5 Simple Steps to Clean Eating
What exactly is clean eating anyway? If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, clean eating is the practice of eating healthy foods while avoiding ones that are processed, refined and loaded with undesirable ingredients such as nitrates, MSG and added sugar. People who eat clean tend to be healthier and slimmer, for obvious reasons.
When I first heard about clean eating, two thoughts entered my head: it sounds expensive and I don’t have time for that. As a busy mom of three who’s on a tight budget, clean eating seemed like a nice concept but not something I could realistically do. Well, it turns out I was wrong. Clean eating doesn’t have to be pricy or complicated; it’s all about how you approach and maintain it. If you follow these 5 simple steps, you can be well on your way to eating better than you’ve ever eaten before.
Step 1: Plan your meals in advance.
Start with a weekly meal plan which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I wouldn’t do anything beyond a week when first starting out because it can be really difficult to plan meals at first. Sites such as The Organized Cook and 100 Days of Real Food have free downloadable meal plans you can use. You can adjust these plans to fit your needs.
Step 2: Go with what you know.
The main part of clean eating is to cut out processed foods. Most sites will tell you to avoid foods that have more than 5 ingredients which should be easy to pronounce and recognizable (if your 8-year-old can read them, you’re good). No one wants to spend hours on end in the grocery store looking at every single label, especially when you have kids with you. So my advice is to start with what you know is definitely not processed such as fresh fruits and vegetables, meat and seafood, eggs, beans, nuts and anything organic.
Step 3: Start with dinners.
As with any lifestyle change, you want to gradually ease into things, not jump in head first. Pick one daily meal (I would suggest dinner) as your designated “clean” meal. This way you can just concentrate on just those seven meals during the week. Once you’ve grown accustomed to planning and preparing your dinners each week, then move on to include other meals and snacks.
Step 4: Only buy organic if you have to.
Let’s face it; organic foods are more expensive than non-organic. After looking at the labels of some of my favorite foods, such as quinoa and oatmeal, I found that not everything has to be organic to qualify as clean. I bought a bag of quinoa (and it still followed the rule of less than 5 ingredients) from Target at a very reasonable price. Pure maple syrup, however, is a different story so let’s just say some foods are going to be pricy no matter what.
Step 5: Allow yourself to cheat (sometimes).
I thought about the upcoming holidays and how I can eat pumpkin pie and those cheap butter rolls (you know which ones I talking about) and still eat healthy. Well, honestly, there’s no way I can do both. When Halloween comes around, I’m still going to eat a few bits of candy and guess what? It’s not going to be the end of the world. As long as you don’t go crazy, allow yourself to have not-so-clean foods once in a while and enjoy your day.
These simple steps have helped me ease into the major lifestyle change of altering my diet for the better. It won’t been easy and don’t make the mistake of thinking it will be, but don’t give up. It’ll all be worth it next swimsuit season!
Just to give you more incentive, check out this trailer for the new documentary, Fed Up, which brings us some hardcore truths about the sugar industry. You can join their 10-Day Sugar-Free Challenge which is much harder than it sounds but if I can do it, trust me, so can you.
For Free Weekly Dinner Meal Plans, visit The Organized Cook: