Organic Apples & Diet Coke: How Mindful Moderation Helps Me Live My Best Life

A reflection on my personal health journey and how mindful moderation helps me make thoughtful choices without feeling guilty.

How Mindful Moderation can help you live a healthy life

Sometimes I feel like such a sham. I stand on my blog pedestal preaching the benefits of organic food and the dangers of toxic chemicals. I spew out tips for how to green your laundry room and create less waste in your home. Yet if you saw me in real life, you’d know I don’t practice what I preach all the time.

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The Truth about my Green & Healthy Journey

If you visited my home you’d see that we aren’t the uber green & healthy family that you might think we are. Yes, we do a lot of great things like composting and making homemade kombucha but you’d be surprised at how un-green we are in some ways.

If you looked in my cupboards you would see a few plastic containers and a roll of food wrap (although you would see plenty of non-toxic, reusable storage containers too).

If you looked in my laundry room, you would see a bottle of (gasp!) bleach – because life is messy and sometimes you just.need.bleach.

If you went grocery shopping with me you’d know that while I do buy healthy food most of the time, I don’t read the labels of everything that goes in my cart. You’d see that I occasionally buy junky snacks or treats that probably contain GMOs or chemical preservatives.

If you looked in our closets, you would see a lot more than organic cotton, bamboo and hemp. And even though a lot of our clothes are purchased second hand, some of them come straight from the mega-stores we love to hate.

If you check out my shopping receipts, you’d see that I sometimes buy items I don’t actually need – frivolous things like decorations that have no real purpose other than to look pretty.

And if you were out-and-about running errands with me, you might even see me grab a Diet Coke. Yep, I know it’s a nasty, chemical drink, but some days I just have to have one.

How Mindful Moderation is Key to a Healthy Life

Why am I telling you this? 

Because, I’m guessing you’re a lot like me. You want to buy organic but you don’t always have the money. You like the idea of walking or biking to do your errands, but you don’t often have the time. You think it would be great to compost but yuck, who wants to deal with that? I’m guessing you really do want to live a greener, healthier life but life’s constraints just keep getting in the way. And that’s completely normal.

What bothers me is the guilt and the fear that I see lurking in the background. Some parents feel guilty for not buying organic milk for their family. Others are embarrassed to admit they use drug-store suntan lotion on their kids. I’ve talked to readers who are conflicted about buying products that are way better than conventional varieties but alas, are not “perfectly safe” or “perfectly green”.  And others who want to throw up their hands and say “why bother, we’re all doomed anyway”.

How Mindful Moderation is Key to a Healthy Life

The Beauty of Mindful Moderation

As an admitted perfectionist, I too have felt the guilt and fear of not choosing the healthiest, most eco-friendly route every time. Instead of letting perfect get in the way of good, I’ve had to train myself to embrace mindful moderation!

Mindful moderation is more than just the 80/20 rule, it means to be aware of your choices and to make deliberate decisions, without judgement.

So if I choose to have a donut or a Diet Coke every once in a blue moon, I don’t feel guilty about it. It’s all about balance my friends!

But I do use some mindful principles to help guide me along the way:

  • Slow down – Don’t just do something, think first. Do I really need it? Is it a good idea?
  • Pay attention – What are my choices? It there a better alternative?
  • Gut check – Why do I want it? Is there something behind the desire – stress, fatigue, boredom, lack of time?

If the answer is still YES I want it, than I go for it!

Mindful moderation doesn’t just apply to me – I apply it to my kids as well. I’ve taught my boys the importance of healthy eating, but also how a little bit of candy and junk food can be part of a healthy diet.  I’ve taught them healthy habits like getting exercise and taking a break from technology – but I know that sometimes being a couch potato is the greatest thing ever. Like I said, it’s all about balance!

Over the years, I’ve trained myself how to eat mindfully, how to shop mindfully and how to be satisfied with less. I’ve also learned to trust myself and my choices – and that is how mindful moderation helps me live my best life!

