Dining out? This hidden chemical may be halting your health goals

Dining out is generally touted as a fun experience, whether it's a gathering with friends, family, partner, or on your own, it can be a treat where you don't have to cook or clean dishes. You may even become inspired by some of the dishes and their flavors, or find a new love for a certain cuisine or ingredient. And now there are many places where we can substitute or add ingredients to fit our dietary or food preferences! 

However, recent studies have shown that dining out, even if you're choosing healthier options, may not be all that healthy due to it's preparation (yet fast foodies may want to explore other options as that group had the most exposure compared to a more restaurant setting). Phthalates are comprised of a group of chemicals used to soften and increase the flexibility of products, such as beauty care, skin care, food packaging, plastic wrap, shower curtains, detergents, and toys. As well as in the air we breathe and the water we drink. Increased levels can place people at risk for fertility problems (both men and women), pregnancy complications, disrupt hormone function, obesity, behavioral issues, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer. Exposure in dining out settings comes from packaging, gloves worn during food prep,  and other processing materials. 

While this can seem overwhelming, 

While this can seem overwhelming, take these steps to reduce your exposure, as it's understanding the ways you can be exposed, and then make the proper lifestyle changes to accommodate: 

  • Cook more at home, more so than dining out (especially at fast food places)- Yes, dining out can be a fun experience, though consider cooking for yourself the majority of meals of the week. A few ways to incorporate include keeping frozen veggies in the freezer, can of salmon or beans, and healthy fats like avocado or olive oil, with a sprinkle of ground flaxseed, which can all be combined for a healthful, delicious, and filling meal. Also, cook/prepare a number of different foods on the weekend and store in pyrex so you can have them throughout the week. 
  • Switch to natural products- Do you clean a lot? Use a number of different beauty/skin care products? Yes men, I'm talking to you too. Aiming for natural, chemical free products helps reduce exposure, and lessens our body burden of toxic chemicals that could be contributing to further dis-ease over the next few decades. Check out ewg.org/skindeep and toss any beauty product over a 4.
  • Love your liver- Our liver is our largest detoxification organ, responsible for over 500 processes, and helps ensure that toxins we will encounter in our day to day life are taken care of and excreted (e.g. sweat, bowel movements, urine). Living in a suburban or urban city tends to rack up quite a bit more chemical exposure than living in rural area, so getting your sweat on regularly through workouts, or steam/saunas, scarfing down those green veggies, and drinking at least half your body weight in ounces of water, all help your liver do it's job efficiently.