What is Clean Eating

Discover What Is Clean Eating and explore the ultimate guide to a healthier lifestyle. Learn how to get started and tips to help you swap processed foods for whole foods within your budget and dietary needs.

Galls with sparkling water and berries in.
What is clean eating

You Are What You Eat

You have already probably heard of clean eating and this phrase. The way we eat has a real impact on our mental and physical health. Clean eating is all about choosing the right food to nourish and support your overall lifestyle and that how I like it. 

Want To Eat Clean?

What exactly is clean eating, and how do you get started? 

In this article, we will dive into the details of this popular approach and provide you with the tools and resources you need to start today.

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What Is Clean Eating?

Clean eating is a way of eating that focuses on consuming whole and minimally processed foods. Eating clean means eating real, natural, unrefined, and unprocessed foods.This means choosing healthful foods that are as close to their natural form as possible, without added sugars, chemicals, or preservatives.

A clean diet avoids highly processed foods and instead opts for fresh or frozen fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains.

Clean Eating for Beginners

To begin with clean eating, it is essential to make small changes, like swapping processed snacks for healthier alternatives such as a handful of nuts or dried fruit. It is also crucial to plan your meals, so you know exactly what you will eat each day.

Eating clean does not mean you have to stick to salads. There are plenty of other delicious meals that are easy to prepare.

It is about learning which ingredients work best for your body and being mindful about what goes into your mouth. 

Nuts and fruits in a bowl.
Fruits in a bowl

How To Get Started With Clean Eating:

If you’re interested in trying, here are a few tips to help you get started:

  • Start by cleaning out your pantry and fridge. It means eliminating processed or packaged foods that don’t align with the principles.
  • Stock up on whole, organic foods. Include fresh produce, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
  • Experiment with new recipes and meal ideas. Countless recipes are available online, so feel free to try new things and find what works for you.
  • Be mindful of portion sizes. While this is generally a healthy way of eating, it’s still important to pay attention to eating behaviors and portion sizes and avoid overloading on any one type of food.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself. Transitioning to this lifestyle can take some time, and it’s okay to have slip-ups. Remember to keep trying and not let one mistake derail your progress.

The Benefits of Clean Eating

Eating clean benefits overall health by providing the body with essential vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

It helps to cultivate a healthier relationship with food, leading to better food choices in the long run.

Eating whole, unprocessed foods can be more cost-effective in the long run than relying on convenience foods.

This way of eating also means savoring the taste of real food, which can lead to greater satisfaction and enjoyment at meal times.

Eating a clean diet often involves choosing locally sourced, organic, and sustainably produced foods, which can help reduce environmental impact.

What Does Healthy Eating Look Like?

Healthy eating is an integral part of living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Eating the suitable types of food can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce the risk of developing chronic diseases, and provide essential nutrients for your body.

A healthy diet should include plenty of vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, fruits, low-fat dairy products, and limited amounts of unhealthy fats. Avoid processed meats like cold cuts, less processed foods with added sugar or additives, and foods high in sugar.

The food industry has made it too easy to consume unhealthy food choices, so it’s important to be mindful when selecting items from the grocery store or ordering takeout by avoiding artificial ingredients.

To maintain a healthy diet, always read ingredient labels before purchasing any item to ensure that it doesn’t contain excessive amounts of unhealthy fats or added sugars. 

A few points to look at are below. 

Swap Processed Foods with Whole Foods

Convenience foods contain additives and preservatives that can negatively impact your health. On the other hand, whole foods are minimally processed and have more natural nutrients. Try to make simple swaps such as replacing chips with nuts or popcorn, canned soup with homemade soup, and frozen meals with a vegetable stir-fry. Making these changes can help improve your overall health and well-being.

banner with food swaps in clean eating.
clean eating food swaps

Choose Nutrient-Dense Foods

Nutrient-dense foods have a high concentration of vitamins, minerals, and other vital nutrients compared to the number of calories they contain. Examples of nutrient-dense foods include: 

  • Vegetables
  • Fruits
  • Whole grains
  • Legumes
  • Nuts and seeds Fruits
  • Lean proteins such as fish, poultry, eggs, tofu, and tempeh
  • Dairy products such as yogurt, milk, cheese, and kefir
  • Healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, and nuts

Avoid Refined Carbs and Added Sugar

Refined carbs and added sugars should be avoided for a variety of reasons. Refined carbs are stripped of nutrients, are quickly broken down in the body, and can cause spikes in blood sugar levels.

Added sugars provide empty calories that can lead to weight gain and other health problems.

Instead of refined carbs and added sugars, choose foods like whole grains, vegetables, and fruits to get your daily carbohydrates.

Eat Whole Grain Food

Whole grain foods are an important part of a healthy diet. They contain essential nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, and minerals like iron and magnesium.

