Clean Eating is the simplest term that encompasses how we eat and how we structure our recipes. It’s a fairly ambiguous term since a lot of people have a lot of different definitions of ‘clean’ and how far down the rabbit hole they go.
If you don’t currently ascribe to clean eating, it’s pretty easy to get started. Pick ONE item on the list. Practice it for 30 days until it becomes a natural part of the way you eat. Then pick another one.
At the most basic level, eat real food. Not refined and processed with heat and chlorine. Not GMO. Not chemicals designed to be fat free, cholesterol free and full of preservatives. Think of it as vintage; food grown and butchered and as straight as possible from the farm to your table.
Getting started step: clean out your pantry and remove anything with artificial ingredients or preservatives (pretty much anything you can’t pronounce) including artificial sweeteners.
Healthy, natural meat
Grass fed, free range, raised without artificial hormones or antibiotics, sometimes organic (though not exclusively).
Not the low fat (processed) kind. Not the inhumane mass produced kind. It’s not always easy. And it’s not often cheap. But what you put into your body matters so much in regard to your health and your longevity that it’s worth it. And as more people demand naturally raised meats there will be more farms thriving, more local ranches and more sources to supply that demand so we can all eat healthier.
Getting started step: research local farms or ranches to order from directly. They usually have the best price per pound and you know exactly where you’re getting your meat from.
Low glycemic carbs
These aren’t refined carbohydrates that your body processes fast and then crashes. We’re talking complex carbs that provide nutrients along with the building blocks for energy. They keep your blood sugar low to prevent stress to both your pancreas and your heart. Some simple carbs are also low glycemic, like fruit.
This is the dreaded step where you go sugar free. We’ve got suggestions for how to decrease sugar cravings. And you can still eat dessert – our recipes don’t include artificial or refined sugars. The sweeteners we use are pretty much coconut sugar (full of minerals and nutrients) or raw honey.
Getting started step: Head back to your pantry and remove anything made with wheat flour or white flour. This includes most pasta (replace it with rice pasta – you won’t even know the difference) and bread. Also remove anything made with refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup.
Fats have had a bad rap for decades. Some of them are totally unhealthy such as trans-fat or other heated, processed fats. Other fats are actually good for you and delicious. Contrary to what you’ve been told, eating fat doesn’t make you fat. In fact, good fats can actually improve your metabolism, support thyroid function, balance your hormones and give you that feeling of fullness so you eat less. They also help improve your blood pressure and cholesterol. Plus, good fats add flavor to a lot of foods, making it easier to implement some of the other steps.
Healthy fats are found in fish (be careful of the mercury content), olive and coconut oils, avocados, eggs and nuts and seeds (like walnuts, almonds and chia seeds). Grass-fed beef also contains healthy fats (and fewer saturated fats) which is one of the reasons it’s good for you.
Getting started step: try trail mix (without M&Ms) for a snack. Mix chia seeds into your breakfast, they go great with oatmeal and smoothies. Add some avocados to your salad. And start cooking with olive oil and coconut oil instead of processed oils.
Not everyone’s version of clean eating is dairy free. In fact, we have nothing against good, organic, natural (even raw) dairy. Our recipes, however, use unsweetened coconut milk and almond milk instead of dairy for all the healthy fats they provide. If you’re not dairy free, it’s easy to use real milk (the less processed the better), organic butter or add some cheese to our recipes.
Getting started step: try cooking a meal with unsweetened coconut milk instead of cow’s milk. Try a coconut milk protein drink for breakfast.
I know, it’s a social lubricant and also very much a part of our culture. It’s also a toxin. People like it because they like the taste of it; because it’s culturally expected; because a little buzz makes it easier to get up and dance (which you know you really want to). Try a non-alcoholic drink next time you’re out with friends like cranberry juice and tonic water with a lime and see if you still have fun on the dance floor.
Drink mostly water and plenty of it. Water is the best way to stay hydrated and help your body remove toxins. Don’t drink soda (hopefully eliminated when you got rid of sugar and chemicals). Don’t drink fruit juice (eating fruit affects your blood sugar less since you get the fiber). If you drink coffee, increase your healthy fats to absorb the caffeine (a spoonful of coconut oil in coffee is an awesome creamer). Or enjoy herbal tea if you want something with a little flavor.
What clean eating is not
This isn’t a diet. It isn’t an extreme, short term solution to a specific problem. It isn’t about calories at all. It also isn’t about deprivation.
Yes, there are things eliminated but none of them are good for you. Some of them taste good. Some of them are comfort foods to nourish your emotions. The key is to take those flavors you love and your favorite comfort foods and replace them with clean, healthy alternatives.