Ultimate Guide on How to Eat Clean
I put together this complete guide on how to eat clean because there is such a growing interest in clean eating, but people are often confused about what eating clean truly is. I wanted to help people discover how to jump right into the clean eating lifestyle to improve their health and that of their families. I wanted to make it easy for you. So I’ve made it my mission to develop the ULTIMATE guide on how to eat clean so that you can easily find all the information, and recipes, and EVERYTHING you could possibly need to start eating clean (and keep eating clean!) – all in one “go-to” location.
I want to make it easy for you to jump into the clean eating lifestyle, because there’s just no reason it shouldn’t be easy. And because clean eating will change your life, as it did mine (read my story).
And it will change the lives of your family, and very importantly your kids, laying a foundation of healthy eating habits that will hopefully stay with them for life.
Clean Eating Is Not Complicated!
If you’ve never really had it explained to you in an organized manner, clean eating can seem confusing, but its really not. Clean eating is actually very simple.
You just need to put in a little bit of time to understand the key concepts to reap BIG benefits. You’ll find all the information you need right here in this complete guide to clean eating. If you want to lean how to eat clean, this is where you start, right here on this page – think of this as your launching point for your new clean eating lifestyle because I’m essentially laying out a simple, step-by-step road map for you to follow in learning how to eat clean, right here on this page (and in the links you can follow from this page). My goal with this guide is to take you by the hand, and lead you step-by-step through your new journey into clean eating. Feel free to come back to this guide as often as you like – I’ve designed it to be a complete resource for you, regardless of what stage of the clean eating journey you are on, from beginner to advanced.
Clean eating for beginners
If you are just getting started with clean eating, you’ll find this guide to be emmenscely helpful – literally everything you need to know is right here (and some great motivation along the way too!). Just read through the information I share with you here, follow the links to the other helpful sub-sections, and you’ll be on your way to a whole new, healthier you – without ever having to give up delicious food or variety, or any of the major food groups.
You’re in good company by taking an interest in eating clean. Clean eating is a rapidly growing lifestyle trend – and for good reason!
People are getting wise to the fact that for decades we have been slowly poisoning ourselves with the toxins found in all of the refined, processed, packaged, convenience foods that have become standard commonplace staple in our lives and in our kitchens. We watch people around us getting sick with a hole slew of illnesses and disease, and we wonder “why?”, “how?”. But the answers are all around us, in the foods we are putting into our bodies. We need to stop accepting it as normal to be putting poisons into our body and our children’s bodies through the processed foods we eat. Everyday we eat foods laced with chemicals – all those long words that we can’t spell or pronounce on the ingredient lists of the foods we buy. And we feed this stuff to our kids. And then we wonder “why?!” when disease or illness strikes. Do you really think its good for our bodies when we are consuming chemicals disguused as food on a daily basis? How could it be?
We are a society that has become accustomed to eating FAKE foods. And we accept it as normal. But its not normal or natural to consume chemicals as food. Its time to take control of your body, your health, and your future (and that of your family) and eat food the way it was meant to be comsumed, in a more natural and wholesome form.
Its never too late – and never too soon – to start eating clean. Start now!
It doesn’t mean you won’t be able to eat yummy, tasty, delicious food – far from it. You just need to keep it clean!
So, What is Clean Eating?
At it’s core, eating clean is simply about eating real food in its natural state, meaning unprocessed and without additives, preservatives or other chemicals or toxins.
That’s it. That is truly all there is to it.
Clean eating is really a lifestyle. A healthy lifestyle with plenty of room for yummy.
Are you aware that many of the pre-made, packaged or convenience foods we eat actually contain chemicals that are known to cause cancer. Until just a couple years ago, one of the top selling beverages in the US, Pepsi, contained an ingredient shown to cause cancer – one of their key ingredients (its what gives the drink its dark color). That ingredient was only finally replaced when the company was forced, through a law suit by the US government, to stop including that ingredient in its beverage.
Is clean eating a diet?
Its not a “diet” at its core, but if you need to lose weight, clean eating will be incredibly beneficial. I’ll show you specifically how to use the concepts of clean eating to lose weight.
If you want to eat clean to lose weight, be sure to read our Clean Eating for Weight Loss section – you’ll discover how, with certain easy and very basic modifications or “tweaks”, you can use clean eating to melt fat and pounds off your body in a manner that is not just healthy, but quite easy – all while eating a ton of delicious food, without ever feeling hungry.
But clean eating in its most basic form is not about dieting or losing weight – it’s about eating healthy. Without sacrificing delicious flavors.
It’s about eating in a way that allows our bodies to function at peak performance. That’s way more and more health conscious people who are already at their ideal weight are adopting a clean eating lifestyle – they want to feel, be, and look their best; they want to nurture their own good health.
Simply by adopting a more healthy way of eating, many people will naturally lose weight if they are overweight.
If your goal is an aggressive war on weight, then there are additional modifications that can be made to the overall clean eating approach to help the pounds melt off rather easily.
But for now, we’ll keep our focus simply on how to eat clean and why.
How to Use this Guide
The sections listed below are sort of like chapters of a book (that you get to read for free!), so if you want to know how to eat clean, take these sections in order, and read each one, chapter by chapter 🙂
- Before you can really sink your teeth into how to eat clean, you need to really have an understanding of what clean eating is. So start by reading What is Clean Eating?
- Then come on back here and read the Clean Eating Basics.
- If you want to lose weight, clean eating is by far, hands down the easiest weight loss method you will ever find. So you will want to read Clean Eating for Weight Loss. You will learn exactly how to use clean eating to lose weight – I make it super-simple for you. And I give you tons and tons of delicious clean eating recipes for weight loss. Clean eating was the ONLY way I have ever been able to lose weight in many years of trying. You get to eat delicious food all day long, and you will NEVER EVER feel hungry or in any way deprived.
How to Eat Clean for Beginners: Quick-Start Guide
Are you ready to discover how to begin eating clean? Here is the complete step-by-step guide to clean eating for beginners. As I said before, Clean Eating is actually very straight forward, once you understand the key concepts. And these are not complicated concepts. So here we go.
Clean eating for beginners:
- Eat 5 – 6 small meals per day, every 2 – 3 hours apart (don’t skip a meal).
- Always eat within 1/2 hour of waking up; never skip breakfast.
- Drink 1/2 your body weight in water ounces. (Example: If you weight 160, half of that is 80, so you need to drink 80 ounces of water per day – that’s 10 eight ounce glasses of water a day).
- No processed foods (deli meat, bacon etc), no frozen foods (with the exception of frozen vegetables), no packaged foods or convenience foods (that includes canned and boxed soups), no fast food or junk food.
- No refined grains
- No white foods (white rice, white flour, white bread, white pasta, white potato, etc.) As a very special treat you can allow yourself white potato once in a while because it is natural and unprocessed, but it’s a bit of a cheat so you’ll definitely want to limit your intake.
- No condiments (ketchup, soy sauce, mayonnaise – you can make your own healthy homemade versions or use healthy substitutions).
- No store-bought seasonings (they’re typically loaded with salt, MSG, or other additives; salt and additive -free brands like Mrs.Dash are fine, but always read labels and buy only those which are truly salt and additive free). Making your own healthy seasonings, free of salt of preservatives, is fun and easy.
- No sugary drinks or pop (not even diet pop, its loaded with bad stuff).
- Strictly limit carbs and only consume whole grains.
- No sugar.
- Strictly limit fats, and eat only healthy fats.
- Strictly limit salt* (only use sea salt or Himalayan salt – no table salt ever).
- Strictly limit fruit juice (it’s high sugar content makes it as bad as drinking pop).
- Eat lots of vegetables, especially leafy greens.
- Enjoy fresh fruit, but don’t overdo it (because of the natural sugar content).
- Eat small portions of lean protein throughout the day.
- Always combine vegetables with your protein. For a couple of your meals in the day (usually breakfast and your night time snack) you can substitute a low-sugar fruit like grapefruit for vegetables when eating your protein.
- Never eat a carb on its own – always combine it with a protein.
- Always fill half your plate with veggies; the other half of your plate is for 1 serving of lean protein with or without 1 serving of an allowable carb.
At a glance this may seem quite restrictive, but I mean it sincerely when I say it looks a whole lot more restrictive than it really is when put into practice. Don’t let it scare you off. Once you get going with clean eating, you’ll discover there are so many delicious food options, and after a couple of days of re-training the way you think about food and reconditioning your body, you honestly will not miss most of the foods you need to avoid. The body adapts quickly, probably because it instinctively knows this is what is good for it.
