3 years ago

Earthy Child: when some natural foods and products aren’t so good for you.

Hey there hi there.

So, yikes, when has being an au naturel gal gone wrong for me?

Well first, lets make one thing clear: I’m a lazy consumer.

Yes. Yes, I am the annoying box-snatcher who automatically flips that puppy around and scans the ingredients for partially hydrogenateds, parabens, sodium lauryl/laureth sulfates, aluminums, aspartame, petrolatum (petroleum), propylene glycol, MSG,  the mysterious “fragrance” or “parfum” et cetera, et cetera.


When I talk about being crunchy, or earthy, or natural, it doesn’t mean we never order fries and a Coke, and oh my goodness, Craig introduced me to the McGriddle a while back and if that isn’t a most delicious wolf in pancake-bacon-and-egg-flavored’s clothing, I don’t know what is.

When I talk about doing things the natural, organic way, it doesn’t mean everything in my house is absolutely toxic-free. Though we are trying to eventually phase all of the bad out, I predict I’ll probably always have a bottle of bleach tucked under the kitchen sink.  And even though I make our own laundry detergent, this (affiliate) Non-Toxic Home Cleaning bundle deal from The Honest Co, is really, really appealing.


Sometimes, while I could simply make the cleaning product myself, I don’t want to.
Sometimes, I grab something because it says “ALL NATURAL” and then I get it home to see that about %10 of that item is actually “all natural,” or that only 1/4 of the ingredients are actually “certified organic.”

More times than I can count, I do what my more knowledgable crunchy people are doing simply because I trust that they’ve done my research for me.  Mostly, those things work out just fine.  But there’ve been a few healthy things I’ve tried which went wrong wrong wrong.

But that’s my fault. And now I’m sure I’ve completely discredited myself to my fellow earthy people. It’s okay, I’m slowly learning!

Let’s start with three of my favorite healthy/natural items which always do me good:

Property of C. Svellinger

This deodorant!  I’ll never love another, probably. While the main ingredient in this particular brand is actually coconut oil (see below), it doesn’t seem to bother my pits, so onward I slather. (Note that their site informs that your pits might go through a detox phase if you’re switching directly from an antiperspirant).  I’ve also Pinned a few DIY recipes, which I might give a try… someday.

Frankincense!  (that’s an affiliate link) Here’s a great list of benefits and uses, but for me, I use it nearly every day for skin care and relieving anxiety.

Garden of Life Vitamin Code Raw Prenatal vitamins!  (affiliate, too) I take these whether or not I’m prego, and Garden of Life makes a line for men, children, and the over 50 club.


Now, to the drama: a few things which have greatly disappointed me.

Lavender Essential Oil

For the last few years, I’ve saved to build up a small essential oil supply, and golly I am proud.

Unfortunately, I’ve learned that every person is different, and even essential oils must be used with caution.  In fact, most companies will suggest testing for sensitivities before usage. Some are unsafe to use if you have allergies, or other health conditions, or are pregnant.

While I L.O.V.E. the smell of Lavender, it gives my husband an allergic reaction. Lavender! One of the staple essential oil superstars! It makes my husband sneeze, his eyes become live waterfalls, and he can’t be in the room with it. Alrighty then.


Coconut Oil (and Fractionated Coconut Oil)

For the last year, I’ve been doing the oil cleansing method to clean my face. I started with olive oil, but after reading all the hype about the biggest baddest playa in the oil game, coconut oil, I blindly hurled myself onto that train. THUNK!

The praises sung of coconut oil surpass any other, it seems. Big name essential oil companies even sell their own (fractionated coconut oil) as the recommended carrier for their products.
Sorry, caps.

I quickly learned that regular virgin coconut oil clogged my pores, and that Fractionated Coconut Oil was what I was supposed to be using for my face because of the above reasons. So I bought and used. Every day.

But my face? I reached a point over the summer where I was wailing to my husband, “How on earth am I having teenage acne at nearly 30 years old?!”

Then I realized the only variable I’d introduced into my regimen this summer (also considering diet and exercising) was slopping fractionated coconut oil on my face.
And that’s when I found myself going Regina George style.

Regina George on Make A Gif

Are gifs not a hip thing anymore? oh well.

Out of an ocean of Google search results which all gave homage to the almighty FCO, I found one -ONE- website which warned that coconut oil of any kind might actually do the reverse for some people, and that the all-star oil might not be so fab for us more north-dwelling Americans, or even European descendants to whom the coconut is not indigenous. In fact, I should have been tipped off by my initial reaction to regular coconut oil.

I dug out a stash of jojoba oil mixed with a drop or two of melaleuca (tea tree oil) which my sister in law gave me to try weeks and weeks and weeks previous, and wouldn’t you know the next morning, ’twas all merely a very bad nightmare.
I could hardly believe the extreme difference.

Of course, I could have reacted badly to jojoba oil, too.
I also find that the tiniest amount of humble olive oil does me just fine as a moisturizer and primer.
And sometimes, I wash with baby shampoo.

Ready for another?


Oh, beloved, free of gluten, wondrous food– but wait. Maybe not.

Upon waking up one morning, following a dinner of delicious veggie stir-fry loaded with quinoa the night previous, I felt like I could barely lift my eyelids. I felt sluggish, cranky, achy, and full for the week following (as I continued to eat the left overs for lunch). Out of the foggy slugdom, I says to myself, “self, this feels like a pasta hangover. But you didn’t eat pasta. You ate Quinoa.”

So I did some Googling and discovered that not all quinoa are created equal. Some strains of quinoa, in fact, trigger a response similar to those who have issues with gluten, and the only way to know that is to check for a “certified gluten free” label on the bag, OR to call the company and ask which strain of quinoa they sell.

