Last updated on May 19th, 2020 at 09:49 am
Clean Eating For Beginners. As weird as these four words sound together, all it means is how to eat healthy, when you have never been someone who eats healthy and are getting so much confusing information from everywhere.
Add to this that you aren’t rich and famous to get everything made for you, and motivation? We all know it just comes and goes.
What Does Clean Eating Mean?
Now, some people would say clean eating means eating organic, non-GMO, obsessing over labels, protein
I don’t give a crap about all that.
To me eating clean is simply eating more unprocessed foods, closer to nature. It’s not a diet, it’s not a shortcut to a hot body – it’s a choice you make every day. It’s a way of living.
As simple as it seems, it’s also quite overwhelming and can be very confusing if you’re a COMPLETE beginner. I mean where do you even start?
The Challenge With Eating Clean: Too Much Information
A change is always tough, but with so much contradicting information about diet and how to eat healthy even I get confused sometimes.
I’ve been eating healthy most of my life. Yet,
It’s like if you don’t choose one of these options, better don’t even start or you’re gonna crash and burn and regret you ever ate an apple.
Don’t even dare.
But here’s the good news:
You can improve
In fact, I’d say, if you wanna improve your health and lose weight – DON’T follow a strict diet. A diet can easily turn into an obsession and even make you gain weight. But that’s a whole other topic and I’ll talk about it another time.
The Benefits Of Eating Healthy Every Day
Adopting a healthy diet can have multiple benefits, for example:
- Weight loss. Key to weight loss, on any diet, is to be consuming
lesscalories than you’re burning during the day. Healthy foods are usually lower in calories than junk food, which makes it easier to stay in a caloric deficit, needed to help you lose weight.
- Better mood & improved mental health. Healthy foods contain antioxidants and essential nutrients we need to keep the brain and nervous system happy.
- Improved gut health. The fiber and antioxidants found in whole foods can help the good gut bacteria multiply.
- A well functioning immune system. Just like with better mood, your immune system needs the antioxidants and nutrients found in real food to function properly.
- Prevention of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer
- Delaying the aging process. We age mostly because of accumulation of oxidative stress over time. The way to combat oxidative stress is to of course live a healthier life, but also to consume more antioxidants. As mentioned you can find antioxidants in whole natural foods.
- Reduced chronic inflammation. A healthy diet, loaded with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, whole grains and occasionally fish here and there is anti-inflammatory. Thus it can help you reduce chronic inflammation, which is linked to the development of major chronic diseases. You can read more about how to reduce inflammation in the body here.
Clean Eating Foods List
Here’s a clean eating foods list you can start with:
- bell pepper
Meat, Eggs & Dairy
- chicken breast
- boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- plain yogurt
- almond milk / dairy-free milk
Nuts & Seeds
- almond butter
- sesame seeds
- chia seeds
- olive oil
- coconut oil
- canned chickpeas
- canned beans
- maple syrup
- tomato paste
Herbs & Spices
- black pepper
- crushed bell pepper
Note that this clean eating grocery list isn’t exhaustive. It’s just a sample. In general, eating clean is about having more whole natural foods without beating yourself up about the occasional treat here and there. The healthy foods you want to eat more of
Clean Eating for Beginners
How To Start Eating Healthy When You Aren’t Motivated, Rich Or Famous
Now let’s focus on that whole eating clean for beginners thing. Or how to start eating healthy when you’re not rich, famous or motivated and don’t know what the hell you’re doing.
When there’s no personal trainer who’ll motivate you or a gourmet cook making your meals and you need to do this for yourself. These are 6 crucial steps that will guide you in the right direction.
Step 1: Set A Limit, Not A Ban
First things, first – this is not a diet or a punishment.
Most of us know already what’s healthy and what isn’t. It’s no secret sugar makes you fat and you shouldn’t drink coke instead of water.
If you know one obvious thing in your diet that you’re doing too much of and it’s bad for you – attack it first. Without going crazy.
Start small. Don’t ban everything bad from your diet. Set a limit
For example If you drink too much soda – say first week: I will stop soda and start drinking water instead.
Next week maybe you say: I will change my breakfast. Instead of doughnuts, I will have oatmeal. If oatmeal isn’t your thing – go for avocado toast with eggs.