- Every meal should contain at least 1 cup of vegetables – preferably leafy greens, but occasionally mixed veggies are fine (carrots and corn contain high sugar content, beans and peas have a heavy carb effect, so we want to limit these).
- Women can have 1/2 cup brown rice or potato with 1 meal per day – but that one meal should be 2 ounces of meat, not three. Men can have 1 cup or brown rice or potato with their meal twice a day, and do not need to reduce the protein with that meal.
- Drinking at least 8 ounces of water per day is an important part of clean eating. Pure, filtered water is so necessary for a healthy body. It prevents dehydration, flushes toxins, prevents water retention, and prevents your body from mistaking thirst for hunger. If you don’t care for the taste of water on its own, add a slice or wedge or lemon – or a squeeze of lemon juice for a very refreshing shot of flavor. Lemon is very cleansing for the body. You can also infuse your water with berries or fresh fruit for a subtle refreshing flavor.
*If you have certain adrenal gland disorders, or low blood pressure, salt may be necessary in your diet. Consult your physician to ensure you are maintaining an adequate salt intake for your condition.
Don’t Eat Food You Don’t Like
Since it’s not a diet, but rather, a lifestyle, the first piece of advice I’ll give is don’t eat foods you don’t like. This is a lifestyle change, so you’re going to be at this for the long term. This isn’t something you do for a week then stop, so there is no point in eating what you don’t like. That’s not going to be sustainable for you. Moreover, there is no reason to eat what you don’t like, because there are so many yummy options for you to choose from.
Once you begin your new clean eating habits, you will never feel that you are deprived of food you enjoy. You can eat often; by eating small meals frequently throughout the day, you’ll feel like you are literally eating all the time. You’ll have plenty of choices for great tasting food, and that makes it very easy to continue with, and maintain, a healthy clean eating lifestyle on a permanent basis.
So follow this one simple rule – if you don’t like a particular food, don’t eat it.
If you don’t like it, at some point its going to backfire on you. Don’t force yourself to eat something that is really distasteful to you. Instead, find an allowable substitute for that food and eat that instead.
If you can’t stand Kale, but you enjoy spinach, stick to spinach and forget about Kale. But have an open mind. Be willing to give foods you never cared for before a second shot, as you come at this with a new and enlightened perspective on food and what it means to be healthy.
You may need to change the way you think about some foods just a little bit. Be willing to see if you can acquire a taste for the healthy foods that you never cared for before. You might be surprised at how your tastes can be altered and your attitudes to certain foods can change once you understand more about what’s good for you and what it means to eat healthy. It worked that way for me.
Be Open Minded and Retrain the Way You Think About Food
As I said, it’s important to be open minded about foods that are healthy and good for you. You may need to retrain yourself to think differently about food at first. As your body aclimitizines to a cleaner way of eating, your taste buds will also start to adapt and have a greater appreciation for the flavors of natural, clean, healthy foods.
So again, remember to be open minded and be willing. Do it for you. Give yourself a little time to develop a taste for some healthier food options that maybe were never really at the top of your favorite food list in the past. Do it knowing that its good for your body, and its good for you.
If there is something that you really don’t like the taste of after giving it a fair chance, don’t eat it. Its that simple. No need to force yourself. There are always many other clean eating options to choose from
Health and nutrition experts (as well as the truly knowledgeable weight loss experts) will tell you that the healthiest way for anyone to eat is to eat several small meals frequently throughout the day.
That goes for everyone – yes, even if (especially if) you are trying to lose weight.
Eating frequently prevents you from feeling hungry throughout the day, and also prevents blood sugar crashes which can cause you to go on a ravenous rampage consuming everything in sight (and that often includes junk food, sweets, carbs and other stuff that’s not at all good for you).
Allowing yourself to feel super-hungry or to have a low blood sugar attack is a good way to fall off the clean eating wagon.
Eating small, healthy meals frequently throughout the day is the best and healthiest way to eat because it maintains healthy blood glucose levels and a healthy metabolism. It keeps your body well nourished and gives you energy and strength throughout the day.
When you don’t fuel your body with food frequently through the day, your metabolism slows down and starts storing whatever you do as fat, while leaving you feel lacking in energy.
