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
Clean Eating Club
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
Tosca Reno 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!
*1/3/15 – EDITOR’S NOTE: The link to Tosca’s list has been moved/disabled since the original publication of this post – but the Gracious Pantry offers an amazing grocery list as well – check it out here! :)
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 all these 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!
And, if you’re interested in saving money, check out: How to Start Couponing and Clean Eating (At the Same Time)!