Next week – dinner. Maybe instead of pizza you can have some chicken with vegetables and hummus and some rice. Or a soup?
It’s a process and these changes take time. Some people change their diets from one day to another, but habits need time to develop.
Here are some changes that helped me:
If you eat too much sugar and can’t quit sugar altogether – have the healthier options. What works for me is some nut butter and fruit. You can have something small every day, as long as you keep it small. No need to quit fruit – that’s crazy.
If you’re drinking soda instead of water and you don’t like plain water try infusing your water with some fruit, herbs and vegetables using a water infuser. My favorite is lemon with frozen berries. And you can add some mint to it – tastes very fresh.
So take the one thing that you’re doing too much of and set limits.
Then increase that limit week after week. This is important, because if you don’t set limits on this – you won’t be able to eat healthy, even if you change everything else. Make the biggest thing smaller.
Simple, but essential tip: Keep it out of your home
A good way to eat less of the bad foods you’re obsessed with is to keep these out of your
Which brings me to step 2.
Step 2: Clean Out
So. When you’re home, take a look through your fridge and pantry.
What’s in there? Are there things you haven’t used for months, maybe even years?
Are there things OBVIOUSLY unhealthy?
What can you throw out or give to someone who doesn’t want to eat healthy (yet)?
Clean your pantry and your fridge. And I mean that literally. Schedule 2 hours and go through everything! Clean like a Cinderella until everything is spotless.
You wouldn’t imagine the things I found last week when I cleaned our fridge. Disgusting. But after I was done, I think it was the most rewarding part of my week. Sounds sad, but it made me really happy.
This step will actually engage you in the process even more and you’ll realize – you’re really gonna do this. Start fresh and clean.
As for what to throw out…
Anything that’s fried, processed and not really a whole food can go. So sauces, white bread, sugar, frozen pizza, chips, candy, cookies, soda…Anything packaged with a LONG list of ingredients.
Step 3: Meet some new foods
Now it’s time to go shopping (see the sample grocery list above).
As exciting as grocery shopping people say is, it’s pretty tough and actually kinda scary when you do it for the first time.
You’ll need to buy and eat foods you can’t even pronounce yet, let alone know how to cook. I can literally hear you say “Ugh. Quinoa.”
You can use my recipes or search for healthy recipes on Pinterest that teach you how to cook healthier meals.
When shopping, stay away (as much as possible) from the processed foods section(s) and don’t go grocery shopping hungry!
Option: Meal-Kit Delivery Service
If you think you can’t handle healthy grocery shopping yet, you might want to try a meal kit delivery service like Sun Basket.
It just makes it easier to stay away from foods you don’t need to eat. You get all the fresh ingredients with recipes delivered to you and you save so much time!
If you’d like to try a healthy meal kit delivery service – save money and get $35 off.
Step 4: Start Cooking
Obviously, you’ll need to start cooking for yourself if you want to start eating healthy. It’s just the way it is.
Cooking for yourself is healthier and it’s way less expensive. I still don’t understand how a salad is the most expensive thing on the menu everywhere. And mostly it tastes like nothing in a restaurant.
When you first start cooking healthy, it will probably be scary.
How do you make something you’ve never had before? What is it supposed to taste like? What if you don’t like it?
Well, truth is: Nobody knows what you’ll like and what you won’t like. But you have to try for yourself.
And the other truth is: this fear is what is stopping you from playing around with food and making it your own.
I share so many recipes, yet I can’t really follow a recipe. I know that if I make something according to someone else’s recipe it might be good, but I will like it
At the beginning of the year, my mom bought quinoa and chia seeds. She waited 10 months for me to come home and tell her what to do with these things.
I had to show her that there are salads other than tomatoes with cucumbers. And she actually loved quinoa. Don’t be like her – take your clean eating journey as a learning experience and make the best out of it!
Step 5: Meal prep or don’t
Some people like to meal prep, I don’t. I simply cannot do it. I like to make whatever I feel like at the moment and I like fresh food. That’s how I know, meal prep doesn’t work for me.
What works for me is having my ingredients already there, so I can make something quickly. So for example, I would buy canned chickpeas and wouldn’t buy dried chickpeas if I want to make a salad.