When you eat only two or three meals a day, the body thinks you are starving and our built-in survival mechanism kicks in. The body doesn’t know you are not eating by choice, it assumes there is no food available and since it doesn’t know how long it might be before food is available again, it slows your metabolism right down and starts storing any food as fat. Our body’s were genetically programmed to do this as a protection and survival mechanism, so that it times of famine, we’ll have fat on our body that we can draw energy and fuel from.
So when you eat less, your body starts metabolizing more slowly, using less of what you eat for energy, and storing more of it as fat. That;s why eating less can actually cause you to lose weight. And it also explains why people often gain back all the weight they lost when they come off a diet, and more. because they’ve slowed the metabolism down by eating so little, that when they do start eating more food again, their metabism is shot and starts storing everuthing as fat. that your body burns muscle. Its all part of that same survial mechanism that humans (and other mammals) have had programmed into them for their survival since we roamed the earth . Muscle maintainece requires calories, so when your body thinks there is a shortage of food, it starts to burn and shed muscle thinking, “If I get rid of all this muscle, I won’t need as much food and calories, so I’ll be able to survive longer without eating”.
The other thing that happens when you don’t eat often throughout the day is
On a healthy eating program, you eat every 2.5 to 3 hours, which amounts to 5 – 6 small healthy meals per day. As a result, you never really get the chance to feel hungry, or when you are starting to feel hungry, its conveniently time for you to eat again. Your body never thinks it is starving, because you are feeding it frequnetly, so it becomes conditioned with the message that food is plentiful . That survival mechanism that slows down the metabolism, reduces your energy, and starts storing food as fat never, ever kicks in because the body assumes it can get all the food it needs, since its constantly being fed. So it feels no need to store fat for “emergency” situations.
And then a very cool thing starts to happen. Once your metabolism becomes so well tuned like this and is working so optimally and efficiently, even the occasional fattening or high carb foods (those occasional “treats and cheats”) get burned up quickly. Think of what happens when you throw a log on a roaring bon fire. It burns fast. A well tuned metabolism is like that roaring fire. Throw some fuel on it, and it burns it up fast. A slow and poorly tuned metabolism is like one of those pathetic little anemic fires that is struggling along to burn – put a big log on that and it sits and slowly smolders for hours.
So that means that when you know how to eat clean, and you adopt a clean eating lifestyle, you can allow yourself a day here and there for a fix of some of your old favorites (those “cheats” and “treats”) to get the occasional craving out of your system, and as long as you go right back to eating clean again the next day, no harm done.
That’s part of what is so powerful about a clean eating program. It really conditions your body and gets it functioning efficiently, healthfully and optimally, so that an occasionally treat night is no big deal. There is no need for guilt, or for hating yourself the next day. You don’t live with a sense of deprivation when you eat clean. An clean eating lifestyle does not have to feel highly restrictive. By eating clean, you continually maintain a healthy and fit state in your body, so that a special treat here or there in moderation has no overall negative impact.
It’s the most realistic, do-able approach I’ve seen to long-term healthy eating.
What’s wonderful about eating clean is that whether you were born with an efficient metabolism or not, and whether you’ve previously damaged your metabolism by poor eating habits, by adopting clean eating into your lifestyle, you can reinvorgate your metabolism in a relatively short amount of time and get it operating at high efficiency.
Never Miss Meals
We’ve talked about how not eating enough, or frequently enough, will shut your metabolism down. So the flip side of that is that if you eat more often, you’ll get your metabolism to function at peak performance.
That means you’ll enjoy a good sense of energy and will never have to struggle with weight management.
What happens when you eat several small meals frequently throughout the day is that your body gets into the habit of being fed and says, “I’ll get food again in another couple hours, so no point hanging on to this”, and it very efficiently burns off the calories in the food you ate instead of storing them on your body as fat, which slows your metabolism and makes you feel weak and lacking in energy.
To keep this process functioning as it should, you need to eat 5 – 6 small meals throughout the day, every 2.5 – 3 hours. And never miss a meal. Even if you don’t feel hungry, you need to eat. Your body is depending on that food.
Never miss a meal.
If you run behind in eating one of your meals, try to get it in as soon as possible. Don’t just eliminate the meal.
Not only will that mess up your metabolism, but it will mess up your blood sugar levels and blood sugar regulation.
