So, you have made the decision to switch to clean eating. That’s great! Before you get too overwhelmed by the changes, here is a quick start guide and some tips that are going to help you with the first few weeks of eating clean and whole foods.
The Start to Clean Eating – Learning the Basics
A good place to start with clean eating is to learn about the simple and basic rules involved with this lifestyle. In general, you are focusing more on healthy, whole, and fresh foods. Instead of counting calories or cutting your carbs, you are simply trying to cook more, using fresh ingredients, and avoiding highly processed foods. This means grating your own cheese, no longer using canned fruits and veggies, and only having eggs or dairy that is from free-range or grass-fed animals. With a clean eating lifestyle, you should be cooking most meals on your own and reducing your saturated fats and trans fats. You also want to reduce your caffeine and alcohol intake as much as possible.
Say No to Processed and Packaged Foods
Processed foods is a major no-no on the clean eating diet. You want to use as many natural and fresh ingredients as you can. If it comes in a package, consider whether there is a more natural version of that ingredient. Shredded cheese comes in a block of cheese you grate yourself, for example. Plus, you should only have dairy when it is from a grass-fed cow. Chopped onions come in full onions you can buy and chop yourself. These are good examples to start with.
Make More Meals at Home
As you can see, cooking is a major component to eating clean. It would be very difficult to do if you were not cooking on a regular basis. You don’t need to be a natural chef, but you should be able to follow a simple recipe. If you don’t have a lot of time to prep and cook, invest in some appliances that help the process go faster, such as a food processor for chopping, and a slow cooker to cook your meals during the day while you are at work or school.
Stocking Up on the Basics
Start with Your Fresh Produce
The first big change you might make is eating more fresh and frozen produce. A good portion of your meals and snacks will be of fruits and vegetables. If you currently eat a lot of fruit, but not much veggies, it’s time to switch it up. By having a good amount of both throughout the day, you stay full, get plenty of nutrients, and have enough variety in your diet so you don’t get bored. Frozen produce and even some canned veggies are okay, just make sure you are checking the ingredients to ensure it is clean.
Add Whole Grains to Your Diet
If you are coming off diets like low-carb or Keto, you might not be used to having this carb, but clean eating is not a low-carb diet. While it is a reduced carb diet simply by taking away things like white rice and processed breads, you still want carbs for every meal and snack. Your meals should consist of a protein and a carb, many times with whole grains like brown rice and quinoa. Filling up on whole grains increases your nutrients and keeps you energized for the day, so ti is definitely recommended.
Prepare for Last-Minute Changes
You want to be as prepared as possible to survive clean eating and get to the point where it is a simple lifestyle change. One way to do this is by having enough snacks on hand that are clean. This means enough fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds in portion-controlled containers or bags, and any homemade snacks you have prepared like granola or oatmeal bites.
What Not to Do
There are also some common mistakes people tend to make while eating clean. Here are some of those important ‘don’ts’ to keep in mind.
Buy Foods in Packages – One of the simplest ways to eat cleaner is to avoid packaged and processed food. This means skipping all those bags of chips and crackers, packaged cookies, and processed carbs like white rice and white pasta. Stick to stuff you can make or bake from scratch.
Try to Skimp on Calories or Fats – While you want to avoid excessive amounts of fat like from butter, margarine, and red meat, other fats are healthy and can keep you full. Don’t forget to add in healthy fats like nuts, seeds, coconut oil, and avocados.