8 tips to detox with fruits and vegetables

Detox with fruits and vegetables

There are countless detox plans on the interweb. And they will all tell you to only eat fruits and vegetables for a few days.

Now, it’s usually not recommended to cut out any food group completely in the long run without medical supervision.

But when it comes to detoxifying your body, it is important to remove (temporarily) the food groups most likely to create toxins. Which is why a lot of detox plans are based solely on water, fruits, and vegetables.

Of those, there are those in which you can only eat fruits and vegetables, those in which you can only drink fruit and vegetable juice, and the most extreme type where you can only drink water (a water fast).

This time, we are going to focus on more gentle and proven approaches, and explain how to detox with fruits and vegetables.

1. A quick (but important) note on detox

Citrus fruitsOur bodies are well equipped to deal with a certain amount of toxic material on a daily basis, whether they come from our environment (pollution, household chemicals, cigarettes etc.) or whether we produce them while trying to deal with stuff we just can’t digest or in response to unhealthy situations (stress, for example). But when the load gets too much, even the fittest of us needs a little help.

Detoxifying is merely you trying to stimulate your emunctories (your body’s cleaning organs). These are your liver, kidneys, intestines, skin, lungs, just to name a few. In an ideal world, our diet should be clean of any chemicals, residues, and consisting solely of healthy organic food… Oh, and we should be living in the countryside, far away from polluted areas, walk or ride bikes instead of driving and meditate every day to keep stress levels at a minimum… Nice!

In the real world though, we’re more likely to subject our bodies to a daily dose of industrial food, spend most of our days sitting in traffic or in air-conditioned offices, and live busy lives with all-time-high stress levels. Sounds familiar?

So regular detoxing can go a long way towards helping your body shed some it’s toxic load before it starts impacting on your health.

While food is very important in providing the nutrients your body needs for energy and body processes, sometimes the body uses too much energy digesting and not enough time purging toxins. If you learn how to detox your body through fasting, you can kick-start your body organs to start the cleansing process so that your body can eliminate the toxic build-up.

2. Please read this…

Green juicePlease always consult your primary care provider to find out if a detox diet is appropriate for you. People who should not follow a detox diet generally include pregnant or nursing women, children, or people with anemia, eating disorders, heart problems, lowered immunity, low blood pressure, ulcers, diabetes, epilepsy, cancer, ulcerative colitis, unless recommended and supervised by their primary care provider.

A detox diet can target the different organ systems involved in detoxification: your skin, liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, skin and lymph system. A natural healthcare practitioner can design a program that suits your needs, targeting specific organ systems. For example, if you have a skin condition, you may benefit from a program that addresses the liver, the intestines, and the skin.

3. Hydration is paramount

The more fluids you drink during your detox, the quicker unpleasant detox side-effects, such as fatigue, headaches, irritability, strong breath, body odor, and skin eruptions, just to name a few, will disappear. These are the sign that your body is trying hard to get rid of toxic materials. Although unpleasant, “detox flu” should actually be a positive and welcome sign.

It is also important during detox that you have regular bowel movements as this will lessen the likelihood of toxins being reabsorbed by the body.

How to calculate your water needs per body weight.
  1. Take your weight in pounds. Say 175 pounds.
  2. Multiply this by 2/3 (or 67%). We get 117. This is your basic number of ounces of water per day.
  3. Add 12 ounces for every 30 minutes of exercise you do per day.

There you go!

What to drink

Lemon water in a jugAny fluid is good, although some are better than others. The best drink is water. This is what your body is made off and needs. Black tea and coffee are better than milky versions, but any fluid is better than no fluid.

A lot of drinks are laden with sugar, so try to avoid those mostly-hidden sources of sugar during your detox. But basically, you’re likely to need to drink far more than you’re used to, so pick drinks that will keep you hydrated with the least amount of effort. I personally battle to drink water neat, so I will brew spiced chai teas, and have them black, or I’ll add lemon and mint (loads of it) to a jug of water and have that when it’s too hot for tea.

A good way to make sure you will eliminate regularly during your detox (and the rest of the time, actually) is to take 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds in lemon water in the morning. Then to drink lemon water throughout the day. Flax seeds provide the body with fiber and lemon water has a slightly laxative effect.

4. Prefer a gradual detox approach

There are tons of detox diets out there. Most of them involve 1 or 2 days on a completely liquid diet and another 5 days to a week adding easily digestible food like brown rice, fruit, and steamed vegetables (all organic). After a week of eating only these foods, you gradually reintroduce other foods – avoiding too much red meat, wheat, dairy, sugar, and all pre-packaged or junk foods.

If you are trying a detox for the first time, it is best to take a gentle, gradual approach. To limit any unpleasant detox symptoms, try adopting a stepped method:

  1. Get yourself prepared. Plan to detox around a weekend or a quiet time, where you can rest as much as possible.
  2. A week before the detox, start cutting down on junk food, sugar, alcohol, coffee and increasing the amount of vegetables you eat. This will prepare your body. If at this stage, you already experience the typical detox “flu”, maybe this is enough of a detox for you at this stage. Stick with it. Any form of detox is good detox!
  3. Pick a detox plan that will suit you. Don’t force yourself to gulp down a vast amount of cabbage if you hate the stuff. Or only have slow-pressed juices if you’re feeling ravenous after your cleaner week. Some plan involves eating enough vegetables (even starchy ones) to fill you up and not go hungry.
  4. If it’s a very limiting diet, don’t go beyond a couple of days without medical supervision.
  5. So you’ve gone through your pre-detox, 2-3 days of intense detox and a post-detox stabilization. Go back to your pre-detox cleaner diet for another week to slowly reintroduce foods that are harder to digest. If you’ve lost a few pounds since starting, this will help consolidate the weight loss.

This might also highlight which foods your body particularly battles with. Listen to it and try and remove those offenders from your diet.

