In my previous post, I covered the basics of what clean eating is. Now you know what it means and the types of foods you should be eating and avoiding, but how can you actually get started?
I don’t know about you, but completely overhauling my diet all at once is a recipe for disaster in my world. I love change, but the idea of taking everything I’m used to and totally throwing it out the window makes me totally uncomfortable – and want to throw in the towel because it’s too overwhelming.
So, rather than making a million changes all at once, I suggest focusing on one or two changes at a time. It might not feel like anything is changing at first, but small changes every day add up big time over the course of a month, 6 months or longer!
When I started my clean eating habits, I took baby steps. I made one or two small changes each week, and just focused on those things. Each week, I would try to add in one more thing and by the time a couple months had gone by, those little changes added up to quite a difference in how I was eating.
Here are 5 of the steps I took:
1. Replace one soda per day with a glass of water. It’s embarrassing to admit, but there was a time when I was drinking 4-5 sodas per day – and little to no water. I eliminated one soda each day for a week, until I wasn’t drinking it at all. It took about a month to completely wean myself, but doing it gradually kept me from craving it and ending up back at square one.
2. Replace regular coffee creamers with natural brands, or other ingredients. I never really realized how many unusual ingredients were in a regular bottle of coffee creamer until I actually read the label. I started using Coffee Mate Natural creamer right away – it has a small list of ingredients including milk, cream, sugar and natural flavor, and my taste buds got used to it right away. (I wrote a post about a few other alternatives to coffee creamer here.)
3. Replace processed snacks, such as chips, cookies, or sugary granola bars with a cleaner option. For me, this meant eating things like Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, hard-boiled eggs, apples and natural peanut butter, Triscuit crackers, cheese and nuts instead.
4. Add in vegetables to meals wherever you can. This can be as simple as mixing in tomatoes, spinach or peppers in with your eggs in the morning, or tossing a bag of frozen veggies into a casserole. My biggest tip for this is to start with vegetables that you like. Don’t force yourself to eat vegetables that you can’t stomach, because that won’t be satisfying to you at all – and you definitely won’t look forward to your meals that way. Choose vegetables that you like!
5. Make your own salad dressings - Many salad dressings are full of salt and preservatives. I was amazed at how flavorful and easy homemade dressings were to make! Most of them are a simple mix of olive oil, vinegar or lemon juice, and spices. Pinterest is a great place to search if you are looking for recipes for homemade dressings.
This is just a start to all of the simple changes that you can make to clean up your diet. As time goes on, start to add in different habits gradually, and you will be amazed at how much of a change you’ve made!
In my next post in this series, you will learn about why our nutrition matters - physically and mentally. I'll also give you some easy ingredient swaps and meal prepping tips.
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