as my mom did and as the marketers of Lysol tell me I should. But is it safe?

The Wiki page on Lysol states this:

The active ingredient in many of the Lysol products is benzalkonium chloride.[1] This ingredient is highly toxic to fish (LC50 = 280 μg ai/L), very highly toxic to aquatic invertebrates (LC50 = 5.9 μg ai/L), moderately toxic to birds (LD50 = 136 mg/kg-bw), and slightly toxic (“safe”) to mammals (LD50 = 430 mg/kg-bw).

The former main chemical ingredient wass cresol, which does have toxicity at some levels. This version is still available commercially. Breathing high levels over a short period of time can cause irritation to the nose and throat. I experience this every time I spray Lysol. And though there is known toxicity at “high” levels, small exposure over a long period of time has not been studied.

In addition, there are other chemicals including Glycol Ethers, O-phenylphenol, formaldehyde and hydrochloric acid that all have health concerns. It is also important to note that Lysol’s formula is considered proprietary, thus the ingredients list may not be fully disclosed. Wonder what else is in there? Possibly phthalates since fragrances are used and these 2 typically go hand-in-hand, but again show knows?

Does this sound like something you want to spray all over your house, furniture, doorknobs, bathroom, nursery, toys, etc? I think I will pass, too.

Daycares overuse Lysol. When my kids were smaller, the thought of my children mouthing toys that have been sprayed so heavily with Lysol there was a film on them made me cringe, of course so did the thought of them mouthing the same toy 11 other babies just mouthed. Ah, the joys of daycare!

Bottom line: really occassional use my have no harmful effects at all (but then again, cummulative exposure has not been studied and chemicals surround most of us every day). Aside from health concerns, there are environmental concerns, like the toxicity to fish, aquadic invertebretes and birds. Concerned parents do have choices. Vote with your wallet! Don’t buy Lysol spray or any Lysol product until their products are reformulated and are truly non-toxic. Vinegar and water will disinfect a toy just as well, without the weird film and chemicals. Not to mention it’s much cheaper. You can also make your own disinfectant spray in seconds! I love it and am much happier with it than Lysol. Is smells so fresh – like a spa – and has no chemicals in it! It disinfects and it is something I actually want to smell!

Natural remedies for cradle cap

My son had several bouts of cradle cap as an infant. I really didn’t want to have to buy a special shampoo, as the natural ones are very expensive. My cousin’s daughter also had a bad case and her pediatrician recommended Head and Shoulders (eek!) and no way was I using that on myself, let alone my child. So did a little research and discovered something I already had in my pantry would clear it up – extra virgin olive oil.
 
Directions:
1.       Rub a small amount of EVOO on the affected area. Should saturate the area, but should not be dripping.
2.       Let sit for about 30 minutes to let the EVOO soften the scales. If it is a severe case, you can even let on overnight.
3.       Gently comb out the flakes with a fine tooth comb. Be very careful if you have a young infant since their skin is so tender. If you have a newborn, you can use the soft comb from the hospital to gently soften and brush away the flakes. You may want to have a washcloth handy to wipe the flakes off of the comb as you go.
4.       Shampoo as normal.
 
I am surprised at how effective this is, and so inexpensive. Typically one application got it all. On some occasions where his cradle cap was bad and I didn’t let it sit long enough, I had to repeat the process the next night.
 
Alternative: try organic virgin coconut oil instead. Worked just as well and smelled great! The last time he had a patch I used coconut oil and it has not been back since. Not sure if it was related, but it was not as bad as it had previously been either.

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Lead found in Medela Cooler Carrier

Apparently I am behind the times on this one. Last year, the Center for Environmental Health tested the Medela Cooler Carrier and found traces of lead. I was less than thrilled to hear about this since I have been carrying my daughter’s organic milk in it to daycare for the last 2 years and used it to carry the breast milk I pumped for her at work for over a year.

Medela believes the coolers are safe and lead free, but, being the great company they are, are gladly replacing them if you are concerned. So mine is on its way back to Medela. The downside is it takes 6 weeks to receive the replacement and since I am pumping now for my 4 month old son, I needed something now.

So I went to www.reusablebags.com where this is a selection of lead-free bags. I got a Munchler’s lunch backback for my daughter to carry her milk – CUTE!!!! She will be able to use this bag for a long time. Very cute and durable. It’s a backpack style, so she can easily put it on and carry it. Highly recommend.

For my son I purchased an ACME lunch bag which works perfectly for baby bottles, much better than the likely lead-tainted freebies that you get in the hospital. I got a second one in another color that I use to carry the pumped milk. It’s a little big for that purpose, but I will be able to use the bag for lunches or otherwise when I am done pumping, which is what I wanted anyway.

Check all your milk, bottle and lunch cooler bags. Many are made of vinyl/PVC and likely contain lead. There are many very cute, lead free options available, so why risk lead exposure?