5. How to go about a juicing detox

Carrot and ginger juiceThe most extreme way to detox involves doing a water fast, where you only drink water for a few days. But there are other methods based around one (or a group) of nutrient-rich fruits or vegetables that have cleansing and antioxidant properties. Mono-food detox diets work much the same way as juice fasting in that you can only choose that one vegetable or fruit, combinations are not allowed.

With a juice fast, you must make your own fresh juices each day rather than buying something store bought. Unless you know it is all natural and fresh, like through an organic whole foods store. Detoxing your body through juice fasting is likely to make the fruits or vegetables more attractive and palatable than in their pure form. Read this post to know more about juicing and blending.

The rule for juice fasting though is to choose only one fruit or vegetable with cleansing properties like carrots, watermelons or anything with antioxidants. This provides the body with the fuel it needs without taxing the digestive system.

6. Organic or not?

Since the whole idea is to offload the toxic build-up in your body, it is important somewhat important to choose organic fruits or vegetables. Depending on your budget, the season and the availability in your area, this might impact the type of fruits or vegetables that you choose for your detox.

Alternatively, read up about the Clean 15 and focus on produce naturally containing the least amount of chemicals. To reduce the load without compromising on your budget.

7. How often should you detox?

Following a detox with fruits and vegetables can be quite easy, but it does take some effort to stay true to course as you may become hungry and experience cravings. Having a plan to follow takes the hassle out of preparing meals, and juices are usually easy to make.

However, if you can stick with a plan involving just two or three days of hard-core detox, plus the pre-detox and the post-detox cleaner, figuring out how to detox your body will become a whole lot easier. Just doing it once or twice a year should be sufficient and will provide you with great benefit,s such as increased energy and fewer incidences of ordinary illnesses like cold and flu.

Alternatively, you can choose to detox when you feel you need to. After Christmas and its food overload. Or during holidays, to ensure you come back refreshed and revigorated inside out.

8. What if a juicing detox isn’t for me?

Healthy saladIf the idea of only drinking juices for a whole day is too much for you, try to stick to a cleaner diet for a whole month. Something like the Whole30 might work well for you. Or a real food diet such as the Mediterranean diet or the Okinawan diet.

These posts might also send you on your way. By simply removing some of the worse offenders from your diet, namely industrial, processed food, you will naturally lower the toxic load in your diet. And give your body a break. Easily and naturally.

And you? What are your tips to detox? Please share in the comments below to help and inspire others!

Pinterest is a great source of inspiration for all types of detox with fruits and vegetables, follow me and see you there!

Pin for 8 tips to detox with fruits and vegetables
Detox with fruits and vegetables

9 Health Benefits of Clean Eating

In its simplest form, clean eating is going back to foods that haven’t been tampered with, or very minimally. Off with the industrialized, processed, packaged foods, and in with raw, whole, natural foods. But beyond the theory of it, what are the health benefits of clean eating?

The whole idea behind eating “clean” food is to bypass any process that could have altered the whole, original food. So that food source is as close as possible to its original, preserving as much as possible of the vitamins and nutrients.

Sure, by removing processed food, eating clean automatically increases your intake of “good” food, such as fruits, vegetables, and nuts. And decreases your intake of “bad” food, such as convenience food, cakes and biscuits, and other sugar- and additive-laden industrial food. But how does that really measure in terms of health benefits?

First, let’s clear up the air…

I’m not talking here about any commercial diet or meal plan. I’m not talking about cutting out completely food groups. I’m not talking about a vegetarian or a gluten-free diet. I’m not talking about a new fad diet or the latest food trend.

Healthy saladI’m talking about eating real food. I’m talking about taking a good look at what you eat, what you like and what’s available in your neck of the woods, and making sure you get the best of those foods. I’m talking about avoiding or minimizing any process that could destroy vitamins, deplete nutrients, remove fiber or in any way lower the goodness of those foods.

Actually, I’m talking about eating the way we did before. Before we knew how to add chemicals and pesticides to the soil. Before we knew how to process food to keep it longer than its seasonal prime. Before additives, industrial food, imported food, ready-made, and convenience meals.

So we’re back to basics. Back to eating a balanced diet of whole food, in season, locally produced without the use of chemicals, and prepared in a way that leaves as many nutrients as possible. Clean foods are in every food group. No need to cut out any major food group or drastically change what you eat. It’s all about being mindful of what you eat, and what happened to your food before it got to your plate.

Therefore the health benefits listed here are not of the “instant weight-loss” type. We are talking about long-term habits, not a 3-week stint.

So here are 9 benefits of eating a whole, mindful diet.

Related post – Clean eating for beginners – How to clean your diet the easy way

1. More energy

Cyclist on a nature trailThis has been said time and time again, but sugar and refined starches play havoc with your blood glucose, giving you a spike of energy… only to send you crashing a mere hour later. And craving for more. Starches from whole grains and vegetables are slowed down by fiber, giving you a slow release of energy for hours on. Healthy protein and good fats also help you go through the day energized.

Eating a more balanced diet rich in whole foods also ensures that your B-vitamins and iron needs are fulfilled. Both of which you need to respectively release glucose and provide oxygen to your cells, giving you the energy you need.

2. Long-term health benefits and a strong immune system

Because you eat a nutrient-rich balanced diet, you will naturally feed your gut with the right food. Avoiding refined starches, ultra-processed food, and additives help to restore your bio flora. This is key to a strong immune system, a lower risk of stroke, cardiovascular disease, and reduced blood pressure. What’s not to love?

And as clean eating is a lifestyle rather than a short-term fad diet, you’re likely to reap the benefits over the long-term.

3. Reduced inflammation, chronic pains, and symptoms

Woman taking medicationBy feeding the body with the nutrients it needs and improving your immune system, you will be generally decreasing your level of inflammation. This is super important. Inflammation in the body is like the perfect breeding ground for a whole host of more serious illnesses. Among which cancer, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, type 2 diabetes, obesity, or asthma. Scary stuff…

Inflammation is basically the response of the body to an injury, an infection, or a harmful substance. Sometimes, when it doesn’t have the strength to eradicate the source of the problem, and this problem keeps reappearing, the inflammation becomes chronic. Common symptoms are rashes, fatigue, sores, abdominal pains, among others.

