Clean Eating: How to get started eating a clean diet

Are you tired of that sluggish feeling you get after eating heavy, processed foods? Do you reach for a pick me up each afternoon? Are you tired of giving in to your cravings?

I know I’ve been there more days than I can count!  When I get that sluggish feeling, I would reach for another cup of coffee – usually my 4th or 5th of the day – or look for my favorite salty chips.  It would give me a temporary boost in energy but ultimately leave me crashing again and feeling tired. 

Yet, I couldn’t break the cycle. As a mother of three young daughters who also have some complex medical conditions and special needs, I was always feeling run down and tired.  I had goals of living a healthier lifestyle and eating better but found it hard to actually accomplish. One day, I finally realized I needed to start eating better and giving my body the fuel it needs for me and to be there for my family! It’s like the saying:

As mentioned in the first post of this series The 5 Benefits of Clean Living, there are five main benefits to clean living and clean eating. 

  1. Increased energy levels
  2. A decrease in allergies and asthma symptoms
  3. Better sleep and mood
  4. Increased immunity
  5. Decreased risk of disease, such as cancer

All of these reasons propelled me to finally take action at the beginning of this year and start making positive changes towards healthy, clean eating.

Now, I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed, because I felt this way in the beginning too and still do at times.  Yet, I’ve learned that if you focus on slow, steady change and give yourself lots of grace and patience, you CAN achieve your goals of clean eating!  

WHAT EXACTLY IS CLEAN EATING?

To start, what is clean eating? If you do some research, you will find lots of definitions for clean eating and all are valid. For my purposes and for most people I chat with about this topic, I think of clean eating as eating whole, unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods – most of the time. (I’ll come back to why I’m saying “most of the time” in a moment.) 

So what kinds of foods you can you eat?  Mainly, I would say it includes fruits, vegetables, high-quality carbs like sweet potatoes, healthy proteins, and healthy fats likes nuts and avocados. 

Can meat eaters enjoy clean eating?  Yes, I believe that high-quality meat, poultry, and fish can be a part of clean eating, but you should try to aim for organic, grass-fed, and/or wild-caught options, when possible. 

Clean eating means purchasing and consuming foods in their whole form as much as possible. If you are buying something, not in its whole form, be sure to buy minimally processed options and avoid foods that contain chemicals, especially ones that you can’t pronounce. 

Additionally, I think of clean eating as a lifestyle shift more than a diet.  It’s a commitment to living clean in general and taking steps to clean up both your diet and the products you use.  I’ve been on this journey but have not reached a clean living destination yet – and most likely will never fully achieve it since our world makes it very hard to accomplish currently.  Yet, each change I make to improve my and my family’s lifestyle is a step in the right direction.  

5 STEPS TO TRANSITION TO CLEAN EATING:

1. Cook at home as much as you can.

Whenever you are able to cook at home and avoid dining out, you are in control of the ingredients you use and the nutrition you are getting.  Meals don’t have to always be elaborate to be healthy and nutritional! Start with something easy like replacing your snacks or breakfast with healthy options.

2. If you do buy foods that aren’t whole and unprocessed, read the labels.

Try to stick to options that have 5 ingredients or less and have ingredients that you can recognize and pronounce.  Avoid highly processed foods with long ingredient lists. These processed foods will likely have a lot of chemicals, sugar, and salt. 

3. Buy organic food whenever possible.

Organic foods can be expensive at some grocery stores. You can focus on just buying organic produce from the current Dirty Dozen list published by the Environmental Working Group. 

  1. Strawberries
  2. Spinach
  3. Kale
  4. Nectarines
  5. Apples
  6. Grapes
  7. Peaches
  8. Cherries
  9. Pears
  10. Tomatoes
  11. Celery
  12. Potatoes

4. Avoid artificial ingredients as much as possible.

Avoid buying and consuming artificial sweeteners, artificial flavors, and chemicals.  A lot of times these ingredients work against us, such as artificial sweeteners, which have been found to actually trigger your body to crave more sweeteners.

5. Grow slowly and give yourself grace.

Try to add clean eating to your daily routine slowly – maybe one meal at a time.  I was just talking with a friend about this same concept! She said it’s easier for her to add in healthy ideas one at a time, rather than change everything in her routine at once. If you get too overwhelmed with a total overhaul of your diet, you may give up before you’ve even really started.  

I found that starting my day with a healthy meal at breakfast, which in my case is a green smoothie, gives me an energy boost for the day, is easier to implement, and put me in the right mindset to want to achieve more healthy choices throughout the day. Little by little you can swap out more snacks and meals building on your success each day!

CAN YOU ACHIEVE CLEAN EATING ALL OF THE TIME?

I’m going to be practical and realistic with you for a moment.  A lot of us lead hectic lives, because either we are working a fulltime job while juggling all of life’s other demands or we are raising kids at home and managing all the busy schedules and needs. 

Plus, sometimes I want to let my hair down and enjoy a guilty pleasure, or attend a party, and not worry about what I’m eating for that meal. So that’s what I meant when I said that, for me, clean eating is eating whole, unprocessed, nutrient-rich foods – most of the time

The most important tip that I’ve learned along the way is that you should enjoy yourself on this journey of eating (and living) clean. Make it work for you! Don’t compare your journey to other people’s journeys, but rather look back on your own progress and celebrate your personal accomplishments! 

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ARE YOU READY TO START EATING CLEAN?

If you answered yes, I would encourage you to join the Living Clean Club for easy-to-implement weekly tips to help you eat and live clean. It’s ideal for busy moms and working women who want to adopt healthy habits and take action in simple, manageable steps without feeling overwhelmed!


P.S. – You can also sign up to receive my Ultimate Guide to Shopping without Chemicals! Plus, when you subscribe, you also receive easy-to-implement, weekly tips for living a healthy and eco-friendly lifestyle. I’ve found that many busy moms struggle with just trying to keep up with life’s daily demands and that they don’t have enough time to focus on making healthier choices for their families. I am passionate about helping women find simple ways to make healthy changes. 

Sign up below and take the first step today!

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