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clean eating blackberries(source)

The concept of clean-eating sounds simple. . .we eat “clean” foods, right?

But with so many diet and food fads around, it can get confusing. Many of us have been taught that clean-eating means there are certain foods we have to avoid at all costs. Unfortunately, this can lead to binge eating and an unhealthy view of food.

On the other hand, we can go too far in the opposite direction and assume that food is food, and as long as it curbs our hunger and keeps us alive “it can’t be all that bad.”

Clean-eating defined

Some people call it “clean-eating,” some “whole foods,” or “real foods,” etc. but the idea is the same. Clean-eating is best defined as unprocessed, non-packaged, and whole foods as close to their natural, unaltered state as possible. That means the majority of our grocery shopping should be on the outside aisles of the grocery store where we’ll find fresh fruits, vegetables, and proteins instead of boxes, mixes, and “just add water” inventions.

Does this mean we need to cut out all sugar, all gluten, all carbs, and eat nothing but broccoli for the rest of our lives? Nope.

It means learning to view food, not as the enemy, but as a fuel. It means learning to re-appreciate the deliciousness of foods in their more natural state. And for some of us, it might mean re-learning the truth about low-fat and low-carb diets.

Food is fuel

We’ve all probably had experience with buying bad fuel at a remote gas station somewhere. It ran our vehicle for awhile, but eventually it started causing problems, noises, and in the end made our vehicle run poorly.

Food is fuel – it can either run our body efficiently or slowly tear it down. Unless eating whole and healthy foods is a way of life, we can’t expect the results we hope for: more energy, weight loss, and overall improved health.

When my husband Travis and I were first married, we lived off Pasta-Roni, pizza, and liters of pop. It was a disgustingly carefree life. But our “carefree” ways quickly caught up with us.

Travis suffered strange health problems and I continually struggled to maintain a healthy weight between the births of our children. Several years into our marriage, Travis was diagnosed with Lyme Disease, candida, and food allergies. As our health deteriorated, we found a common thread in what we were told would help us.

Clean Eating

Simply this: eat better.

Of course, each health issue had more facets to it, but every issue we faced improved if we nourished our bodies with better food. Everything we put in our mouths mattered a lot more than we gave them credit for.

Our bodies NEED healthy foods in order to run properly and give us a fighting chance at quality health.

Clean-eating shouldn’t be about the newest diet, or a quick fix we stick to for awhile and then revert back to old habits. Clean-eating is about feeding your body what it needs to run optimally and giving yourself a healthy life you can enjoy each and every day.

Clean-eating shopping

When we first start thinking about a clean-eating shopping list, we might ask – what in the world can we eat!? Again, take a stroll around the outsides of your grocery store. You’ll see colorful red and yellow apples, bright orange oranges, ruby red radishes, and crisp white cauliflower.

Keep going and you’ll find your meat department. Look for meats without a packet of glaze in the package. Look for single meats rather than “bologna” mixes. Chicken, roast beef. . .become adventurous and ask your local butcher if he knows anyone who raises meat rabbits, who will trade for venison, or sells lamb.

My clean-eating rule of thumb is simple. If that’s the way God made it – it’s clean-eating. And no, God didn’t spray it with pesticides first. 😉

Baby steps to clean eating

Clean-eating in baby steps

Here are a few single ingredient items that we’ve gradually learned we can improve on. Take it in baby steps, one change at a time, and you’ll find yourself cooking healthier and feeling better. If you’d like to learn about clean-eating in a fun, group setting, join one of our 5-Day Clean-Eating challenge groups.

okay – milk from the store
better – whole milk without growth hormones and rbST (Kemp’s)
best – raw milk from a local farmer/source (where to find raw milk)

okay – old-fashioned oatmeal
better – organic, old-fashioned oatmeal
best – organic, home-rolled oat groats

okay – regular nuts
better – raw nuts (no added oils)
best – raw nuts, soaked and dried

okay – plain, unsweetened yogurt
better – plain, unsweetened yogurt with “live cultures”
best – homemade yogurt

meat (including bacon)
okay – meat from the store
better – meat without growth hormones, nitrates, and antibiotics
best – organic meat from grass-fed animals and/or fed non-GMO feed

okay – store-bought eggs
better – cage-free, organic eggs
best – farm fresh eggs, from free-range chickens fed non-GMO feed

okay – cane sugar, rapadura sugar, coconut sugar
better – honey or maple syrup
best – reducing or eliminating all kinds of sugar – try stevia
*9 times out of 10 you can cut the sugar in half in any recipe and not even notice. 

okay – ketchup without corn syrup or high fructose corn syrup (Simply Heinz uses sugar)
better – organic ketchup made with organic cane sugar
best – homemade ketchup

okay – canned beans from the store
better – organic, canned beans in BPA-free cans
best – soaked and cooked beans

chicken broth
okay – store-bought chicken broth
better – organic chicken broth
best – homemade chicken broth

sour cream
okay – sour cream without carrageenan (Daisy brand is carrageenan-free)
better – organic sour cream, carrageenan-free
best – homemade sour cream

rice (white, brown, or wild)
okay – store-bought rice
better – organic rice
best – organic rice, soaked

okay – organic olive oil
better – coconut oil
best – organic coconut oil

Clean-eating is really just changing the way you view food. Make cooking fun and enjoyable by learning to cook with real food ingredients.

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"Clean-Eating" means learning to re-appreciate the deliciousness of foods in their more natural state. This post has a great explanation, + a list of healthy foods to eat now!


Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

Hi, I'm Paula - wife and homeschooling mom of six. Several family health issues involving candida, food allergies, and Lyme Disease have created a passion to better understand our God-created bodies. Today I share that enthusiasm by bringing you information on ways to improve your gut health. You can follow me on Facebook, and Pinterest.
Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant
Paula, CHS, Certified Level 3 Metabolic Effect Nutrition Consultant

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    3 replies to "Clean-Eating: A Simple Explanation"

    • lucymblair

      Eating well is so important! I have eaten “clean” in the past, did a month long fast from anything processed or bleached or added sugar, etc. and it was a lot easier than I expected. Just more expensive, unfortunately. But that was years ago, and I know a diet makeover is right around the corner again. I’m like, addicted to sugar (my blog would reveal that in .5 seconds lol) but it’s so easy to see that sugar begets sugar and it’s like a drug to your brain! Thanks for posting this helpful guide, I’m gonna share this with my husband 🙂


      • Paula

        Hi Lucy,

        I’m so glad you stopped by to chat! This is a simple explanation, but one I struggle with everyday too – so you’re not alone. I’m glad this was helpful and I enjoyed browsing your blog. You’re little Caroline is ADORABLE with a capital. . .everything. 🙂 Love those squishy baby pics!

    • […] how do we start changing bad eating habits into good ones? With baby steps. We don’t have to jump into clean-eating cold turkey, but instead make small choices […]

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