Certain nutrients found in food have the capacity to help fight chronic inflammation. These include curcumin (found in turmeric), omega-3 fatty acids (in oily fish), lipoic acid (in yeast, liver, broccoli, spinach, potatoes), and some spices, like ginger, cayenne pepper or garlic. If you suffer from chronic inflammation (look it up), you will definitely benefit from including those particular foods in your clean diet.

4. Healthy weight

Following a cleaner diet can contribute to weight loss, even if it might not be your prime reason for making the change. You can read more about weight loss and clean eating here.  With more energy, fewer cravings for sugar, it’s easier not to overindulge on food.

Bear in mind though, that eating clean is not about counting calories or weighing food. So if you are battling to lose weight with clean eating, you might have to rethink your portion control. Too much of a good thing might still be too much food compared to your energy expenditure!

5. Better brain function

Woman working in officeA diet rich in antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin E is necessary to help your brain function optimally and support healthy mental health. The MIND diet (aimed at reducing dementia and limiting mental decline) is based on the Mediterranean and the DASH diets. Both of which are based on whole food, nutrient-rich diets.

Focusing on healthy fats (olive oil, nuts), rather than saturated fats and trans fats, and getting enough antioxidants from fruits and vegetables help your brain stay healthy over time and limit cognitive impairment.

6. Better sleep

Woman sleepingThere is a link between a high-fiber diet and healthy gut bacteria. New studies suggest your gut plays a vital role in the production of serotonin, the sleep hormone.

When serotonin-rich food (like eggs, salmon or nuts) is combined with starches, they also help give you a serotonin-boost similar to that of serotonin supplements. So eating a clean diet with a variety of whole food is likely to improve your sleep pattern by regulating your serotonin levels.

7. Better mood

Because eating clean doesn’t involve counting calories or weighing your food, you’re also not restricted in the amount you eat. You thus don’t suffer from hunger or feel deprived.

Your brain will be the happiest when fed the right amount of vitamin C, B-vitamins, selenium, magnesium, and zinc, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. All of which are present in a balanced, clean diet.

Avoiding caffeine-laden drinks also help alleviate anxiety and depression. Clean eating will contribute to a generally happy mood by cutting out the type of foods linked to depression and general mental impairment:

  • Caffeinated drinks, including coffee, tea, and soft drinks
  • Sugary foods
  • Alcohol
  • Fried foods
  • Refined and processed foods

8. Glowing skin, strong nails, and healthy hair

Long healthy hairYour hair and nails tend to be a reflection of how healthy your body really is. Lack of nutrients will quickly make your hair weak, limp and lackluster, and your nails brittle, ridged and discolored. With clean eating, the focus is on getting nutrient-rich foods. This is sure to show on your hair, your nails, and even your skin after a few weeks.

It’s actually not uncommon to experience a skin breakout when embarking on a clean eating journey in the first few weeks. Especially if you’ve opted for a drastic diet change. This is the body detoxifying and trying to get rid of toxic matters accumulated in your cells. Bear with it and you’ll soon see clearer skin, shinier hair, and stronger nails come through.

Carotenoids are present in bright-colored foods like carrots, spinach, kale, melons, mangoes or oranges, just to name a few. They play a role in eye health, among other things, but equally in healthy skin. So eat healthily, and bring on that glow, I say!

9. Healthier gums and teeth

Woman smilingThe mouth is home to a wide variety of bacteria, bad and good, at any given time. It is however proven that sugar, in particular, plays havoc with the balance of good and bad bacteria in the mouth. Resulting in bad breath, plaque, cavities, and gum disease.

By avoiding a lot of the foods containing refined sugar and replacing it with whole fruits, your gums and teeth health will find itself improved over time. Some vitamins, like vitamin C, also play a vital role in healthy gums and can be obtained from a balanced diet of clean foods.

Related post – How to detox at home? Give your liver and your body a welcome break from toxins.

So now you know the many health benefits of clean eating

Over the years, a lot of research has been done on various “clean” diets, such as the Mediterranean diet, the Okinawa diet, or the more recent Nordic diet. The one thing all these diets have in common is that the food is by and far prepared from scratch. From whole, unprocessed ingredients.

I don’t believe there is such a thing out there as a “one fits all” diet, I do believe that everybody is different, therefore every body is different. So why not look at your current diet, take stock of the food you enjoy and find locally, and see if you can make it cleaner and get more nutrients in your body, the easy way.

In the meantime, if you’ve started eating a cleaner, more nutrient-rich diet, feel free to share your experience, discoveries and tips with us in the comments section below. And don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest!

Health benefits of clean eating - Pin 1

How to detox your body at home

How to detox your body at home

This post contains affiliate links. For more information, please check my Affiliate Disclosure page.

Ok, so we all know that we live in a pretty polluted world. Inside and out. We breathe pollutants, but we eat them too, right?

We also know that our bodies are equipped to deal with all this. We’ve got a whole bunch of emunctory organs (the official way of calling our cleaning-up organs) to deal with it, right?

So why should we need to detox?

Getting rid of toxins is a function our bodies perform permanently and naturally. We’ve got quite a few organs to do just that, and a healthy body should be able to detoxify itself without issues.

The problem is, sometimes we overload our detox organs, or they stop functioning optimally. And we get somewhat clogged up. This is when we need to figure out how to detox your body at home and naturally.

What toxins do we need to get rid of?

There are 2 types of toxins: the ones that enter our body and the ones that the body generates. The first ones come from:

  • processed foods (sugar, refined flour products, additives etc.),
  • medication,
  • smoking,
  • alcohol,
  • caffeine,
  • pollution,
  • environmental toxins, like pesticides, household chemicals or heavy metals.

