Want to learn how to transition to clean eating? You’re in the right place! In this step-by-step guide, I will break down the eight essential strategies to clean up your eating and get on the road to being healthier and happier!
New here? I also have the following resources to help you on your health and fitness journey!
- Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Meal Prep
- Healthy Recipes
- Meal Planning
- FREE 5-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan
Changing your eating habits and lifestyle is definitely a BIG step! But, it doesn’t have to be complicated or restrictive. Clean eating is all about eating foods as close to their natural state as possible. This plan can be done over an 8-week period to help ease you into a healthy diet without feeling like you’re missing out on delicious foods. But, if it takes you longer to master each step, that’s okay. Everyone is different. Just do your best.
Goal #1 – Eliminate Junk Food
Get rid of all of the chips, cookies, candy, and other processed treats in your pantry. Make a rule to not buy those things in the future. Of course you may have some slip ups here and there. And you know what? That’s perfectly OKAY! This is a marathon, not a race. Just try the best you can to eliminate junk food from your diet as quickly as possible. Once you’ve mastered Goal #1, it’s time to move on to the next goal.
Goal #2 – Break Up With Soda
I know… This one is hard for most of us. But, you don’t have to do it cold turkey. If you’re used to drinking a lot of caffeinated drinks, you will definitely want to wean yourself off of them. Caffeine withdrawals are no fun and most times will cause people to give up. Start by replacing 50% of the soda you drink with water. Once you are feeling confident about that, increase it to 75%. Continue to increase the water you drink while decreasing the soda until you are free of your soda addiction. Diet soda has less calories, but it still contains yucky chemicals that you do not want in your body. So, it’s best to eliminate it altogether. Once you’ve said bye-bye to soda. Pat yourself on the back and move on to the next step.
Goal #3 – Small Meals Often
This step isn’t so much about the food you eat, but when you eat it. Focus on breaking up your meals into smaller meals throughout the day. Try to have small meals every 2-3 hours during your day. Schedule your final meal at least 2 hours before bed. This will keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day and help with that feeling of “starving” between meals. An awesome side effect of mastering this goal is portion control. When you’re less hungry between meals, you will not gorge yourself when you finally sit down for dinner. Once you have found the perfect balance for your lifestyle, let’s focus on what you’re eating throughout the day.
Goal #4 – Taste The Rainbow
Is it just me or does pretty food taste better? Not only does colorful look more appealing, it is also jam-packed with vitamins and minerals! Try to eat colorful fruits and veggies at every meal. Fruits and veggies are low-density foods, meaning they take up space but have less calories. Examples are leafy greens and berries. This will keep you feeling full while naturally reducing your caloric intake. Plus, you won’t have that heavy, sluggish feeling like after eating a big bowl of pasta. You don’t have to eat salads all the time, you could add some diced veggies to your scrambled eggs or throw some spinach and berries into a smoothie. Whatever works for you! This step and the next one can be done together, but it’s up to you. They both focus on the food groups that you should be eating throughout the day.
Goal #5 – Increase Your Protein
While you are eating more bulk in the form of fruits and veggies, you will want to increase the amount of protein you’re eating. Eating foods like lean meats, dairy, legumes, and nuts are a great way to add some additional protein. It will help to keep you feeling full and repair muscles if you’re following an exercise plan. Your body can only process a certain amount of protein at one time, so it’s best to spread out your daily protein intake throughout the day. Chances are that once you’ve started eating smaller meals throughout the day, you’ve naturally progressed to the next step. Either way, jump in with both feet on our next goal.
Goal #6 – Get In The Kitchen
Cooking at home is one of the very best ways to control your portion sizes. You can also control the quality of the foods you’re eating as well as sodium intake. If you’re new to cooking, this could be a challenge. But, there are literally TONS of tutorials available on youtube, pinterest, blogs, etc.. Plus, you will have a deeper relationship with the food you eat if you’ve taken the time to prepare it yourself. So, get busy cooking and experimenting! Your body will thank you. By now, you’ve learned a lot about the foods you are eating and how they affect your body. The next step may sound hard, but you’ve made it this far! Let’s talk about those carbs!!
Goal #7 – Not All Carbs Are Created Equal
Before you cuss at me, just listen up. Carbs are not the enemy!!! Carbs are in most foods and are important to helping you sustain energy throughout the day. Including carbs in your eating plan can be a perfectly healthy way to help you lose weight. However, you should be eating the right kinds. Focus on limiting (not eliminating) the starchy carbs like rice, grains, corn, and potatoes. They’re not necessarily bad foods, we just tend to overeat them. Focus on alternatives. For example, whole grain bread is a much better option than white bread. Try brown rice or quinoa instead of white rice. Try to get the majority of your carbohydrates from fruits and veggies. You’re almost there! One more step and you’re on your way to a sustainable clean eating lifestyle!
Final Goal – Closer To Nature
A general rule of thumb for clean eating is that if it’s man-made or made in a factory, don’t eat it. Try to eat foods as close to their natural state as possible. Not only is this a healthy habit, it also cuts down on the packaging waste you will produce. Yay for being healthy and Earth-friendly! Listen, I know that being 100% clean 100% of the time is an incredible challenge. Instead of trying to focus on an unobtainable/unsustainable goal, aim for 80/20. Nobody is perfect. You’re going to slip up. But, the important thing is that you don’t give up.
If you’re struggling with transitioning into a clean eating meal plan, feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org!