As mentioned previously, clean eating is not really a diet – it’s a way of eating. In fact, it’s really a way of life.
When you first get started eating clean, you have two options. You can go cold turkey and give up all the junk food, sugar, processed food etc. all at once. For some that is the best approach. The other option is to go for a more gradual change. There are advantages and disadvantages to each approach. Pick the one you think will work best for you and give it a try. For me the best approach was to gradually make changes.
If you try one approach, like going cold turkey, and it doesn’t work try the gradual approach. Please don’t beat yourself up if you make gradual changes or slip up here and there, particularly in the beginning. The important thing is that you are doing something to eat things that are better for your health and your body.
After deciding which approach you’re going to take the next thing you have to decide is what exactly clean eating means for you and your family. Some of the basics include no processed food, organic produce, chicken and grass-feed beef whenever possible. Buy the best quality eggs you can. Decide what you want to completely cut from your diet. White flour, sugar and artificial sweeteners are no-brainers. But it’s up to you if you want to include whole wheat flour or cut out wheat completely. What about other grains? What are you and what aren’t you ok with? What about dairy? If you want to cut dairy from your eating plan there are some pretty good alternatives such as soy milk, or almond or coconut milk.
Next, you can do one of two things.
Do a pantry and refrigerator/freezer purge. You can go through the whole house and toss everything that is no longer on your approved food list. For some of us going cold turkey works best. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself feeling crappy and fighting a headache for a few days though. It’s your body adjusting to the cleaner food and detoxing from all the unhealthy food you’ve been eating up until this point, especially the caffeine and sugar.
If throwing away all this food is more than you can bear, consider donating what you can to a food pantry. Or eat what you have but not let any more processed and junk food enter the house. Next, cut out all white flour and sugar or artificial sweeteners. Gradually make more and more changes to your diet until you reach a level of clean eating you’re comfortable with.
Don’t forget about drinks. When you’re thirsty, stick to water. Sodas and energy drinks are a big no-no. Everything in-between is up to you. Does coffee fit into your clean eating plan? If it does, make sure you give up the sugary creamer and stick to plain, organic coffee. Herbal teas are a great alternative as is lemon water. Try experimenting with fruit-infused waters, also.
No matter how you get there, you will be amazed at how much better you’ll feel once you switch to eating real food that’s good for your body. Don’t be surprised to find that you have more energy and a mental clarity you didn’t realize you were missing or that the bloat is gone.