The other thing I used to do was bulk cook chickpeas or beans, portion them out in freezer bags and then freeze until I wanna use them. The reason I stopped doing this was – because I don’t eat much freezer food, I would always forget those poor beans. And I didn’t like defrosting them.
If you don’t have a problem with that – could be your solution.
Bottom line: you shouldn’t overthink these things. Better a chickpea salad with chickpeas from a can than french fries (at least not every day). That’s my philosophy.
Step 6: Take Advice, Not Orders
If you’re reading this, then you’ve probably already decided it’s time to change something and to start eating healthy.
You realized that it’s your responsibility to take care of your health and your life. Nobody else will really help you change things, if you don’t do anything.
But there are two sides to this sad and all alone coin. Because if you read on the other side – it’s also very empowering.
You’ll understand you’re also the person who has the most CONTROL over your health. It’s you. You control it.
Nobody else can tell you eat this or don’t. The way you eat is not just something you need to be blaming yourself for, it’s something you have the power to change. This is a very important (mental) step.
It means that yes – take some guidance from others, but also find out what works best for you.
Don’t follow blindly what worked for someone else.
Explore and find out what makes you feel good. Because eating healthy should make you feel good, not guilty.
7-Day Clean Eating Meal Plan & Challenge
Last week I shared a free 7-day clean eating challenge and featured a sample meal plan and a clean eating grocery list.
If you want to give this clean eating meal plan and challenge a go you can find it here.
Well these are the 6 essential steps to eating clean! Start small and stay consistent and you’ll get very far! Soon I’ll be sharing more about starting a healthy diet – expect some clean eating recipes and some free downloads that I’ll be working on these next couple of days! Until then – focus on Tip #1 and don’t get overwhelmed!
Don’t forget to subscribe below if you enjoyed these tips and share this with a friend – more people can benefit from eating healthier!
I’m a physician assistant. I loved this! I’m constantly trying to learn ways to help people wade through the buzz and trends of diet and exercise. Couldn’t agree more with this article. Kudos. I will be linking this when my blog is up and running.
Thanks Clint 🙂
As certified health coach, and someone that has helped hundreds of cliens think differently about food, I love your advice!! It is spot on and I appreciate your honesty (I don’t like meal prepping either). Thank you for sharing.
Thank you Otto, this means a lot to me 🙂
This article is beautiful!! 2018 was a major year for me. After 20 years of being obese, I finally got to the point where I was ready and willing to make the necessary changes to lose some weight and start feeling healthier. 91 pounds since March! I knew that for ME I wouldn’t be able to “food prep” the way that is popular these days and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to COMPLETELY cut sugar from my life. I ended up doing exactly what you wrote! I made small changes each week allowing for treats at appropriate times, in appropriate frequency, and in appropriate portions. I haven’t even started physical exercise changes yet. That’s 2019 goals! Lol thanks for this! I’ll be sharing for my people to see! Xo
Wow, congratulations Carol! I’m so glad when I read stories like yours – and yes, this is definitely the way to do it long-term, it’s all about being willing to make the change. Keep it up!
Jeremiah Say says
I totally agree with your point about setting a limit and not a ban.
I used to go all gung-ho on Paleo Diet only to suffer the feeling of deprivation. I didn’t have fun at all and not surprisingly, I dropped out just after 2 weeks.
Your clean eating guide for beginners is absolutely doable compared to what I have tried before.
I’d love to take up on your 7 days challenge 😉
Keep doing what you’re doing, Stella!
Is there a clean anti inflammatory diet I could follow that doesn’t promote weight loss please as I would prefer to put on a bit more weight. A lot of diets out there seem to be all about weight loss.,thank you.:)
I’m not sure about an anti-inflammatory diet to put on weight, as eating a little bit less is associated with reduced inflammation and eating too many calories naturally increases inflammation. It doesn’t mean that you’ll have chronic inflammation if you eat a lot, as there’s more to it than just food. Sleep is super important, exercise, environment, stress, relationships…You could, of course, try adding nut butter (eating nuts usually can cause weight loss because they’re not digested completely, but nut butters (not peanut) can help gain weight, because they’re already processed). Also adding other healthy fats (like coconut oil, avocado, or linseed oil <- doesn't taste great, but lots of omega-3's), without reducing healthy carbs and of course protein. I would also do strength training, as it should also help put on weight.
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