What is clean eating? Are you looking for a way to clean up your eating habits but are overwhelmed by all the diets out there? Or is your family full of picky eaters? Clean eating may just be the answer you have been looking for.
What is clean eating?
Clean eating, in short, is eating as naturally and close to the source as possible. It’s not restrictive against dairy or grains. It works for meat lovers and vegetarians alike. Instead, the goal is eliminating harmful chemicals that are present in conventional foods and pre packaged foods.
This type of eating involves eating more organic fruits, vegetables, and grains. Meats include free range or organic chicken, grass fed beef, wild caught fish. Clean eating DOES mean there is a lot more home cooking, but there are ways to make that much less of a challenge if that is something you aren’t accustomed to (discussed in a minute)
The greatest thing about clean eating, besides all the benefits that come with eliminating chemicals, is that you can choose the ratio of clean eating that works for you and your family. Typically this ratio is 80/20. 80% of the time is following clean eating rules and the remaining 20% is for eating out, or giving in to that sweet craving, or allowing your kids to have mac n’ cheese for dinner (for example).
Personally in our home, we follow more of a 90/10 ratio, some weeks even better than that, but we didn’t start out that way. We’ve been eating this way for several years now. Once you start on it in any ratio, that clean eating number does start to climb, slowly but surely. Make a goal of what you think is realistic for you and your family and stick to it.
If you’re still not sure if an 80/20 percentage is do-able for your family or lifestyle, give yourself a little 5 day clean eating challenge. All it takes is a little planning and an hour in the kitchen of meal prep!
Shopping on the Clean Eating Plan
This is not as difficult as you might think, although some planning may need to be in place. For me, the easiest way to think of it is to stay on the outer edges of the grocery store and keep out of the aisles.
The outer edges have all the fresh stuff: veggies, fruits, meat, fish, fresh baked breads, fresh sliced deli, dairy, and the freezer section. Buy as many foods as you can that are certified organic (as you can afford, I know that can get pricey. Sometimes there are coupons!!).
Grains and nuts are on the dirty list for conventional foods, however, buying these foods organic is much more affordable. Also make sure that any rice and flour is “unbleached”
Stay away from sugar and artificial sweeteners. If you NEED sugar for something, buy raw sugar, or stevia, or local honey. And above all, read your labels!! if buying soups or sauces or spices, make sure you can read everything on that ingredient list. If it has aspartame, MSG (monosodium glutamate), or “natural flavors”(not natural at all), put that item back.
You may also enjoy How To Eat Healthy When You Have No Time To Cook
What if I can’t afford organic?
My best advice here is to price shop, check for coupons, and check your farmers markets. Some things ARE more important to have organic than others. As a whole, conventional food is very dirty. So to help you out, the following is a list of foods that, if you’re going to get them, try and get the following specifications (in order of importance). Remember some is better than none. Do what you can.
- Eggs and chicken (free range is also ok, but organic is better)
- corn (organic)
- grains (unbleached and organic)
- wild caught fish
- milk (organic)
- vegetables and fruits that you intend to eat the peel. This also goes for frozen and especially canned (as canned has some processing to it)
- grass fed beef
I Don’t Have Time To Cook
With a few adjustments, you probably can make that aspect MUCH easier for yourself. There are tons of meals that you can make for the whole family in less time than it would take to go get takeout.
My two best tips on this are to have a prep day….
…and make use of a crock pot. On prep day, usually the same day as you shop, get as much of your prep work for all of your meals done. Pre chop veggies, prep lunches and breakfasts if you can, do any baking, make a batch of something you can eat on for a couple days.
Yes it does take a few hours on prep day but then you’ve taken that step out when it comes time for dinner after a long day. It is so much easier to cook a dinner when all you have to do it pour it into a crock pot or skillet or baking sheet.