“I’m new to Clean Eating…Where do I start?”
This is a question I’m often asked – and when I look back at my own transformation story, I realized just how important it is to let people know that it can be both an enjoyable and challenging journey.
Making the decision to begin eating clean is relatively easy, but sticking to it can be the real challenge. And while these steps may not be the exact path for everybody, they will definitely be helpful to anyone who decides to shift to a Clean Eating lifestyle.
Here are a few suggestions on how to begin your Clean Eating Lifestyle:
Step 1. Decide to Eat Clean for the right reasons.
What are your reasons for starting to Eat Clean? Is it because everyone you know is raving about it? Is it because you want to lose weight and it seemed to have worked for so many others?
We all have different reasons, that’s for sure. What’s important though, is that you dig deep inside your mind and your heart to see WHY you are changing your eating habits. It must be a reason that comes from a desire within, and not one forced on you or simply influenced by others.
For me, it was about wanting a better, healthier life for my 4 children and I. I wanted to be able to do more and enjoy life more with them. I wanted to break the damaging addiction to added sugar. (I used to bake a lot!)
Make sure your ‘why’ is something that will carry you for the long-term – and not only until you hit a particular weight.
Short term goals are important to help keep you motivated. But, it is important to keep looking at the bigger picture, the long-term goals, so you know that you’re adopting a lifestyle rather than ‘just another diet’.
Step 2. Research and Learn more about Clean Eating!
Now that your resolve to Eat Clean is firm and grounded, it’s time to make sure that you understand what it’s all about and what it requires of you.
Is it the same as the Paleo diet?
Is it low-calorie?
Is it low-carb?
Can you eat grains?
These are just some of the questions thrown around by those who are planning to or are already starting to Eat Clean.
Basically, clean eating is about consuming more whole REAL food. It’s about making only food that is unrefined, minimally processed, and as close to its natural state as possible, the majority of your daily meals.
You consume more fresh produce (plenty of fruits and veggies!), lean meat from grass-fed animals, whole grains (good carbs!), and more natural herbs and seasonings rather than pre-packed sauces.
Think of it this way: Eat fresh strawberries rather than refined sugar-filled strawberry syrup. Eat sprouted bread rather than overly processed white bread. Make a quick fruit sorbet instead of that choco-marshmallow ice cream. Use fresh garlic, onions, basil, cilantro, and parsley to make a dish flavorful – instead of your usual, bbq sauce, bottled dressing, soy sauce, powdered gravy, and the like.
Step 3. Clear your kitchen out, and begin stocking only REAL foods.
My 7 Days of Fun Clean Recipes has a basic shopping list. Make Sure to download your FREE copy.
Clean Eating starts and continues in your very own kitchen.
First, clear out your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. Take out every food item and check the ingredients list. If it’s packaged and processed – make sure to check those labels. Does it contain more than five ingredients? Is there anything in it that you cannot pronounce? Does it have chemical preservatives? If you answered yes to all these, throw it out, give it away….or simply stop purchasing these products starting NOW.
Some people like to go full steam, and complete this in one big swoop on a weekend…others prefer to make the change gradually, maybe over several months time, going easier on their food budget. Either way, YOU are making progress to a healthier lifestyle!
Don’t be surprised if you end up with a near-empty fridge or a very bare pantry. The reality is that with the overwhelming abundance of processed foods out there, whole foods has become a ‘rarity’ in many homes.
Next, stock up on the Clean Eats you will now be enjoying. High on the list should be lean proteins, vegetables, good carbs, healthy fats/oils, and fresh fruit. Skip the white breads, pasta, processed foods, sugary candies, and other similar food items.
Step 4. Follow a meal plan.
One of the best ways to start and make Clean Eating work for you is by planning out your meals. This enables you to make sure that you stay on track during those busy weeks. Be on the lookout for SIMPLE Clean Eating recipes and take note of the options you want to enjoy in the coming week. Plan for your breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, and dinner.
It may be quite challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it – meal planning will come naturally to you. It will help trim down your shopping list.
By purchasing ingredients that you are actually planning to use, you will see less waste and lowered expenses.
Here’s a great ‘formula’ when planning a major/main meal: lean protein + good carbs (quinoa, brown rice/whole wheat, sweet potato) + veggies. Once you get this formula down, you can also venture into doing meal preps – putting together clean food in advance, and storing them properly for consumption in the next few days.
Please don’t feel overwhelmed, and take things one step at a time. If you’re really busy, start with meal preps just for breakfast, and take it from there. You’ll find yourself being able to do more meals as you get the hang of it.
You can also use the Cleanfoodcrush FREE 7-Day Plan to give you a good head-start on easy, delicious recipes to use.
Step 5. Start scheduling your meals.
Clean Food like lean proteins and vegetables will give you ‘natural fuel’ to keep you going, and will make your metabolic process more efficient. They keep you nourished and energized throughout the day, so you don’t end up hungry and craving anything you can get your hands on.
You can easily manage this process by penciling in five small meals to your daily schedule. Forget about skipping breakfast, or waiting until you’re famished before you have your next meal – Clean Eating is about eating regularly spaced meals.
If you can work in those small meals into a specific time every day that works best for you, and you follow those religiously – you’ll feel much better throughout the day. It will then be easier for you to make Clean Eating and portion control a natural part of your daily routine.
Another must-follow tip to get started on the Clean Eating path – stay hydrated with water. If you would like to add some variety to your beverages, try water infusions – add lemon/lime, fresh cucumber slices, mint leaves, ginger, strawberries, and other fruits.
These steps should get you on the path to Clean Eating in no time! Remember that it’s also about consistent adjustments, and making a conscious effort to choose minimally processed food over those loaded with chemicals and additives. There is no “right” time to start either. I first began in the middle of September, and had lost almost 30 lbs. by Christmas! You can read about it here.
How about you?
How did you start with YOUR Clean Eating journey?
Do you still require guidance, or motivation to begin?
Join our Next 30 Day Clean Eating Challenge.
Share in the comments section below.