Vegetable garden

The concept of “eating clean” is finally gaining popularity in our chemical-saturated world. It can seem appealing, and our consciences know it’s the way to go, but where on earth does a twenty-something start? When jumping headfirst into the GAPS diet sounds too difficult and buying only organic foods is way out of the budget, the best thing to do is start small.

Here are three simple ways to start cleaning up your lifestyle:

1. Replace vegetable or olive oil with coconut oil in your cooking.

The health benefits of olive oil are many and rightfully celebrated. Unfortunately, it’s risks are not nearly as well known. When olive oil is heated it not only loses its health benefits, but it becomes carcinogenic. Canola oil does not have any health benefits to begin with, but it also becomes toxic when heated. Luckily, there’s an alternative: unrefined virgin coconut oil.  Coconut oil can be heated at much higher temperatures than any other oil without becoming carcinogenic, it is converted into energy more rapidly than other oils, it provides anti-aging benefits (it’s never too early, right?), contains the greatest naturally-occurring amount of lauric acid in a food, and the list goes on.

The flavor of coconut oil is quite mild and will not interfere with the taste of your food. In fact, when I switched from olive to coconut oil I was struck by how much the flavor improved, since there wasn’t a salty tang that is present when cooking with olive oil.

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So go ahead and continue pouring olive oil all over salads and breads – just don’t get it anywhere near the stove!

2. Use natural cleaning products.

We rarely stop to think that in shining the mirror or scrubbing the bathtub, we’re sacrificing the cleanliness of our own health. It’s easier than you think to switch over to a natural alternative to toxins-in-a-bottle. Most major grocery stores now have organic aisles in which you can find brands such as Seventh Generation (my personal favorite).

If cost is a concern, a quick Google search will find you some “recipes” for affordable homemade cleaners, most of which you probably already have the ingredients for. I enjoyed this one. The quality of natural cleaning products has definitely caught up to the toxic ones, so there’s no longer a question of whether or not living clean equals clean living.

Surprisingly, vinegar is also a budget-friendly home-cleaning solution you probably already have on hand (and there are ways to get beyond the smell).

3. Treat your skin with Argan oil.

At least twice a day we slather our faces with whatever scented, prettily-wrapped product we currently fancy, without really considering what is being absorbed into our bodies. Hint: a long list of chemicals. How can we enjoy our skincare routines, maintain healthy and beautiful skin, and not empty our bank accounts? The answer is the now-famous Argan oil. Bursting with Vitamin E, this surprisingly versatile oil will leave your skin healthy, moisturized, and luminous. Argan oil is notoriously expensive due to its rarity, and as such, beauty stores are not shy to amp up the cost. Rather than paying an extra fifty bucks for a label and a nice bottle, get a one-up on the system by purchasing pure Argan oil from a reputable organic company. My go-to is Mountain Rose Herbs. Bonus: Argan oil’s uses don’t begin and end with facial moisturizing. Try massaging it into your nails for a DIY treatment, or use a single drop to tame flyaways.

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Once you incorporate these little changes into your daily routine, you’ll feel more prepared to tackle bigger steps. Before you know it you’ll be living a full-fledged clean life!