The toxins generated by your body are the end results of metabolism, hormones (stress) or bacterial by-products. These are due to the oxidation of fats, or cholesterol, to reduced liver or kidney function and free radicals.


dewy grassThe detoxification process takes place in 3 phases:
  1. Identification: Specific enzymes identify potentially harmful substances.
  2. Neutralization: These substances need to be neutralized to make them harmless and fat-soluble are turned into water-soluble substances, ready for excretion.
  3. Elimination: We get rid of the end products through our skin, lungs, kidneys and the digestive tract.

Stress hormones, medication, and tobacco are all dealt with by the enzymes in phase 1.

If the body is not properly supplemented with nutrients from a wide variety of foods, the cumulative load becomes too much, the liver is overwhelmed, leading to inflammation and disease.

This has been linked to hormonal imbalance, reduced immune function, and nutritional deficiencies.

All these can, in the long term, lead to more serious diseases. These are, for example, osteoporosis, type 2 diabetes, hypercholesterolemia, osteoarthritis, gout, fibromyalgia, depression, Parkinson’s disease, eczema, psoriasis, allergies, Crohn’s, Alzheimer etc.

So how to avoid this?

By activating your “waste disposal” organs

Emunctories are our “waste disposal” organs, whose job is to get rid of superabundant or harmful waste and secretions.

Here are our primary emunctories:

  • the liver destroys blood poisons, including toxic ammonia substances from metabolism, pollutants and drug residues. This is called “hepatic clearance”;
  • the kidneys filter the blood: urea, minerals, various acids, and drug residues;
  • the intestines evacuate waste from our diet and dead cells from our internal organs; masses of toxic substances can stagnate in the intestine, putrefy, or even form some kind of “varnish coating”;
  • the skin releases mineral salts, hormones and fats via the seborrhoea glands;
  • the lungs release carbon dioxide and volatile molecules in the bloodstream.

If the large emunctories, such as kidney and liver, stop functioning properly, it causes auto-intoxication of the body. All pathologies are linked with insufficient elimination, at the end of the day.

So a good detox should start with activating and supporting our “waste disposal” organs.

How to stimulate and clean the emunctories

According to naturopathy principles, it is recommended to stimulate and, when possible, to regularly clean our emunctories, to prevent diseases linked to the clogging of our body.

So how do you stimulate and purify emunctories?
  • artichokeLiver: by increasing the production of bile through the use of the right medicinal plants: milk thistle, desmodium, artichoke, for example;
  • Intestines: by purifying the intestines through regular hypotoxic diet (staying clear of dairy products, sugars, refined flours, fried food), fasting, single-food group diet, herbal tea enemas; see below for a short explanation of the hypotoxic diet;
  • Kidneys: by preventing the formation of crystals clogging the kidney ducts (kidney stones) thanks to a potassium-rich diet (vegetables and fruits, especially potatoes with skin, avocado, beans, banana) and calcium. In case of predisposition to kidney stones, avoid oxalate-rich foods: spinach, rhubarb, chard, peanut, beets, chocolate, tea;
  • Lungs: by promoting blood circulation and the lungs gaseous exchange through sport in a pure environment, of course avoiding fumes (tobacco, exhaust, candle, etc.), irritating products (products of routine housekeeping), etc.;
  • Skin: by focussing on activities that make you sweat (sports, steam baths, sauna), to eliminate the skin’s crystalloid (sweat) and colloidal (sebum) wastes.
Bonus

In addition to fighting against clogging diseases, having healthy emunctories should give you:

• more energy, less fatigue, and anxiety;

• soft skin, abundant hair, nails without cracks;

• better natural defenses;

• better food assimilation;

• fewer problems related to sweating, bloating, bad breath;

• better sleep;

• an active sexuality.

Which food is best to detox?    

This is where we need the full complement of nutrients to support the enzymes and metabolic processes involved in phase 1 to 3 to function optimally. These will include vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients, as well as plenty of fluids and fibre to help with the excretion part.

An anti-clogging diet should include:
Vegetables:

The Allium family – onions, garlic, chives, leeks

vegetable-brassicaThe Brassica family: Cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, kale, mustard greens, radishes, horseradish, turnips, watercress, wasabi

Other vegetables: Beets, celery, cucumber, spinach

Fruit

Avocado, berries, esp. blueberries and cranberries, apples, pears, grapefruit, lemons, oranges, citrus in general, especially the peel

Legumes

Lentils, beans, dry peas, chickpeas

Healthy fats

Olive oil, canola oil, avocado oil, almonds, Brazil nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios

Herbs and spices

Turmeric, rosemary, cumin, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, caraway, oregano, coriander, dill

Seafood

Wild caught salmon, sardines

Meat

Organic chicken, turkey, wild game, organic eggs

Do you need an anti-clogging diet plan to follow?

Option 1

An hypotoxic diet (such as the Mediterranean diet) is the optimum diet against clogging diseases. Based on the diet of the people living around the Mediterranean sea in the 60s, the diet advocates whole food, organic and seasonal fruits and vegetables, limited meat, and healthy oils.

It focusses on eating liberally:

Vegetables – Lettuce, tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, onions, cauliflower, carrots, Brussels sprouts, cucumbers, olives, etc.,

smoothie-citrusFruits – Organic and seasonal, like apples, citrus, pears, strawberries, grapes, dates, bananas, plums, figs, melons, peaches, avocados, etc.

Nuts and seeds – Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts, Brazil nuts, cashews, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds etc.

Legumes and starchy vegetables – potatoes, beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, turnips, etc.

Whole grains – Whole oats, quinoa, millet, brown rice, rye, barley, corn, buckwheat, whole wheat, whole-grain bread, and pasta.

Herbs & spices – Garlic, basil, oregano, mint, rosemary, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, pepper, turmeric, cloves, etc.

Healthy fats – Extra virgin olive oil, and avocado oil.

Eat in moderation:

Protein sources – fish (especially fatty fishes such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, trout, tuna), seafood (shrimp, oysters, clams, crab, mussels, etc.), poultry, eggs

Dairy – Cheese, plain natural yogurt

Eat rarely:

Red meat.

Don’t eat:

Refined sugar (a bit of honey is fine), sugary drinks, processed meat, refined grains, refined oils and other highly processed foods.

Very “clean eating” all this, we love it!

Or option 2

Follow a low glycemic index (GI) diet whenever possible.

Acne, which is a typical clogging disorder, decreases sharply with a low GI diet. A randomized study was conducted on this subject among 43 adolescents and adults suffering from acne. After 3 months, the “low GI” group experienced significantly reduced acne and lost an average of 3 kg.

The low GI diet is simply about eating low GI foods. These are plentiful. Basically, all the foods that do not transform too quickly into glucose after you eat them, thus avoiding a rapid rise in blood glucose at mealtimes.

You will find below a link to a table to help you figure out which food has a Low, Medium or High glycemic index. Click here to find the GI chart.

Or you can use this nifty and comprehensive search function to check out your favorite food.

The IG grading system is fun because it can be counterintuitive. You’ll be surprised to find out that beer (GI = 110) raises the blood glucose level much faster than a sugar waffle (GI = 75). Or that a brioche (IG = 70) is better than rice flour (95) and cooked celery (IG = 85).

Feel like you need a kick-start?

Consider giving yourself a bit of a shock treatment with an active water fast (fasting with water and herbal tea, and sports exercises), away from cities, industrialized areas and roads.

Disclaimer – This is not for everybody and needs to be supervised. Always take first to your doctor or your physician before embarking on a fast.

There are books out there on fasting, the principles and the methods, like this one. Read up, familiarise yourself with, but check with your doctor before embarking on any fasting program.

Throughout the year

Consider going through extra cleansing, twice a year for 10 days. This is especially beneficial if your diet hasn’t been optimal throughout the year.

    • Make a purifying soup: using fennel, celery, garlic, onion.
    • Give your liver, your main detoxing organ, a boost with the following supplements: milk thistle, dandelion, desmodium, artichoke. The supplement below is an example that combines most of these in one capsule, very handy.
      I do a monthly milk thistle detox every 3 months throughout the year, as I know my liver is my weak point.

The take-home message

  • Consume a large variety of fresh vegetables and fruit daily, preferably organic. If you’re not sure which ones should be organic, learn about the Dirty Dozen.
  • Choose foods which are whole and unprocessed. For example, snack on fresh fruit and raw nuts instead of a protein bar; enjoy a freshly made vegetable soup instead of an instant Cup-a-Soup.
  • Drink a minimum of six glasses of water per day, and stay clear of any drink containing sugar or caffeine.
  • Ensure optimal gut functions by eating high-fiber foods, such as whole grains (barley, quinoa, corn, rolled oats and wild/brown rice) and leafy vegetables.
  • Exercise or move regularly – enough to break up a sweat.

If you just took one thing of the above list and started applying it today, you’d make a difference towards better emunctories. But why not dare yourself to pick two of those and push through? Then let us know in the Comments below whether you’ve noticed any improvements!

Organic vs local food – which is best?

Organic or local food, which is best?

We buy and consume every day a large variety of foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, fish, bakery, drinks, frozen foods, yogurts, preserves, and so on. The USDA calculated in 2011 that the average American ate 1996lbs (905kg) of food per year. This is about 38lbs (17kg) of food per week and per person, around 6% of our expenses and $2,392 per year on food. In other words, buying food is big business!

Food shopping is also an opportunity to question how we should shop, especially when trying to be a responsible consumer.

How can I buy better, to suit my lifestyle and my family?
Which one is best, organic vs local food?
Is organic really better for health?
Are organic products more expensive?
How to identify the exact source of fresh produce?
Have they been treated with pesticides?
Should I choose honey from my home country or South America?
Or just from anywhere, as long as it’s fair trade?
Is it sensible to buy organic green beans from Kenya?
Are there producers who can supply me in my area?
How to be sure that fair trade money goes to the producer?

And many, many more questions.

In this post, we’re trying to shed some light on buying sustainable food, organic farming, local production, and we’ll add fair trade here. The idea is to give you, as a consumer, the tools to be able to make the best choice for you and your family. Based on where you live, what is available around and how you eat. Based also on your individual choices and the importance you give to the environmental and/or ethical and/or health aspects.

What is organic food?

Organic farming is a mode of production based on cultural and livestock practices respectful of natural balances. Thus, it excludes the use of synthetic chemicals, GMOs, and limits the use of non-organic inputs. “Inputs” means anything added to the land: fertilizers, pesticides… Organic farming follows strict specifications. Those favor, at all stages, the respect of the farmer, of nature, of the animals, of our environment and of the general health.

In organic agriculture, synthetic chemicals are not allowed, animals have enough space to live, the systematic addition of antibiotics to animal feed is prohibited, and so on. In practice, organic producers will use the following:

  • Long and varied rotations, food autonomy for their herds (link to the ground),
  • The economy of inputs,
  • Risk prevention, for animal and crop health or weed control.
USDA organic logoCertification and labeling

Products from organic farming are controlled and can be identified thanks to specific labels.

Organic labels differ depending on:

  • the type of products they cover (food, textiles, etc.),
  • the social, ecological and economic criteria checked,
  • the inspection body granting the certification.

Other private logos identify “brands” of organic products.

Us organic logoSome numbers. Organic represents between 1 and 3% of the total cultivated surfaces in the US. This may not sound like much, but organic farmland experienced a double-digit growth over the last few years. And the sales of organic products, food and non-food, have grown much faster than standard products overall.

Side note – However, the demand for organic products far exceeds the current 1-3% of certified organic soil in the US. To be certified organic, a produce farmer will have to transition for 3 years. This period is required to allow for the soil to be rid of any chemical residues and to go back to an organic state of health. This deters a lot of farmers, and a large proportion of organic food is imported to meet consumer demand.

 Some large producers, like General Mills, have heard their consumers demand for more organic products. They are now increasing their range, encouraging more farmers to make the transition to organic.

Is organic more expensive?

Yes, organic products are usually more expensive, but not always. Let’s clarify this:

  • The extra cost is due to a smaller production scale and sometimes increased labor costs. Indeed, the cost of transporting imported products is sometimes offset by cheaper labor. A fair trade label could guarantee the social conditions of production, at increased cost.
  • Studies show that households who shop in specialized organic grocery stores or directly from the producer spend less money on food. Why? Because they are more in tune with their real needs.
  • We underestimate the price of conventional foods because it does not take into account their environmental and health impacts. For example, organic foods contain fewer pesticides, residues of veterinary drugs and nitrates. This reduces their water pollution control costs. Source – FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations).
  • Some organic products are more expensive than their non-organic counterparts, like meat. The solution here might be to consume less meat but of much better quality!
  • Organic meat and vegetables do not melt or dry up like “traditional” foods and are richer in nutrients, containing from 20% to 75% extra vitamins, proteins, trace elements, mineral salts…

Related: the Dirty Dozen list or when to buy organic


The case for local food

Fruit and vegetable marketThe “ideal” product would be a product where the raw material would be produced and processed locally. It would be directly sold by the producer to consumers according to the concept of “short food supply chain”. This makes it possible:

  • to reduce the transport and storage of the products,
  • to better remunerate the producer, since there are no intermediaries,
  • and to create a direct contact as well as a relation of trust with the producer.
Local food can take many forms.

The most common is probably the purchase of local products through conventional distribution channels (grocery stores, supermarkets, etc.). To promote the short food supply chain, we can turn to:

  • collective purchase groups, who collectively manage the purchase of local products.
  • solidarity purchase groups who voluntarily support certain producers.
  • direct purchase from the producer on a market or at the place of production.



What is fair trade?

Fair trade USAFair Trade products counted just a few thousands of products 20 years ago. You can now count over 200 million fairly traded products in multiple stores and outlets. They can be now found through fair trade organizations, committed stores, or even supermarkets.

According to the World Fair Trade Organization:

“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency, and respect, that seeks greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South.

 Fair Trade organizations have a clear commitment to Fair Trade as the principal core of their mission. They, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.”

Fair Trade AmericaThe basic principle of fair trade…

is the guarantee given to small producers to commercialize their products at prices that cover the costs of sustainable production from both a social and environmental point of view.

It is also a guarantee of relative price stability. As well as the implementation of favorable conditions of payment. And even pre-financing opportunities. These prevent farmers and tradesmen from having to sell their products short or getting loans from predatory lenders.

Fair Trade products and organizations follow a set of criteria. They are also recognizable by specific labels, logos, and brands (see opposite).

Tips for a sustainable clean diet

The good news is, you don’t have to choose between the three. Organic farming, fair trade and a diet based on local products are an integral part of a sustainable diet. These concepts reinforce each other.

The notion of fair trade implies requirements of economic and social guarantees for small producers. Like the payment of a fair price, multi-annual commercial contracts or the granting of development premiums. Those requirements go in parallel with strict environmental practices (ban on GMOs, environmental impact reduction, sustainable management of natural resources, etc.).

The term “local product” refers only to the notion of proximity from the place of production. Despite common beliefs, a local product provides no environmental, health and social guarantees. Unfortunately, the environmental impact of agricultural food products depends more on the mode of production than the transport itself.

This goes in favor of organic products:

  • They do not require fertilizers or synthetic pesticides (whose production generates significant greenhouse gas emissions),
  • and preserve water quality and biodiversity.



The optimal solution is the one that works for you

Fresh marketIt is less a question of “choosing” between these products than “reconciling” these products. Based on your personal values and realistic opportunities in your area. The valorization of organic, equitable and local products is also a great way to encourage family production methods and small-scale agriculture.

For example, you could try prioritizing your clean shopping like this:

  • Think before you buy…

    to match quantities to your needs, do a shopping list, use up leftovers, etc. to avoid waste. That’s when real savings happen. It is also a chance to identify seasonal fruits and vegetables, or to consider a small kitchen or backyard garden to grow your own produce.

  • Prefer organic products…

    that are at the same time local products, when possible. Transportation is a major cause of greenhouse gas emissions. Long distances between the grower and the consumer also mean long storage. Your products are less likely to have been picked at their ultimate level of ripeness, but rather green and left to ripen in containers. Bulk products should also have your preferences to reduce packaging waste.

  • For products from the Southern hemisphere…

    opt for organic and fair trade products: coffee, bananas, oranges, tea, etc.

  • Be choosy! 😉

    Be more picky about your food. Prefer quality over quantity. Spend a bit more on better quality products, and learn to savor every mouthful, rather than devour. Your taste buds (and your waistline) will thank you for it.

And you? How do you decide whether to spend your hard-earned money needs on organic, local or fair trade products? Please share your tips in the comments below for your fellow readers. 🙂

How to eat more whole grains in 5 steps

How to eat more whole grains

Despite popular “low grain” trends over the last few years (read gluten-free, low-carb and Paleo diets), whole grains are seeing an increase in popularity. So much so that more and more products are now labeled as containing “whole grains”. But in all this marketing hype, we’re left to figure out how to eat more whole grains.

This is the second part of my series on whole grains, the first part (why eat whole grains) covered the meaning of whole grains, as well as their benefits. In this section, we’re going to see how to eat more whole grains in 5 easy steps.

1. Understanding whole grains

To recap quickly, a whole grain will contain the whole kernel, i.e.:whole-wheat

  • The bran – the outer layer.
  • The endosperm – the main part of the grain, which can be ground to make flour.
  • The germ – the component which will germinate if planted.

Refined grains will consist mainly of the endosperm, which is made by and far of carbohydrates, a few vitamins and minerals, and very little fiber. With the industrial revolution and the motorization of mills, came the realization that refined flours were easier to cook with, had an improved texture and taste, and had a longer shelf life.

However, in the process, almost all the fiber and a large portion of the vitamins and minerals are lost. And a few good decades later, a whole lot of studies are confirming that those are actually the ones conferring grains their health properties.

2. Know your portion size

The recommended daily amount of whole grain, according to the USDA, ranges between 6 and 7 “ounce equivalents” respectively for adult women and men. They define one “ounce equivalent” as containing 16g of whole grains. In layman terms, this translates as:

  • 1 slice of bread
  • 1 cup of ready-to-eat cereals (puffed or flaked)
  • ½ cup of cooked rice, cooked pasta, or cooked cereals
  • 1 biscuit, mini bagel, small muffin, pancake, small flour tortilla, full-size corn tortilla

They also recommend that 50% of our daily intake should be made of whole grains. Unfortunately, there are several pitfalls out there:

Whole grain label starts at 51% whole grain

According to the FDA, to be labeled “whole grain”, a food must contain at least 51% of whole grains by weight. This does, however, mean that 49% can be junk (see Learn to decipher labels below). A whole wheat cookie is still a cookie…

Recomposed whole grains rather than a whole kernels

In most processed products (all bakery products, for example), the final “whole grain” is actually a combination of bran, endosperm, and germ that were initially separated, then mixed back together. Those processed whole grains have a lower content of fiber and nutrients than their original intact kernels.

“Whole grain” doesn’t always mean “rich in fiber”Burger with whole wheat bun

A whole grain product is not a guarantee that you will get optimum fiber intake. So if increasing your intake of fiber is one of your prime concern, be aware that eating processed whole grain products will not be enough. You’ll need to increase your consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Processed whole grains will still trigger blood sugar spikes

Even though these will be less than for refined grains, they will still send you reaching for your next sugar/starch fix sooner than whole kernels (think porridge oats vs. steel-cut oats).

Watch out for the Whole Grain Stamp

The basic Whole Grain Stamp, although confirming that the product contains at least 8g of whole grains per serving, doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain a whole lot of sugar, solid fat, salt, and other additives. Look out rather for the 100% Whole Grain Stamp, which will contain a minimum of 16g per serving, i.e. 1 of your 6 or 7 whole grain daily recommended servings.

We don’t need to eat more grain products

Americans, by and far, eat too many grain-based products on a daily basis, so the idea here is not to add whole grains to your diet, but to cleverly substitute some of your refined grain products for healthier whole grain ones.

3. How to spot the right whole grains

Step 1. Think.

No matter how many claims of “high-fiber content” and “whole grains” a highly-processed, nutrient-poor product can make, it remains a highly-processed, nutrient-poor product. Breakfast sugary cereals for kids are a prime example. A lot of them have jumped on the “whole grain” bandwagon, yet their first ingredient is sugar and they’re loaded with additives and colorings. Same for biscuits and other snacks. If this isn’t a product that would qualify as unprocessed, clean and nutrient-rich otherwise, being labeled “whole grain” will not change that.

Step 2. Learn to decipher labels

Now that we’ve eliminated the wolf-disguised-as-lamb gang, let’s focus on those products like bread or pasta. Those are processed food, but they will naturally find themselves in your pantry. When shopping for them, make sure that the whole grains are top of that list, or second, just after water.

whole wheat bread ingredients

Step 3. Aim for the whole kernel.

The ultimate whole grains are, well, grains that still look whole. If you compare porridge oats (which are steamed and rolled) and steel-cut oats, you can clearly see that the latter still look like a whole kernel, cut in pieces. Same for rice. If you can still see the bran on the grains, you’re on the right track. Millet, buckwheat, and quinoa, for example, are prepared whole. This makes popcorn (minus added butter) is the ultimate whole grain snack!

4. An easier approach: the magic carb-to-fiber ratio

The theory

Ok, by now you can see that adding whole grains to your diet might not be as easy as it first seemed. Luckily, Harvard researchers studied over 500 grain-based products in two major grocery stores and came up with an easier solution. They found out that the healthier products had a minimum fiber to carbohydrates ratio of 1:10.

In practice

What does this mean? It means that if you check any whole grain product label, you can just focus on the grams of carbohydrates given for 100g, then check the fiber amount.

Example 1: Ancient grains whole bread

Ancient-Grain-Nutrition-PanelIn this example, the carbohydrates total 38g per 100g of product, and the fiber, 7g. Divide the carbohydrates by 10. We obtain 3.8. So there must be *at least* 3.8g of fiber in this product.

At 7g, this product easily passes the test. This is incidentally a whole grain gluten-free bread. Being gluten-free, it contains quite a few added ingredients, some of it being refined starches.

Ingredients – Water, whole grain brown rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch, whole grain millet flour, whole grain sorghum flour, whole grain teff flour, egg whites, corn dextrin, cane sugar, canola oil, potato flour, honey, rice bran extract, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, whole grain quinoa, whole grain teff, ground flax seed, flax seeds, whole grain millet, whole grain amaranth flour, hemp seeds, baking powder, yeast, xanthan gum, salt vinegar, enzymes (calcium sulfate & enzymes)

 

Example 2 – Whole grains English muffins

Whole-Wheat-Bread-LabelHere, the carbohydrates per serving are 29g. Based on this, the amount of fiber should be 2.9g. Instead, the fiber content is only 2g. It’s not a large difference, but enough to flag potential no-nos here.

When checking the ingredients list, the whole grains only appear after the enriched wheat flour (refined flour enriched in vitamins and minerals) and the water. The muffins also contain some preservatives and other additives.