RELATED: Natural Living Basics – Easy changes for a more natural, eco-friendly lifestyle

What I wish

Life is not perfect. We all know that. Life is messy, crazy, joyous, tragic and constantly changing. My hope for all of us is that we can use mindful moderation to find greener, safer, healthier ways to live, but not feel guilty or overwhelmed when we don’t. I hope that we can go about our lives without being wracked with guilt or fear that we made the wrong choice for the health of our families or the planet. The world is full of opinions on these topics. Is raw milk safe or scary? Should we be eating soy or avoiding it? What’s the most eco-friendly light bulb?  There’s no one right answer for everyone.

My hope for this blog (and my related Facebook page) is that it is a place to find information and inspiration to help you live the life you want to life. When you visit, I hope you will feel completely comfortable asking any questions (nothing is stupid!), making suggestions (is there a topic you would like me to cover?) or confessing your own eco-sins. Seriously – I will not judge!

My greatest wish is to create a warm and open community where we can share what it’s really like out there on the eco-homefront and that we can all help each other live a healthy, rewarding, hands-on life. 

(Whew! I feel better now. Thank you for letting me vent my insecurities and share my hopes and dreams with you!)

Tell me about your green & healthy journey. Do you have any insecurities, frustrations, dreams or questions to share?

green & healthy wishes Micaela signature

(photo credits: top photo Photos By Zoe, middle photo  Celeste, both via photopin cc)


  1. Kelly McKenzie says:

    Well this just lit up my day. Thank you Micaela. Such a hoot and so reassuring that you grab the odd Diet Coke now and then. Love the look of your blog – colourful (I grew up with a mother constantly preaching “Never be afraid of colour!”), fun and educational. Lovely bundle of Green. I’m a new subscriber.

    1. Awww…thank you Kelly! I recently moved my blog to Wordpress (from Typepad) and did a re-design so I’m happy to get feedback on the way it looks!

  2. Micaela,
    I am a lot like you. (And I know a lot of others like you.) I embrace imperfection.

    What I LOVE about this post is the transparent honesty that sets a tone for joining an effort to gather the best information possible and doing the best I can to practice it. I want to be part of your clan.

    I think certain people in my life show up and it’s not coincidence. You’re one. My oncologist said that the #1 risk factor for my cancer type is pesticides. Eliminating exposure to them (as much as possible) is important. I know I’ll find lots of support for a healthy way of living here.

    Warm wishes,
    xo Susan

    PS. I subscribed within the first sentences after “meeting you, I knew in a heartbeat I wanted to hang with you, Micaela. Thanks so much for your work.

    1. Yay – so happy that we found each other through Liv’s class Susan! I certainly hope that my blog provides some helpful information for you. Sending good wishes your way!

    2. Susan, I wish you long-term good health. Your post strikes home for me because my mother has Parkinson’s. When “they” look at the list of possible causes, the only one that fits is pesticide exposure — she helped her dad on the farm as a teenager. Long before anybody realized the dangers of those chemicals.

      1. Velma, thank you and well wishes to your mother. Like her, I’ve had pesticide exposures. It could be growing up in the 50s and being outdoors as the mosquito spray that drove down the street, or in the 70s on Longboat Key, FL and being caught outdoors during arial mosquito spraying. Or, in 2000 I founded a conservation group. We worked daily removing 350 tons of invasive to a ravine ecosystem plants which means working downstream of the tons of fertilizer and pesticide runoff. Or, our drinking water. Or it simply could be daily exposures from personal care products, as you say. What I do know is that the Chemical Safety Act is so important, a start. I’m going on and on, but I care about this. My last year teaching in a preschool classroom is memorable: 2 children were diagnosed with cancer. The first time in my teaching career that this happened. Which brings me to the inspiring young man, Zach Sobiech, here his music–we need to fund treatment and research for kids with cancer.

  3. Thanks for making the rest of us feel welcomed here by letting us know that even the smartest and most thoughtful moms like you have the same struggles as everyone else. I also feel the pressure to make the “perfect” choice when there isn’t always a perfect one to make.

    1. That’s kind of why I wrote this post Anne. I think we’re often afraid or embarrassed to admit that we can’t do it all. Yet, where does that get us? Here’s to imperfection!

  4. Great and honest post! I think it is really hard to be “green”. Sometimes convenience wins. I applaud you for your efforts!

    1. Yes, convenience definitely wins quite often Lanie! Thanks for stopping by!

  5. Alice Risemberg ~ Reiki Pulse says:

    Whew! Thank you, Micaela! What a relief.

