Recently I have been getting messages from people, from various walks of life, asking me how they can start to implement clean eating into their lifestyles.
First of all, if you are thinking about changing some of your eating habits for the better; YAY! GOOD FOR YOU! Getting healthier, eating better, and maybe even losing some weight, (bonus!) is a journey that simply starts with picking the right foods. Foods that give you energy, health, vitality, and that healthy glow. I am talking about the glow that is seen by others when they say to you- You look great! What are you doing?? Your little secret, that isn’t such a secret, will be well-balanced and nutritious eating combined with drinking tons of water. But that doesn’t happen overnight. I know first hand as I struggled with implementing these changes into my own life. However, I now feel like it is a piece of cake! No junk, natural sugar, made from scratch with real ingredients piece of cake that is!
Here are your 10 habitudes for clean eating!
1. Get some major support around you.
If you decide you are going to be tossing the Oreos, Hidden Valley Ranch, and Diet Coke out of the house, you need to be sure your loved ones are on board. I guarantee if you are buying healthy food for yourself, plus thinking that you can still have your family’s favorite processed foods around and in reach, you are not setting yourself up well. Make sure your spouse, roommates, or kids know that they won’t be eating celery sticks and grapefruit. This ISN’T a diet!! Do however tell them that you will need their support to clean out the kitchen and replace some of your sweet, savory, overly processed and convenient treats with healthier options (which will start to satisfy you beyond belief, I promise!) If you are having trouble convincing a reluctant loved one to get healthy, just be persistent (not mean or nagging) in expressing your true motives and love for them in the area of health.
2. Clean out the kitchen!
If you don’t buy it, and it’s not in the house…YOU CAN’T EAT IT! But what are we getting rid of? Processed, prepackaged, ready-made foods. If you have canned peaches in the pantry, you will want to replace those with a fresh peach. If you have Lean Cuisines in the freezer, you will want to replace them with homemade meals-you can even freeze your fresh food for a later time just like these companies are doing! Instead of orange sports drinks, or ready-made orange juice, you will want to make your own or eat an actual orange! You get my drift, right?
While you are in the midst of your clean eating habitude adjustment, you may and probably will have moments of weakness.
What I wouldn’t do for some potato chips!
Did someone hide the Ben and Jerry’s?
I don’t feel like making much effort in the kitchen…what happened to my stock pile of frozen pizzas?
Now, with adopting a clean eating habitude, that doesn’t mean you will never have another piece of cake, ice cream cone, or your favorite slice of Chicago Style Deep Dish. This brings me to our third habitude…
3. Start thinking about adopting the 80 /20 rule.
What this means is that 80% of your meals should be clean, lean, and cooked at home. 20% of your meals can be less than clean, be your favorite treat, or be eaten out at a restaurant. You can view this as a weekly glance or a daily glance. Whatever works for you. If you decide to eat clean 100% of the time, you may be at risk for falling into the what the hell effect. (Check more out on this behavior here.) Life is all about balance in this area! From drinks out on a Friday night, to a slice of your favorite cake on your birthday, you must make room for your favorites. And, if you are eating well 80% of the time, 20% of you treating yourself won’t stall your efforts!
4. Follow and get creative.
Get some good clean eating cookbooks, follow some motivating food blogs, and look into the hashtags: #eatclean”, #cleaneating, and other healthy tags for nothing but ideas and motivation. People have wonderful ideas and recipes on how to make this clean eating journey easy and fun.
Sit down each week and create a grocery list with the ingredients and items you need for all of your meals and snacks. If you are not the shopper in the house, be sure to let the shopper know what you have in mind for the week; if you have any working lunches, and what you liked and disliked about the things he or she has been bringing home and whipping up. Planning is huge in all of this!
6. Be budget cautious.
Many people have the idea that eating healthier is going to be more expensive, and it can be. Some local grass-fed beef for burger night is going to be considerably more expensive than driving through Burger king for a Whopper. Here are some money saving tips:
-Buy local when possible
-Know when to buy organic. If you cannot buy everything organic, which is ideal for clean eating, know which foods matter most. Here is a list from the environmental working group to get you going!
-Eat less meat. Going meatless even once a week by choosing other sources of protein such as quinoa, beans, legumes, eggs, and sea vegetables.
7. Get creative.
Know how to replace some of your old favorites with healthier options.
Here are a few of my favorite swaps:
-Greek yogurt for mayonnaise and sour cream.
-Air popped popcorn in place of buttery or boxed varieties.
–Nice cream for ice cream.
–Healthy cookies for fattening sugar filled ones.
-Edamame or kale chips for chips.
-Fresh homemade juices for sugar laden store bought ones.
-Whole wheat, buckwheat, or homemade pasta and breads in place of the white stuff.
8. Allow it to be a process.
Realize you do not have to change everything all at once. Maybe it starts with changing up your salads.
When out at a restaurant or even at home maybe you loaded your salad up with cheese and Ranch dressing. Now, try using less cheese, and go to an oil based dressing…even if you buy it at the store. Then in a few weeks try ordering the salad that is loaded with veggies and lean protein and order oil and vinegar on the side instead of a dressing. When you are home, experiment with creating your own homemade salad dressings from scratch. Start topping your salad with super foods like kale, dates, gogi berries, chia seeds, and avocados.
The salad example applies to many of your food choices-start making small changes until you arrive at the cleanest version of the food you could possibly consume!
9. Clean up what you drink.
Cocktails, beer, and wine have lots of sugar, while soda, juice, and sports drinks are just junk food . Limit your alcohol intake and choose your drinks wisely. For example, ditch the 500 calorie margarita and opt for a glass of organic red wine. Stop drinking soda and switch to sparkling water. Quit ordering your Mocha Frappicino and opt for an Americano instead.
This is a necessary and most important habitude for clean eaters!
10. Watch your ingredients on the labels.
You may still find yourself buying and supporting brands that claim to be healthier and wholesome-and that is OK! Just check the ingredients label and make sure you can pronounce everything on the label. If you can’t, maybe take a pass. Make this your rule of thumb in the grocery store and you’ll always be eating clean!
This was a journey for me and I have actually enjoyed it more than I thought! I hope that when you decide to eat clean and train mean, you will allow it to be a process having nothing to do with perfection, but rather learning what your body wants and needs. Discover all the beautiful foods the Earth has supplied us with. It’s really quite fun!
Eating clean is no gimmick. It just works!
I would love to hear some of your tips for clean eating, and what inspires and motivates you to do so. As always please feel free to share your tips and clean recipes in the comments below or on social media! Be sure to hashtag your posts #goodhabits and #habitudefitness so I can see what you are up to!