Updated: Mar 6, 2020
Are your food preparation materials and food storage containers harming you?
A guide to replacing harmful materials in the kitchen.
When it comes to nutrition and overall health, we are all pretty familiar with the basics… eat a nutritious diet, move your body through exercise, stay hydrated, and get plenty of sleep. We also know that one of the easiest ways to save money and eat healthier food, is to cook for yourself at home.
But have you ever paid attention to what you’re using to cook and store your food?
The ways we cook and prepare our foods can have tremendous impacts on our health. The cookware we use can either greatly enhance our food’s quality and health, or greatly harm its quality and health, and therefore, our health.
Feeling overwhelmed? No need to rush yourself! Your body will thank you for making one swap at a time to reduce your toxic load. Let’s learn about some of these common offenders and what we can swap them out with to start the transition into toxic-free living!
Teflon Cooking Pans
Description: Teflon is the coating on pans that gives them their non-stick capabilities. They are tempting to use because they are easy to find in stores, and often accompanied by a low price tag.
Dangers: Teflon, the brand name for the chemical Polytetrafluoroethylene, is the man-made chemical use to create non-stick pans. Polytetrafluoroethylene and another man-made chemical, Perfluorooctanoic acid (aka PFOA) also used in these pans, have been linked with neuro-toxic effects and health risks such as Alzheimers, dementia, and brain cancers.
Swaps: Stainless Steel and Cast Iron are the easiest swaps for non-stick pans. Concerned about the price tag? These pans can often be found both in sets and separately at Ross, Home Goods, Marshalls, etc. Ceramic pans are a new, less-harmful solution as well, but science on their long-term health impacts are still coming out.
Hacks: Cover the bottom of your stainless steel or cast iron cooking pan with compostable parchment paper before cooking eggs, meat, etc. for mess-free cleanup. Compost when finished for zero-waste!
Plastic Tupperware/Food Storage Containers, Plastic Ziplock Bags, and Plastic Wrap
Description: plastic food storage containers are very frequently used for food storage, packing lunches, and even re-heating food *cringe*. They are popular due to being convenient and cheap.
Dangers: Storing food in plastic, even BPA-free plastic, can have tremendous negative impacts on overall health, but specifically, hormone health. All plastics leach chemicals, and many of these chemicals mimic the hormone estrogen. These estrogen-mimicking chemicals, known as xenoestrogens, are endocrine disruptors that alter the normal function of hormones. When a large amount of these xenoestrogens are present in the body, they create estrogen dominance. Extended periods of time of estrogen dominance and large amounts of xenoestrogens in the body have been linked to breast, prostate and testicular cancer, obesity, infertility, endometriosis, early onset puberty, miscarriages and diabetes.
Swaps: Glass or ceramic food storage containers. Glass is especially easy to find, and can be purchased in sets with lids, just like plastic containers, for prices that are surprisingly close to plastic. Costo and Sam’s Club typically offer sets of glass containers, but they can also be found at Target, Walmart, etc.
Benefits: Glass containers can be reheated in the microwave without harmful health repercussions, unlike plastic. Using glass and reusable storage containers as opposed to plastic wrap and ziplock bags.
Hacks: Use beeswax wrap in place of saran or plastic wrap. It’s safe, reusable, and decreases waste!
Brazier, Y. (2017, May 25). Bisphenol A: Hazards and sources. Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/221205.php.
Hamilton, J. (2011, March 2). Study: Most Plastics Leach Hormone-Like Chemicals. Retrieved from https://www.npr.org/2011/03/02/134196209/study-most-plastics-leach-hormone-like-chemicals.
LaRue ND, A. (2017, October 26). Xenoestrogens: What Are They, How to Avoid Them. Retrieved from https://womeninbalance.org/2012/10/26/xenoestrogens-what-are-they-how-to-avoid-them/.
Le, H. H., Carlson, E. M., Chua, J. P., & Belcher, S. M. (2008, January 30). Bisphenol A is released from polycarbonate drinking bottles and mimics the neurotoxic actions of estrogen in developing cerebellar neurons. Retrieved from https:/