"Eating clean" is a buzzword to describe the practice of eating natural, whole, sometimes organic, unprocessed foods. In short, eating from the earth. Some people (like me) get a little (okay a lot) extreme about it and others are more moderate, choosing to take small steps towards clean eating by shopping around the perimeter of the store for fresh foods, avoiding stuff that is clearly junk, and reading the list of ingredients on a package before the list of nutritional facts. Regardless of which one you are, clean eating can (will) make a dramatic difference in your quality of life.
I choose to eat 100% clean every single day, which means I make every effort (and often go out of my way) to eat foods that are unprocessed, fresh, whole, and natural. That means I don't eat or drink anything artificially sweetened or flavored, I choose to make a lot of foods that would be more convenient to buy from a store, and I exercise a lot of self-discipline in restaurants or other social situations that present foods that may not meet my personal standards of healthfulness. That doesn't necessarily mean I eat all organic, or that I always buy produce from local farmers, or that I have a garden in my backyard. After all, I am not independently wealthy, I am a mom with a busy schedule, and my gardening skills are, well, nonexistent. But I do believe 100% that we can all do more than we think to make huge differences in our wellness and that of our families by educating ourselves about the food we eat and taking extra steps to eat clean.
I am not a registered dietician or nutritionist. Any information related to nutrition is based on my own experiential knowledge and research and should not be interpreted as medical advice. I would love to refer you to a registered dietician that can assist in creating a unique meal plan for you. Please let me know if you would like a referral in your area.
Sample Clean Eating Day
Here is a sample of what a clean-eating day might look like for you. Click on the links for recipes!
Early AM: pre-workout banana
Breakfast: coffee with organic half and half, egg scramble, and old-fashioned oats cooked with raisins and cinnamon.
Snack: organic low-fat plain yogurt with frozen blueberries and chopped walnuts.
Lunch: salad with spinach, a lean protein, and fruit. Add an apple with peanut butter for extra crunch! I like my Change Your Life or Fall Harvest salads.
Snack: fruit and nuts. I usually have an orange, a pear or peach, and throw in a carrot along with 10 raw, natural almonds.
Snack: veggies and hummus. I usually have some cucumber, a plum tomato, some bell pepper strips, and a carrot with 20 grams of hummus. This is great to munch on while cooking dinner!
Dinner: some of the dinners I make, always with half of my plate filled with veggies like steamed green beans, broccoli, eggplant, or roasted brussels sprouts (yes, they're good).
- grass-fed beef, bison, or venison burgers on whole wheat buns
- pizza: whole wheat pizza crust with spinach, onions, green peppers, Boar's Head pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese
- bison meatloaf
- scrambled eggs and waffles (we love this for dinner!)
- plain old grilled chicken breast with homemade bbq sauce
Clean Eating Tips
- Remember, clean eating is not always healthy eating. Just because something is without preservatives or natural does not mean it is healthy. Consider pure natural sugar. Sure, it is "clean." But is it healthy? No.
- Shop around the perimeter of the store, in the cold sections. While you are there, read the ingredients - not the food label, the ingredients - on the foods you select. The list should be short and contain easily identifiable foods. Read How Food Becomes Candy for more information on this.
- Don't make it complicated. Food should be simple fuel for your body. It should not take an advanced degree in science to eat! Stick to primarily fruits, vegetables, and whole grains for most of your calories. Hint: those usually don't have ingredient labels.
- Consider buying (and using) a bread maker. Bread is a very simple food that becomes very complicated when manufactured en masse. Its a cinch to make a loaf in a bread maker and it tastes better too.
- Dump the sugar. Trust me. Just bite the bullet and do it. You don't need it and you will be a million times better. I promise!