If you read enough food blogs you may know what clean eating is, but you may not know how to start. For a long time I have wanted to do an introduction to clean eating, starting with which items to stock in your pantry. When I first got into eating clean, it seemed like an enormous mountain to climb, starting with throwing everything out. My jaw dropped at the thought of cleaning out my entire pantry! However instead of trying to replace it all at once, I recommend breaking it down into smaller steps, over several weeks. Let’s get started!
What is clean eating?
Clean eating is a lifestyle change that focuses on eating wholesome natural foods that aren’t laced with chemicals and artificial preservatives. The main goals of any lifestyle change are to get in shape, lose weight, and feel great about your body. While the main focus of clean eating is weight loss, it also helps you fuel your metabolism the right way. Processed food can clog up your body, keeping you from getting the proper nutrition. Clean eating helps you get the most from every bite. Paired with a moderate exercise plan, clean eating can help you lose weight and feel great.
So you want to eat clean, now what?
The first step is always the hardest. I began by reading Tosca Reno’s book and thumbing through recipes for eating clean. I still felt overwhelmed. I used to look in my pantry and think, “how do I replace all of these items with ‘clean’ ingredients?” I’m not going to lie to you and say I threw everything out and started fresh. I wasn’t going to waste all of that food and money, then spend another $500 restocking. Unless you have a thousand dollar weekly grocery budget, that’s just not an option. Even if you can afford it, trying to quit all your dirty eating habits cold turkey like that will be very difficult.
I am not telling you to throw out everything that isn’t clean. Instead, take a long hard look at your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer. Become familiar with what you do have. You may be surprised that much of what you already have is in fact, clean. If you are feeling particularly motivated, I recommend writing it down. Not only will you know what ingredients you already stock that are clean, but what ingredients you should work on either tossing out or incorporating into dishes to “clean them out” of your kitchen.
Daily Eating Habits
Alright, now that you have an idea what you already stock in your kitchen it’s time to take a look at your daily eating habits. For at least two days, write down everything you eat. Believe me, I understand that remembering just a single day can seem daunting, but really make an effort. It’s important to know what your eating habits are and how you can slowly mold them into healthier, clean habits.
Okay you should have two lists: what you have in your kitchen, and how you eat on a daily basis. Your next big step to clean eating is changing how often you eat. You should be eating 5-6 times a day. Each meal should include a complex carbohydrate and lean protein. Now I will go into further detail on both of these in my next post, including some clean eating recipes, but for now just focus on a carb and a protein for every single meal. Together these help sustain your insulin levels, which results in keeping you fuller, longer.
Some good examples are yogurt with granola, fruit and cheese or peanut butter, an egg salad sandwich, scrambled eggs with toast, a fruit/veggie smoothie, or chicken and rice. I’ll start going over exact clean eating meal plans in future posts. You aren’t going to be perfect for every meal and you’re probably going to get tired of thinking about what you eat so much. I promise, it gets easier.
Now go forth this week and evaluate your kitchen, journal what you eat, and focus on including carbohydrates and proteins in every meal!
**Goofy Can Cook is not a medical professional, please consult a doctor before making any major dietary or health changes.***