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A Healthier Kitchen

#1.  Get rid of the junk.

Trust me. The act of clearing the junk food out of your life is the best thing to do. Because, let’s face it: if it’s there, you’ll eat it (at some point). I can’t think of a single (rational) reason someone would need to keep junk food around.

You don’t have to challenge your willpower by keeping bad foods around. Ditch the junk. Start in the cabinets, and work your way to the fridge. Throw it all away (even though it may seem wasteful).

Look for added sugar, and replace those staples if you can. Ketchup, dressings, and sauces are common places to find added sugars, and they add up quickly!

#2 Replace plastics with stainless steel, glass, or silicone

This is a step for the committed wellness gurus, and for anyone who is trying to get pregnant. If you’re trying to optimize your fertility (both men and women!), you have to get rid of plastics in the kitchen. Storing or cooking food in plastic containers causes BPA, phthalates, and PVCs to leech into your food, which can cause problems with your hormones. If your food contains fat, it is more likely to leech these chemicals from the plastics in which they are stored. 

Store Beans, Grains, Nuts, Seeds, and other pantry staples in glass jars.

You can buy mason jars, or just clean out and save jars from grocery store purchases. If you bring these jars with you to the store and buy from the bulk section, you can greatly reduce both your environmental impact and your plastic exposure!

Store spices in glass jars.

Have you ever noticed that bulk spices bought in plastic bags tend to break down the bags over time?  This means the plastic is leeching into the spices and going into your food. Store in glass for optimal flavor, quality, and shelf life! 

Pro-tip: Buy small amounts of spices fresh, as you need them. Old spices that are more than 1 year old have lost their nutritional content. Fresh spices are medicinal.  You can tell if it’s gone bad if the smell is not quite as potent, or the color has faded.

Store leftover food in glass containers. 

We recommend buying a set of glass storage containers like those found here: https://www.amazon.com/Glasslock-18-Piece-Assorted-Oven-Container/dp/B00LN810PM

It’s an investment, but they will last forever.

#3 Trash the Teflon

Teflon coating may seem like an easy, convenient solution for non-stick cooking. However, convenience usually has a price. Did you know non-stick cookware warns that cooking with high heat can cause breakdown of Teflon, which can lead to “teflon flu”, hormone dysregulation, and damage to the fetus in pregnant women? One EWG study in 2003 showed that cooking 2-5 minutes in a Teflon pan raised the temperature above “safe” limits. Teflon fumes may kill pet birds, and cause flu-like symptoms. It HAS to go!

As Teflon heats and breaks down, it comes loose from the cookware and goes into your food, as well as into the air you breathe. Using abrasive cooking utensils can accelerate this process. Choose stainless steel or cast iron cookware instead.

Pro-tip: For a cheaper option, scour your local Goodwill—people are always getting rid of cookware! Cast iron cookware is easy to restore and make good as new.

For cooking utensils, like spatulas and ladles, chose stainless steel or silicone. NEVER use stainless steel utensils with Teflon pans, though: this accelerates the breakdown of the Teflon.

#4 Look for lead in dishware

This one is a little harder to do. Some dishware made in Asia is coated with a lead based glaze. Start to take note of this possibility, and look for lead free dishware. Ceramic cookware with a glaze is notorious for containing lead. Asian dishware with a lot of decorations generally contain lead glazes. Lead test kits are easily available, and can let you know if there is lead in your dishware


#5 Use a good quality dish soap & dishwasher soap

What to avoid:
Sodium Lauryl Sulphate (SLS)
Sodium Laureth Sulphate (SLES)
Propylene Glycol
Fragrance : this can be a code for ANYTHING, as it is a non-regulated ingredient.  Commonly contains phalates, known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors
Triclosan: antibacterial agent

In general, the less ingredients, the better. Look for health conscious brands that don’t contain fragrance.

Look up your dish soap, see how it ranks

NOTE: There is no federal regulation for the word “natural”. Just because something states it is “natural” it doesn’t mean it is safe. The best course of action is to look on the label for known harmful chemicals, and stick to brands that have expressed interest in consumer safety.

#6 Avoid canned foods

The inner lining of cans has a chemical coating. Most conventional coating is made of BPA, a known hormone disruptor. The new trend is using “BPA free” coating—this is code for: “We know you don’t want BPA, so we chose a different chemical to coat the can instead, and we have no idea what it will do to you.”

Acidic foods, like tomatoes, are more likely to cause breakdown and cause it to get into your food. We recommend making beans and soups from scratch, and storing leftovers in glass jars in the fridge or freezer. Canning foods (in glass) in the summer, when they are rich in nutrients and easy to buy in bulk, is a great way to stock up your pantry with tomatoes and sauces.

This may seem a bit overwhelming, but trust me, you can make these changes. Everyone should feel good about what they put into their body. Reducing exposure is the best way to balance your hormones and boost your fertility!

Dr. Caitlin Fanning Dr. Caitlin Fanning, ND, is a naturopathic doctor and women’s health specialist at Pacific Coast Integrative Health in Santa Cruz, California. She provides compassionate and comprehensive care to patients of all ages and conditions with a focus on women’s health, hormone health, nutrition, stress management, fertility, and preconception care.

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