I recently had a friend suggest that I use this blog to show how easy it can actually be to do this ‘clean eating thing’. This assumes a couple of things about the way that I do my grocery shopping, so I am going to start there and work my way up to the kind of meal planning that I do. The first step for ‘eating clean’ for me consists of not buying crap. That sounds fairly simple, but avoiding crappy food at the supermarket is more difficult than it may seem.
If you take a look at the back of most standard ‘low-fat’ foods, you are likely to find some ingredients that would surprise you or just ingredients that you can’t pronounce. One of the main principles behind clean eating that is a little bit difficult to wrap your head around at first is that you will being eating some foods that are higher in fat- like bacon- and you will not be eating some low fat items, like baked potato chips. It is not so much the caloric intake as the fact that some foods can be formed naturally and others come from a lab.
Here is a typical baked potato chip ingredient list:
Notice any issues that would keep this food off of the clean eating list? Here are some easy tips that have helped me decipher food labels:
- If you can’t pronounce it (easily)- don’t eat it- most clean eating food will be easily pronounceable
- Sugar and Dairy are not your friends- eat in very limited amounts or not at all
- The fewer ingredients, the better. The above ingredient list has 16 ingredients, with a nice ambiguous ‘Natural Flavors’ thrown in as well, there is no telling what that actually is- unless you call the company. Generally, if it is possible to stick to 3 to 6 ingredients, you have a far better chance that it will be clean eating approved.
- If it says enriched- you are better off leaving it at the grocery store
- If in doubt- google it! Seriously, most information about clean eating is out there in droves, as long as you can figure out what method you are looking at, you’ll be fine.
One of the most important things to remember with all of this is that it is a process. There is a huge learning curb and it may take you awhile to learn not to buy crap. There will probably even be times when you do, but by far the easiest way to start out eating clean is to throw out all the crap- get some good, nutritionally solid foods (think veggies, fruits, meat, whole grains) and start from there. I promise- it gets easier after the first week and exponentially easier after the first month or so- you just have to get past the hump.
Want to check out how I felt after my first trek into the paleo world? Take a look here.
*Note: I am not a nutritionist, these are just my feelings and suggestions for learning how to follow a ‘clean eating’ plan. Please consult a physician before making any drastic changes to your food or exercise regiment.*