Since having my daughters, I noticed that my husband and I had a difficult time with eating at home. We were so busy and always running after the kids. The stuff that we did make at home had to be quick and easy. While we thankfully weren’t eating fast food all the time, we needed the food at home to be made “fast”. So we resorted to the easy-to-make box dinners. We did this for the first couple of months and after a while I felt like my body was not happy about it. I knew we were having a lot of processed stuff and I really wanted to make a change. I had heard a lot about clean eating and I wondered how we could start incorporating clean eating into our every day diet.
I did some research and found some information on one of my favorite websites/magazines- Cooking Light.
Cooking Light website asked “clean eating” expert, Diane Welland, to break down the main principles of incorporating clean eating. She states that clean eating is a concept that stresses eating healthy, whole, unprocessed foods.
The 7 principles they came up with for incorporating clean eating were as follows:
1. Choose whole, natural foods and seek to eliminate or minimize processed foods.
2. Choose unrefined over refined foods.
(things like whole grains: brown rice, millet, amaranth, and quinoa. Beans and legumes. Clean sugars:honey, maple syrup, and dehydrated sugar cane juice).
3. Include some protein, carbohydrate and fat at every meal.
(basically, make sure your meals are balanced).
4. Watch out for fat, salt, and sugar.
(Clean foods are usually naturally low in all of these ingredients.)
5. Eat five to six small meals throughout the day.
(This usually pans out into three main meals and two or three hefty snacks.)
6. Don’t drink your calories.
7. Get moving.
Really, the concept is pretty easy to understand, and most of the principles listed are “no-brainers”. I like the idea because it isn’t a difficult diet or anything like that. It is more of a lifestyle change. The thing for us though, is knowing that we are going to have to make the transition slowly. So I look at it more as incorporating clean eating into our life. While I know the most ideal situation is to eliminate processed foods, we at this point, are at least minimizing them. We still have some processed food, but we know we are having them far less.
If you are looking to ease into it as well, here is what has worked for us-
- Replace at least 4 family dinners with clean eating recipes
These usually are simple and comprised of: an organic lean protein (chicken, turkey, salmon), a healthy side (potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans, brown rice), and a vegetable.
- Make the majority of snacks whole or natural foods
Fruits and veggies are a great option here; You can even juice them! Then to include the protein there is natural nuts or nut butter; greek yogurt.
- Always choose water as your first drink choice
You can always have your juice or tea afterwards, but normally the water will quench your thirst!
- Lastly, be conscious at the grocery store
Most processed items are in the center of the store (the boxed/canned items). If you stay in the perimeter you will end up with most of the less processed items in the dairy, meats, and produce section. Just having this in your mind while at the store will make a huge difference!
Realistically, we can only incorporate clean eating into our life right now. We can’t be exclusive because we enjoy going out and trying restaurants. We like trying recipes, and sometimes those might include pre-made things. And while we can do our best to eat whole foods, we may have some other items mixed in there. The thing I think we take away from this, however, is that we are choosing to be healthier by incorporating the clean eating and making that the majority of the time.
Do you have some clean eating recipes to share? Please let me know!