How do you eat lean and clean? How can I eat clean for cheap? Many of you have a lot of questions about getting started eating clean. Not sure how to make the switch to clean eating? No worries! This is the ultimate guide to clean eating for beginners.
When you’re trying to lose weight or improve your health in other ways, one of the most important things you can do is improve your nutrition.
It’s a no-brainer for must of us, but most of us still struggle to eat nutritious foods regularly. Meaning, most of us know what we should eat better, but we just don’t always do it.
It’s just a human thing and it’s totally “normal” for so many of us. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to change your food habits and make permanent healthy changes.
Most people will tell you that nutrition is their biggest struggle when it comes to health. Even most fitness gurus and professionals will admit that working out feels like the easy part compared to eating clean.
So if you’re new to the world of fitness, nutrition, or weight loss, know that you’re not alone.
Guidelines For Clean Eating
As you know, today we’re going to talk about all things clean eating for beginners. We’re going to answer questions like, “What is Clean Eating?” For this post, I’ll pretend you’re a complete beginner – clean eating for dummies, if you will. 🙂
Plus we’ll talk about how to get started, why it’s important, and I’ll include tips on how to get started on your own clean eating journey.
But let’s be honest – even if you aren’t a beginner, many of us can stand a little extra motivation to jump back on the clean-eating wagon. It’s tough but we can do it!
So if you’re new to clean eating, I hope this helps you tremendously. And if you’re not – I hope it serves as a helpful reminder to get back to it! 🙂
What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating is a VERY loose term that refers to eating a healthy diet. There is no clear definition, and that’s okay. The idea, however, is to limit processed foods, refined sugars, and other foods known to negatively impact the human body.
Eating clean, in my opinion, is a spectrum. On the far end is an organic, grass-fed, antibiotic-free, whole-grain, veggie-packed diet without processed foods.
On the other, more feasible end, is a diet filled with vegetables, lean proteins, and a limited amount of processed foods.
Of course, it takes time to get to the “super clean eating” end of the spectrum. It takes time (and sometimes money) to create new habits.
Wherever you land on the spectrum of clean eating, it’s okay! The idea is simply to make healthier changes, right?
Simple Ways To Start Clean Eating Today
My biggest tips will be featured below, but this wouldn’t be the beginners guide to clean eating without some quick-start, go-to tips to start eating clean. So first, let’s talk about they way we shop.
I am guilty of shopping while hungry and impulse buys. Most people are. So, if you really want to start eating clean, here’s my go-to tip: DO YOUR GROCERY SHOPPING ONLINE.
Yep, it’s time to take the leap if you haven’t already. Grocery shopping online isn’t just for lazy people – it’s for people who are busy and have goals!
How many times I have saved myself from bad food choices because of online shopping? (So many times!)
I do much better sticking to my list of clean eating basics because I can shop when I’m not looking directly at the food. I’m not hungry, and am not annoyed by the lady in my way because she’s on her phone in the middle of the aisle. 😉
So make your list, keep it clean, and stick to it. I find that it’s always worth any pickup fee because I’m not adding a bunch of unplanned junk to my cart. It makes it so much easier to stick to clean eating basics.
Clean Eating for Beginners
I’m excited to share these tips for clean eating success. If you have more simple ways to start clean eating today, please drop a comment below!
1. Go slow/start simple.
If there’s anything I’ve learned about fitness and weight loss, it’s that jumping in too far, too quickly almost always backfires. Creating new habits takes time – otherwise we put undue pressure on ourselves and are set up for failure.
My biggest tip is to start with one major area of your diet and work on changing it a little at a time. For example, if you drink a lot of soda or juice, slowly cut down (over a few weeks) until it’s eliminated entirely from your diet.
Need help drinking more water? Check out these ways to drink more water every day.
2. Start adding in organics.
How can I eat clean for cheap? Let me be the first to say, that yes, organics are often expensive. Luckily, the demand for organics is going up, and store brands are saving the day.
You can find great organics at a smaller price when you go for the “generic organics.” (Like Kroger’s Simple Truth brand.) I find that these brands are often the same or better than the product they replace.
Instead of going “all out” and buying everything organic, start with the important things – like the things you eat daily, or things that are known to have an abundance of additives and/or pesticides, like produce.
I highly suggest checking out the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen to find out which produce items to buy organic to get the best chance of eating clean and protecting yourself.
3. Focus on fresh.
Items that are in boxes or bags, or are considered “shelf-stable” are often the worst. If you don’t want to counteract your clean eating efforts, you’ll want to try to focus on fresh food. That means, typically, that your food is a single ingredient/is the ingredient.
What I mean is that you should try to buy “chicken” that is uncooked, rather than “chicken casserole” with a bunch of preservatives from the frozen aisle. If it’s pre-cooked, it probably has a lot of unnecessary ingredients.
Here’s a tip for eating fresh: Fresh foods are almost always shelved on the perimeter of the store. Packaged foods are usually in the middle!
4. Make your own snacks.
Yep, it can be tough to make all of your own food. But if you find yourself eating something specific often, it might be worth learning how to make it yourself.
An example – if you find yourself picking up a muffin each day at the coffee drive through, you’re probably taking in a lot of fat, sugar, preservatives, dyes, and bleached flour.
You can batch-prep your own, healthier muffins to take on-the-go. You can even freeze them! There are a million “healthy” but still yummy muffin recipes out there, but here’s one I love.
5. Meal prep when you can.
Meal prepping can sound overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to make a whole week’s worth of food, either.
I like to meal prep just a few meals at a time (3-5) and it helps me tremendously throughout the week. Plus, I can make all of the meals as a batch in under an hour. Try my super easy ground turkey meal prep, and you’ll see what I mean!
PS. The $5 Meal Plan is designed to help you eat cheap and healthy with less planning. Try it out!
6. Wash + prep all fruit & veggies as soon as you get them home.
I saw someone else do this, and it was like a lightbulb in my brain. As soon as you get home, dump all of your produce into a colander.
Wash ALL of the fruit and veggies, then cut anything you’ll want to snack on throughout the week immediately. This makes everything easy later, and you’ll have one less excuse not to get those veggies in.
7. Don’t get overly hungry.
I know it sounds counterintuitive, but it’s actually a lifesaver for people who tend to overeat. If you find that you are getting too hungry, and this results in a binge, listen up! You need to eat more throughout the day.
It’s as simple as keeping a protein bar in your bag or in the car at all times. You can also keep an apple, some jerky, or nuts in your purse/bag each day to keep you from making poor food choices later.
Do you have more tips on clean eating for beginners? What are your personal guidelines for clean eating? I’d love to know, so be sure to leave a comment below!