Even though the food or milk may not come in direct contact with the bag, contamination is still probable since you touch the bag, then your food, your breast pump parts, whatever the case may be.

Click here to find out if your Medela cooler is affected and if so how to return your Medela Cooler for a refund or replacement.

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Lead found in kids juice and packaged fruit

The Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) recently tested a variety of kids’ juices and packages fruits. They found more than 85% exceeded California’s Proposition 65 right to know law for lead levels, meaning the lead levels in these products are high enough to warrant a warning label to consumers.

What’s disheartening is that lead was found in conventional and organic selections tested, and no one brand seemed to be safer across the board. For the products below the Prop 65 max level, it would be interesting to know where the manufacturers source their produce from for these products.

Lead is naturally occurring in soil and is possibly the reason why lead is being found in juice. However, more research is needed to determine if these are coming from isolated orchards or if this is some by product of the manufacturing process.

It’s important to note that there are NO SAFE amounts of lead. Lead is known to cause irreversible brain damage.

ELF has contacted the manufactures and they all have been warned to come into compliance within 60 days or a suit will be filed.

What can you do?
Juice is not needed in your child’s diet. It’s best if they get their nutrition from fresh fruits and vegetables. Offer plenty of water. I totally understand that sometimes you just want a little flavor, so squeeze your own juice, or choose a product that did not exceed the exceed Prop 65’s levels and be sure to dilute it with water.

We only have juice in our house as a special treat, and then the kids get it watered down. Juice is very sugary, yes natural sugar in the 100% juices, but still very sugary. And sugar leads to cavities which is the main reason we avoid juice, not to mention it’s expensive and offers little nutritional value. Your kids will live without a daily jolt of juice. My kids typically prefer ice water over even sweet tea, they also get milk.

See who made the cut and who didn’t 

Press release

Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate safe?

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate is a very common ingredient in nearly all shampoos, soaps, and even many toothpastes. You can even find it in Angel Food cake mixes. This is the ingredient responsible for the foaming action of the product. But, is it safe?

Until about a year ago, I thought the answer to this was yes. I had not yet done research on this chemical, but just in reading a few comments online, it seemed some people were OK with it and others were not.

When I finally had time to research SLS, I was surprised to learn it was contaminated with 1,4 dioxane.  This is a cancer causing by-product of the ethoxylation process, a process that makes otherwise harsh ingredient gentle. However, because it is not an original ingredient, this by-product is not listed on the ingredient list.

In this article by Dr. Mercola, he further explains the health risk with using SLS, and its cousins Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES, and Ammonium Laurel Sulfate (ALS), citing some of the over 16,000 studies showing toxicity. The Environmental Working Group gives SLS a moderate hazard rating for cancer, organ system toxicity and others. So it’s not the worst, but not the best.

Should you avoid SLS?
Anything you put on your skin is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and goes directly to your organs. It’s also important to note that 1 incidence of using SLS is likely OK, but the cumulative effect is what is worry-some.  While the amount in your shampoo, toothpaste, body wash, hand soap, etc. may be ‘safe’ amounts when used alone, using them all at one time could cause your exposure to jump into the unsafe level zone. But the cumulative effect has never been studied.

We do our best to avoid it in our house due to the cancer link. If you can’t avoid it entirely, limit your exposure by using less of the product containing it. Most people use twice as much soap product as needed.

How to avoid SLS
Read labels! Know what to avoid, as SLS can have other names, including Sodium dodecyl sulfate, Sulfuric acid, Sodium salt sulfuric acid. I use Dr. Bronner’s  bar soap in the shower and make my own foaming hand soap, which also makes a great foaming body wash. For shampoo I am currently using Kiss My Face, Frequent Use which is SLS and paraben free and I love it.

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Badger sunscreen product review

EWG's top-rated sunscreen

I finally got a chance to try some of this stuff. We ran out of our California Baby and TruKid Sunny Days sunscreen and since Badger once again took the top spot in the Environmental Working Group’s annual sunscreen guide, I ordered some. Since my son has sensitive skin and I have eczema, I went with the unscented variety. I loved that I could pronounce all the ingredients and knew exactly what they were.

We have used it several times now and are really pleased with it. On Sunday, we really put it to the test at my sister-in-law’s pool which had no shade. We slathered each other up (2 kids, 2 adults), and since its water proof for at least 40 minutes, I reapplied before each hour we were in the sun. I didn’t take the time to reapply, but was not splashing as much as the kids either. My hubby (who has had a few melanoma removed) put it on waaay thick and wore a hat.

The results? No one got burned at all, I didn’t even notice any color on anyone. I got just a little color (color, not pink or burned!), but was the only one who did not reapply during the 4 hours we were in the sun. Which was fine by me, I needed a little color on my pasty white skin. So, we are very pleased with the results.

