Eating healthy feels complicated, and labels are confusing… you barely have time to eat, let alone spend extra time with complicated recipes, right?
The truth is, it doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s just about getting back to the basics.
In this blog, I will simplify clean eating and give you five surprisingly simple hacks to get started clean eating without thinking too hard about what you are eating.
Living in a Toxic World
One of the things that surprises so many brides who are exploring clean eating and what it means to “eat clean” is the number of toxins that are not only in our food but in our environment.
- Pesticides are used on our produce that cause inflammation and a ton of other illnesses.
- Cancer-causing chemicals in our cleaning supplies (and it’s crazy that we are exposed to them every time we use them!).
- Even chemicals are leached out of and absorbed into our bodies through the plastic containers we store our food in.
These toxins build up in our bodies and clog up the function of the brain, our organs, and even our skin. This isn’t to scare you, although I found it pretty scary as I learned more about it! It is meant to show us that there is more than likely an answer to “mysterious” chronic fatigue or digestive issues we might be experiencing.
Knowledge is power, and understanding the world around us and what we encounter allows us to make better choices for ourselves. While we can’t completely eliminate toxins from our lives, we can control and manage a good amount of what we are exposed to.
That is where clean eating comes in.
What is clean eating?
If you are used to buying most of your food in packages like boxes and bags, the idea of “eating clean” can sound complicated or too hard to stick to.
Not to mention, as women we are influenced to try various fad diets that often restrict and control everything we eat.
Is clean eating the same, a fad diet?
No, not at all.
To put it simply, clean eating is filling your diet with whole and natural foods. If anything, it is a lifestyle that promotes vitality and nourishes and sustains our wellbeing. Clean recipes can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make them, but everything comes down to this:
- Fruits and veggies
- Whole grains
- Clean meats and proteins
- Simple ingredients that don’t have long labels or difficult names you can’t pronounce
The biggest challenge comes in the shift from eating foods that are partially (or fully) prepared, to recipes with natural ingredients. So, I’m going to share five hacks to make clean eating easier to stick to!
My Top 5 Hacks for Clean Eating
When I first started cleaning up my diet, I was just as overwhelmed as you might be right now, and there were several times I stared with a blank face at the produce section of the grocery store wondering what to get.
These little tips and hacks are the biggest game-changers that made eating clean easier to adjust to and maintain over the years.
Remember, it’s not so much eliminating food or restricting yourself — it is switching to more nutritious and natural ways of eating.
Avoid Processed Foods As Much as Possible
This might seem like an obvious starting point, but when pretty much everything you eat is processed in some way — this can feel like there are no options that are “good” to eat! Ditching processed foods does not have to be that dramatic, and I promise you it can be enjoyable (and you will feel so much better!).
Think of it as ADDING whole, clean foods, instead of thinking about REMOVING packaged, processed foods. When you think of all the food you will add to your diet, it makes the whole shift to clean eating a lot easier mentally!
Here are a couple of tips to make it easy:
- Shop around the aisles. Fresh foods and less processed foods are generally refrigerated or kept in more open space so stick to the produce, and edges of the store as much as possible.
- If you can’t say it, skip it. Avoid buying food with long labels and ingredient lists with complicated things in them.
- Learn how to read labels. To make sure you know what you are buying, and what is in it, learning a little bit about food labels, and what they mean will clear a lot of confusion.
Clean & Dirty Dozen Lists
The EWG (Environmental Working Group) does a study every year on the fruits and vegetables that tend to have the most and the least exposure to pesticides that leave residue (and end up in our stomachs). This is probably one of my favorite hacks because it is literally a list you can keep with you when trying to decide what to spend a little more for organic might be.
Here is the 2022 list from the EWG:
- Kale, collard & mustard greens
- Bell & hot peppers
- Sweet corn
- Sweet peas (frozen)
- Honeydew melon
- Sweet potatoes
Ditch the Plastic
One place that no one expects to find chemicals that cause health issues is in the packages that our food and water come in, and what we store and eat out of.
Plastics contain a chemical called BPA that can leach out of the plastic and into whatever is in them.
BPA can cause cancer, tumors, chronic inflammation, and even genetic issues.
Switching to ceramic, glass, or stainless-steel containers is more than just a healthy switch — your food will taste better and store better too.
Say No to Sugar
Sugar is an important part of our body’s functioning; it helps regulate a lot of functions in the body.
The problem is that most of the sugar we eat these days is overly processed and bleached.
Sugar is also addictive, meaning your body will crave it, and you will have symptoms when reducing it — so of course, it is added into everything from apple sauce to even cheeses.
That also means we get way too much sugar daily, on top of the fact that it is not good for us.
This is something I’m working on constantly since I have such a big sweet tooth!
My best hacks to cut down on sugar is to:
- Utilize the other hacks and avoid processed food
- Use alternative natural sweeteners like honey and agave nectar
- Use fruit and natural fruit juice to sweeten (like adding fruit to your protein smoothie!)
Gluten is a protein that is usually found in certain grains like wheat, barley, and rye. It is also found hidden in tons of different foods under different names.
It is one of the top allergens that go completely unnoticed by people when looking for answers to things like:
- Chronic fatigue
- Digestive issues
- Allergic reactions
- And even severe illness
Finding out if you have a sensitivity can be determined from a simple elimination diet where you remove gluten, and several other common allergens from your diet. Then slowly reintroduce them back in, tracking how your body reacts.
Bonus Hack: Clean Living at Home
I’m sure you didn’t miss my earlier comment about other things we’re exposed to that are toxic to our bodies.
Here are a few other things in your life that you might not know are exposing you to harmful chemicals:
- Cleaning products
- Shampoo / Conditioner
Personal care and hygiene items
We are lucky to live in a time where the clean movement is thriving and there are so many healthy revolutionaries offering clean products without chemicals.
The food in your kitchen can even be used to replace many of your cleaning products and will look and smell better. You can make your own homemade cleaner too!
We don’t have to live with toxins in our lives, and we don’t have to live chronically ill because there is no easy way to learn how to heal.
Our bodies will naturally support us when we nourish it, and clean eating does that.
If you are struggling with figuring out what to eat and how to stick to clean eating, I encourage you to schedule a call and get to know how I can help you reach your wedding fitness goals.
When you take control of your diet and what you allow into your home and body, you create an atmosphere for your body to heal and begin to function at its best again. And my biggest goal is for you to feel your best on your most special day!