I am a 30-year-old working mom that has developed sensitivities to some of the most common and unavoidable things in our culture: CHEMICALS! Not all chemicals, of course. I’m not one to jump on bandwagons or chase down big companies with my pitchfork, but I’d like to be able to get through a meal without my heart jumping out of my chest or my face breaking out in a rash.
The biggest culprit? MSG, flavor additives, and salts derived from other sources. Ugh. I had no idea that I had issues with these additives because I already eat mostly natural, whole foods anyway, so I don’t normally encounter these types of ingredients in my food (which may be the problem). I don’t eat a lot of prepackaged foods (and if I do, they come from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, or other natural food stores), but one night, I decided to make some grilled chicken with zucchini, homemade gnocchi and a sauce. On a whim, I purchased a packet of sauce that my mom used to make when we were younger, and I felt a little nostalgic and decided to make it for my family. I made it with my own “health” spin on it, with a non-fat, organic, lactose-free milk. Wow, did it taste good. Everyone was excited that I made something a little “normal”.
I’m so grateful I did, because it was one of the worst experiences of my life! Within about 30 minutes of eating, my face became bright red, I had these bright, red splotches all over my face, my head was killing me and my heart rate skyrocketed. I had no idea what was going on. I went to the hospital, who checked me over head to toe to make sure that I wasn’t having any cardiovascular issues, which, thankfully, I wasn’t. I was fit as a fiddle. What was wrong with me?!
I went to the doctor the next day and gave the doctor my symptoms. He let me know that this was a common occurrence in people that have sensitivities to some food additives and ran some tests. I started listening more to my body and anytime I would eat something a little “off” if I had any reactions I would notate them in a diary. It’s made it almost impossible to eat at a lot of low-quality restaurants, and I get to be the obnoxious person and ask at every place I go, “Hi, do you use MSG? Please don’t spit in my food.”
This happened about 5 years ago, and ever since then, I have made it a point to read every single thing on the ingredients list. There is widespread panic about MSG – it’s become a buzzword around natural food lovers, and I wanted to learn more about my body, the effects of MSG and food additives, and what it meant for me as an individual.
I think it’s important to remember that each individual person is different. Your body will react differently to things than mine will. There are common allergens, like dander, tree nuts, shellfish, eggs, etc. that all have similar and consequential reactions to ingesting them. It’s much different with people and sensitivities. There are myths that sensitivities do not exist and that people simply jump on bandwagons. In my opinion, I don’t feel that individual reactions should be up for public discussion and think that people should mind their own business. The last time I had a reaction to an additive in a food, I was hooked up to monitors for 5 hours and being injected with medication to slow my heart rate down, all while vomiting violently and convulsing. Yes, it’s all in my head. How did you know?!
I’ve really decided to take a big step backward and understand my body more. I have decided to listen to my body. How does my body react to certain things? What makes me happy? Are there certain smells that put me in a good mood? Why are we putting things in and on our body that make our bodies unhappy?
This occurred to me last week when I was reading the ingredients in my shampoo. I have been using the same shampoo for seven years. If I don’t use it, my head breaks out in this terrible rash, my head is itchy, and my hair feels a mess. My scalp, essentially, falls apart. I use high-end products on my hair because I’m afraid to use anything else. I’ve also noticed that if I don’t wash my hair within 24 hours, my hair is greasy – but my head is not oily! I don’t produce a lot of oil on my scalp, or on my skin, so this struck me as odd. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that my scalp had become dependent on this shampoo.
Last year, I discovered the amazing store that is Lush Cosmetics. I had been using the same essential oil mixture for the past 12 years as a perfume and a “mood booster”, and finally found an all natural lotion that I was able to use with it. However, I realized that my skin had become really sensitive and easily dried out and wasn’t responding well to my normal skin regimen, and my mind was in desperate need of rejuvenation and relaxation, so I stumbled into Lush and purchased a few of their infamous bath bombs and fell in love. There was nothing more relaxing than a soothing, scentful bath bomb and a glass of organic Cabernet Sauvignon, listening to music in the background while the rest of my house slept soundly.
Ever since then, I have been obsessed. I recently tried my luck with their handmade shampoos. I have been very hesitant to try natural shampoos because of the issues with my hair. For full disclosure, I have extremely curly, frizzy, and textured hair. My hair is usually the victim of the almighty hair straightener with tons of product and a lot of manipulation. On a recent trip to Lush, I spoke with one of the sales representatives about the different types of hair products they offer. She quickly showed me the two types that would be most beneficial for my hair and gave me free samples to try. I am currently on day 5 of the shampoo and conditioner combination and am in absolute love. My hair has not looked this good in a while. I was very hesitant about the quality of the product because my hair felt stringy and harsh when I was rinsing it out, and I realized that it felt this way because it was actually clean. We add so many things to our hair when we are washing it. We wash out all the natural oils and put all of these chemicals and silicones and man-made product into our hair and we associate it with clean. I was able to pull my hair back into a pony tail and use a side bang and it has maintained its shape and has been manageable since this morning. I couldn’t say that with my regular shampoo and conditioner. I have been playing with my hair and sniffing it all day because I’m absolutely convinced that it looks awful and is going to smell bad, but each time I’m intoxicated by the refreshing scent of rose oil and neroli oil and I’m completely obsessed. I’m hooked! I went back and bought them by the bottle yesterday, and also picked up a sample of their Olive Branch Shower Gel. I will let you know how that works!
Lush’s Cynthia Sylvia Stout Shampoo – another reason to love beer! It smells so different and leaves the hair feeling extremely clean and manageable.
Lush’s Happy Happy Joy Joy Conditioner – delicious! This conditioner is on the thin side, but is great for every day conditioning and management of curly, unruly hair. Did I mention that it smells amazing? Lawd, does it smell amazing.
Visit http://www.lushusa.com for more information on their incredible, handmade, natural products!