How To Start Your Clean Eating Plan

A diet that is considered clean eating is typically healthiest when foods are consumed in their most natural, recognizable state. Clean eating means keeping things simple when it comes to eating food. Keep your focus on choosing nutrient-dense foods in their natural state or as close to it as possible.

Eating clean means to avoid as much as possible highly processed foods with added chemicals and preservatives. Most processed foods removes their nutritious ingredients.

Processed foods, are those that are packaged items found in the freezer aisle, at the deli, or that sit on the shelves for months at a time.

Clean eating can be difficult at first. And especially if you are used to eating package convenience foods. If you are deciding to switch to eating a more natural diet, but you are not sure were to start or what to do - we have provided the following tips just for you.

Clean Eating - Where to Start

Leslie Bonci,The best thing to always keep in mind when shopping for food, is to shop the perimeter of the supermarket. Why? That is usually were all the whole foods are. The center of the market has all of the highly processed foods.

Leslie Bonci MPH owner of Active Eating Advice agrees with that. She says that shopping the perimeter of the grocery store is most conducive to helping you be successful at being healthy and maintaining a healthy weight.

Bonci states that your goal is to fill three quarters of your shopping cart with items around the perimeter, or the outside part of the store. Doing so won't leave you as much room in the cart to go up and down the aisles where those highly processed foods tend to lurk.

Read The Labels

If you do wonder into the center of the market, that's o.k. Some minimally processed health foods are shelved there.

woman reading food labelBefore you buy though, read the label. Getting in the habit of reading nutrition labels thoroughly is necessary if you want to your goal of clean eating.

Even products generally perceived as healthy can contain unnecessary ingredients.

Don't buy anything with a long list of ingredients you can’t pronounce. The shorter the list of ingredients, the better. Reading the nutrition label should provide a good overview of how heavily processed the product actually is.

Therefore, make it your goal to derive most of your diet from foods that don’t require labels.

Some Processed Foods Are Okay

We have encouraged you to cut down on highly-processed foods. Jared Koch founder of Clean Plates and author of the Clean Plates Cookbook agrees.

He states that most processed foods are loaded with chemicals, preservatives and dyes, as well as high in sugar and poor-quality oils.

But some processed food items are okay.

As an example, bagged leafy greens, bagged dry beans, roasted nuts or frozen fruits and vegetables are minimally processed simply for convenience.

And some foods are processed to enhance nutritional value.

Gravitate Slowly To Clean Eating

If clean eating is not a habit of yours, then you may want to gravitate towards clean eating. You don't want to feel overwhelmed. If you jump into it, like anything else, you may give up right away.

You want to be drawn to clean eating. Be attracted to it, so you enhance your bottom line. That is, eat clean to be more healthy.

And keep in mind that clean eating doesn't mean you have to become vegan or vegetarian. All it means is to eat lots of vegetables, along with fruit, nuts, seeds, herbs and spices, to ensure you are getting lots of nutrients.

If you decide though to forgo eating meat, than you need to find another healthy protein source. This protein source would include eating plant-based foods high in protein. And these include:

top 10 plant based protein sources

Pasture Fed Meat

pasture fed beefSpeaking about meat - If you choose to eat meat, the best sources are grass-fed or pasture fed meats. Why? Because they are higher in omega-3 fatty acids.

A study published in the Nutrition Journal, found that grass-fed beef had less cholesterol-elevating saturated fatty acids, and is higher in precursors for vitamin A, vitamin E and cancer-fighting antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed beef.

The journal also states that consumers who are conscious about fat in their diet will prefer the overall lower fat content of a grass-fed beef product.

A Natural Way To Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth 

Cleaning eating involves no refined white sugar or brown sugar. Added sugars and sweeteners represent about 13 percent of Americans’ daily caloric intakes, and this excess is linked to increased body weight and chronic diseases.

The 2015 Dietary Guidelines recommend that consumers should limit daily sugar consumption to less than 10 percent of total daily calories.

The Journal of the American Dietetic Association published a study that found dark molasses and black-strap molasses to have the highest antioxidant activity of 14 sweeteners studied.

Molasses had more than three-and-a-half times the antioxidant capacity of malt syrup and nearly 20 times that of raw cane sugar. Molasses also contains calcium, potassium and magnesium, three nutrients most people fail to consume in adequate amounts.

The journal reported maple syrup, and honey showing intermediate antioxidant capacity.

And that refined sugar, corn syrup, and agave nectar contained minimal antioxidant activity.

The article concluded saying that based on an American's average intake of 130 g/day refined sugar and the antioxidant activity measured in typical diets.

Substituting alternative sweeteners could increase antioxidant intake an average of 2.6 mmol/day, similar to the amount found in a serving of berries or nuts.

Therefore, substituting refined sugar with raw organic honey, molasses, maple syrup, coconut nectar, and coconut palm sugar will not only increase your antioxidant intake, but will help you to meet your goal at clean eating.

artificial sweeteners

What About Artificial Sweeteners

Even though most artificial sweeteners have a 0 on the glycemic index - they should not be consumed.

A 2014 study published in Nature found that consumption of non-caloric artificial sweeteners could cause abnormal metabolism and a higher risk of diabetes.


Maximize your fresh-food shopping efforts by checking dates before buying and reaching for the freshest fare at the grocery store.

Many individuals say they choose not to buy healthy organic foods because they claim it goes bad more quickly.

It does spoil more quickly than processed foods, but if you look at dates and the way you store the food at home will it last longer.

Don't store your produce in the plastic bags from the market. Store them with Debbie Meyer Green Bags.

They are made with a natural mineral that creates a beneficial storage environment to help extend the life and freshness of fruits, and vegetables.

Do not throw food away without knowing the difference between the “sell by” and “use by” labeling.

A 2013 report from the National Resource Defense Council found that 91% of consumers mistakenly throw food away based on the “sell by” date, even though the food was still safe to eat.

The "sell by" date is when the store should have it off the shelf. And the "use by" date is the date that lets the consumer know up till what day the food is good for consumption.

By the way, here is a list of clean eating foods while you shop, as suggested by The Science Of Eating.

Click To View The Clean Eating Shopping List

What Clean Eating Looks Like

You've set your goal for clean eating. You've decided to implement the forgone suggestions. And possibly add a few more suggestions that you have read about in other articles to meet your goal.

Here is what clean eating looks like from Blue Apron. And if you like it - Discover Dinner with Blue Apron by clicking on any of the images:

Clean Eating Show Case #1

Clean Eating Show Case #2

So what are you waiting for? Start your clean eating plan by linking over to Blue Apron - And Get Started with 3 Free Meals on Your First Order

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