    We can’t all do everything. It’s so nice to acknowledge that but still try to do what we can.

    Happy green living to you,

    1. You’re right Alice – we can’t do it all. Happy green living to you to! 🙂

  6. As with any undertaking, it’s all about doing your best. Your blog has the perfect name – “Mindful Mama”. That tells me that you pay attention, follow the “green” way when possible and are aware there are times when you can’t. I look forward to learning from you and trying to be more mindful myself!

    1. Thanks Mo! I chose the name Mindful Momma for that very reason. But still I get caught up in trying to be “perfect” sometimes so it was helpful for me to write this post and accept myself the way I am!

  7. No one is perfect, but we can all make a difference doing what we can. Great post Micaela – I do think we have a lot in common 🙂

    1. Thanks Tressie! You are right – we are all making a difference in our own way.

  8. Great honest post Micaela. I am always going back and forth with organic foods…. Whole Foods, organic apples… then get the bills… back to Target…. and I love diet coke! Thanks for the reminder that there are so many options and ways to be green and healthy, and even the small steps matter. 🙂

    1. Yep, it’s all about balance Sarah!

  9. Great post! I often feel like a fraud or worried that because I talk about being kinder on the Earth someone will point a finger at my choices.

    I can’t give up my hair care products, even though I use “no-poo”. I drive a mini-van. I live in the suburbs. I occasionally order food for delivery that has horrible styrofoam containers. There, I feel better.

    My greatest dream is to inspire my own children, and my students, to question the choices they make and to be open to making small changes.

    1. Thanks for your “eco-confessions” Christy! Oooohhh, I hate styrofoam too but sometimes it shows up in my life. Ugh! I love your dream to be an inspiration to the people in your life. I’m sure it will come true!

  10. Thank you for letting us off the hook!

    1. LOL – you’re welcome Chelsea!

  11. Love your post because you’re right. No one can be 100% eco-everything. We come from different places, different lifestyles, with different resources, and what is my #1 passion does not need to be your #1 passion. As long as I’m making progress, I’m making progress.
    P.S. My #1 passion forces me to say: Lose the bleach. It’s a pesticide.

    1. Good point Velma about everyone having a different passion. About the bleach….it was a really bad overflowing toilet situation. I just held my breath and cleaned it up quickly. Fortunately no one else was in the house to breathe the toxic fumes. I’m sure I could have skipped the bleach but it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.YUCK!!

      1. YUCK is right! My kids are grown and gone, so those memories have disappeared.

  12. I feel so free right now. I’m 90% not green but would love to become more-so. You have given me hope that one step at a time and increasing my percentage of green-ness is all I really need to do. THANKS for the challenge and the relief.

    1. You are so welcome Stacy! Best of luck on your green journey!

  13. Christine says:

    Omigosh, I feel so much better! Thank you for such an authentic post. Made my day. My frustration? Trying to be fully immersed in everything I want to do, and realizing that I can’t do it all. Appreciating the small changes and persistence in varying speeds is they key to sanity.
    – Christine

    1. I know exactly what you mean Christine. Sometimes I feel like a do tons of things but none of them very well. I’m trying to accept that whatever I choose to do is OK – no matter how “good” it is.

  14. Laura Fries says:

    Thanks so much for keeping it real. I am mindful, smart, and educated on Eco-living but I’m not perfect by far. It makes me feel better than while you may be more mindful, smarter and more educated, you also have challenges.

    1. Life is full of challenges Laura – but that’s what makes it interesting! 🙂

  15. It is so important to put things in perspective. EFFORT is good. It’s so easy to feel we aren’t doing enough or others are doing more or doing a better job. I love your honesty. Your post makes your space feel like a place where we can join in wherever we are in our “green journey” and be welcome. Thank you.

    1. That’s exactly what I’m hoping for Courtney. Thanks!

  16. I have been living as green of a life as I possibly can for many years. However, I am not perfect. Yes, sometimes I pass by the organic produce because frankly, it’s so much more expensive, I only have a small grocery budget, and a family to feed. Yes, every once in a blue moon I forego the kashi cereal and grab a box of fruit loops, much to my kids delight. So I’m not supermom. Fire me. And yes, sometimes I use bleach, too. I try to avoid it and a quart of bleach lasts me a very long time, but sometimes you just gotta. And yes, Sometimes I get tired of my house smelling like a jar of pickles and buy a small bottle of pine cleaner so I can have that fresh pine smell. And once in a while when I have had a heckuva day, I drive thru the local burger joint and grab a diet coke,chicken sandwich and a small fry. Yum. So this is what I have to say. Do what works best for you, and don’t stress if you can’t be perfectly eco- friendly. Life happens.

