Living a Non-toxic Life

Hi ladies! As many of you know, I have been working on transitioning all of my beauty, haircare, and skincare products to non-toxic ones as well as removing nasty chemicals from my diet. Now that I'm home more, I have been trying to make better, safer choices to keep my immunity up. I spoke with nutritionist and non-toxic living guru, Karalynne Call to tell us the nitty gritty on what we should be avoiding!

Tell us about what you do. Do you take private clients? Hi! My name is Karalynne Call. I am a Certified Nutritionist, Owner of Just.Ingredients, and mom of 6 active kids. My mission is to share the how-to’s and why’s behind choosing better, whole, non-toxic ingredients in your diet and daily product use. My Instagram @just.ingredients was created to show others that there are non-toxic and healthy alternatives to popular products. After struggling to find personal care and beauty products with ingredients I wanted to use on my body, I launched my own Organic product line including deodorant, face serum, and face scrub. I would love to take private clients one day, but right now my content is all on Instagram, my blog, and in-depth cheat sheets and product guides on There are so many ingredients in things... how do we tell if a food is made with good ingredients? Ingredient lists can be so confusing and overwhelming. Companies are very tricky in their marketing. These are a few of the things I check for when I am looking at labels:

- Most of the sneaky “thumbs down” ingredients are hidden in processed foods. One helpful tip is buying organic processed foods because the word organic means NO: artificial dyes, artificial sweeteners, artificial preservatives, artificial flavors, GMOs, partially hydrogenated oils, added hormones, antibiotics, ionizing radiation, glyphosate, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, or sewage sludge, and animals are fed 100% organic and not with glyphosate byproducts.

-Check labels for artificial sweeteners (acesulfame potassium or ace-k, sucralose, aspartame), artificial preservatives (BHT, BHA), artificial dyes (red-40, blue 1, yellow 5, yellow 6, etc), artificial flavors, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, GMO ingredients (anything with the words soy, corn, sugar, canola, or cotton), nitrates (sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate), vegetable oil.

-Glyphosate is another one to avoid, but ingredient list will never say glyphosate. But, organic means the crop has not been sprayed with glyphosate. So I would buy organic wheat, oats, and almonds (all crops sprayed with glyphosate). I would also buy organic products with soy, corn, sugar, canola, or cotton since those are 5 gmo crops sprayed with glyphosate as well.

-As you become more advanced in your health journey, you can start eliminating more ingredients such as excess added sugars, autolyzed yeast extract, bleached flour, synthetic caramel color, DATEM (Diacetyl Tartaric Acid Esters of Monoglycerides), maltodextrin, monoglycerides and diglycerides, sodium benzoate, sodium phosphate, and TBHQ.      How do I know if my beauty products are nontoxic? Is there a resource for this?  Check out my beauty guide ! Not only does it have tons of nontoxic product ideas for all things beauty and hygiene, it has a column with the main ingredients to avoid for each category. Ingredients that you want to avoid are Formaldehyde, BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole), Parabens (Methylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben), Phthalates (Fragrance), BHT, Artificial Dyes, Talc, Carbon Black, PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), Sulfates (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, Contaminated with 1,4- dioxane), Artificial Dyes, Triclosan, DEA/MEA (Diethanolamine/monoethanolamine), Mineral oil and Retinol. A lot of these ingredients can be found in makeup cosmetics, face wash, and face lotions. In addition to my beauty guide, is a great resource. They have a database of beauty products with ratings. I prefer to use products that are a 1 or 2. If EWG doesn’t have the product you are looking for, you can search for each ingredient in a product and see how the individual ingredients rate. If a product has an ingredient rated poorly, you know the product is not the best option.    How do I know if my cleaning products are nontoxic?  Check out my cleaning guide! It has so many ideas for safe, nontoxic cleaning products that I have personally vetted. In addition to my cleaning guide, is a great resource. They have a database of cleaning products with ratings. I prefer to use products that are an A or B. If EWG doesn’t have the product you are looking for, you can search for each ingredient in a product and see how the individual ingredients rate. If a product has an ingredient rated poorly, you know the product is not the best option.    I want to make the switch to non-toxic and safe products and foods, but the process can be overwhelming. Where should I start? Is there a recommended order for what we should "clean-up" and when (if we can't afford to do it all at once or if we are overwhelmed)?  Your journey to health will not be overnight! Since it can be overwhelming and it will take some time to make changes, don’t try getting rid of all of these at once. For instance, get rid of foods with hydrogenated oils out of your house, off your grocery list, etc. Know what to replace those foods with. Once you’re comfortable with those changes, move on to a new ingredient. Here is a list.    1. Hydrogenated oils are basically an oil like soybean oil, palm oil, corn oil, etc that they inject a metal into and the end result is a semi or solid oil. These will show up on the label as partially hydrogenated, fully hydrogenated, hydrogenated, or interestified   2. Parabens - these are found in beauty products and mimic estrogen. For women, these mess up your hormones causing bad PMS, heavy cramping, depression, anxiety, migraines, and more.

