Healthy Clean Eating and How to Start!
First of all many people are still not really sure what “Clean Eating” means. So let’s start at the very beginning with a few basic clean eating principles.
One of the best ways to remember how to excel at clean eating is to eat foods as nature made them and nature doesn’t put things in cans.
Every day you need to take in nutrients including vitamins and minerals to keep your body strong and healthy. We get those nutrients in the foods that we eat and also in what we drink.
There is no arguing that clean eating leads to better health than eating processed and refined foods and who doesn’t want better health?
Clean Eating is not a diet and it’s not a fad. Clean Eating is for the most part making healthy food choices on a daily basis. Does this mean 100% of the time?? Heck No! This means that cake, cookies and sweets can definitely be eaten but keep in mind they are still “empty calorie snacks” and need to be less often.
Processed foods, GMO’s (genetically modified foods), artificial sweeteners, antibiotics in our meats, food coloring & dyes, and preservatives are giving us some of the quickest tastiest foods in history, but sadly many of these foods are slowing killing us.
Chemicals are now added to our foods not only to enhance the flavor but also the coloring and texture (think gluten) as well. Manufacturers rely on the fact that if they pump their foods full or sugar, salt or fat they will sell much better. Then even more chemicals are added to extend the “shelf life” so products can sit for months or years on a shelf, saving manufacturers tons of money. While that might make the food last, these additives can seriously derail you and your family’s health.
While many ways of preserving foods are good for us, many are not. All you need to do is look at the label on a box of children’s cereal to see that many of them contain as much as 56% sugar by weight. And this does not take into consideration the additional chemicals and dyes needed to enhance flavor and extend shelf life.
Take Small Steps with Clean Eating and it Pays Off Big
Slowly learning and switching over to clean eating is the easiest way to go. Take small steps that will lead to big changes.
Clean eating might be easier for some people if they already have a fairly healthy way of eating. But for others, transitioning to clean eating can be as jarring as a physical move from one state to another.
Start with one Clean Eating Breakfast. Ground Turkey with Salsa and Eggs.
So here are some quick tips and a few basic principles of clean eating that should help make that move a little easier on the cook and the family!
7 Basic Healthy Clean Eating Principles.
1) Eat Real Food
The number one principle of clean eating is simply to eat “real” food. What exactly does “real food” mean? It means foods that have been made from whole ingredients that can be found in nature. Foods that contain no artificial ingredients, salts, sugars or unhealthy fats. If you want to take it a step further, then you might also want to try including organic foods.
2) Avoid Processed Foods
Following on from rule number 1, try to avoid any processed foods. This doesn’t just mean microwave meals. It can also include foods that you probably thought were “healthy”. It means food that has been altered from its natural state, including jarred sauces, packaged rices & noodles, pastries, cereals, bread and more.
The key thing to do is look at ingredient labels and avoid foods with added sugar, salt, fats, and chemical sounding ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Also avoid all processed meats such a lunch meats, bacon or sausage.
Even if this sounds impossible, (and it’s not) try a 10 or 30-day clean eating challenge to give your body a break from sugar, processed foods and chemicals.
3) Cook from Scratch
Cooking your own meals is the best way to ensure that you eat real, unprocessed foods. It might sound daunting having to cook everything from scratch, but if you plan, cook in bulk and freeze meals in portion sizes then it isn’t too hard at all!
4) Watch Your Salt, Sugar and Fat Intake
When it comes to processed foods, salt, sugar and unhealthy fats are the main issues. We don’t often realize just how many of these unhealthy ingredients we consume. Sugar is a huge problem in our modern diets, and many of us are addicted without even knowing it. The problem is that it’s often added to foods that we wouldn’t expect to contain it, so we don’t notice. As long as you eat real, home-cooked food with just a handful of ingredients, then you’ll be able to avoid these unhealthy ingredients.
Don’t buy anything that says low fat that has flavorings added. The flavorings are additives that aren’t healthy. When manufactures take something out of foods to make them low fat they always add something back in to make it tasty.
5) Limit Caffeine, Alcohol and Sugary Drinks
Small amounts of caffeine are beneficial, however there are negative side effects when you drink too much, not to mention the fact that most people consume caffeine with loads of sugar! The same goes for alcohol – which also has the added drawback of making you more likely to binge on unhealthy foods!
Be careful about anything you drink. Drinks often give us “empty calories”, due to the fact that they contain sugar but no nutrition or fiber to fill us up.
