I consider myself a healthy eater. For many years I have made it a priority to eat as healthily as I could and as a result many of my efforts have become habits. I have never followed specific diet trends or relied on diet products, I just made it a point to eat whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean meat, while eating unhealthy foods in moderation.
But over the years, I have learned many new things which lead me to realize that a lot of the food I was eating isn’t as healthy as I had thought. I have learned that food marketing is extremely deceptive and food companies care only about making money. I have learned about the damaging effects of certain artificial ingredients and preservatives on the body. Because of my passion for and educational background in health, these realizations have led me to challenge myself to make the changes needed to truly have a healthy diet.
I don’t consider clean eating a trend as much as it is simply going back to the way our ancestors ate. They didn’t have the convenience of processed, boxed foods and microwave dinners, and many of them had gardens in which they grew their own produce. Combined with modern recipes that incorporate the healthiest foods without sacrificing flavor, clean eating can easily be the most effective health tactic yet. Choosing whole, natural foods whenever possible will not only lead to weight loss, but also will rid the body of unhealthy chemicals and preservatives and contribute to disease prevention. Even for someone who eats well to begin with, learning how to eat clean is not easy.
- Cook from scratch. Whenever possible, make meals and baked goods from scratch. Do not rely on boxed cake or brownie mixes, canned soups, or packaged snack items. They are all loaded with artificial ingredients and preservatives. Most recently, my Instant Pot has been my best friend in helping me cook healthy meals for my family in a very short amount of time!
- Stock up on produce. Keep your favorite fruits and vegetables readily available at all times, but also try something new every so often. I recently tried kale chips and they were delicious! The internet is extremely valuable when it comes to finding new recipe ideas utilizing fruits and vegetables. Store your produce at eye level in the refrigerator rather than the drawers to remind you to eat it!
- Read labels on everything you buy. You’d be surprised by the number of unpronounceable ingredients in an item you thought was healthy. If you have staple items that you eat regularly, use the internet to look up how to make sure you are choosing the healthiest possible brand.
- Budget a little more for food, initially. Buying packaged foods often seems cheaper than buying all the ingredients to cook from scratch. But over time, the cost of buying individual ingredients will actually turn out to be cheaper! If you truly want to devote yourself to clean eating, plan to spend a little more at first for ingredients and healthier brands.
- Go easy on yourself. Don’t try to change your entire diet all at once. Take baby steps to avoid getting overwhelmed. Vow to make one change per week. I suggest cleaning up what you drink before anything else. Drink water as much as possible, soda as little as possible, and never drink anything labeled as diet. As the weeks go by, you will find that your clean eating choices become easier and even habitual. Allow yourself a break now and then and don’t beat yourself up over setbacks.
In the grand scheme of things, it may be impossible to have a completely clean diet all the time. Don’t aim for perfection, but just doing the best you can. Every step benefits your body that much more. Think of it as a shower for your inside. Your internal system gets dirty through chemicals and preservatives in the foods we eat and the best way to help clean out the gunk is to feed it the least processed foods possible.
Give clean eating a try for yourself and see how you feel!