Food

Stop Eating Lunch at Your Desk

Seriously, here are 5 reasons why

Work can be crazy, and working through lunch almost feels expected at many offices. But, if you can actually take a break, even just a few times a week, it can make a big difference for your physical, mental, and social well-being. Here are some of the top benefits of not eating at your desk.


1. Avoiding Chemicals, like Flame-Retardants

A lot of technological equipment has flame-retardants in the casing, like computers, keyboards, even wireless modems. Dr. Todd Whitehead of The Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Leukemia and the Environment at The University of California, Berkeley, suggests that not eating lunch in front of your computer can help lower your exposure to flame retardants from these items. Flame-retardants are typically not chemically bound to the products (basically they are just sprayed on at the end) meaning they easily escape and stick to other things, like your fingers. When this happens and you don't wash your hands before you eat, you can also end up eating a small dose of flame retardants, which have been linked to problems like reproductive issues, neurological impairment, and cancer. "People have done experiments where they have looked at the frequency of hand washing and levels of flame-retardants in people's blood. You can see that people who wash their hands more frequently have lower concentrations of those chemicals," shares Dr. Whitehead. Think about what you do at your desk on a typical day. Most likely, you are constantly typing on your keyboard, maybe answering a phone call, and snacking on something. This is why, getting up, washing your hands, and keeping your lunch away from your desk (or at least your computer) will help limit the amount of flame retardants you're unintentionally eating by working through lunch.

2. Fresh Air

If you can sneak in a walk around the block while you break for lunch that would be ideal. Not only do you get the obvious benefit of a bit of exercise, but the walk outside will get some fresh air into your lungs, vitamin D on a sunny day, and will help clear your brain to make you more productive during your afternoon. People who are able to take a walk during the lunch break also tend to feel less stress during work (1, 3).

3. Eye Health

While eye professionals have determined that long term, continued use of screens won't cause permanent damage; it can cause headaches and dry eyes. Many eye professionals suggest following the 20-20-20 rule, which is to look at something at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes (2). While this might not necessarily mean you need to get up from your computer at lunch, giving your eyes a break from all that screen time can't hurt.

4. Social Contact

Even if you don't make it out of the office, making it to the kitchen or the break room will open the opportunity for you to meet someone or say hello. Talking to other people is generally a good thing, and who knows, you might make a new work friend in the process. You can even share some tips with each other, too, like where to find the best coffee in the neighborhood, or where to get super cool, toxic free lunch containers (hint: check out our roundup of lunch containers).

5. Mental Break

Sometimes you just need a mental break. Taking a few minutes in the middle of your day to stand up, get the blood flowing, and think about something other than work can actually be good for you and your productivity (4). It allows parts of your brain to rest and recharge, just like your muscles have to do when you are working out.


References

2) https://www.aao.org/eye-health/tips-prevention/computer-usage

3) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25559067

4) https://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/17/jobs/take-break...

Family

What to Know Before Heading to the Playground With Your Kids

Hand washing and removing shoes protects you from more than just germs

As soon as spring hits, we find any excuse to go outside and spend time in the sun. If you have kids, outdoor time is often synonymous with heading to the playground. We LOVE the playground and always encourage kids to get outside and play! Washing hands and taking shoes off is a must after the park- so many germs! These habits could also help prevent exposure to two questionable materials that may be a part of your playground.

The first is wood pressure-treated with chromated copper arsenate (CCA). This insecticide was sprayed on wood play structures because it made the wood resistant to degradation and insects. However, 22% of CCA is pure arsenic (1). Arsenic is a super nasty chemical that is classified as a known carcinogen by the World Health Organization. It can also cause "immune system suppression, increased risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, endocrine disruption and diabetes" (2). This chemical is not to be messed with!

Over time, the CCA can be released from the treated wood and can end up on the hands and clothes of your little one. It can also end up in the soil around the playground, so your child may still be exposed even if they don't play on the wooden structure (3).

The good news is that CCA treated wood was banned from residential construction in 2003. So if your neighborhood park has been recently built or renovated, chances are you don't have to worry about this. You can always check with your city or neighborhood association to see if CCA wood is in your local park. It also wouldn't hurt to double check with your kid's school to see what their playground was built with. Usually, CCA treated wood has a green tint, which can make it easy to spot.

Even if your playground does have CCA, tt's pretty easy to limit exposure. If you're planning to have a picnic or snack at the park, make sure to use hand wipes or wash hands (if a bathroom is nearby) before eating. After returning home, thoroughly wash your and your child's hands. It also doesn't hurt to wipe everyone down with a wet wipe too! This will help get rid of any chemicals and other undesirables like pollen as well. Leaving shoes at the door can stop CCA-contaminated soil from tracking all over your house.