Whole grains can be found in oatmeal, brown rice, quinoa, barley, whole wheat bread and pasta, popcorn, and more.

Add More Fruits And Vegetables

Incorporating more vegetables and fruits into your diet is easy, whether adding them as snacks, integrating them into main meals, or making smoothies. 

Start by adding one or two more daily portions and work your way up to filling half your plate with these nutrient-dense foods.

Pick Plant-Based Clean Foods

The best way to eat clean is often associated with plant-based diets, as plants are some of the most nutrient-dense and naturally clean food sources. However, clean does not mean a vegetarian or vegan diet and can include animal products as long as they are high-quality and minimally processed.

Your Clean Eating Grocery List

When it comes to transition, having a grocery list is essential. Try to focus on plant-based foods such as avocado and sweet potatoes while also choosing grass-fed when possible.

Healthy fats are critical too. Try incorporating more healthy fats into your diet, like olive oil or coconut oil.

Avoiding processed and refined sugars is also important, so opt for minimally processed foods and choose whole whenever you can.

Unprocessed grains, legumes, fruits, and vegetables are all excellent choices on your grocery list.

When selecting dressings, look for ones that don’t contain extra sugar or artificial flavors. 

Clean Eating Meal Prep and Meal Plan

 A meal plan is a great way to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle.

Meal prepping ahead of time is also essential for staying on track with a clean diet. This allows you to plan out all your weekly meals to stick to your plan easily.

Eating whole foods does not have to be boring either. You can make many delicious recipes with just clean ingredients. 

Tips for Healthy, Clean Eating

Eating clean doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Just stick with real foods and avoid anything overly processed.

  1. Plan your meals: Taking time to plan and prepare healthy meals can help you stay on track with your habits. Make a grocery list and choose a variety of whole foods.
  2. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store: Healthiest foods, like fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and healthy grains, are located around the store perimeter. Try to limit your trips down the aisles where junk food and processed snacks are.
  3. Cook at home: Cooking your meals allows you to control the ingredients, ensuring they are all-natural and free of harmful additives.
  4. Experiment with new flavors: Trying new foods, spices, and cooking techniques can keep your habits exciting and enjoyable.
  5. Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water can help flush out toxins, improve digestion, and keep you feeling full.
  6. Snack smart: Pack a healthy snack, like a piece of fruit or a handful of nuts, to keep you from reaching for unhealthy options when you’re on the go.
  7. Make it a family affair: Involving your loved ones in your habits can help keep you accountable and make mealtime a fun and bonding experience.
  8. Listen to your body: Pay attention to how certain foods make you feel, and choose those that nourish and energize you.
  9. Please keep it simple: It doesn’t have to be complicated. Stick to simple, real foods, and you’ll see positive results without following a strict diet.
  10. Enjoy your food: Take time to savor each bite and appreciate the taste and texture of your food. Eating should be a satisfying experience, not a chore.
close up of flowers from elderberry.
Elderberry flowers

What Not To Eat On a Clean Eating Diet?

With this lifestyle, avoiding fast foods, artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and canned or convenience food is important. Some other foods to avoid include:

  • Fried and fast foods
  • Packaged snacks like chips and crackers
  • White flour and refined grains
  • Foods high in added salt, such as canned soups and pre-packaged meals
  • Sweetened beverages like soda, sports drinks, and sweetened coffee drinks
  • Conventional dairy products like cheese and whole milk

Instead, opt for whole foods as close to their natural state as possible. This will ensure you’re nourishing your body with the nutrients it needs to thrive.


Can I Eat Meat On a Clean Eating Diet?

Yes, clean eating does not necessarily exclude animal products. However, choosing high-quality options such as grass-fed beef, organic chicken, and wild-caught fish is important. Ignore store bought bacon and sausage and instead make your own. 

Is Clean Eating Expensive?

It can be, but it doesn’t have to be. Whole, unprocessed foods can be more expensive than their processed counterparts, but there are ways to save money while still eating clean. For example, buying in bulk and choosing seasonal produce can reduce costs. 

Meal planning and cooking at home can save money compared to eating out or relying on pre-made meals.

Is Clean Eating Restrictive?

It doesn’t have to be. Even though we avoid certain foods and additives on a clean eating diet, we include a wide variety of foods. 

The focus should be on incorporating a variety of nutrient-dense, real foods rather than restricting certain food groups or nutrients.

Can I Eat Clean While Eating at Restaurants Or On The Go?

Absolutely! It may take more effort, but it is also possible to clean up your diet while dining out or on the go. 

Look for restaurants that offer whole, unprocessed options, and be mindful of any added sugars or additives that may be included in dishes. 

When eating on the go, pack healthy, real foods such as nuts, fruits, and vegetables to ensure you have clean options available.

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Glass of berries with water.
About Clean eating

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