Some of you may have heard a lot about “clean eating” or “eating clean”- they are popular terms tossed around these days.
Clean Eating to me is some common sense- avoid the processed junk foods, white sugar, white flour and anything with a million ingredients you can’t pronounce. But when I really start to think about clean eating I had all sorts of questions. What would a normal day of food look like? What kind of grocery bills would I be dealing with? I wonder if this would work for the entire family- including little picky eaters and husbands? Is it a sustainable lifestyle or would I quit 5 minutes later? Can I try this lifestyle as a vegetarian? I need more then a baggie of fruits or veggies to keep me going and my energy levels up during the day. What can I eat beyond fish, chicken and produce?
So Bethany from All Natural Savings was kind enough to get pretty specific about what the heck clean eating really is with her 10 tips:
What exactly is healthy eating? Ask a dozen people and you’ll likely get a dozen answers ranging from low-carb to low-calorie, paleo to vegetarian. While these all have some aspects of healthy eating, the best way to eat healthy is to eat clean. Clean eating is eating real food, not altered by heavy processing or added chemicals. Unfortunately, in today’s fast food world, it can be confusing. With a few simple changes though, you can transition to a healthy diet without it being complicated.
Here are some simple swaps to clean eating:
- Ditch the preservatives. There are so many healthy, “fast food” options now, that it’s not necessary to eat food with preservatives anymore. Check the packaging to be sure it reads “no preservatives.” Some common preservatives to avoid are: BHT, BHA, nitrites, nitrates and sodium benzoate. Preservatives can cause all sorts of health problems ranging from cancers to neurological disorders. You don’t have to ditch the packaged food, just ditch the preservatives.
- Stick to real food ingredients. Again, label reading will come in handy. Foods labeled “organic” or “all natural” generally contain all real food ingredients. Just be sure to read the back label and check the ingredients used. If you start to see chemicals listed, move on to the next product.
- Avoid artificial food coloring. Check the label to be sure there aren’t any artificial food colorings such as FD&C red, yellow, blue or green. Artificial food coloring is made from tar and petroleum and causes a whole host of health problems, especially in children, such as ADHD, cancer and hyperactivity. Due to consumer demand, many products are now made with natural food coloring made from real foods. These will be labeled “natural color added.”
- Swap snacks. Instead of munching on chips and a candy bar, try an apple and an organic snack bar or a pear and some homemade nut mix made with almonds, peanuts, raisins and organic chocolate chips. It’s not only a healthier choice, but it will keep you full longer.
- Trick your sweet tooth. One of the best things about clean eating is you don’t have to give up sweets! Instead of making cookies with white flour and white sugar, try it with whole wheat flour and organic sugar. Both still retain the original nutrients, making it a much healthier option. Don’t have time to bake from scratch? Browse the health food aisle at your local grocery store or head over to the health food store. There are tons of healthy sweets made from real food. I promise, you won’t taste the difference!
- Get rid of the bleached white flour and white sugar. If you don’t have it in the house, you won’t use it. Switch over to unbleached white whole wheat flour and organic sugar, which bake similarly to bleached white flour and white sugar. The bleached white versions are stripped of all of their nutrients and contain chemical versions of the nutrients. White whole wheat flour and organic sugar contain natural vitamins and minerals, helping stabilize blood sugar levels and weight.
- Drink clean water. If you haven’t switched over to distilled water yet, let me help you. Tap water contains chlorine and the chemical version of fluoride, which cause thyroid disorders, thyroid cancers, neurological disorders and hormonal disorders. Invest in an under the sink reverse osmosis filter, which will rid the water of these nasty chemicals. They run about $150, but will save you money in the long run over bottled water. Just be sure to add a little sea salt to each glass to add back in some natural minerals. (Note from Charlene- you might research the water in your area and see what the recommendations are.)
- Beware of GMOs. GMOs (genetically modified organisms) are foods that have been genetically engineered from bacteria, viruses or other plants. The purpose is to benefit the farming industry as they believe it will allow the crop to produce well despite conditions. While this hasn’t been proven, it has continued, causing many health problems in those that consume it, including allergic reactions, digestive disorders, autoimmunity and neurological disorders. Some common GMO products are soy, corn and canola oil. Be sure to buy these products and products containing these ingredients labeled as non-GMO or organic. Organic products legally cannot contain any GMOs.
- Buy organic produce. The best way to avoid pesticides, chemicals and GMOs is to buy organic. Organic doesn’t have to be expensive! There are many options for keeping the price down, from shopping store brand organic to using coupons paired with a sale to score cheap organic food. If you just can’t swing organic on all products, soak your fruits and veggies in a solution of 1/4 cup hydrogen peroxide and distilled water in a large bowl for 15 minutes, then rinse. The hydrogen peroxide will eliminate much of the pesticide residue.
- Cook clean. Use healthy, clean ingredients when baking or cooking. Swap the vegetable oil for olive oil, which offers numerous health benefits unlike it’s counterpart, vegetable oil, which contains harmful chemicals. When eating dairy, opt for organic and RBST hormone free. Trade in sauces and marinades loaded with chemicals for healthy homemade versions or organic varieties.
There are so many options for swapping over to a clean diet. There are healthy, packaged foods for the busy and homemade recipes and coupons for organic food for the budget-tight. Commit to making one change a month, and in less than a year, you can be eating a clean diet!
Bethany is a stay at home wife and mom to her husband, Chad and sweet baby boy, Silas. She is passionate about living a healthy lifestyle and encouraging others on how to eat healthy, frugally. Her blog, All Natural Savings, offers tons of information on eating healthy, living healthy on a budget, healthy recipes and natural health.
And so that clears up a little more for me exactly what clean eating is- I hope it helps you too. I have a few more resources for you to check out below- if you have not had a chance to watch the documentary Food Inc that is a GREAT place to start. You will never look at bacon the same ;). (It is free to stream on Amazon Video on Demand if you have Prime or grab it at Redbox.)
AND please let me know if healthier eating is an interesting topic for you by leaving a comment below. I actually intend to try a 5 Day Real Food Challenge with my kiddos this summer- no processed foods at all for 5 days- Yikes! (C’est la vie Starbucks Macchiato… I will miss you.)
If you are interested I will do some posting during our challenge of what we are eating exactly, how the kiddos respond, how I am feeling overall etc…
- Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 List (what fruits and veggies are most important to buy organic)
- How to Save Money on Organic Produce
- Quick and Easy Produce Spray (for non organic produce)
- Bethany mentioned hudrogen peroxide on non-organic produce, here is another method using vinegar.
- Clean Eating Recipe: Artichoke and Sun Dried Tomato Farro
- Clean Eating Recipe: Easy Guacamole Dip (just swap out the chips for veggies or a less processed whole grain chip)
- Clean Eating Recipe: Homemade Salsa
- Clean Eating Recipe: Almond Butter (I literally eat this every day for breakfast on whole wheat toast)