How many of us have had the experience of going out for dinner with friends and having such a good time that we lose track of how many drinks we have had? Of course, after a few wines or beers it’s a good idea to have a nightcap or two (or more) and before we know it its 2am and we are wondering where our shoes are and how we are getting home. The next morning the sun rises brightly through the window because you forgot to close the curtains before you crashed out for the night, your mouth is dry, your throat is hoarse, your feet are aching and your head is pounding, Hello Hangover!  It’s a situation most of us have had at least once. And in those moments it’s clear to see that you have overindulged and the words “I’m never doing that to myself again” start coming out of your mouth every time it opens.

And for most of us, these nights happen once or twice a year perhaps, but generally not weekly, let alone daily. Most of the time, we might have a glass of wine with dinner, but we don’t overindulge. And we don’t generally wake up with the pounding head and dry mouth. However, how often do we wake up and not feel rested? We wake up and feel like we need that first cup of coffee to get us into the day and get our brains working to figure out what’s for breakfast.  So with a coffee and a quick slice of toast or bowl of cereal we are into it. Another coffee to work out kids lunches, work outfits and get the kids up and off to school and us into work of one kind or another. Around mid-morning most of us reach for a morning tea snack, which might come with another coffee or tea. More work. Lunch. On a good day it might be a home-made salad or last night’s left overs, on a bad day it’s some form of fast food. On a really bad day it’s just another coffee. Around 3pm theres another snack, then the afternoon stretch of post school run around or work before the family comes together again to navigate dinner and evening routines which may or may not involve more fast food, alcohol, and in plenty of cases more coffee (because no one can face doing more work from the home office without caffeine). Around 10pm you might head to bed if you’re lucky, but for many of us it’s closer to midnight.  You fall asleep and wake at 6am the next day to do it all again. Yet you’re still fatigued from yesterday.

So many of us are loading ourselves up as best we can but are either blissfully unaware, or just don’t have time, to realise how many toxins we are consuming on a day to day basis. And that’s not counting the chemicals we use to clean the house, or clean ourselves, and the perfumes and other products we use on our skin and clothes to make them look and feel good.  We are living in a chemical world. Yet we are not chemical creatures. Our current lifestyles of busyness and stress means that even with many of us trying to do our best (myself included here!) we are still adding a large chemical stress load to our bodies every day. And as a result of the extra stress we are putting into and onto our bodies, we aren’t sleeping well. We aren’t aging well. And we aren’t feeling well.  Cases of adrenal fatigue, chronic fatigue, chronic and autoimmune diseases, obesity are all on the rise and many are more common now than ever before. And this is fast becoming our new normal.

Yet chemical stress, toxin stress, is one of the easier stressors that we can manage. It’s certainly one of the easier forms of stress to minimise. Many of just don’t think we need too. However a few small changes made from week to week can really make a difference. My own personal wake-up call came when we began trying for our first child. Prior to that I was regularly drinking 6+ cups of coffee a day, and would easily have a coffee at 9pm and still have what I thought was a good nights sleep. When we decided to have a baby I went to decaf and dropped to a maximum of 2 decaf coffees per day. Thankfully the coffee withdrawal fatigue was masked by the fatigue of early pregnancy whereI was sleeping literally from 30mins after I got home till 1 hour before I had to leave the house the next morning. When my son was 4 months old I fell pregnant again and continued my decaf habits until the birth of my daughter. A month or two after she was born we were having brunch at a local café and they had run out of decaf. I decided that I would have a single shot regular latte instead. By the time my glass was half empty my hands felt like they were vibrating and my head was filled with a static electricity buzzing. I couldn’t believe it. Half a regular coffee and I felt like my body was going to another realm. It was a shock. And it made me look closely at all the other toxins I had around me.

So now I challenge you. Even those of you who feel like your toxin exposure is minimal. Go home today or over the weekend and make 3 lists: Kitchen, Cleaning and Personal Care.

Go through your kitchen and write down any ingredients in foods your regularly consume that are chemicals (i.e. ingredients that are not “berries”, “milk”, “Butter”, ”flour” or other recognisable real food sources). Go through your cleaning products including the laundry and make a list of all the chemicals listed there. And go through all of your personal care items and make a list of the chemicals in those. How big are your lists? I’ll bet they are bigger than you thought they would be! And that’s without entering into the Genetically Modified food debate!

In the next blog we will look at how to reduce your chemical stressors around the house and start to unburden your system from some unnecessary stress. You’ll be amazed at the difference you’ll feel at the end of the process!

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