So I’ve stuck with rice for now.  Even though some rice blends can have cross contamination or other gluten containing foods, so far, plain, organic white rice does me good.

Disclaimer: even though we do swerve from gluten, we are not always gluten-free (See McGriddle).


So what’s the take-home here?

  • The reminder that every person is different, and may react differently to natural foods and ingredients based upon their genetic, biological and environmental makeup: KNOW THYSELF.

Having spouted my loves and dislikes for the above: Proceed with caution.  They may work just dandy for you, or they may not!  Learn your body!

So tell me: what has surprised you with a negative experience?  

And: What are your favorite foods, products, or otherwise natural stuffs which have helped improve your health?


  1. Huh. I was reading about oil cleansing today and all the sites (ok, 3) said to use castor oil and olive oil. I’ll let ya know if I try it. For now, I do only water and then moisturize with coconut oil.

  2. Awesome insights. I am loving Primal Pit Paste, as well. Although, our local Catholic moms group got together to make some deodorant and I love that even more!

    Our bottom-line goal of the choices we make in our house: give your body a fighting chance. Our first priority is food, because it makes (or breaks) our bodies. So we try to eat food that is biologically appropriate for HUMANS ;) After that, our choice of medicine, cleaners, etc. is, well-thought out, but secondary. But even within food — due to our budget and, you know, trying to actually live life, not micromanage, since I am a natural choleric ;) — we prioritize: good sources of fat and bones, and conventional Aldi muscle meat; locally-grown produce from someone whose hand I can shake and talk about their practices, heck, maybe even visit the farm, over store-bought organic. I’ve kicked most of our cleaners for any number of vinegar concoctions. I’ve had particularly negative experiences with mindsets associated with natural stuff, but not usually with the stuff itself. I feel like as long as you can continue to ask questions, find a probable mechanism for proposed solutions, and keep yourself from being a “fundamentalist” about anything (but Jesus ;), you can really find the good amongst negative experiences! (And, I was using “you” in the general sense, not as in “you, Caroline Svellinger” ;)

    But, I have super-negative experiences with homeopathy. My first negative experience, is that most people (even some doctors I have met) use the word “homeopathy” interchangeably with “natural remedy”. Two. Really. Different. Things.

  3. I agree that there are pros and cons to natural and non-natural products! I LOVE all Traditional Medicinals teas. It blows me away how great they work and how great they work sans science!! I especially use this one and it never fails me (we all have a struggle….): http://www.amazon.com/Traditional-Medicinals-Organic-Smooth-16-Count/dp/B0009F3PJE/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1408672944&sr=8-12&keywords=traditional+medicinals
    I recommend all Traditional Medicinals teas though!

    I have learned a lot about skin care and skin type from this company! They do a great job of reviewing other products too (although I personally LOVE theirs!). They scope out all the research that’s out there about various skin and cosmetic ingredients and products and give feedback based purely on the research. They wrote an article about the oil cleansing method that I read awhile ago but this reminded me of that: http://www.paulaschoice.com/expert-advice/natural-skin-care/_/the-oil-cleansing-method
    Anyways, this company has GREAT skin care and not to mention has natural products too! Also check out their Beautypedia.com site with product reviews for a lot of other natural products.
    Hope that wasn’t TMI, but I love discussions like these!

  4. I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and I just love it! I tried the “no poo” method for 3 months. I kept waiting for that beautiful, amazing, thick, luxurious hair that I read would happen…but all I got was limp, frizzy mess. I wrote a post about it: http://www.wannabecatholic.blogspot.com/2014/07/that-time-i-didnt-wash-my-hair-for-3.html

    Also, I love my natural deodorant. I use one of those crystal sticks and it’s amazing!

    Ashley @ The Wannabe Catholic

  5. I am still on the fence about natural deodorant. I bought one by Alba and it was just awful (didn’t work and gave me a bad rash) and I’m scared to try another natural one…although I have been tempted to make my own!

  6. I loooooooooathe coconut oil and quinoa. I hate the taste of both, and I cannot stand the smell of of coconut oil. Every time somebody tells me to rub it on some body part or to sauté delicious veggies in it I dry heave.

  7. you must have forgotten my facebook post on OCM earlier this year. crunchy betty’s exquisite stuff was what worked great for me, you asked what was in it then. I think i told you to check out her link on how to try various oils for various skin types: She mentions the no coconut oil thing. for me, Olive oil was an atrocity. oily city that was.

    how exactly do you use the frankincense?

    And gifs are still hip, that one had me rolling ;)

  8. I love my homemade wipes. They are great for babies butts AND removing make up.

    Fail? Homemade dish washing detergent. It kinda cleans but leaves terrible residue even with a chemical filled rinse aid. I still haven’t given up but I am running out of things to try. It is just so cheap!

    As far as deoderant, LaVanilla’s “healthy deoderant” is great in winter and cooler days, but doesn’t quite cut it on the hot, humid, and muggy days. I’ll have to give yours a try!

    1. Yes, I hate the homemade dishwashing detergent. I made it before we got our dishwasher, and when I started using the store-bought stuff, I was like, “OMG!!!!! Why was I using that homemade crap!!” Plus, because it has borax in it and it doesn’t entirely rinse, I am slightly worried about my kids eating borax… I have noticed though, that you can ditch the rinse aid for a half and half mix of vinegar and dish soap. I keep a Dollar Tree spray bottle of that mix under my sink and just spray a couple sprays on the top and bottom rack, and the dishes are stunning. It’s just pennies to make a whole spray bottle of that concoction!


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