    1. You said it Lori – life happens! The more we accept and let go of perfection, the more we will enjoy it!

    1. Wonderful post Joy – you really hit the nail on the head about following our own green journey and trying not to preach to others. On the car front, we’ve had a mini van for years although we are getting rid of it now – yay! We would love to drive a fabulous hybrid of some type, but it just doesn’t fit into our budget/family needs. You can’t win them all….

    2. Thank you Micaela and Joy for great posts.
      _Some_ good news on minivans: I did a geeky estimate once and found that, as long as you fill all the seats in your minivan, your per-passenger carbon footprint is comparable to that of a European hi-speed train. So there really is a place for minivans.
      Having said that, I confess that I still drive a car. Despite all my angst about climate change, which must permeate all my posts. Like so many of us, I’m stuck in a suburban / small town setting that requires a car. It took us decades to get to that point, and it will take us a long time to work ourselves out of it. And that’s before taking account of my airplane rides to see my dad….

  17. Love your post’s title and found myself nodding my head in agreement as I read your entry. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to measure up to some standard of eco-perfection. As a new blogger, I’m paying close attention to design and layout and I really like your blue/green color scheme and header design.

    1. Thanks Diana! I just recently did a redesign of my blog and I’m happy with how it turned out!

  18. Great post! I have found that NOTHING happens all at once. We are no where near as green as I want us to be as a family – but we are MILES away from what we were two years ago or even just a year ago. I think the real goal is to continually progress at the pace that works best for you and your family. Good luck to ALL of us.

    1. Yes – just being mindful of greener choices is a big step. Congrats on the changes you have made so far!

  19. Cathy Tiffany says:

    OMG – you sound just like me! Thank you for sharing your personal story; I think many women who read green blogs measure themselves against those of us who are only trying to inspire and educate, mistakenly thinking we’re “eco-perfect”! Your article reminded me that I need to throw in some “Diet Coke” stories, too, so my readers will understand I’m just the messenger hoping to help me and others make a positive difference in the world. Nicely done article 🙂

    1. I think a lot of us green-minded bloggers feel the pressure to practice what we preach at all times. Glad you can relate Cathy!

  20. Wow Micaela,

    You said it all…thank you.. As we teach our children, tell the truth and actions speak louder then words..your actions set an incredible example far beyond your home and your family.. Happy Mothers Day and thanks for all you do!!

    1. Thank you and Happy Mother’s Day to you too Harriet!

  21. This just makes you more real…and makes me want to read your blog more. I hate that guilty feeling that I’m trying to do certain things right, but because I haven’t reached (and may never reach) 100%, I shouldn’t even bother talking about it. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    1. Awwww….thank you Tara! I look forward to reading yours too!

  22. I love your honesty and sharing more of your personal self through this post. I also like how you made yourself relatable to people who are just starting to live a green lifestyle or even just have time to make small changes here and there. Thank you, and I look forward to reading more green lifestyle tips from you. ~ Kristin

    1. Thanks so much Kristin – I appreciate it!

  23. Hi Micaela,
    I think you’ll enjoy this Q&A I did with Kenna Lee who wrote an entire book on your blog subject:

    1. LOL – my world revolves around a million tiny things! Thanks for the link!

  24. This is a wonderfully authentic post. Kudos to you for keeping it real. I hope all readers everywhere know that when bloggers blog, it’s not the whole story. Sometimes I feel like I should have a weekly confession on my own blog, but I figure most folks know that I’m like them — I can’t act on all the knowledge I have all the time. Sometimes it’s just too much. Anyway, you’ve expressed the sentiments of many very well. Although I will say, I think Diet Coke is disgusting : )

    1. Ha! You are lucky you don’t like Diet Coke Betsy. I rarely drink it but every once in awhile I crave one. Probably because I drank a lot as a teenager and young adult. 🙁

  25. A lot like me! Except I would grab the occasional full-SUGAR (not HFCS, sugar!) bottle of Mexican Coca Cola from the ethnic section. I like this post, think I will follow….

