I have lost forty pounds during the past year doing three things — exercising 4-5 times a week for at least 30 minutes, drinking 100 ounces of water a day, and eating clean, organic food as often as possible in three meals and three snacks per day. What exactly does clean eating mean? It’s simple — it is eating real, unprocessed foods.
When you go to the grocery store, you will notice that (in general) real food is located on the perimeter of the store. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, milk, dairy, eggs, meats, fish, chicken, juice, cheese, and the deli (watch out for lunch meats with added fillers and preservatives). The inner aisles tend to contain prepackaged, processed foods. The more you can avoid the inner aisles, the better.
Some ingredients in the inner shopping aisles are okay, but you need to read the ingredients on the package to see what exactly is in them. The baking aisle contains many of my go-to ‘clean eating’ necessities like cinnamon, ginger, himalayan salt, pepper (cayenne and black), olive oil, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, olive oil, natural peanut butter, stevia (not all stevia is created equal, but that’s another blog entry!), pumpkin, steel cut oats (rolled oats are ok too, I just prefer the steel cut ones), cocoa powder (again, not all are created equal), nuts, dried fruits, extracts, tea, coffee, maple syrup, raw honey, coconut flour, popcorn and salad dressing. You may be paying for preservatives and fillers without realizing it in something marketed as ‘healthy.’ The fewer ingredients listed on the package the better off you are.
When I tell people I eat organic as much as I can, their immediate response is that ‘it is so expensive.’ Organic isn’t more expensive than traditional food if you buy it the right way. We get a lot of our organic ingredients at Costco, the local farmers markets, Kroger, Fresh Thyme and Dorothy Lane Market. (The $50 membership fee to Costco pays for itself very quickly when you buy your organic foods and regular necessities like laundry detergent, cheese, butter, oatmeal, almond milk, eggs, nuts, raspberries, chicken, fish, salmon, and ground beef in bulk.) Some of my friends have purchased a 1/4 of a cow and said that the meat is not only significantly less expensive than a store but the taste is amazing.
Eating clean for me doesn’t mean I am 100% full blown clean all the time. Occasionally I do eat rice pilaf, pasta and tortilla shells. (I like a low carb pasta and Aztec makes a lower carb tortilla.) I also enjoy a piece of chocolate, Graeters ice cream or a slice of cake. These items are not part of my regular diet though — they are occasional treats. When I do have these treats, they are just that (and they either taste amazing or sit like a brick in your stomach!). Once you have been eating clean for a week or so, you’ll find that you won’t crave processed foods as much.
You will need to invest in two things to start your clean eating journey — an insulated lunch bag and containers to put your food in. You can purchase an insulated lunch bag for around $10 and a 40 piece rubbermaid containers set for around $20-$30. Making your own food, as opposed to buying at a restaurant, will save you money and be healthier in the long run.
(Before starting any diet, check with your doctor. I am not a certified nutritionist, personal trainer or a medical doctor — I’m just a normal person who feels better, lost weight and doesn’t want to eat processed food or genetically modified produce and meats. That’s my disclaimer!)