Crumb rubber is another questionable material that could be found in your playground. Crumb rubber are those small black particles you find in artificial turf that seem to always end up stuck in your shoe/sock/bag/shirt/life/etc. It's actually made from old, used tires that have been chopped up into really tiny pieces. While this may seem like a good idea from a recycling standpoint, it's not great for health. Tire rubber contain a ton of bad chemicals like PAHs, phthalates, phenols and benzothiazoles (4), and the tires are not treated before they end up as crumb rubber. These chemicals are linked to serious health issues like endocrine disruption. The crumbs are so small that they have a habit of getting in your clothes and hair, accidentally getting eaten by curious babies, or sticking to your skin. Crumb rubber can also give off more chemicals as they're heated up in the hot sun. There's even speculation that crumb rubber might have played a role in the cancer of adolescent soccer players (5).

When returning from the playground, you can leave shoes outside so soil and rubber doesn't get tracked around the house. Also make sure to wash your hands or shower! Avoiding play time when it's really hot outside can also limit the amount of exposure. If you've been around crumb rubber, make sure to dust yourself and your play equipment off before you leave the playground to get rid of any hitchhiking rubber pieces. Changing your clothes after returning doesn't hurt either!




References:

  1. https://www.ewg.org/research/poisoned-playgrounds

2. https://www.ceh.org/campaigns/legal-action/previous-work/childrens-products/arsenic-in-play-structures

3. https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-public/toxic-playgrounds

4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0045653512009848

5. https://www.cnn.com/2017/01/27/health/artificial-turf-cancer-study-profile/index.html

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Family

3 Fun and Easy Ideas to Get Your Kids Playing Outside That You Need To Try This Summer

And Why It's A Good Idea to Spend As Much Time Outside As Possible

Let's face it, the allure of screen time is hard to pass up for kids... and parents too (who can deny that those 30 minute of silence when Paw Patrol is on are pure bliss). As tempting as it is to have shows on repeat all day, getting your kids to play outside is so important. Not only will it knock them out for bedtime, but outdoor playtime is good for your kid's body, mind, and happiness!

There are so many health benefits of outdoor time for kids that it's hard to keep track of them all. Researchers have shown that it can reduce the risk for obesity and diabetes, and decrease ADHD symptoms. On top of that, it can increase Vitamin D levels, improve critical thinking skills and can help boost test scores. (1). You might be saying, "this is great and all, but how do I actually get my kids excited about going outside?!" We hear you! In order to encourage more outdoor play, we came up with three outdoor activities that are super fun for kids but easy for parents to set up. Try them out this weekend!

1. Outdoor Art Time

Doing arts and crafts outdoors is a great way to get kids outside even if they aren't the run-around-in-circles type. Plus, all the mess is outside and you can just hose everything off after. One of our favorite outdoor arts and crafts is rock painting. We have the kids hunt for rocks in a variety of shapes and sizes and then bring them back to a station where they can paint some funny faces on them. It's so fun to see their creativity at work!

Another activity is creating hammered artwork from nature (we'll explain). This one requires a bit more parental supervision, but it's totally worth it. The kids go and collect a variety of leaves, grasses, and flowers and then pound them between sheets of paper with a wooden mallet or hammer. The colors and shapes transfer to the paper to create some seriously cool art. We find that a thicker textured paper like watercolor paper produces the best results. Kids enjoy this so much they'll ask to do it over and over again!

2. Adjective Scavenger Hunt

What if we told you that with just a few minutes of prep you could keep your kids outdoors and occupied for what can seem like countless hours? Sound too good to be true? An outdoor scavenger hunt will do just that! We like to make lists of adjectives (like soft, hard, green, round, pointy, long...etc.) and give the kids a basket to go find things in the backyard or neighborhood park that fit the description. Sometimes we even have the kids come back and do a show and tell and compare the objects they found.

3. Water Gun Freeze Tag

This one is a great activity as it starts warming up outside! Get a couple of water guns or squirt bottles and use them to play a version of freeze tag. Our version: someone is designated "it" and if they spray another player with water, they are frozen. If another player tags them, then they are unfrozen and can start running around again. Sometimes the game just devolves into everyone running around spraying everyone else, and that's fine by us! Feel free to kick back and enjoy a glass of wine and watch, but we find it pretty tempting to play too.

So there you have it- three easy outdoor activities that will help your kids get off their screens and back outside. We hope that they are a hit with your kids and will be on repeat all summer.


References

  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/...

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Even if you've been home all day, their hands look clean, and your baby is a saint!

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