By Jennifer Smith, Natural Medicine Practitioner and Certified in Holistic Nutrition
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If you are brand new to the clean eating diet, the following clean eating tips will help. They help you properly plan for a clean eating lifestyle and figure out how to transition into the clean eating lifestyle full time.
Before you begin to transition to a clean eating diet, it can be really helpful to take stock of what you currently eat. This helps because you know what foods you currently eat that are allowed on the clean eating diet, but also in what areas you struggle with the most.
You might be better off with a more gradual transition, switching just one meal or snack a day at a time until eventually you eat all meals cleanly and reduce your cheese unless it comes from grass-fed cows. If you already eat a good amount of foods prescribed in the clean eating lifestyle, you can probably transition to it a bit faster.
Find a few options for breakfast, start with protein as the base of every meal. Studies have shown that eating more protein between 25-35% of daily calories can decrease cravings and decrease the total calories you eat in a day. Second on your plate should be half of your plate in non-starch veggies. Then be sure you have a small amount of fat with your meal such as nuts, seeds, or cook your veggies in coconut oil or ghee.
After improving your breakfast choices, and sticking with it for a few weeks, move onto improving your choices at other meals. It's small steps like these that lead to lasting habit change and improved overall lifestyle.
Once you know what you can and can’t eat on a clean eating diet, you should start compiling recipes. You can check out my profile on PlanToEat for recipe ideas and import my recipes into your own PlantToEat account. PlanToEat is a great meal planning and grocery list tool to help simplify clipping and saving recipes from blogs you follow online and importing them into your weekly mealplan. This online tool also automatically creates grocery lists based on the recipes and individual ingredients you add to your weekly plan. You can receive a free trial and 20% off your first yearly subscription here.
Check online sites like Pinterest for ideas, buy cookbooks to keep at home, or get digital copies for your tablet and smartphone. You can check recipe sites and pay close attention to their titles and tags, as that will let you know if it is approved by a clean eating diet or not. Also keep in mind that while there are some differences, keto and Paleo diets are pretty close, so check out blogs for those diets as well.
This is a good way to begin making the transition to a clean eating lifestyle, since it is only a small change but makes a drastic difference. With clean eating, you can have some complex carbs, but you want to try and reduce your refined carbs as much as possible. To do this, begin by replacing all white bread, white rice, and white flour with whole wheat versions. For bread, go with a sprouted or whole grain bread, choose brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice, and to reduce white flour, choose whole wheat pasta or brown rice pasta.
Clean eating is going to require getting a lot more ingredients and cooking at home, so your grocery budget might look a little different at first. Keep in mind that a lot of ingredients you get seem expensive, but last more than one meal. Overall, you actually send up saving money when you aren’t buying processed and convenience foods, and eating out a lot less.
Even when you aren’t necessarily buying processed packaged foods, you can still have some pre-made or pre-cut food items and produce when you are on a clean eating diet. However, while these can be convenient for you, they also add to the overall cost of your produce. A container of whole mushrooms tends to be less money than those that are already sliced. This can seem like a small cost, but it adds up, and mushrooms are super easy to slice yourself. You will have fresh produce that tastes better and makes you feel better about how much work went into the finished dish.
Be reasonable on yourself though, if the small cost of pre-cut and pre-shredded cheese is worth it to save you extra time in the evening; by all means do what works best for you! Maybe in the beginning choose to purchase the pre-cut items and eventually when you have mastered some recipes, move up your game to use all fresh items that you chop yourself.
Being on a clean eating diet doesn’t mean you need to worry about choosing those magical superfoods. Superfoods are simply foods that have a high nutritional content. Some of them are cheap and easy to find, like strawberries and kale, but the more specialty ones are expensive and not required for a well-balanced and healthy diet. Avoid the specialty superfoods like maca powder and flax seeds, as they really are not necessary when clean eating. You can choose to add these in in the future when you have the basic habits down. But don't over-complicate things in the early stages to the point where you get frustrated and quit within a few weeks. Keep it simple and keep on clean eating!
Buying in bulk is a good way to save money for any type of diet, including clean eating. Sometimes it is hard to do because it requires a little extra money in the beginning, but it definitely pays off. You just need to be able to calculate the bulk price compared to the price if you bought less quantities.
A good amount of prep and meal planning is required to ensure nothing is wasted, otherwise you didn’t save anything and might have actually splurged too much. Things to buy in bulk include meat, beans, rice, quinoa, and grains that are allowed on the clean eating diet. Some produce might also be purchased in bulk, particularly from farmer’s markets.
Lean protein is definitely allowed on a clean eating diet, but it can also be expensive. Most meat counters and butchers have specials on meat at certain times of the week. This is one of our clean eating tips which may pay off dividends in overall grocery cost. It is certainly worth a phone call to learn when your store offers these deals and plant to shop that day.
Another option is to change the type of meat you eat. You can choose a less expensive cut of steak like New York Strip steak or Sirloin Tip, instead of eating filet mignon, or throw in some extra plant-based protein. Spend a few extra minutes looking at the price per pound of the different cuts of meats and ask the butcher which type of meat would be good and cost effective in the dish your planning.
By following our clean eating tips above, you will find your transition to clean eating much smoother and more cost effective. Clean eating doesn't have to be expensive or time consuming, but you need to have a plan to get going. Follow these clean eating tips and you will be well on your way to successfully starting to eat clean, improve your energy, improve your weight and your overall health. Remember to start with small sustainable habits which lead to long term lifestyle changes. Short-term diets always fail in the end, conversely building small habits will help you to maintain a healthier lifestyle for the long-term.
Jennifer Smith, NMP, CHN, FBCC , BHC
Jennifer Smith is a Natural Medicine Practitioner, Certified in Holistic Nutrition, Faith-Based Clinical Counselor and Biblical Health Coach. She has completed advanced certificates in Functional Nutrition, Functional Medicine, Natural Health Consultant diploma, Biblical Natural Medicine and Biblical Eating and Clinical Nutrition.
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