Clean Eating for Beginners

how to eat clean

Clean eating beginner? Check out this grocery list!

Want to eat clean but don’t know where to start? You’re not alone! Try the following tips – and feel free to ask questions in the comments section below!

1. Know what you’re getting into!

“Eating clean” means eating natural foods (think: fruits, vegetables, fish, chicken) and avoiding processed stuff (like frozen dinners and candy bars). The lifestyle gained popularity with Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Diet books. The Clean Eating Mama blog sums up the basics pretty well and the Gracious Pantry blog offers a great “Clean Eating 101” article with tons and tons of useful resources!

2. Know where to look for help

In addition to my blog, you can find great info (and recipes!) on the following sites:
Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Diet
Clean Eating Magazine
The Clean Eating Mama Blog
Learning How to Cook One Recipe at a Time Blog (Clean Eating Index)
The Gracious Pantry Blog

3. Make a grocery list

The Gracious Pantry offers a great checklist that you can use when shopping for groceries. When I started, I printed this checklist and just highlighted everything I would actually eat (no use wasting money on food – even if it’s healthy! – if I’m never going to eat it!). Be realistic, highlight your list, then hit the store!

4. Throw out all your worst foods

Most sites will tell you to throw out all of your unhealthy/processed foods but I suggest just getting rid of the worst stuff at first. You don’t want to waste money, plus you need to be realistic and approach eating clean as a lifestyle change, not some strict diet. So, for instance, I kept my peanut butter and graham crackers but I threw out all of my frozen dinners and ice cream.

5. Cut out all pop (soda). Immediately. Completely. Now.

No, eating clean isn’t a crazy restrictive diet, but you do have to have some commitment. And eating clean is all about water, water, water. Plus, cutting out pop 100% will help you feel/see physical results a lot faster, which will keep you motivated. So no pop!

6. Plan ahead

Have a general idea of what you’re going to eat the rest of the day before you finish breakfast. Clean eating encourages you to eat every couple hours, so if you’re going to work you’ll need to pack snacks or maybe plan on de-thawing stuff for dinner.

7. Ease into it

Try to eat as clean as possible, but don’t freak out when you don’t (or when 75% of your meal is “clean” but the rest is not). It’s a learning process and every meal isn’t about doing it “right” or “wrong.” Give yourself credit for trying and just try to eat as natural as possible. Before you know it you’ll be on the right track!

8. Make basic stuff

Don’t overwhelm yourself trying to cook gourmet, super expensive/fancy healthy meals. There’s plenty of simple recipes that only need a few ingredients (like chicken, brown rice and veggies) that will get you started. Reference the links above for help or grab some of my favorite meals from my clean eating posts!

9. Keep track of what you eat

Writing down what you eat will make you more mindful (and less likely to just give up and order a pizza). Plus, if you write down what you eat, you can note “goal substitutes” – improvements you can make in the future (so next time you go to the grocery store or start to prepare the same meal, you have ideas of better foods to grab).

10. Don’t worry about calories (yay!)

Just eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. That’s it. Eat all natural foods and call it a day!

Bonus tip! If you’re interested in saving money, check out: How to Start Couponing and Clean Eating (At the Same Time)!

Thank you so much for reading! :) I hope these tips helped! ♥

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  1. says

    Love, love, love this! I’ve been toying with eating like a dinosaur, but love my cheese to much. Clean eating sounds like an achievable lifestyle for me and I cannot wait to try it out!

    • says

      It’s amazing and so simple! You don’t have to count calories or anything – just ask yourself: did this come wrapped in plastic? Yes – ok I won’t eat it; No – awesome, I’ll take two lol :) I’m going to whip myself back into clean eating shape for a couple months and think I think I might go full on dinosaur ;) with the Paleo diet (I hate even saying diet, because it’s more of a lifestyle!).. If I do, I’ll keep you posted!! :)

  2. says

    So…you’ve been on my mind. Love your tag line…”Say a prayer, eat an apple.” I need lots of prayers and maybe lots of apples. I need healthy eating…clean eating. I need to not be afraid of food. I could ramble but maybe not the place. Maybe God connected us for a reason ya know? Loved your 10 points. Couldn’t help but to smile over the last one…if only I could stop counting those calories. Hope you are well Jessica. How’s your move going? I’m remembering correctly that you were in the process of moving right?

    • says

      Sending *lots* of prayers your way! Feel free to email me if you need to talk :) ..I know – the calorie part is a big adjustment! ..Let’s see, the move: my lease is up in a month but I still haven’t nailed down exactly where I’m going, so safe to say it’ll be an adventure! :) Hope you have a great Friday, and like I said: feel free to email me! :)

  3. Jeanette De La Rosa says

    So I am 29 going to be 30 in two weeks. I am 240 lbs and only 5’5. I have reached a “I need a change” point in life. I came across your blog and It has motivated me to want to eat clean. I am thinking about what I had for lunch a bag of chips and a snickers!!! Like really, Jeanette!! I can not believe what I have been doing to my body. I need a change and fast. Time to get myself and my family (husband and 4 girls) eating better. Eating clean. Thanks.

    • says

      Don’t be too hard on yourself! It’s really easy to fall into unhealthy eating habits – I’d say the most important thing to turning it all around is: planning and being organized. I’ve been known to reach for a bag of chips (or whatever’s around!) too when I don’t have my meals all planned out and prepared ahead of time. This post about meal planning might help :) And let me know if you have any questions or need anything! You’ll be surprised how quickly everything can change :)

  4. Dinahmite says

    This is a great site! Thanks for the tips as I want to start eating clean but I didn’t know where to begin. One of my bucket list over 40, is to compete in a bodybuilding category amateur masters! Love your tag, Prayers and Apples! Thanks for paying forward!!!

  5. says

    I have been toying around with this idea for a while now. Close to a year. I’m a college student and LOVE my junk food. I just want to start treating my body like a temple and learn some self discipline. What a better way to do it-and even worship the Lord this way- than by every single time I eat. I love that you say “don’t be too hard on yourself”. I’m abroad right now, and of course want to try some things (pizza). But this is good because I can keep my “trying” to a minimum. Thank you for making this so easy to understand!
    My only question is this: I find a lot of joy in baking. Is there a way to still make cakes and pastries while eating clean? Or will I sabotage myself? Maybe it’s an easy question and I just don’t know!

    • says

      Hi Kat! Definitely enjoy your time abroad – just focus on moderation and enjoying the experience of dining (your company, the surroundings, sights, smells, etc.). This should help you eat a little slower, and stop when you’re full :) Baking is definitely still an option! There are tons and tons of recipes online (be sure to visit the blogs/sites linked in this post!) that offer delicious recipes made with creative substitutions, such as whole wheat flour, etc. Hope this helps :) And thanks for reading! Enjoy your trip and let me know if you have any more questions! :)

  6. carry says

    I am 67, recently joined the “Y” to begin exercise program. I am looking for that eating plan easy for taking to work and have at home as well. I am also interested in wok cooking, so if you have any meals for that type cooking or know where I can find the healthier wok meals I would appreciate it. I will review the information you have provided. thanks for sharing giving.

    • says

      Hi Carry,
      So happy to hear about your new exercise program! I’ve never done wok cooking myself, but I’ll keep an eye out for healthy recipes for you! :)
      Thanks so much for stopping by!

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