You’ve heard your friends mention clean eating, noticed the grocery ads in the newspaper, and have likely seen all the posts promoting it on social media. You’ve undoubtedly seen a million or so pins on Pinterest sharing clean eating recipes. You probably have wondered if ‘clean eating’ is just a trend, fad, or fun new buzz word; or is it actually something to consider? Let’s talk about that.
What is clean eating, exactly?
That’s not the easiest thing to answer because everyone who eats clean will have a varying response. In the Pennington house, we ALL eat clean. But we’re also human. #shocking So this isn’t some set-in-stone, dictionary definition of clean eating. It’s what we do that works for us, but that doesn’t mean your family won’t need to tweak it! Some basic ‘rules’ for clean eating are:
- Make sure it’s “real”
Real food is clean food! If it comes from a farm or grows from the ground, it’s typically clean!
- Cow’s milk is for baby cows
This came straight from my son’s immunologist. While it is not true for everyone, dairy seems to be a top intolerance in Americans. For me, I haven’t tolerated cow’s milk in about 25 years. If we do buy cow’s milk around here, it’s from A2 cows and organic. I’ll just stick to my almond milk. Maybe this means I’m a nut.
- Buy organic
When you buy organic foods, you’re opting to stop eating pesticides, herbicides, insecticides, hormones, antibiotics, and all those other disgusting things that you don’t need in your diet. Make sure you apply this to Tip #1!
- Say ‘buh-bye’ to the box
Prepackaged, boxed, and canned food items are generally not clean. They often contain preservatives and fillers. Buying fresh produce and meat from the butcher are always a better clean eating option!
- Can you say that?
If you can’t read the ingredients; you shouldn’t eat the product. Period. Also note that the fewer ingredients in any product, the better!
- Delete the sugar
Processed sugars show up in our foods in so many sneaky forms; most of which are super unhealthy! Avoid sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup–all of these are names for sugar that is not a healthy option (plus many more). Opt for sweetening with honey when possible
- Don’t be fake
If it says artificial, you don’t need it! Artificial colors might make foods look pretty, but they’re absolutely unnecessary and unhealthy. Look for items colored with fruit or vegetable juices such as beet or carrot juice instead!
- Eat at home
While this requires some getting used to for many of us, it’s one of the best things we can do to promote clean eating! Restaurants and grocery store prepared foods are often high in sugars and preservatives. When you cook at home from scratch, you know exactly what’s going into your family’s bodies.
- You don’t need a diet
In my experience with transitioning to clean eating, this has been one of the most stressful concepts. There are so many diets out there: keto, paleo, gluten free, carb free, the list goes on. You don’t have to marry a diet type. Just read labels and buy carefully!
- Cheat, but not often
You might see folks saying they’re enjoying a ‘cheat day’. I’m not judging. I cheat myself out of feeling good often by sneaking junk. I can’t think of a single meal that was actually worth it though. If you have to cheat, that’s ok, but make it one meal–not an entire day. Your belly will thank you. Besides, sooner or later, I promise the sweetness of organic fruit will seem like a cheat meal!
What’s the point of clean eating?
What’s the point of ‘dirty’ eating? Seriously. In general, food today is chocked full of yucky ingredients that are not good for our bodies. In my opinion, it’s no small coincidence that health issues are on the rise in America. We are pumping ourselves and our children full of artificial ingredients that provide little to no nutritional value. By simply adjusting our diets, our family has noticed the following changes:
- increased focus in both kids
- improved mood
- more energy
- less bloating, gas, and other digestive distress
- fewer cravings
Clean eating will make a positive impact in the overall health and well-being of your entire family! Shopping for a clean eating lifestyle can be very overwhelming. Just take it one step at a time and start with items you know your crew already loves! Baby steps will lead to giant improvements!
This post is the first in a series on clean eating. Be sure to follow me for my suggested shopping list, recipes, and more!
Are you a big fan of clean eating? Share your experiences in the comments!
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