Recently, a friend and Twitter follower mentioned that she’s beginning to “eat clean.” And that she was really nervous because it’s such a big departure from her previous eating habits. Perfect inspiration for some blogging … ;->

So what does “eating clean” mean? And why do I keep putting it in quotes? Clean eating is about eliminating the majority of chemical-laden, heavily processed foods from our diets. It’s about focusing on whole foods and knowing what’s in the foods we eat. It’s the idea that if your grandmother or great-grandmother wouldn’t have been able to identify a food, it’s not a clean choice.

Clean eating also means cooking at home more than eating out, which can be a real challenge for folks who haven’t done a lot of cooking lately. I know because in my adult life I haven’t been the primary cook in my home – and it takes practice to cook yummy stuff!

1. Practice cooking at home. Almost anything you make mostly from scratch is a whole lot cleaner than restaurant or fast-food meals! I’d recommend starting with a good old-fashioned soup – especially since we’re heading from fall into winter and soups just feel so good right now.

  • Here’s a Slow Cooker Chicken Barley Stew that sounds quick and yummy.
  • This Easy Breezy Soup recipe offers you a lot of options. It’s a great way to be sure not to waste any of your vegetables too. I’d add some canned (and rinsed) beans to it as well.

2. Add lots and lots more vegetables to your meals. You can steam, saute, roast a whole bundle of veggies on Sundays and then use them during the week for lunches and dinners.

3. Get comfortable with whole grains. An easy place to start is quinoa (say “keen-wah”). It’s versatile, quick and delicious. You definitely want to toast it before boiling to get that nuttier flavor – don’t worry all the directions will be on the package!

  • Follow KeenOnQuinoa on Twitter and read her blog for ideas
  • I often take my latest veggies (see number 2!) and add some quinoa to them before re-heating.
  • Quinoa is also great to make a green salad more hearty. Just put some cooked and cooled quinoa on top of whatever salad greens and veggies you’re planning!

4. Every clean eater needs a reward sometimes. My choice is dark chocolate treats because they are generally low in sugar and high in anti-oxidants. It’s important to long-term change to ensure you never feel deprived! Try Gnosis Chocolate if you want to really taste some amazing stuff!

5. Water – water – water. Hydration is so important for our bodies. And most people are way more dehydrated that we imagine. In fact, thirst is one of the last signals of dehydration … not one of the first. So if you are thirsty, you already have a lot of hydration catching up to do.

Buy a filtering pitcher and use water from your tap. Get some reusable non-plastic bottles and keep them full. Never leave home without them. Sometimes drinking from a bottle (whatever size and shape work for you) is easier than pouring glasses. It’s really a personal preference, so experiment and see what makes it easy for you to hydrate.

At first, drinking a lot of water means you spend a little (or a lot) of extra time in the bathroom. Persist and your body will begin to manage the process more efficiently. Just focus on the benefits your body is receiving!

In conclusion:
Every change is made up of a series of small steps. You’ll succeed every day that you move forward even a little. As Yoda says, “Do or do not. There is no try.