So you’ve made the decision to start eating clean. Good for you! Good nutrition is such an important part of any healthy lifestyle. Unfortunately, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and shelve the idea of clean eating before you even get started. There is a plethora of information in bookstores, grocery stores, and online.
The best way to get started on your clean eating journey is to break it down into more manageable chunks, beginning with the essentials of clean eating.
Before you head out to the grocery store, the first thing you need to do is clean out your pantry and fridge. Get rid of anything that doesn’t fit the bill of being a “clean food.” This means most processed foods, white starches (such as potatoes, rice, and white bread), anything with added sugar, and almost all the foods you find in the inner aisles of the grocery store. There’s no use in doing your shopping if you still have all the bad stuff in your house. If you have unopened boxes of non-perishable foods, considering donating them to your local food pantry. A good rule of thumb when it comes to clean eating is: If it’s made in a lab, it will take a lab to digest it. If you can’t pronounce it, don’t eat it.
What to buy
Okay, so your kitchen resembles Old Mother Hubbard’s, now what? Now it’s time to head off to the store. But, what should you buy?
- Fruits and Vegetables. If possible, chose organic and local produce. Frozen is just as good as fresh and in a pinch, canned goods are okay as well.
- Lean proteins such as chicken, turkey, pork, fish; and for the vegetarians and vegans, tofu.
- Grains: read the labels. When buying a whole grain bread, the first ingredient on the label should be Whole Wheat or Grain. Not bleached flour, not white flour, but whole grain or wheat. Choose quality breads like Eziekial Bread, brown rice, and whole grain pasta.
Before you can begin to cook with all the fresh, clean foods you just bought, there are some basics that you need to know. The first thing is, what’s the best way to actually plan a meal? Every meal should contain a lean protein and complex carbohydrates (yes, not all carbs are bad carbs). Some of your options for lean protein are: chicken, turkey, salmon, white fish, lean cuts of red meat, egg whites, beans and legumes, quinoa, sea vegetables, nuts and nut butters. Sources of complex carbohyrdates are oats, brown rice, whole grain breads, and any of the fruits and vegetables found in your produce section. Don’t forget that greens are for more then just eating. Embrace the green smoothie movement!
The first and probably the most important step is to learn to love to cook. Gone are the nights of a quick stop at the local fast food joint. Now, before you start saying “wait, I don’t have the time to cook like that” let me let you in on a little secret: Meal Prep and Planning. Take two days a week and prep your meals. Typically, I do mine on Sunday and Wednesdays. Not only does this cut down on the amount of time you have to spend in the kitchen, it also ensures that you have everything on hand to make a meal. Don’t forget about one of the most important items to have in your kitchen— the crockpot. There are a ton of clean eating recipes that can be made in the crockpot. Spend some time on the weekend and prep your crockpot meals in a large ziplock bag and freeze them; then on the designated day, dump them into the crock pot. When cooking, use sea salt only. Himalayan Sea Salt is great. Use Extra Virgin Olive Oil or coconut oil. For additional seasoning, use any of the Mrs. Dash seasonings as these are salt free.
You should be eating 5-6 times a day, which takes some getting used to. Set an alarm on your phone to remind yourself to not only eat, but to also drink your water. Beverages should be limited to herbal teas, black coffee, water. You can use a sweetener such as Stevia in the raw or raw honey in moderation, when needed.
Need creamer for your coffee? Try this clean coffee creamer: unsweetened almond milk, 1-2 teaspoons of raw honey, vanilla extract. Mix in a mason jar and keep in the fridge.
Clean eating doesn’t have to be overwhelming or restrictive. Once you are familiar with the essentials, the world is your oyster so to speak. Take some time to explore some clean eating recipes and see how exciting clean eating can be.