Clean Eating and the Dirty Dozen

This is Lifestyle Saturday.  A weekly post on living a non toxic, stress free,  and organic lifestyle.  


Over the course of this  past year, I have been asked numerous times to share how my eating habits and lifestyle has changed since being diagnosed with cancer.

I am not an “expert” by any means however, I have learned a lot about the toxic culture we live in and have made necessary changes in my life to detox from its effects on and in my body.

Everyone’s path is unique, so what might work for me, might not work for others.  Some might even disagree with the way I am journeying through the non toxic maze and that is okay with me.

Here is a brief roadmap of where I have been and where I am finally landing on living and leading a healthy life.

November 2012 –  Diagnosed with cancer and changed my diet to a clean eating regime.

January 2013-  Really sick from chemo, my best friend suggested I juice.  So I did.

April 2013-  Went Vegan.  My body was racked with toxins not only from chemo, but sepsis and antibiotics.  I lost 25lbs.

Fall 2013 –  I added some meat back into my diet.  Mostly fish and chicken.  Started gaining back the weight I lost from the hormone therapy I am on to remove all estrogen from my body.  The cancer I have feeds off of estrogen.

March 2014 –  My body was feeling inflamed.  So after some advice from another friend, I researched the Whole30 diet and Paleo lifestyle.  I felt better eating this way for about a month, however I am just not a huge meat eater, and  I miss the plant based foods that I love, such as legumes.

April 2014 –  Attended a conference for Women Living with Metastatic Breast Cancer.  Learned more about the specific cancer that I have, and have come full circle .

I am now back to Clean Eating.  No more vegan diets, Whole30, Paleo, etc.

So what is clean eating?  It is not a diet, it is a lifestyle.  It’s a concept that emphasizes  eating  healthy, whole, and unprocessed foods.   It means choosing organic as much as possible, learning how to read labels and educating oneself on the toxicity of things that we not only put “in” our bodes but “on” our bodies.  (I use all non toxic items to clean my house, wash my clothes, and even to brush my teeth)

I will share what I have learned, my favorite recipes, preferred products, and how anyone can adapt living clean.

You can start today if you want to make a small step towards leading a cleaner lifestyle.


With your fruits and vegetables.

Have you heard of the Dirty Dozen and the Clean Fifteen?

These are lists put out by the Environmental Working Group on the worst and best fruits and vegetables to consume because of their concentrations of pesticide residue.

*The Dirty Dozen –EWG’s Dirty Dozen™ list of produce includes apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes. Each of these foods contained a number of different pesticide residues and showed high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items.
In particular:
Every sample of imported nectarines and 99 percent of apple samples tested positive for at least one pesticide residue.
The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other food.
A single grape sample contained 15 pesticides. Single samples of celery, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and strawberries showed 13 different pesticides apiece.

*If you can, buy organic when it comes to these fruits and vegetables.  If you can not differentiate between organic and non organic produce, look at the little number sticker the stores are required to use.  Organic produce will always start with the number 9.  Organic cucumbers are expensive, so if you have to buy regular ones, be sure you peel them before consuming.

*The Clean Fifteen-EWG’s Clean Fifteen™ for 2014 – the produce least likely to hold pesticide residues – are avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides.
Notable findings:
Avocados were the cleanest: only 1 percent of avocado samples showed any detectable pesticides.
Some 89 percent of pineapples, 82 percent of kiwi, 80 percent of papayas, 88 percent of mango and 61 percent of cantaloupe had no residues.
No single fruit sample from the Clean Fifteen™ tested positive for more than 4 types of pesticides.
Detecting multiple pesticide residues is extremely rare on Clean Fifteen™ vegetables. Only 5.5 percent of Clean Fifteen samples had two or more pesticides.

* this information was taken from the EWG website.   Sign up for their updates and freebies.

One must also be aware of GE (genetically engineered) produce.  The biggest culprits are corn, and papaya grown in Hawaii.  Actually STAY AWAY at all costs from papaya grown in Hawaii unless you pick it from my mom’s tree in Mililani.  There are huge debates on the island of Kauai because of GE papaya.

People often think that eating and living clean is hard.  I will be honest in that it will cost you more financially but if you take small steps, and add things slowly, it will not be such a hardship.  I am here to help.


3 thoughts on “Clean Eating and the Dirty Dozen

  1. Thanks for this info. I read the DD list yesterday and CRIED inside because I can’t afford to do much more than I do and just LOVE most of those fruits and veggies. Another friend posted an article about rinsing your produce in a vinegar water bath. Does this help?

    1. You’re welcome Lorretta. From what I understand vinegar contains an ingredient called acetic acid. This is known for killing virus’s and bacteria. When dealing with pesticide residue on produce you are talking more about the absorption rate of the toxins into the fruits and vegetables. I am not sure vinegar or any products can pull that out . But definitely using it as a wash is good on any organic or non organic produce.
      The most important thing is just being aware and doing what you can, when you can. If I had to choose, I would stay away from GE’s and GMO’s more than eating a non organic cucumber every once in a while.

  2. Yay!!! Thank you so much for this!! My first organic produce shipment arrives Monday! You are such an inspiration to me! I really appreciate all your feedback on the different things you’ve tried. Clean living truly makes the most sense. The hardest thing is staying away from the “convenience” of packaged food, so I learned to be a label reader years ago, but I could definitely educate myself more in that area. Look forward to learning more from your weekly blogs,

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