5 Steps to Start Eating Clean Today

Making the Change

Facing the facts and trying to get started eating clean can seem like the hardest thing you've ever done. In fact, it very well might be.  The food industry has us hooked--and they very well intend it to be that way. And so, yes, giving up fast food, sugar, favorite treats, and microwave meals for real, fresh, nutrient-dense food could be one of the toughest things you'll have to do.

Reasons to start eating clean vary widely, but most of us are looking to secure a healthy and happy life for ourselves and our families. We want to feel good in our bodies and hopefully look good while we’re at it. And while the term "clean eating" can mean a lot of things for a lot of people, overall, the basic concept entails eating to nourish instead of eating for convenience. Store-bought foods are both completely devoid of nutrients and contain synthetic flavor enhancers and preservatives. These chemicals strip the body of nutrients and cause damage to the body’s cells.

So, “eating clean” would suggest that one would eat nutrient-dense, fresh food as close as possible to the way they came from nature. Clean foods would include locally grown produce; organic, range-fed meats; homemade, fermented dairy products; and gut healing foods like bone broth and healthy fats.

Slow Cooker Beef Stew from my Winter Soups Ebook--you can download a free PDF version through this page

My own journey to eating clean and healing the body

Once upon a time, even these simple concepts were completely foreign to me. I had no idea that what I was buying was so bad for me! But trying to clean up my diet was harder than I anticipated. Even small simple routines like shopping for food were all of a sudden incredibly difficult!

I was determined to heal my body, though, and have since learned many things that would have initially helped me on my journey. I've put together a list of a few things that can help you as you make the transition to eating well. Hopefully you’ll find them helpful!

5 steps to get started eating clean

1. Replacing sweets and treats

Many of our unhealthy eating choices often stem from emotional needs or desires. We develop habits of rewarding ourselves after passing an exam, soothing ourselves after a rough day at work, or snacking out of boredom or frustration.

When first trying to clean up the diet, many of these issues are still present. Just because we are drinking bone broth doesn't mean our emotions all of a sudden stop wanting ice cream, donuts, or coffee! I remember a couple times driving to the store for ice cream thinking “What am I doing?? I can’t eat this!” And yet doing it anyways because my emotions were simply driving that car and not my hands.

In time, it's best to get away from satisfying emotional needs through food (I’m working on a blog post dedicated to that topic as well) but while first transitioning to eating clean, it’s helpful to have little treats or rewards available that ARE healthy options.

Instead of throwing your entire health goals out the window when you need a treat, try a few of these ideas!

  1. A spoonful of nut butter with some honey drizzled on top
  2. Homemade cookie dough for one
  3. Homemade cultured cream with fresh fruit
  4. Homemade probiotic, lactose-free ice cream
  5. Spoonful of Raw Cacao Nibs with honey drizzled on it
  6. Shaved coconut slices (the toasted ones from Dang are to-die for..)
  7. Larabars or Perfect Bar (paleo)
  8. Blend up a frozen banana with a dash of vanilla

healthy gluten-free treats

2. Take the time to source your food

One of the hardest health changes to make is simply shopping habits. It may be the hardest part of the whole experience, but if you don’t learn how to shop different, clean eating will never happen. It can’t. Cuz you don’t have clean food!

I have a full blog post coming soon also on grocery store shopping vs shopping local fresh foods for more details on the why’s and how’s of sourcing real food. But for this post I’ll just mention that it takes quite a bit of time, research, and even some networking in your area to find the places that work for you. Small health food stores can break the bank, so take time to source local small farms, CSA’s, and even some grocery stores that carry locally grown fresh produce or meats for good prices. Search online, ask around at farmer’s markets, find other foodies in your area where they buy their food. It takes work, but once you find the right places to shop, you'll never have to rewire your routines again!

3. Keep it simple

One of the biggest temptations with transitioning to clean eating is the temptation to cook beautiful, extravagant dishes for every meal. All those clean Pinterest recipes—the grain-free lasagna, the paleo banana bread, the turkey stuffed cabbage rolls—are great for when you’ve got several hours to cook and clean. But most of us don't have that. And so my advice would be to keep it simple. You’ll spend a lot less money and be a lot less overwhelmed when you cook simple meals that are easy to clean up. Here are a few examples of quick, nutrient-dense meals that will get you through the day.

  1. Breakfast: eggs and cooked vegetables
  2. Lunch: Salad (topped with leftover dinner meats, fresh vegetables, fresh olive oil, etc.)
  3. Dinner: homemade crockpot soup (recipes here)
  4. Snacks: nuts, homemade yogurt, or fresh/steamed vegetables

4. Invest in the right cooking supplies

You will get absolutely no where without at least a few good knives in your kitchen. I know it sounds cliche but good cutlery really is that important. Clean eating requires lots of preparing your own food from fresh sources. Your food won’t be pre-cut and prepared for you anymore. You’ll be doing the cutting, slicing, chopping, and carving. You’ve got to have some good knives which will make the job so much easier.

You will also want to invest in some other kitchen tools that will make food prep much easier less overwhelming. These are a few kitchen supplies I use regularly.

  1. High speed blender
  2. Food processor
  3. Large skillet
  4. Large soup pot
  5. Big mixing bowls

If you have some money to spend a spiralizer, julienne slicer, or silicone molds, these are also fun to have around to create fun variations of meals like spaghetti with zucchini or homemade gummy fruit snacks.

5. What To Eat

Eating clean isn't just a list of rules of what to eat and what not to eat. What it is, is helping you make safer and healthier eating choices for your body. What could this look like? Here's a few things that could get you started eating better foods for your body today:

Replace MARGARINE with BUTTER

Replace STORE-BOUGHT MILK with RAW MILK

Replace REGULAR MEAT CUTS with GRASS-FED, RANGE MEATS

Replace STORE-BOUGHT EGGS with LOCALLY PRODUCED, PASTURED EGGS

Replace "COOKING OILS" (PAM, canola oil, etc.) with ANIMAL FATS (duck, chicken, pork, beef fats)

Replace STORE-BOUGHT PRODUCE with LOCAL, FARMERS MARKET PRODUCE

Replace SUGAR with HONEY

Replace REFINED FLOURS with SPROUTED WHOLE GRAINS

find recipes

This homemade ice cream is made with homemade cultured (probiotic) cream, honey, and chunks of snickerdoodles made from almond flour and coconut flour. You can find this recipe here

6. Lastly, just start somewhere!!

Realize you’ll make mistakes! Don’t be too hard on yourself when you caved with a cheat meal or you break (or blow up) nearly every appliance you cook with (you can see my kitchen disaster post if you want to feel better about any mistakes you’ve made). Change is hard—especially when it comes to cooking healthy, traditional foods. I’ve been there and so have many of my friends and family and we're here to tell you that everything becomes worth it when you begin to see your health improve and symptoms of disease start to vanish. But until then, keep doing your best and keep trying. It’ll all be worth it!

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *