When Life Your Way launched almost six years ago, I added a green living channel to the topics we’d already been covering at Organizing Your Way. As a blogger, I had been inspired by so many other bloggers who were on this healthy living journey, and I was excited to share the changes we were making—reducing sugar, avoiding food dyes, discovering herbal remedies, and more—with our readers.
Somewhere along the way, though, I began to approach healthy living not as a spectrum but as a dogma. To be healthy, you had to avoid all the things that could possibly be bad for you (which, by the way, include things like kale, ugh) and stick to a stringent diet, adopt a baking soda-and-vinegar cleaning routine, and show disdain for anyone in the medical establishment.
The stress of trying to do it all perfectly—while raising all these littles, blogging full-time, beginning our homeschool journey, and still trying to learn the basics of cooking—was decidedly not good for my health. I ended up on the path toward burnout, and I also realized I was neglecting the things that are more important to us as a family (giving and serving, discipling our children, creating an atmosphere of learning in our home, etc.) in favor of trying to follow all of the rules around healthy living.
When the essential oils craze began and bloggers I had trusted and admired threw out their recommendations for herbal remedies in favor of the essential oils they were selling, and when those recommendations were offered without any type of caution or acknowledgement of the safety concerns, I pretty much gave up. I began to see the healthy living trend as just that, a trend or fad, and I threw my hands up in the air and abandoned it all.
Now, that’s not to say that I don’t see value in eating whole foods or eliminating toxins from our home.
And now that I’ve had time to recover from my healthy living burnout, there are still many of these principles that we practice in our home: We use very few disposable or plastic products in our kitchen (um, except during the first trimester of pregnancy, when paper plates reign). We turn to natural remedies such as garlic and honey and elderberry syrup before over-the-counter or prescription medicine. We limit sugar so that we can enjoy a special treat without worrying about the effects on our body (and we avoid it altogether when we’re sick). We eat a lot of whole or from-scratch foods, but I’m not afraid to buy frozen french fries or chicken strips if it means I’m more likely to serve a homemade meal otherwise. We love to forage in our yard and we finally managed a small garden this year. And I have lots of essential oils in my cabinet, but we are careful to follow safety recommendations for dilution, avoiding internal use, and usage around children, babies and pregnant women.
Really, it’s not much of a surprise that I’ve ended up somewhere in the middle. After all, that’s where I fall on a lot of things. But it’s taken me a long time to find a balance that I’m comfortable with for our family, and I think that’s the part that no one tells you upfront. We see bloggers who appear to be living the perfect lifestyle with nary a toxin or processed food in sight, and we feel like it’s all-or-nothing.
But it’s not.
It’s a spectrum, with lots of of room in the middle for a family to settle. And more importantly, it’s a journey, which means that while you set your sights on an end goal when you begin, it takes time to get there, and the road may curve or you may take a detour along the way.
And that’s okay.