By Jennifer Smith, Natural Medicine Practitioner and Certified in Holistic Nutrition
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By learning these 3 clean eating basics, you can learn how to get started quickly and un-complicate the way you eat once and for all. Before looking at meal ideas and other tips for a clean eating lifestyle, you should hone in on what exactly this type of diet is going to do for you. The following information goes over clean eating, what is allowed and not allowed, and basically how it works.
A good place to start with clean eating basics is to learn about the simple guidelines involved with this lifestyle. In general, you are focusing more on healthy, whole, and fresh foods. Instead of counting calories or cutting your carbs, you are simply trying to cook more, using fresh ingredients, and avoiding highly processed foods.
This means learning how to season foods with simple spices and homemade sauces, no longer using canned fruits and veggies, and focusing on eggs or dairy that is from free-range or grass-fed animals. With a clean eating lifestyle, you should try cooking most meals on your own and reducing trans fats, processed sugar and artificial ingredients.
This is a great time to think about reducing your caffeine and alcohol intake. But don't worry, you do not need to be perfect or go to extremes to make this lifestyle work! Implementing some simple ideas and slowly integrating into this lifestyle is the key to making it work for the long-term.
With clean eating, produce is going to be a big part of your diet. You can also have some carbohydrates and plenty of protein, but fruits and veggies are a good portion of your meals, particularly with lunch and dinner. You want to have fresh produce as much as possible. This means even trying to reduce how often you turn to pre-seasoned frozen veggies, and get them in the produce section and slice them up yourself.
To save money and have a larger selection, try finding local farmer’s markets, food co-ops, farms or CSA's. Local Harvest is a great directory for finding these local food gems!
Processed foods is a major no-no on the clean eating diet. You want to use as many natural and fresh ingredients as you can. If it comes in a package, consider whether there is a more natural version of that ingredient. Shredded cheese comes in a block of cheese you grate yourself, for example. Plus, you should only have dairy when it is from a grass-fed cow. Chopped onions come in full onions you can buy and chop yourself. These are good examples to start with.
As you can see, cooking is a major component to eating clean. It would be very difficult to do if you were not cooking on a regular basis. You don’t need to be a natural chef, but you should be able to follow a simple recipe. If you don’t have a lot of time to prep and cook, invest in some appliances that help the process go faster, such as a food processor for chopping, and an InstantPot pressure cooker to cook your meals during the day while you are at work or school.
You can also save time and energy through the week by batch cooking. Doubling or tripling recipes can help by cutting down on days you are cooking to only 3-4 days a week. Meal planning services like Plate Joy or Plan To Eat can help reduce the time you take to plan weekly meals and plan grocery shopping. Both of these meal planning programs integrate with Instacart, to reduce your time and energy spent grocery shopping.
Learning these clean eating basics can help you reduce the effort needed to make clean eating part of your everyday life. Making the switch doesn't have to be difficult or time consuming.
Jennifer Smith, BA, NMP, CHN, FBCC
Jennifer Smith is a Natural Medicine Practitioner, Holistic Nutrition Practitioner, and Faith-Based Clinical Counselor. She has a Bachelor's degree in Christian Counseling. She has completed advanced training in Functional Nutrition, Functional Medicine, Natural Health Consultant diploma, Biblical natural medicine, and Biblical Eating and Clinical Nutrition. Jennifer has a virtual Natural Medicine practice in Naples, FL called Fx Remedies Virtual Care.
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