What happens then is that you can suddenly start feeling very hungry you may start to crave sugar, carbs or fat.
This will cause you not only to start wolfing down the wrong foods, it will often lead to you eating way too much when you do eat again.
A clean eating program is metabolic in nature. So you never want to overload your body and your metabolism with too much food at any meal. Just as too little food at any point in the day is not good for you, too much food at any given point is bad too. Healthy eating habits are all about consistency.
When you eat more than is required at a given meal, the body will store the excess as fat .
By consistently eating those 5 – 6 meals every 2.5 to 3 hours throughout the day, your blood sugar levels will remain stable and your body will never be sent the signal to store fat.
Moreover, you won’t suddenly find yourself feeling so ravenously hungry that you get the urge to reach for the wrong foods. (This is what happens when your blood sugar suddenly drops).
Mindfulness is a practice where we are truly present in the moment, very aware of what we are experiencing. It is a mental state that can be applied to eating, and its a very good practice to implement into your clean eating lifestyle.
As you are eating focus on the food, on the taste, on the feel it has in our mouth, on the smell. Don’t just eat with your mouth, eat with your mind, allowing yourself to be fully present with the experience. Whenever possible, slow down as you eat.
Make the conscious effort to experience the food with every bite, rather than stuffing food into your mouth while mutitasking or thinking about other things. Pay attention to what you are eating with all your senses.
Most of us tend to eat mindlessly, stuffing food into our mouths as we think about 100 other things, or do other things. We really eat without thinking about it. Food is meant to be enjoyed and every bite should be appreciated. Retrain yourself to focus on every bite. Eat slowly, chew your food well. Make every meal an experience.
When you are fully present with what you are eating, you pay attention to every bite and feel it, taste, it and smell it, you enjoy and appreciate your food so much more – and you eat less.
Its really important to make sure you read the labels of everything you buy, and everything you eat or use in your cooking. Remember that the whole point behind eating clean is to make sure you aren’t putting chemicals, toxins (additives and preservatives and other artificial ingredients) and other bad guys like corn syrup, sodium and sugar into your body. Keep it clean!
If you cant pronounce it, or have no idea what it is, don’t eat it. Keep in mind too that marketing on packaging can be deceptive – go right to the ingredient label to read what’s in it. Just because it says whole wheat, gluten free, low fat, doesn’t mean it really is.
A good rule of thumb is also to look for products with six ingredients or less. If the ingredients list is super long, its usually because a bunch of those ingredients are chemicals (except in the case of something like a spice blend, for instance, in which case you might have 14 different herbs and spices – not a bad thing!).
Be savvy. Don’t assume that something you are buying will be clean and pure, based on the nature of the product – always read the label! As an example, I use a lot of garlic powder to give flavor to my cooking. I also make up a lot of my own rubs for chicken and my own homemade spice and seasoning blends to avoid buying store bought seasoning blends that always have artificial ingredients, high sodium, MSG, etc. Garlic poswder is almost always an ingredient in a spice blend or rub. When I buy from the spice shelf at the grocer, I expect it to be that spice, and nothing else. But not so. For instance, its very common when buying garlic powder or onion powder to discover when reading the lablel that the ingrdients list includes salt (not that much of a surprise), soy, and wheat/ gluten). Soy and wheat in garlic powder?! Why? And of course, MSG is a common additive even in packages of spices which you might assume are pure because MSG is a preservative. It supposedly keeps packaged food from going stale – while it quietly poisons your body!
When Bad is Good
Real food goes bad, and that’s a good thing. When it comes to shelf life of the foods you are putting into your body, the shorter the better.
Any food products with a shelf life is a few months or longer are not part of a clean eating regime. It means they are “fake foods”, filled with additives, preservatives and chemicals. Walk away.
There are a few exceptions to this rule such as rice or oats, or a can of spinach (check the label to make sure there’s nothing other than spinach in the can), but typically speaking, foods with a long shelf life are bad news.
Most fresh foods come with an expiration date, and go bad soon after purchase. Because they are real foods.
Low Carb, Not No Carb
Clean eating does not involve going no-carb. But it does involve controlling your carb intake, understanding the difference between good carbs and bad carbs, and choosing the right carbs – “clean carbs” -to put into your body.
Your body and brain actually need carbs to function. Carbs are just as important as the other macronutrients – protein and fat. So its not healthy to cut out all carbs. Its all about eating these foods in the right form and quantity.