    1. Yes, I almost wish I liked full-sugar soda because it’s probably better than diet – as long as it’s just a special occasion treat.

  26. Well it’s good to know “we’re not alone”! Like you, I try to do everything the best way that I can do. It’s kind of like dieting…sometimes you have to go off the diet to stay on one. You’re right, sometimes it boils down to what we can afford and what’s convenient. I really think if we could all get out of the “fast food” mentality where everything we want or need has to be “right now”, we’d all do better. So in that sense it does make one step back and realize that maybe I don’t have to buy that instant gmo junk….I have to plan so that quality isn’t replaced by convenience. Another analogy (and I don’t know why this is the one I always use) is having all the ingredients for making lasagna. Sure, if I don’t keep most of what I need to make it, it WILL get costly if I have to go and purchase all of what I need to prepare it. But if I make it a lot and tend to keep those things on hand, it’s part of my routine and budget. It took me several years to learn that. But I’m glad to know that there’s a right way for everybody. They’re all different and they are what work for that person. So, we’re not wrong, just different 🙂 Again, glad to know I’m not alone!!! Thank you . I loved this article!!

    1. Great point about planning Marta. Keeping fresh, healthy ingredients in the house is more likely to lead to fresh, healthy cooking!

  27. The headline grabbed my attention — this is so me. 🙂

    I think we have our internal struggles but I think it’s the aggregate that makes the difference!

  28. Hi Micaela:

    We are kindred spirits. I to have recently embarked on ablog about attempting healthy eating and living, though definitely within the parameters of regular suburban mom. Cheezits a HUGE in our house along with oreas (double stuff) which I have tried to recently eliminate. I’d love for you to check out my blog and maybe hink of ways to cross reference our experience and open your readership to the work of mothering Mother a company devoted to the earth, health and wellness. You can check out our cotton produce bags and let us know how you feel about them…Thanks for keeping it real! Anna

    1. Nice to hear from you Anna! I know, I know, it’s so hard to convince your whole family that healthier eating is a good thing and that Oreos are evil (just kidding). Fortunately, there are many better-for-you alternatives that I’m sure you are discovering. I checked out your blog and your kale mint salad looks delicious!

  29. I just told myself the other day, to stop worrying so much about being perfectly green. Even tho I know I can’t be, I beat myself up about it. I’m going to try to be more happy and accepting about what I can do.

    1. You can do it Julie! You are “perfect” just the way you are!

  30. YES! I’ve been feeling this so much lately, especially on Halloween (hello, all of the individually wrapped refined sugar chemical candy) and as I’m getting further along into my pregnancy (mmm, burgers). I’ve just started blogging about similar topics, and I feel the need to practice what I preach, but sometimes its just not that simple. Life is all about balance, right? Thanks for sharing!

    1. True – life is all about balance! And those pregnancy cravings just add another dimension to it all. Enjoy your pregnancy!

  31. Beautiful, Micaela! I just wrote about this idea my latest recipe post.

    Mindful moderation is a concept I wholeheartedly believe in. It’s great to make healthy choices most of the time, but there is room for all things in life. We need to be gracious with ourselves when we have the worst week ever and pick up a frozen pizza. It’s okay to enjoy you’re favorite potato chip or candy bar from time to time. We should never feel guilty about allowing ourselves to unwind, breathe, and enjoy something we love.

    1. Being gracious with ourselves is a good way to put it Hayley. For me, it’s those moments when I don’t put a healthy meal on the table for my family that make me feel especially bad – but I need to remember – it’s all part of the balancing act of life!

  32. This is so true. I love how you write about mindful moderation. Doing anything to the extreme will only cause more stress – and take away from the initial goal. Thank you for sharing!

  33. Aly Halbakken says:

    I love your transparent writing. That’s how blogging should be. Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to implement mindful moderation in my life.

    1. Thanks Aly! Yes, it feels good to put it all out there sometimes!

  34. Don’t we all (especially all the Halloween candy from last night!). I appreciate the self-compassion in this post, a mindfulness tenet easily forgotten from day to day. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Yes – too much Halloween candy last night and today – LOL!

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