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  • Writer's pictureNicole B

Clean Eating Basics

Clean eating is really quite simple. It is avoiding processed foods and eating a diet of healthy whole foods! It results in you feeling great!

I stumbled into clean eating accidentally… I was a cronic "FAD" dieter, looked for every quick fix in the book and when my news feed starting blowing up about 21 Day Fix, I thought why not!!!! It was one of the BEST purchases I ever made! It changed my life. I was determined to make a change, so I followed what the program said sticking to the exercise and the food plan and 3 week later and 7 pounds lighter - FEELING 100 times better I was HOOKED!

The 21 Day Fix is based on clean eating and it is easy to follow. Foods and portions are listed so there is no guessing. The entire program is based on clean eating and this is how my new lifestyle began!

There is no magic to clean eating, just simple whole foods you purchase in your grocery store or local farm stand.

Below are some of the simple basics of clean eating to help you get started.

Eat whole foods

Whole foods are foods that haven’t been “messed” with, added to or altered with. In a clean eating plan the bulk of your foods come straight from the farm. Choose foods that you can recognize in their whole, natural state. Seasonal fruits and vegetables are great choices. However you can’t go wrong with fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, free-range and grass fed meats….

Avoid processed foods as much as you can

Read labels! You may want to think twice about purchasing items that sound like they were created in a chemical laboratory! Especially those with words you can’t pronounce or know what they are. Choose “whole foods”. There are some “clean foods” that are packaged such as lettuce, spinach….as well as frozen vegetables. Read the labels and you will make good choices!

Limit saturated fats and stay away from trans-fats

These fats are not heart friendly! Trans-fats and saturated fats are commonly found in processed foods so if a food has a label read it closely. Hydrogenated is a key word that warns us not to put it in our shopping cart. Other foods also contain these fats such as meat, dairy and oils. Limit the amount of high fat meats choosing leaner meats instead. Also choose heart health plant based oils such as coconut oil. olive oil and avocados.

Beware of Sugar

This is a tough one as so many of us have a sweet tooth but avoiding refined sugars is important! Especially white sugar and artificial; sweeteners! It provides nothing except calories and chemicals! So what is a person with a sweet tooth to do? There are other options that are healthier choices such as honey and organic sugars. However remember that all sweeteners have calories. To learn more about sugar and healthy options read here: Oh Sugar!

Stay away from white flour!

There are so many choices out there other that white breads, white pasta, and white rice. Choose whole grains! Whole wheat and whole grain options are just about everywhere – read your labels! Also look for gluten free options as well. Steel cut oats, quinoa, whole wheat or brown rice pastas, wild rice and brown rice, sprouted breads….are all great choices.

Sodium – a hidden danger!

Processed foods are often high in sodium. And many of us are a little heavy handed with that salt shaker. Sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and water retention. Instead of adding salt to flavor your food try getting creative with herbs and spices. They not only taste great but many have health benefits. A few of my favorites are:

  • Basil: Basil contains flavonoids that act as powerful antioxidants. It’s also high in vitamins A and K and has a good amount of potassium and manganese. Best of all is its flavor! Fresh basil is great in salads!

  • Oregano: Oregano is a potent antioxidant with the phytochemicals lutein and beta carotene. It’s a good source of iron, fiber, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin A, and omega-3 fatty acids. Add it to sauces, soups, salads and meats…

  • Cinnamon: I love the smell of cinnamon! It is comforting, warm and homey. They say that just the smell can help improve brain function! This spice has also been found to also reduce blood sugar levels, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, and overall cholesterol levels. It also has anti-inflammatory properties. Cinnamon is great to add to your morning cup of joe, protein shakes and desserts. It is also great in rubs and seasonings when grilling meats.

  • Cumin: This spice is one of my new favorites to get creative with! It is rich in antioxidants, which may help reduce the risk of cancer. It also has iron and manganese, which helps to keep your immune system healthy. Add cumin to rices, Mexican dishes, soups, stews and even eggs! It is also a great ingredient to add to grilling seasonings!

  • Rosemary: Rosemary is a pungent herb that reminds me of Christmas trees! It contains terpenes, which slow down free radical development and stop inflammation. They may also block some estrogens, which cause breast cancer. It is great to add to soups, stews, roasted chicken and pork, and lets not forget vegetables – add it to vegetables when roasting them for a different flavor!

These are just a few. There are so many more spices out there, it is almost limitless!

Eat more often!

What? Eat more often? Eating five to six meals a day will keep you from getting hungry and will rev up your metabolism. For example: breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, dinner, snack. This will help you from becoming so ravenous that you make an unhealthy choice.

Be cautious when eating out

When you cook and prepare your own foods you know exactly what you are eating. You are in total control! That doesn’t mean you should never go out to eat. When you do go out ask questions and order foods that are “cleanest” such as vegetables without butter and sauces, grilled or broiled meats and fishes, salads with dressings on the side or even better vinegar and olive oil, whole grains such as brown rice or sweet potatoes and whole wheat breads.

Drink more water

Our bodies need and crave water and most of us do not get enough. You should drink half your body weight in ounces. For example if you weigh 150 pounds you should drink 75 ounces of water a day. Avoid sodas and sweetened drinks. Opt instead for water! You can add flavor by adding fruits and vegetables to your water. Cucumbers and lime are refreshing as well as watermelon and fresh mint. Be creative!

Now that you know the basics you can see that it is easy to get started! It is really just common sense – avoiding processed foods and eating healthy whole foods results in a healthier you! It is important to remember not to fret if you eat something not on your clean eating plan! I am not perfect in clean eating. I do occasionally eat something not on my plan but I don’t fall off the deep end if I veer off my clean eating lifestyle occasionally. I just jump right back into it!


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