Clean sources of carbs give the body important fiber, vitamins and minerals. Clean sources of carbs include brown rice, quinoa, hulled barley.
As I mentioned earlier, clean eating is not a fad diet nor is does it involve eliminating any food major groups – and that includes carbs. Instead it is a lifestyle that empowers you by showing you how to make good decisions within those food groups.
Why Water is Key
Why do I have to drink so much water?
Most people are borderline dehydrated all the time. Drinking enough fluid helps flush toxins from your body, combats constipation and bad breath, lubricates your joints, and is important to your overall health. Staying hydrated also assists with weight loss. Remember, some of your water requirement can be satisfied with coffee, tea, or other clear beverages, including broth.
Most people don’t understand the real importance of water on the human body. Drinking adequate amounts of water is just as important as eating the right foods.
In fact, you can actually live much longer without food than you can go without water.
If you’re like a lot of people, you probably aren’t drinking anywhere as much water as your body needs.
Many people consume their fluids throughout the day in the form of soft drinks, juices, energy drinks, coffee and other beverages – but these are no substitute for plain, pure water. Worse yet, high sugar beverages like soft drinks, energy drinks and even fruit juices are bad for you. You might be surprised to know that fruit juice as about as much sugar as a soft drink, ounce for ounce. So purely from a sugar perspective, fruit juice is just as bad as consuming a soft drink.
Water is without question the best fluid for your body.
If you aren’t drinking enough water, your body will start to hang onto water, due to a survival instinct. This is not something you want to encourage your body to do.
You body says, “I’m not getting as much water as I need, so I better start hanging on to the water I do get”.
That causes you to retain water, and that leads to gaining weight.
Your body needs to be fed a steady flow of water to achieve optimal health, prevent weight gain (or to lose weight), and to keep your metabolism functioning effeciently.
Water is also extremely important in helpings your body eliminate waste in the metabolism of fat.
And there are other very beneficial effects of drinking water as well. Water clears your complexion and gives your skin a nice glow. Staying well hydrated is a anti-aging secret to keeping skin looking young, supple, smooth, firm and wrinkle free. Skin requires adequate levels of collagen to look smooth and firm. Collagen requires water to effecitvely keep skin looking young. Water plumps up collagen cells, which are like the building blocks beneath the skin that give it structure and prevent sagging, puffiness, lines or wrinkles. Nothing will give you more of a youthful glow than hydrating your skin from the inside out with water.
Water also helps to flush toxins from your body and boosts energy. One of the number one causes of fatigue is dehydration.
How much water should you be drinking?
That’s an easy answer.
The simple formula to remember is that you should drink half your body weight in water (ounces) each day. So that means, if you weigh 120 lbs, you should be drinking 60 ounces of water a day. That’s about 7.5 cups (a cup being 8 ounces).
Keep a glass or bottle of water with you all day, and sip through the day. Keep track of how much you are drinking to make sure you hit your water consumption goal each day.
If you crave a little more variety than just plain water it’s understandable, but choose your beverages very selectively, with a focus on staying “clean”.
Keep in mind that soft drinks or diet sodas are the farthest thing from clean – they are made of nothing but chemicals, and have been shown to contribute to cancer. One study I read a while back indicated that consuming even 1 cola a day can increase the risk of pancreatic cancer. There were also news reports a while back indicating that one of the leading cola manufacturers was using a chemical agent to give the beverage its dark color that was known to cause cancer. If you drink soft drinks, its time to work on cutting back or ideally, elimiating them completely. Years ago, I used to drink soft drinks all day long, without even thinking about it. Years ago I limited myself to 3 a day. Over time I was able to reduce that to 2 a day. When I first started my clean eating regime, I got myself down to 1 cola per day and stayed there for a couple years. After reading recently how cola is linked to cancer, I lost my taste for it all together, and I don’t miss it a bit. If you aren’t able to stop your soft drink habit cold turkey, at least start by reducing the amount you are consuming, and then gradually work your way toward eliminating it all together. But understand in no uncertain term, no amount of soft drink or diet soft drink is really “allowed” on a clean eating program.
