I talk about clean eating a lot. Almost all of my closest friends know that it is something I am passionate about, and most of them are willing to humor me and talk about it from time to time. When I am talking to my friends, I am not quick to tell them they need to eat clean or discreetly suggest ways they could eat cleaner. I have a “you do you” policy. I will never tell people how they should or shouldn’t eat.
But when people ask me, whether it be my friends or my readers, I am happy to give a little direction.
In last few weeks I have been asked the same question seven times. “How do you eat so clean?”
Well, the truth is, it’s just a decision and a commitment. Eating clean is not a fad diet, it is a lifestyle change. When I choose to eat clean, I am choosing to fuel my body in a way that only works and makes a difference when I do it consistently.
“But how?” That’s the next question that six out of seven of those people asked.
Honestly, it comes down to a few simple steps. Making small changes can make a huge difference in your body. You can make small changes one at a time, or you can make several small changes all at once. That is totally up to you, but I personally recommend one small step at a time!
Here are my 6 simple steps to clean up your diet!
- Stop eating so much! I know you didn’t want to hear that, but before you close the tab and run, STOP. What I mean is, stop eating so many ingredients. The number one change I have made that has had the greatest impact for me has been limiting the number of ingredients I allow in my food. I don’t mean that you can’t eat ten different things in your salad. What I do mean is that all ten of those things should be things that you chopped, peeled, sliced yourself. Using items that have zero ingredients listed on them, like an avocado, will always be best. If you have to buy things that are prepackaged, stick to items with less than three ingredients. Avoid preservatives and additives. Most importantly, if you cannot pronounce it or don’t know what it is, simply don’t eat it! Shopping for foods in their purest form is absolutely the most important step in clean eating!
- Eat your grains! Eating clean doesn’t mean that you can’t eat bread or rice! That’s one of the most common things I hear from people! “I can’t eat clean because I just love bread too much.” I got news for you… you can have your cake and eat it, too… or in this case, your bread. First of all, switch your refined grains to whole unrefined grains. This means switching from white rice to brown and white bread to wheat. Once you switch from white to wheat, then make the switch to whole wheat. Do the same with your pasta. But you have to be careful. Some companies will make that wheat bread and wheat pasta look super healthy, but if the word “whole” is missing, it has still been refined, even if it is wheat. Look for the word “whole” on the ingredients list.
- Choose natural sugars! This is the second most common thing I hear. “I just love sweets too much.” And I am over here nodding my head because I feel you. Sweets are life. And I feel like God knew that His children would love sweets. All glory to Him for the amazing all natural sugar options. Switch from white refined sugar to a local raw honey or an organic maple syrup! These are great options for sticking to whole foods and still getting your fill of sweets!
- Make your meat a priority! This one can often be challenging for people because “healthy” meats are so much more expensive. You don’t have to make the switch all at once. I fully understand how much of a toll that can take on your grocery budget. Just make one small change at a time. Start with the meat that your family consumes most regularly. You can ease into it by first switching to organic, and then switching to grass fed. Over time it will become easier to work that into your budget!
- Plan, plan, plan! This one really should be right up there with number one. So many people don’t create meal plans and I am blown away by this. Even if I didn’t eat clean, I would still create a meal plan because our budget is not one that can handle just buying a TON of random groceries. Planning your meals not only prevents you from just buying random ready made foods, it also helps you plan in such a way that you can have overlap between your meals and ingredients. This is SUCH an important thing in journey of clean eating. Why? Because so often the primary thing that holds people back is cost. If you plan well and have overlap in your ingredients, you can save money and are far less likely to waste.
- Have fun and treat yourself. Balance is so important. There will be probably be times where you just simply want a bowl of mac and cheese. Don’t ever feel like you are in food prison. Eat clean 80-90% of the time, and don’t feel one bit of guilt when you enjoy that mac and cheese!
These might seem like no-brainers, or maybe it seems like these things couldn’t possible do the trick to get your diet cleaned up. The thing is, you have to start somewhere. We aren’t perfecting your diet right off the bat, we are just cleaning it up a little, and then we can continue to refine it even further! The fact that you are reading this means that you care, and really, that’s the first and most important step!