6) Drink Plenty of Water
Following on from the point above, try to drink more water. Most of us don’t drink enough, even though we do get some of our water from the fruits and vegetables we eat. (Read 10 quick ways to eat your water.) You should aim to be drinking 6-8 (8 oz.) glasses of water a day. If you don’t like it on its own, try infusing it with fruits or mint. (See Water is Important for some help)
7) Don’t Try to Be Perfect
Remember that these clean eating rules do not need to be followed at all times! Clean eating is a lifestyle choice, and it’s perfectly fine to treat yourself and break the rules every once in a while! Even if you can only manage a few days a week at first, remember you are doing your body good by giving it a break from preservatives and chemicals.
Healthy Clean Eating – Yes you can!
One of the biggest reasons people give for not eating healthy is that they’re too busy. After all it’s complicated, right? It takes a lot of time to shop for and prepare. It’s expensive too. …at least that’s what most people tend to say.
The truth is that eating healthy is just as easy, and maybe easier, than eating unhealthy food if you start with a good plan. Having a plan will save you money
It doesn’t have to be complicated. Think about this…
You can waste 10-15 minutes in drive through or take out line to pay upwards of $7 for a burger, fries and a drink. You can wait 30 minutes to an hour for a $15-20 pizza. The next time you’re busy, hungry and tired, you spend that same amount of time and money to eat out again. Alternately, you could cook one healthy dish for about the same cost as that pizza and you can get up to 3 different meals from it.
The foundation of Clean Eating is Planning!
Planning is the foundation to eating quick and easy meals that are healthy and uncomplicated. By uncomplicated, we mean that you won’t be spending hours in the kitchen each night preparing dinner. You also won’t be spending hundreds of additional dollars at the supermarket on your new shopping list.
In fact, consider taking a look at your last few grocery bills and add up the time it took you each day to get food on the table. When you’re done with this first week of healthy cooking, compare the time and money spent. We think you’ll be surprised.
- You’ll want to plan your meals each week. Planning helps you stay focused on the goal of eating healthy meals and saving money doing it.
Planning includes choosing only healthy recipes, making a list, and shopping for your meals. And when all of that is taken care of in a systematic and organized way, then eating healthy is super easy. And no, you won’t be eating only salads all week. Though, those are easy to prepare and healthy. You’ll be enjoying things like enchiladas and meatloaf and pork roast. And it’ll be easy. Promise.
Without planning for your meals in advance, it’s easy to fall back on take out and cereal for dinner. Planning your meals means that you have the right food ready when you are hungry and the vending machine, delivery guys and drive through windows will be easier to avoid.
One of the quickest ways to to sabotage any healthy eating plan is to fail to plan.
A Few Benefits of Planning Family Meals:
- Much Healthier. Any meal cooked at home is pretty much guaranteed to be healthier than eating fast food or take-out. According to experts, a family that eats together regularly is more likely to consume more fruits and vegetables and less fried foods and soft drinks.
- Weight Control. Kids are less likely to have weight problems when parents help develop proper eating habits.
- Parents can take control over what ingredients go into home-cooked foods. Salt is becoming a nightmare as high sodium levels are now being linked to high blood pressure in children from eating so much fast food.
- Proper Portion Control. It is much easier to get portion sizes under control by eating at home. The world has gone crazy with super-sizing our food and we really don’t need to eat that much in one sitting. This is a great opportunity to show kids well-balanced and well-portioned food.
Take baby steps, slowly incorporating clean eating into your current diet. Take salt and refined sugar out of your pantry and off of your table. Replace them with healthy herbs and spices.
Research shows that 3 to 4 weeks of a diet absent of refined sugar is all it takes most people to kick their sugar habit. Besides, there are plenty of natural sweeteners found in whole foods like fruits and vegetables. This makes it easy to bake desserts, snacks and treats that satisfy your sweet tooth while sticking to a clean eating profile.
1 – Pumpkin – Mashed or puréed pumpkin is more versatile in the kitchen than you may imagine. Just 1/2 cup of pumpkin replaces 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 cup of oil in just about any recipe. It is extremely high in healthy dietary fiber, so your sweets and treats make you feel full longer.
2 – Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are excellent natural sweeteners. Use them to create healthy and delicious muffins, breads and cookies. Canned sweet potato is convenient, just make sure you check your food label to ensure no added sugar is
3 – Dried fruit – Raisins, dates, figs, apricots and berries all have very unique and noticeable flavors. You can soak dried fruit before you chop or puree it for a sweet paste that can you be used in a number of recipes. Be forewarned, these foods are high in natural sugar, so use them in limited quality.
4 – Applesauce – This clean eating ingredient only qualifies as such when you choose the unsweetened version. This is a clean eating standby for replacing oil and sugar in many recipes. Consider a 1 to 1 quantity exchange for sugar. You may also consider apple chunks and apple butter, as long as they have no sugar added.
5 – Spices – Some spices offer a naturally sweet flavor. Nutmeg, cloves, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom are considered sweet spices. Combine them with any of the suggested sugar alternatives above for a savory, sweet combination.