Tuesday, October 13, 2015

5 Reasons I'll Never Be the Crunchiest Person I Know

Guys, I've got a confession to make. My husband will probably make fun of me for acknowledging this (just a little, and in a loving tone, of course), but inside my head, I've started to identify with the term "crunchy."

That's right. I'm a little bit crunchy. Not super crunchy, and I would never, ever under any circumstances use the term "granola" to describe myself, but I do feel a little crunchy. So many of the practices I've embraced in recent years, especially since my son's birth, are on that end of the spectrum. Home birth, cloth diapers, babywearing, baby-led weaning, full-term breastfeeding, and other things that just make so much sense to me are considered to be crunchy. And I'm okay with that. And I'm okay with the label.

One slightly crunchy mama.

I'm not only okay with it, but on a certain level, I've come to embrace it.

And then there's other things I don't really talk as much about that also make me embrace the crunchy label. Things like using a menstrual cup, or my part-time use of "family cloth" (otherwise known as cloth toilet paper), or the way I'm starting to lean more and more toward making my own cleaning supplies and such at home.

And then... well, then there's the crunchy things I've tried... and kinda-sorta failed at.

So I guess I have two confessions to make. Or three. There are some ways I have failed at being crunchy.

There are also some crunchy things I've never tried. And I currently have no intention of ever doing so.

1. No-Poo.

Have you ever heard the term "no-poo"? If you haven't, it basically means not using shampoo and/or conditioner on your hair, the way most people do. Wait, I hear you thinking. You mean, some people voluntarily choose not to wash their hair?!? Gross!!! Well, while some people do truly forgo using anything other than water on their hair, most people who no-poo use something, just not shampoo. Some people use baking soda to "wash" their hair, followed by an apple cider vinegar rinse. Some people make hair rinses using all kind of natural ingredients: honey, coconut milk, castille soap, and more.

Here's the thing. The most common method of no-poo, the baking soda & apple cider vinegar combo, is really, really horrible for your hair. I'm not going to go into the details here, but suffice to say that it can seriously mess up the PH balance of your hair. Sometimes it can make your hair look great for awhile, but this form of no-poo ultimately isn't doing your body any favors.

So what's a crunchy girl to do? To be truthful, I tried baking soda and apple cider vinegar for about a month before a little more research showed why I was suddenly losing more hair than usual. So I tried a bunch of other alternatives, but none of them really worked for me. And after more than 4 months of being stuck in the "transition" phase, I had had enough. Enough no-poo, enough natural hair care. I went back to regular shampoo. Well, expensive organic shampoo that didn't contain some of the more questionable ingredients, but store-bought shampoo nonetheless.

No regrets.

2. Oil Pulling

Never heard of oil pulling? The basic concept is this: first thing in the morning, put a tablespoon of oil (coconut oil is used most commonly) in your mouth and swish for 20 minutes. Spit out (into the trash can, not the sink), rinse well, and brush. This practice can (supposedly) improve the health of your teeth and gums. Other people claim it has further-reaching benefits, helping with infections (by pulling toxins out of the body), headaches, skin conditions, and more.

I tried oil pulling once. Well, I lasted for three days. And then I gave up.

Why? Because it's gross, that's why. Swishing oil around in your mouth is gross. Aside from the logistical fact that it's hard to go for twenty minutes first thing in the morning without talking (I do have a 3.5-year-old, after all, and he gets up early too), I just couldn't get over how gross it felt. And tasted. So I quit.

I don't care what the supposed benefits are. I'll find other ways to keep my teeth healthy, thank you very much.

3. Oil Cleansing

If you've never heard of the oil cleansing method, it's basically using oil to, well, cleanse. Your face.

Here's the idea: like dissolves like. So using rubbing oil into your face will dissolve the dirty oil that's already there, which you then wipe away with a warm, wet cloth. The dirt is removed, and a thin layer of oil remains behind, replacing what you took away (meaning, it doesn't dry out your skin).

Sounds counter-intuitive, right? Well, maybe. But a lot of people swear by it.

This is currently on the list of things I might try someday, but will probably not stick with. Why? Because it looks too complicated to me. And expensive. Good oils are expensive, and while I do keep a few on hand for making certain personal care products with (like sweet almond oil, and jojoba oil), I'm just not interested in buying a bunch of different types. Because, like with so many things in natural body care, chances are good that it'd take a good deal of experimenting before I discovered the "right" combination of oils for me. I'm also not sure I would want to deal with any kind of transition period; if I had a hard time with my hair being weird, I don't think I could handle my face breaking out or getting dry or whatever. Hair can just be stuffed into a mom perma-bun when it's too greasy, but there's nothing I can do to disguise my face.

Besides. My facial skin care routine works just fine. And my skin is already perfectly clear thanks to a healthy diet. Why mess with what's already working for me?

This picture does nothing to prove my relative crunchiness. But everyone loves a sunrise!

4. Breast Milk: The Magic Cure

The fact that I'm still (mostly voluntarily) nursing my 3.5-year-old makes it pretty clear that I'm a believer in breast milk. My son nursed exclusively for more than 6 months, and continued nursing all night until after his 2nd birthday, and today is still not quite ready to give up his once- or twice-a-day nursing sessions.

I think breast milk is magical. I believe it has helped tremendously in my efforts to ward off illnesses, and has helped Bug recover more quickly when he has gotten sick.

But I've never used my breast milk to literally heal anything.

It's kind of a running joke among crunchy mamas that breast milk can heal anything. Pink eye? Apply a few drops of breast milk. Nipple blisters? Let some of that mama milk dry on them. Diaper rash? Add breast milk, let dry, and the rash will soon be gone! Ear infection? There are natural remedies for that, and one of them is breast milk.

We nursing mamas love our breast milk, and with good reason. It's magical stuff.

But I've never used mine for anything other than nourishing my baby. And I'm more than okay with that.

5. Cod Liver Oil

Lots of people in the natural health community think that cod liver oil is magical. It's used as a daily supplement by many, and it's (supposedly) a fantastic source of omega-3s, vitamin A, and vitamin D.

There has been some recent controversy regarding fermented cod liver oil, which I have read about with fascination. Lots of people in some of the online communities I am part of have been freaking out about the revelation that fermented cod liver oil isn't really the real deal.

Of course, the news doesn't affect me personally. Because I never have, and never will, take cod liver oil, fermented or otherwise.

This should be somewhat obvious. I am a vegan-leaning vegetarian. I haven't eaten meat, including fish, in more than eleven years. I don't believe that there is a single nutrient in cod liver oil that can't be adequately obtained from plant sources. So there's no way I'd ever consider taking it. End of story.


So now tell me your stories. How are you crunchy? How will you *never* be crunchy?

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