This is a mineral-based, zinc oxide sunscreen, so it goes on white, but rubs in well and does not leave a white coating. I like that it goes on white because I can see if I missed any spots. The benefit of zinc oxide is that it is a physical barrier so reflects and scatters the harmful rays. You can almost see the barrier because of the way it repels water, and because you can see it repelling the water, I don’t feel as if the sunscreen is washing away as we swim. It also goes on easier than chemical sunscreen if you are reapplying on wet skin.

Badger sunscreens are safe for infants too, though if you are using on an infant under 6 months, check with your pediatrician.

The Badger website is very interesting and full of information about their products, ingredients and the company itself.  A few things I took away: 

  • A little about nanoparticle vs. micronized particles. I was concerned about nanotechnology and those concerns were relived after reading this great explanation in their FAQ section. 
  • Badger is a small family business. They provide free organic lunches and bad mitten games to their employees; and support charitable giving by giving the greater of 10% of before-tax profits or $10,000 to a variety of charities. Love this! 
  • And their sunscreen blocks UVA, UVB and UVC rays – UVC does not reach the Earth, but is good for pilots and astronauts! So interesting! 
  • I also did not realize the span of their product offerings – I’ve used this sunscreen and the bug balm – but they also offer soaps, body butter, balms, oils and more.

Badger sunscreen is available in a lightly scented SPF 30, unscented SPF 30, sunscreen with bug repellent SPF 30, lightly scented SPF 15 and a face stick SPF 30.

Where to buy? Many online retailers carry this, but right now it can be a little harder to come by since it’s in such high demand. Best bets: Amazon, Vitacost, Diapers.com, or try your local organic grocer, health store or Whole Foods.

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Safe sunscreens 2010

EWG's top-rated sunscreen

I never really thought about what was in my sunscreen until I had kids. Before my daughter was born, I was just beginning to learn about all the harmful chemicals in soap , shampoo, etc. So when it was time for us to take our yearly family beach trip, I sought out a safe sunscreen. Then I had to do the leg work myself, but didn’t really know what to look for either.

Thankfully, the Environmental Working Group came to the rescue 4 years ago with their Safer Sunscreen Guide. Every year, new research is available, shifting the list around a bit. This year, research shows that vitamin A may speed up the development of cancer. See their whole list of surprising facts about sunscreen.

And you definitely will not find the widely used and available  Baby Blanket, Banana Boat, Hawaiian Tropic, Panama Jack or Neutrogena anywhere near the top of the list, in fact, you will find these at the bottom of the list. Blue Lizard and Bull Frog are middle of the road. These chemicals sunscreens contain ingredients that are possible carcinogens. To me, it does not make any sense to slather on something that may cause cancer in an effort to protect yourself from something (the sun) that may cause cancer.

Non-nanoparticle zinc oxide based sunscreens are deemed to be the safest and most effective sunscreens available today. Zinc oxide is all natural offering sun protection without the harmful chemicals. And like other skin care products, you should be able to pronounce all the ingredients and it should be free of PEG compounds, parabens, phthalates, synthetic fragrance and any other active ingredient other than zinc oxide (or possibly titanium dioxide).

This year, EWG tested 500 sunscreens and can only recommend 39 of them for safety and effectiveness. That’s 8%. Pretty lame.

Here is a list of the top-10 sunscreens as tested by the EWG, and the EWG rating (0-2 = low concern, 3-6 = some concern, 7-10 = high concern).
1. Badger Sunscreen Face Stick, SPF 30, Unscented 1
2. Badger Sunscreen for Face and Body, SPF 30 Lightly Scented 1
3. Badger Sunscreen for Face and Body, Unscented, SPF 30 1
4. California Baby Sunblock Stick No Fragrance, SPF 30+ 1
5. Loving Naturals Sunscreen, SPF 30+ 1
6. Purple Prairie Botanicals Sun Stick, SPF 30 1
7. Purple Prairie Botanicals SunStuff, SPF 30 1
8. Soleo Organics All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+ 1
9. Soleo Organics Atlantis Resort All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+ 1 –
10. Soleo Organics Wyland Organics All Natural Sunscreen, SPF 30+ 1

…….I have to toss CA Baby in here as it is one of my favorite lines
19. California Baby Sunblock Stick Everyday/Year-Round, SPF 30+ 2
20. California Baby Sunscreen Lotion Everyday/Year-Round, SPF 30+ 2
21. California Baby Sunscreen Lotion No Fragrance, SPF 30+ 2
22. California Baby Sunscreen Lotion, SPF 30+, Citronella 2

Want to see the rest of the list and see how your sunscreen stacks up? Visit EWG’s mini-site dedicated to sunscreens and sunscreen safety.

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Treat ear infections naturally with the EARDOC: Review and Giveaway

My now 18 month old son had 8 ear infections in 1 year, from the time he was 4 months old to 16 months old. At that point, we were walking a fine line and were told that 1 more and we would be sent to the ENT to discuss getting tubes. I really did not want tubes, so I dug deeper into my search for a natural preventative.

The problem is my son has allergies, thus frequently has a runny nose. His ears would get infected and he would just be a mess. As far as antibiotics (which I hate to use) Augmentin did not work, we had used Omnicef so many times and he had a bad allergic reaction to Amoxicillin. So we were out of “traditional” options for treatment.

I posted an inquiry for suggestions of ear infection preventatives and got several good suggestions. One suggestion was to take him off dairy. I promptly stopped giving him cow’s milk and switched to rice milk. Another suggested garlic oil drops in the ears, so I ran down the street to the natural/organic food store. The lady there suggested these homeopathic allergy pellets in addition to the garlic oil drops.

These did seem to help, but one night I stumbled across a device call The EARDOC. It seemed too good to be true – non-invasive, no medicine – just a little device that vibrates and you hold it behind the ear for 1 minute. Dr. Sears highlighted The EARDOC on “The Doctors” TV show. With his seal of approval, I was sold that this may actually work. Plus, there were lots of great testimonials on the EARDOC website.

The EARDOC is easy-to-use and pain-free. My son loves to treat himself with the EARDOC.

The EARDOC treats otitis media, ear infections, swimmers ear, hearing loss, middle ear fluid, Eustachian tube dysfunction, ear pain from air travel, ear fullness brought on by colds, allergies or sinusitis, and other causes of ear pain in children as well as adults. The EARDOC website states:

About 75% of children up to age four suffer from earache caused by the accumulation of liquids and air in the middle ear. Swimmers, divers and air travelers also suffer from the same problem. The EARDOC is an efficient & proved non-invasive device that reduces the ear pain by treating the problem rather than the symptom. The EARDOC significantly reduces the need for ear tube surgery (Myringotomy) by naturally opening the closed Ear tube and drying the trapped fluids.

The EARDOC has gone through clinical reviews and is found to be safe and effective at opening the ear tube and reliving ear pain.

The folks at the EARDOC were kind enough to send me one to try and review, and one to giveaway (details at the end of this post).

The first day I used the EARDOC, I am certain my son had an ear infection, or at least was in the beginnings of one. He had a runny nose and was waking once or twice at night (our only 2 indicators). That morning, he was pretty fussy and I knew he was tired, but he would not settle. I used the EARDOC for 1 minute on each ear, as directed, and he promptly fell asleep. My husband and I looked at each other in disbelief.

The EARDOC is gentle and soothing. DS loves to use it.

After day 3 of using the EARDOC, his nose was clear! What’s also amazing is he sat still while we used it on him. I expected him to squirm, but it seemed to relax him and he was more likely to balk once the treatment was over, rather than during it. He also wanted to use it on himself and treat me, his sister and his daddy as well.

I also had a little ear pain during the same time, so I used it on myself. After a couple days, I no longer had any ear pain! The pain that I had off and on for a few months was gone. I am an EARDOC believer.

The EARDOC is very easy to use. It is battery powered (batteries not included) and has a siding button that allows you to control the vibration level. Start out at a low setting and adjust for your

My daughter also loves the EARDOC. She has no ear issues, but just likes the "ear massage."

comfort level. You can use on each ear up to one minute, but you can use as often as needed throughout the day.

It’s been about 3 weeks since using the EARDOC. Yesterday was my son’s 18 month visit and as I suspected, we do NOT have an ear infection! Thank you to the EARDOC. I truly believe we would not have gotten such great news without it!

Want one of your own? Enter our giveaway and ONE very lucky reader will win their very own EARDOC.

  1. Leave a comment here as to why you would like your own EARDOC (1 entry)
  2. Follow me (@greenparenting) on Twitter www.twitter.com/greenparenting and leave a comment here (1 entry)
  3. Follow the EARDOC on Twitter www.twitter.com/eardoc and leave a comment here (1 entry)
  4. Tweet about this giveaway and leave a comment here each time you tweet (1 tweet per person daily)
  5. Join the EARDOC on Facebook (1 entry)
  6. Don’t have a Twitter or Facebook account? No worries. Send an email to your friends with a link to this giveaway and copy bhamgreenparent (at) gmail.com. I promise you will not be added to any mailing list or otherwise. Or you can also post a link to this giveaway on your Facebook profile. (1 entry)
  7. Of course, the kids won't let us feel left out. Here DS is using the EARDOC on daddy.

Contest ends at midnight CDT on June 17th.

Disclaimers: While the EARDOC is safe and effective, and can be used in conjunction with medication and if your child already has tubes, it is always wise to consult your doctor before any other treatment.
The EARDOC was provided free of charge for review, however the views and opinions expressed here are completely my own. No other compensation was given.