These will show up on the label as: Methylparaben Ethylparaben Butylparaben Propylparben   3. High fructose corn syrup will say just that on the label.    4. Artificial sweeteners - avoid sucralose, ace-k, and aspartame. These destroy your good gut bacteria and so many health issues are linked to the gut!   5. Nitrates - Nitrates are found mainly in deli meats, bacon, hot dogs. The World Health Organization puts deli meats in group 1. Group 1 is for carcinogenic items like cigarettes, alcohol, asbestos, arsenic... and deli meats is to their nitrates. Nitrates are a known carcinogen. Buy uncured (that means without nitrates).   6. Look for the non gmo label or organic label on foods. If they don’t have either of those labels, then most likely they have a gmo ingredient.

7. BHT/BHA are preservatives found in our packaged food. They are endocrine disruptors and their nickname in the science world is “tumor promoter.” They are banned in most countries, but not America.   8. Artificial dyes- found in food, cleaning supplies, beauty products. The different colors are linked to adhd to mental health issues to cancer. Once again, banned in most countries. Found on the label as red 40, blue 1, yellow 5, yellow 6, etc.    If we can't afford a 100% organic lifestyle, what are the most important things we should definitely buy organic (aside from the Dirty Dozen produce items)?  Buying organic processed foods is important to me--it means there are no artificial dyes, sweeteners, preservatives, flavorings, GMOs, partially hydrogenated oils, added hormones, antibiotics, glyphosate on crops, etc. I always buy products with wheat and oats organic because I don’t want anything sprayed with glyphosate. Buying organic milk is also important to me, because I know there were no hormones given and no GMO feed given to the cows.    What is your favorite quick, healthy dinner?  One of my easiest and favorite recipes is my sheet pan dinner. I use organic chicken sausage (avoid sausages with sodium nitrates and sodium nitrites and GMO products) and a variety of vegetables.  I love to pack as many veggies as I can! It’s so easy to customize it to what your family likes.    Slice sausages and chop vegetables. Put on a sheet pan and then add some of my favorite toppings.    Potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, zucchini, onions, bell peppers, asparagus and broccoli all work well in sheet pan dinners.    Favorite toppings: Avocado oil and lemon pepper Avocado oil, garlic, and garlic salt Avocado oil, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese And so many other variations! Cook at 425 degrees for about 18-20 minutes.  

What is your take on grains... Should we be eating them? I’m good with grains! Sprouting is a great way to get more nutrients out of grains because sprouting removes the phytic acid so your body can absorb the nutrients better and it starts to metabolize the lectins and increase enzymes so it’s easier on the digestive system. You can sprout them yourself or buy sprouted grains. Unfortunately oats and wheat are now a big culprit of glyphosate so it is important to buy those organic to avoid that.   If we have to grab "to-go" quick packaged snacks what are the healthiest ones? My kids love New Primal Beef Jerky, applesauce packets, Z bars, Crunchsters, Stretch Island Fruit Leathers, cheese squares, and fruits.   What is the problem with sugar free and fat free food/drink items? Sugar free products typically contain artificial sweeteners. Artificial sweeteners wreak havoc on the good bacteria in your gut, your microbiome. Our microbiome plays a critical role in our health from breaking down food to helping maintain a healthy weight, supporting the immune system, metabolism, mental health, and more! So I don’t like artificial sweeteners because they kill the good bacteria in your gut, they mess with your hunger hormones, and they actually cause intense cravings and drive you to want to eat more. I don’t like fat free because healthy fats are so important! I drink Organic whole milk and eat full fat dairy products over skim/fat free because I want the omega 3 and vitamin D that it offers.   Healthiest natural sweetener?  Monk fruit is good if it’s pure monk fruit, and not mixed with anything like erythritol. Stevia is good if it’s not highly processed. I look for Raw Stevia leaf.

What do you say to people that think switching to all safe products/foods is too expensive or they can't afford it? I have a family of 8 and we are very much on a budget! My health journey actually began when we were on a shoestring budget years ago. I know how hard it can be. When shopping, I’m always looking for great sales and buying in bulk. Often I have to buy the better choice rather than the best choice because we can’t always afford to buy the organic option. There are ways to choose better options without buying the organic option.   When looking at our budget, it’s a give and take of where we spend our money. We have to decide where our priorities are. I choose to make my own hand soap and use baking soda for laundry soap and we don’t buy a lot of prepackaged foods, so that saves a lot. We eat simple, affordable meals. I grind my own flour and flake my own oats. I try to cut my budget other places so I don’t have to buy the cheaper foods that aren’t good for my kids because their health is so important to me! 

Ok, that was a lot of info to soak up... let me know if you have any questions! For more info on healthy living you can check out these articles:

Tangled in the (Organic) Sheets - My Favorite Safe, Organic Bedding and Mattresses Talk Clean to Me: 7 Ways to Create an Eco-friendly Home



Hi, I'm Courtney, and I'm the founder of Courtney Schrank Design Studio. I help high-powered female executives maintain their identity and well-being while working for someone else. Read more about my services here!

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