Eating “clean”, in a nutshell, is really just about eating our food in as close to its natural state as possible with minimal processing.
When I first became interested in this approach to food, my first question was what did “processing” mean? My research led to my understanding that what was trying to be limited by clean eating was refined sugars and the like but technically, even cooking our food, is processing it.
Some people really take it to the extremes, juicing and fasting for days, or completely eliminating certain food types such as grains. As with everything else on this site, I found that what worked for me was more of a balanced approach.
Whilst there are some weeks I do really well with the clean eating approach to food, effortlessly enjoying my time in the kitchen, making yummy, healthy salads, pasta or soups and feeling a real sense of pride in what I’ve made and feeling great from all the fresh fruit and veg, other times, I lose all motivation for it and it’s an effort just to get one of my five a day! What’s important is to not get down on yourself because you’ve “gotten off track”. Recognise that’s the case and slowly start re-introducing healthier options into your day until you find it effortless again.
Clean eating also includes, where possible, opting for the organic option so as to avoid taking unnecessary chemicals and toxins into our bodies. I don’t buy organic every time, I’m simply more mindful when I am out shopping to do a quick comparison as to the costs of both organic and non-organic and if the cost is negligible then I’d opt for organic.
Filtered water is another easy way of starting your clean eating journey – I use a Brita filtered jug which was relatively inexpensive and just needs the filter replacing every 4 weeks or so.
I know that before I started clean eating, I often made the excuse that I didn’t have time to cook from scratch after coming in from work and, to be fair, some nights, I really don’t. Other times though, if I’m honest, I was just throwing convenience food in the oven because it was “easier”. No one ever really showed me how to cook/prep food and I was not at all confident in the kitchen – I’m still not! However, every time I made something easy but successful like my first ever home-made soup, Leek and Sweet Potato Soup, I became a little more confident and motivated. Sometimes I’ve been amazed how much quicker, easier and tastier it’s been to throw some wholemeal noodles or pasta in a pan whilst chopping tomatoes, olives, avocado and grabbing a handful of spinach before adding my own dressing from a lemon and a splash of red-wine vinegar and voilà – a healthy home-made meal before the oven has time to warm up! Chuck in some feta cheese and you’ve a pretty balanced plate.
I use Pinterest for my inspiration for clean eating ideas – see my Clean Eating board at
https://www.pinterest.co.uk/HolisticLivingWithCarla/clean-eating/ – feel free to follow Holistic Living With Carla. I have used other sites like BBC Good Food but I find some of the terminology intimidating for someone as green as me in the kitchen plus I like to keep my recipes low-key in terms of how many ingredients I’m using as a rule so I don’t scare myself or cost myself a fortune.
Recently I found myself unexpectedly toying with the idea of vegetarianism, not something that I ever really considered at all and yet I was completely serious. My thoughts on this are more in respect of the environmental impact that rearing animals for food has on the planet in all honesty but I’m starting slowly with trying part-time vegetarianism. I currently aim for around 2 days per week, totally meat-free.
If you’re interested in “cleaning up” your diet, why not think which of these ideas might work for you and your family? What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another – it may just be switching from white bread, rice and pasta to brown wholemeals to begin with and then – who knows?!