If you want to add more variety to what you can drink through the day, here are some options, but these are still not a substitute of pure, filtered water:
Iced Tea (no sugar/ “clean” sweeteners are okay)
Fresh lemonade (no sugar – clean sweeteners are okay)
Coffee or Tea/ Herbal Tea (no sugar – clean sweetners are fine)
Sparkling or Carbonated Spring Water (make sure it is sodium free).
Stay away from Club Soda, as it is loaded with sodium. Stick with sparkling spring water instead.
Also stay away from Sports or Energy Drinks, Fruit juices, “heath shakes” or “weight loss shakes”. All of these are very high in sugar, which isn’t conducive to eating clean. And with the exception of pure fruit juice, all of these also contain chemical ingredients, additives, preservatives and/or artificial colors, all of which can slow your metabolism and impact your health in other ways.
Remember, for optimal well-being – water, water, water!
Eat Your Greens
The most nutrient packed veggies you can eat are green leafy vegetables – aka: “greens”. Greens need to be a core part of any healthy lifestyle and eating plan, so they are definitely a key part of how to eat clean.
They are packed with nutrients and antioxidants that provide you with energy, protect your body and fight off disease. They are super-low in calories so you can eat lots and lots of greens to keep you feeling full, with no worry of weight gain. Greens are also alkalizing for the body, which is very important in maintaining good health. Green vegetables are packed with chlorophyll, which cleanses the blood and helps increase the number of energy-boosting, oxygen rich and revitalizing red blood cells.
So as part of your eating clean regime, you should be sure to put an emphasis on eating greens as often as you can throughout the day – every day.
You’ll do great if you can get them onto your plate or into your body multiple times in the day, but at the very minimum you need to get in a minimum of one serving of greens every day.
Adding just one extra serving of greens per day boosts energy and overall good health.
You can have a serving of Swiss Char, spinach or cooked kale with your dinner (kale, by the way, is the most nutritious green on all). Or use greens as the base of a nice big salad. Or put them in a smoothie. Or add some kale to homemade soup. Toss a handful of spinach into wholegrain pasta dishes. You can even use a big leaf of lettuce to create a wrap in place of a wholegrain pita or a tortilla. I use large crisp leaves of lettuce to sandwhich a chicken patty between and eat it like a burger. I also use crisp, crunchy lettuce leaves as a wrap for homemade tacos (using ground chicken and home made taco seasoning – yum!).
Pre-make Your F0od
A lot of people are surprised at how much food is recommended as part of a eating clean regime. Remember, we’re talking about eating 5-6 small meals a day, about 2.3 – 3 hours apart since this is widely recognized as the most healthy way to eat (not just as a clean eating program).
The question that often comes up is, “How will I find time to make all that food?”
Especially if you are away from home during the day, you’ll need to make sure you have precooked food on hand that you’ve made in advance.
Pre-slice fruits and veggies and store in plastic containers in the fridge so all you have to do is grab the portion you need and microwave or steam when you are ready to eat. If you’ll be away from home, potion them into plastic containers or sandwhich bags and take with you, then microwave at work. If you don’t have access to a microwave when you are away, take salads with you.
Again, you can premake a large salad and keep in the fridge, then just help yourself to the portions you need at any given time (dont put any form of dressing on the salad in the fridge.
Chicken can be marinaded or seasoned, pre-cooked, and then kept in the fridge for several days of use. Then just re-heat in the microwave or even eat cold.
Fish can be premade in advance. Season and cook several pieces at once, then cut into portion sizes, place in freezer bags and pop in the freezer. Heat in the microwave when you are ready to eat.
Potatoes are easy to cook in a batch in advance. Bake, Microwave, boil, or mash (with low sodium chicken broth – no butter) several potatoes at a time. Store in a sealed container in the fridge and they’ll last for a week.
Rice is also very easy to cook in a big batch and then store in a sealed container in the fridge to last through the week.
Veggies can be steamed or precooked in the microwave and stored in a sealed container for a few days without losing freshness. Cook them al dente, then to reheat just pop in the microwave and they’ll taste freshly made.
When You’re On the Go
Get a small cooler or a reasonably sized insultated lunch bag. When you get up in the morning, throw your premade food (enough for each of your meals) into the bag or cooler and you’re good to go. Use frozen icepacks or gel packs to keep the food cool throughout the day. If you have a fridge at work to keep your food in that’s ideal. If you’re on the go all day long, a couple of icepacks in a cooker or thermal bag should do the trick.
