Thinking about trying this whole eating clean thing, but not entirely ready to jump in with both feet? Maybe you’ve realized that making a change from your current eating habits might not be a bad idea, but where do you start? Recognizing that what you’re doing now isn’t working is a great first step! The good news is eating clean isn’t a “diet.” It’s a lifestyle and a new way of eating and it isn’t going away. Follow these baby steps to clean eating and you’ll be well on your way to a healthier you in no time!
1. Drink more water. Drinking water is a vital part of eating clean, but start small if you’re not normally a water only type of person. If you tend to drink coffee or soda, start by replacing just one of those a day with water. Try these seven flavored water recipes or use these simple tips to drink more each day.
>> Recipe: Strawberry Kiwi Slimdown Water
2. Get rid of fake foods gradually. Don’t try to clean out your entire pantry all at once. Start by getting rid of just a few items at a time and replacing them with healthier alternatives, such as replacing refined breads and pastas made from white flour with ones made from whole grains.
3. Trick your taste buds. If you’ve been eating foods with lots of salt, sugar and other additives for years, it can be hard to adjust to the more subtle flavors of whole foods. Mixing some of the old with the new can work well in some instances. For example, to get used to eating brown rice instead of white, start by mixing the two together. You can gradually decrease the amount of white rice until you adapt to eating only brown rice.
4. Eat more fruits & veggies. If you know you don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables, start adding them in gradually to your daily diet. Eat a piece of fruit with breakfast and lunch and add a portion of vegetables to your dinner or sneak them into your smoothies. If you’re looking to lose weight, keep these foods at a minimum, though, as they are high in sugar!
5. Focus on a few favorite foods. If you love your meat and protein, start simple by purchasing meat that comes from grass-fed cattle or eggs from pasture-raised chickens. If you’re a produce lover, start buying organic fruits and veggies. These favorites will be your jumpstart to eating clean in other areas of your diet.
6. Shop the perimeter. Most whole, natural foods are found on the outside aisles of the grocery store. Try to avoid buying too many items from the center of the store; that’s where you’ll encounter more processed and packaged foods. Better yet, shop your local farmer’s market for more natural, whole food choices!
7. Read labels. This is a simple way to determine how “clean” a food truly is. A natural food (such as an apple) has no label, while a bag of chips has a label with a ton of ingredients that you probably can’t pronounce. If you’re not ready to completely give up processed foods, start by studying the labels and choosing foods that contain the fewest and simplest ingredients. Try to avoid hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors or colors, preservatives, high amounts of fat or sodium and added sugar.
8. Cook at home. This is an easy way to start eating more whole foods and save money in the process. Restaurants and fast food places rely on highly processed foods to create their meals. When you cook your own food, you have control over the ingredients going in your dish. People who cook tend to eat more healthfully and weigh less than those who don’t. This doesn’t mean you have to become a master chef overnight. Start by learning a few meals with simple ingredients. Get started by looking around our recipe index!