4 expert tips to continuously strive for a low-tox life
If you feel prone to overwhelm or paralysis from confusing mixed information or are guilty or ashamed of not having done enough for your health and your planet, then read on. It’s very common to feel these feelings over the course of life as we try to do our best. But doing so can feel so darn complicated, right?
The reason I coined the term “low-tox” back in 2009 was to acknowledge the duty of care I felt not just about the practical steps of making better choices for ourselves and our planet and ensuring the best information possible, but also in terms of people’s mental health as they make changes.
There’s no-tox, tox-free, zero-tox and my personal favourite misnomer, chemical-free — given we exist in harmony with and are made up of many chemicals and chemical reactions.
In contrast, going low-tox allows you to aim for healthy striving instead of compartmentalising and labelling “the one way”, the destination where all is perfect and everything’s black and white. While it might be easier to wish things were black and white, they’re just not.
So far, we’re doing great. Hopefully, as a reader of my column, you’re doing great, too. Step by step and at your pace, that’s the name of the game.
I want to share a few tips with you to stay in healthy-striving mode. As I always say, “We do what we do most of the time, so we can go with the flow some of the time.”
- Use Instagram or other social platforms for inspiration and pretty-picture gazing but not for comparison. I still fall into the trap of comparisonitis myself sometimes when I see amazing pictures of people hand-dyeing linen from a rare indigenous plant, crocheting blankets from sustainably sourced yarn, making incredibly pretty breakfasts or looking much “healthier” than me. But these days I catch myself very quickly if I can sense it’s causing even the tiniest trace of “I’m not enough”. My tip for quashing your Instagram inferiority complex? Get off Instagram for a while. My second tip? Write down a list of the things you’ve changed already, from mascara to dishwashing powder and so forth. Pat yourself on the back. Acknowledge that where you’re at and what you’ve prioritised are different from whatever you’re seeing that’s making you feel like you’re not doing enough. Go have a walk with a girlfriend who’s real and loves a deep and meaningful chat.
- Be OK with stuffing up or not finding the “perfect natural replacement” the first time you make the switch. For some reason, we think that because we’re switching to simpler, more natural options it’s going to be amazing, yet we’re perfectly accepting of having to sift through three or four brands before finding one we loved in the old mainstream stuff. Give it time. If you try a DIY recipe that doesn’t quite work out or a natural deodorant that isn’t as effective as your old one, that doesn’t mean that you suck or that natural products suck. Stick to the best-reviewed products online — always a good clue — and stick to blogs or recipe books by real people who test, make and build a community based on their recipes working. It’s a much safer bet when you see a few comments like, “Made this yesterday. Amazing, thank you!”
- Don’t be hung up on finding “the answer” when you’re researching something. Often there is no one answer other than real, good, true and ethical. And from there, it’s all about your own budget and preferences. Also, be careful what you trust. With the politicising of various diets, with the power of the chemical industry lobby, there is very often an agenda — and worse, a paid agenda — in online publications. When my dad read my very first blog post, he said, “What are your sources? You’re going to want sources to be treated seriously.” It was the best thing anyone could’ve said to me on day one and I totally agreed with him. There are so many content-making machines that just copy what someone else has said and you can go around in circles trying to find an original source or concrete research among the half-truths on the internet.
Sources are important, as is questioning who funds or receives support from a website. The same applies to documentaries. If you’re researching food and anti-inflammation, for example, you might get “the absolute right way to bring inflammation down in the body” from five different doctors all with evidence. This is where your most important piece of evidence has to kick in: you. Does this energise me? Do I feel inflamed/bloated/lethargic after this meal? Your body’s response to things is the most important piece of evidence you’ll ever need for whether something’s right for you or not.
- If you reach a state of overwhelm or confusion I highly recommend thinking about going back to a time when you felt super comfortable. From there, make a plan. Take a sheet of paper and state your big goal and all the little things you want to do to get to that big goal. Then, when you’re ready, do just one of those little things. And then do another. This is no race to being the perfect human. After all, there is no perfect human.
So, relax in the grey area of it all. Thrive in the grey. Do the best with what you have, when you can and in a way that feels like you’re synched to what matters most to you — not what some guru says you should be doing. Sounds like a plan? You’re doing a wonderful job.
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