If I could count how many times I’ve been asked that question over the past few weeks… well, it would be a big number. And I can’t honestly say I have a definite answer. But to copy from this article, I would say
Put simply, clean eating is avoiding all processed food, relying on fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains rather than prepackaged or fast food.
Sounds simple enough, right? Well…if you are like me, you eat more processed foods than you think. Do you like that yummy flavored creamer in your coffee? Processed. And don’t kid yourself with the fat-free or sugar-free kinds. Those have all kinds of fake stuff in them. Those “healthy” granola bars you munch on between meals? Processed. Your Coke or other variety of diet soda? I don’t even need to say it. And I won’t even get started on aspartame today. That’s an entire post in itself.
Now I’m not going to tell you you can’t eat this or you should only eat that. Realistically, eating clean might be eating just a little bit better than you currently do. It might be not buying items from certain aisles in the grocery store. It might be making the choice to not pick up fast food, but spend a quick 10 minutes throwing something together at home instead. You make the choice to eat as clean as possible.
Here are some tips for getting started:
1. Stay out of the middle of the grocery store as much as possible. Shop the perimeter. That means fresh fruits, veggies, and meats. Some might say dairy should be avoided, but we still buy milk, cheese, and yogurt. Just read the labels.
2. Like I just said – READ THE LABELS. If you see some crazy ingredient that you can’t even pronounce, it’s probably not good for you. And the longer the ingredient list, the worse it probably is.
3. If/when you do buy things like rice, pasta, or bread, try to stick with the ones what are whole wheat or whole grain options. Again – check that label. There are MANY products that are marketed as healthy when in fact they aren’t. I saw a “healthy” cereal the other day that had about 20 grams of sugar in one serving. What the what?!! That doesn’t sound like a good idea at all.
4. Don’t eat fast food. Don’t. Not even Chick-Fil-A. (Ok, ok, every once in a while is fine. Everything in moderation, right? But if possible, avoid it.)
5. Avoid foods that have High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) and food dyes. Those are just bad news. If you are interested, check out what Food Babe and 100 Days of Real Food are doing with their campaign to get food dyes out of the ever popular Kraft Macaroni and cheese. It’s pretty eye-opening.
And while I’m at it, 100 Days of Real Food goes into even more detail about clean eating here. Her entire blog is amazing.
What if I want to REALLY clean up my eating?
If you’re already a clean eater, then maybe you’re ready to strip it down even further. Tosca Reno has a book called The Eat Clean Diet Stripped to help you get off those pesky last 10 pounds and really tighten up! On the Stripped plan, you eat the following types of foods:
Allowable vegetables include: Sweet and regular potatoes, radishes, carrots, parsnips (these are delicious when roasted!), cucumber, broccoli, asparagus, beets, leeks, leafy greens, brussels sprouts, green beans, onions, sprouts, celery, zucchini, fennel and garlic.
Allowable fruits include: Bananas, apples, plums, berries pears, watermelon, cherries, oranges, tomatoes, limes and lemons.
Allowable protein sources include: Egg whites, lean turkey, chicken and pork, beans and legumes (in moderation), lean fish, shrimp, clams, mussels, bison and other game meats, hummus (also a healthy fat), quinoa, spirulina, sea vegetables, protein powder, tofu and tempeh.
Allowable healthy fats include: flaxseed, nuts such as almonds and walnuts (unsalted), pumpkin seeds, nut butters hummus (also a protein), avocados, oils (flaxseed, sesame, coconut, olive, hazelnut, walnut and fish).
This is not a starvation diet, it is a healthy way of life! You still get to eat an abundance of foods while really focusing on cutting down the dairy and carbs somewhat. You can see that there are also no artificial sweeteners or sugars found on this sample meal plan.
So what is clean eating to your family? What changes can you make to eat better foods? Don’t feel like you have to be perfect, but work towards eating as clean as possible. You’ll get there.
Have questions or need more help with your planning? Drop me a comment below or contact me! I’d be happy to help you out. 🙂