You’ll get used to eating throughout the day and travelling with food very quickly. You’ll find that premaking food to have on hand and taking food with you is very easy to manage once you get into the routine of it. And when you have the time and are in the mood, of course, you can make a meal from scratch. But by precooking, you’ll always have healthy, clean, home made “convenience” food so that meals are always accessible and easy.
Skipping the Fat When Cooking
People often use way more fat when cooking than is really necessary. What they don’t realize is that over the course of a year, all of the unnecessary added fat really adds up and can pack on extra pounds.
It’s really of a shame to put on weight that way, since you don’t really get any particular enjoyment out of the consumption of that fat.
When sauteing foods like vegetables or chicken in a pan, you don’t need to use oil. Cook in a good non stick pan, and use a little bit of low sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth instead of oil. As the liquid cooks away and evaporates, add a little more.
If you feel you must use oil, either very lightly grease the pan with coconut oil (because this is one of the healthiest oils and offers many health benefits) or olive oil, or better yet, use an olive oil or coconut oil cooking spray, and just give it the lightest spray possible. Cooking sprays are preferable to adding oil to the pan because they provide much better control in going on as light as possible – you don’t want to be adding unnecessary fat to your meals. Save the fat for a time when you’ll really enjoy it.
We’re not saying ditch the vino completely, but try to limit your consumption. “Another important principle of clean eating is keeping unwanted additives, pesticides, and other chemicals out of your body,” says Davis. “So drinking alcohol, a liver toxin, is not really consistent with a clean eating plan. Drink lots of water to flush your system of toxins and keep you well-hydrated.
The 90% Rule
Anything that is highly restrictive tends to have a high fail rate. I don’t want you to fail. So I am going to introduce something that I call The 90% Rule.
Here’s How it Works
Make it your goal to adhere to the principles of clean eating 90% of the time. If you can do that, you are going to reap most of the benefits of clean eating, without falling into the overly restrictive trap.
Its hard to stick with anything that is highly restrictive, as I said. Its almost invariable that you will slip up, and when you do in comes the guilt. And with the guilt sometimes comes a sense of discouragement. And once that happens, before you know it, you’ve gone from slip up to give up. You don;t want that, and I don\t want that for you. I don’t want you to give up. I don’t want you to fail. I want you to eat clean and be merry!
So we need to give you permission to cheat if you really feel you need to, with no guilt. Stick to the plan as much as possible, but dont beat yourself up if you dont manage to adhere to it 100% of the time, as long as you eat clean – really clean – 90% of the time. Thats fair isnt it? If you can do that, you’re still doing great, and you’re still going to reap the benefits.
Cheating can become a slippery slope, which is why I was hesitatant to mention the 90% rule initially. But I trust that you’ll use it responsibly. You need to hold yourself accountable. Dont abuse the rule! You’ll only be hurting yourself (and you dont want to do that!).
Do your best to adhere to the guidelines as closely as possible and as much as possible.
Dont focus on what you’re giving up. Dont pine for the foods you can no longer eat. Reframe it by thinking about all the healthy and delicious food options you do have at your fingertips, and what making better food choices is doing for your body and your health. If you like white pasta, indulge in whole grain pasta or brown rice pasta. Its a small adjustment with big health gains. Once you try it you won’t ever miss white pasta.
Keep a Clean Eating Food Journal
Keep a food journal for a few days without changing your eating habits, and then start trying to eat clean and keep a journal while doing that for a few days. Instead of focusing on calorie count on these days, simply write down what you ate and any notes about how you feel each day. You may notice a big difference in things like energy level and mood when you start eating clean.
Congratulations! Now you don’t have to stand there awkwardly while your friends are talking about clean eating 🙂 You can actually be part of the conversation.
But, more importantly, you understand what clean eating is, how to eat clean – and why it matters.
I hope you’ll come back often and make use of this website as the complete clean eating resource I have designed it to be. You’ll find a ton of clean eating recipes, tips and ideas – as well as lots of inspiration and motivation to stay on track and do what’s good for yourself (and your family if you have one), and your body.
Everything you need to live the clean eating lifestyle is here for you, so take full advantage of it.
Remember, clean eating = clean body (ie: healthy body). If that’s not motivation to eat clean, I don’t know what is!
Related Product You Might Like: