The words “clean eating” can sound a bit overwhelming, especially when you’re a mom trying to juggle all the things. But making the switch to eating healthy doesn’t have to be difficult. It’s important to remember that it’s not going to happen in a day, or maybe even in a week or a month. The most important thing is just taking that first step. And even more so- taking the first step that is right for your family.
What is clean eating?
Clean eating simply means eating whole foods rather than highly processed food. Sounds simple, right? But in our ever-busy daily lives, it can be easier said than done. Here are seven ways to get started today. And remember, it’s all about baby steps, so these don’t all have to be tackled at once (unless you want to of course!)
1. Read Labels
The first step to clean(er) eating is becoming aware and informed. Reading labels is a great way to do that. So many processed food items have unhealthy or unnecessary added ingredients. Added sugar is “hiding” everywhere. So are things like artificial food dyes, artificial sweeteners, high fructose corn syrup, and excessive amounts of sodium. Just to name a few! I know reading labels while grocery shopping with kids is not the easiest task, but luckily so many food labels are available online. Take a look when your kids are in bed and make a few notes for your next trip to the store, or look at labels while ordering groceries through a service like ClickList or Instacart.
2. Keep A Log
This is another way to be aware of what your current eating habits look like and where you can start to make changes. Throw a small notebook on your counter in the kitchen and write down your snacks and meals for the day. Evaluate it after a week and see where you need to reduce something, add something in, or swap.
3. Add in More Fruits and Vegetables
This is an easy way to at get some whole, nutrient-dense foods added to your diet, without having to worry about preparing or cooking anything. I normally pay attention to what’s on sale when deciding what to buy for the week, but sometimes it’s also worth considering organic when looking at fruits and veggies because of pesticides. A good resource for this is the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen list.
4. Start Small
Pick an area to start, like your snack pantry or maybe just one home-cooked meal per week.
This is actually one of the areas where my family started on this journey. Once the snack bars were gone, I did not buy any more on our next grocery trip. Instead, our go-to snacks became fruits, veggies, nuts, and cheese. These work for at-home snacks, but also grab and go.
One meal (or more!) per week
Find a clean and simple recipe you like, and stick with it. Once you find a meal you like, work it into your regular weekly meal plan. I know this might sound boring, but you can always change it up by swapping out different vegetables, spices, and protein sources. Another thing you can do is make extra for leftovers or to freeze. It can be a bit overwhelming to think about making three meals each day as it is, so having a healthy meal ready to go for another day can make life so much easier!
(Check out the snack and recipe ideas at the end of this post!)
5. Stop Buying It
This is actually one of my very favorites because I have no self-control. If there’s something unhealthy I want to cut out, I stop buying it. So my motto has become, if it’s not in my house I can’t eat it (and neither can the kids)! I realize this may not work for everyone, but it helped me to eliminate pop and unhealthy pre-packaged snacks.
6. Switch Out Your Drink for Water
Pop, energy drinks, juice – there are so many drink options out there with added ingredients or high amounts of sugar. Start by replacing one of these servings a day with a glass of water. Add a slice of lemon, lime, or other fruit to make it a little more exciting. Drinking water can also help curb cravings!
7. Try a Meal Delivery Service Or Meal Planning App.
If you don’t know where to start or want to save a little bit of time, you can try a meal delivery service like one of these. Or even a meal planning app to help you with your grocery shopping. One of our writers recommends Mealime- it’s free!
Clean Grab & Go Snack Ideas
- Baby carrots
- Mini peppers
- String cheese
- Freeze-dried or dehydrated fruit (just watch for added sugars in some brands, or make your own)
I have found that prepping the fruits and veggies all at one time for the week really helps us to actually eat them. I wash, cut, and put them in glass containers in the fridge so all we have to do is reach in and grab them out to eat. I also took some inspiration from several Instagrammers and started putting small dishes of these healthy snacks on the table for the day. It simplifies all those snack requests and keeps us in line with clean eating!
Clean and Simple Meal Recipes