Ingredients – Enriched wheat flour [flour, malted barley flour, reduced iron, niacin, thiamin mononitrate (vitamin b1), riboflavin (vitamin b2), folic acid], water, whole wheat flour, farina, sugar, salt, yeast, calcium propionate and sorbic acid (to preserve freshness), wheat gluten, soybean oil, grain vinegar, monoglycerides, soy lecithin, soy, whey (milk).

 

NB – I have actually really battled to find any bread that was labeled “whole grain” and did not meet the above guideline, which is fabulous by my standards. I didn’t check any cereals, snacks or biscuits though!

5. How to add whole grain to your diet

Based on the fact that the average American diet already contains enough grain-based products, the main idea to increase your whole grain intake is to replace some (half, ideally) of your refined grain products by 100% whole grain ones. Or three-quarters of your refined grain products by 50% whole grain ones.

This doesn’t have to be done overnight, but here are some pointers to steer you in the right direction.

  • Swap your white bread for whole wheat bread. If you don’t care much for the taste of whole wheat bread, look out for a 50/50 bread with maximum fiber content.
  • Swap your normal pasta for whole wheat pasta. It is a bit of an acquired taste, but I find that, in most recipes with sauce, the difference in flavor disappears.
  • Swap your white rice for brown rice. It does take a little longer to cook though, so bear this in mind.
  • Swap porridge oats for steel-cut oats. Again, they take longer to cook so give yourself a little bit more time.
  • Start experimenting with seed-like grains, such as quinoa and millet, instead of rice, couscous, and porridge.

Replace refined flour in your recipes with whole grain ones. Be careful though, unrefined flours are heavier than refined ones and will change the texture of your cakes and biscuits. Start with replacing a quarter of your refined flour and increase the quantity from there on. Or simply look out for new recipes using whole grain flours.
Those will also bring a different, stronger (more nutty) flavor to your baking. Recipes who will do well with the change include cakes where the amount of flour is minimal (typically less than 150g of flour per cake), which contain nuts or which use spices for added flavors.

Have you figured out how to eat more whole grains yet?

I hope so, but if I have missed any tip or advice on how to eat more whole grains for your fellow clean-eaters out there, please send them in the comments below so we can all benefit.

Remember one thing though. These are vitally important changes to make for your health. Yet, they are easy (whole grain products are everywhere and are on the rise) and cheap (they actually don’t cost that much more than your refined products). And because whole grains fill you up more than refined grains, you might end up eating less, recouping the little extra cost. Win-win.

And if you’ve missed the first part of my Whole grains series, Why eat whole grains, be sure to catch it there!

Why eat whole grains? Understanding their health benefits

why-eat-whole-grains

Grains in seem to be having a hard time lately, with gluten being blamed by some for major health problems and new grain-free diets springing up every year. So one can easily wonder why eat whole grains at all, as recommended by health authorities everywhere.

However, according to Dr. Frank Hu, Professor of nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and author of two long-running studies, eating 70g of whole grains per day could reduce your risk of dying by 5%. With each additional 28g serving, the risk of dying of heart disease is reduced by 9%. The study also found that replacing refined grains and red meats by whole grains in equal amounts could potentially increase your lifespan by 8% to 20%.

There is so much to explain about whole grains that I have split this subject in two. Part 1 covers Why eat whole grains, and Part 2 deals with ways to eat more whole grains.

What are whole grains?

Mixed whole grainsGrains, also called cereals, are the seeds of some grasses, which are cultivated for food. The following are all grains you’re likely to come across in the shops, although not all in the form of whole seeds (alternative names in brackets):

  • Amaranth
  • Barley
  • Buckwheat (or kasha)
  • Corn (hominy, popcorn, maize)
  • Millet
  • Oats (oatmeal)
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Rye
  • Sorghum
  • Spelt
  • Teff
  • Wheat (triticale, semolina, seitan, farro, kamut)
  • Wild Rice


Whole grains vs. refined grains

A whole grain will contain the whole kernel, i.e.:

  • The bran – the outer layer, which contains vitamins, minerals, and fibers.
  • The endosperm – the main part of the grain, which can be ground to make flour. Initially destined to feed the embryo, the germ, when it develops into a new plant. Contains carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.
  •  The germ – the smallest component of the kernel, which is supposed to germinate if planted. Contains proteins, vitamins, minerals, and fat.

100% whole grains will contain all 3 parts of the kernel (the bran, the endosperm, and the germ). To obtain refined grains, whole grains are milled to remove the bran and the germ. The end result is of finer texture and keeps for longer. The process removes, however, a lot of the nutrients, in particular, fiber.

Wheat fieldWhole grains can still be milled, rolled, crushed or cracked. As long as the whole of the kernel is present in the end product, they are still “whole grains”.

Note – when we eat refined grains, our bodies actually use nutrients to digest these nutrient-poor foods, which leaves us poorer in nutrients than before eating them!

Note 2 – This is why you might come across the terms “enriched grains” and “fortified grains”. “Enriched grains” means some of the nutrients lost during the milling stage are replaced, such as vitamins. “Fortified grains” means that some nutrients that were not initially in the kernel have been added.

Whole grains and fibers

As you can see from the Nutritional info above, one of the main nutrient to be removed during the refining process is fiber. It’s the part of a plant food that the body cannot digest. As it moves through our digestive system, it absorbs water and helps the body eliminate food waste quicker.

A higher consumption is linked with a lower risk of heart disease, as it helps lower blood pressure and cholesterol, and stabilizes blood sugar. It also fills you up and is an essential tool for weight loss and weight management.

whole-wheatThere are 2 varieties of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Good sources of insoluble fiber in grains are whole wheat and popcorn (minus any added butter or sugar), but also teff, spelt and millet. Barley and oatmeal, as well as amaranth, contain soluble fiber. The body needs both in equal measures for optimal health.

The current recommended intake of fiber ranges from 21 to 25 grams for women and 30 to 38 grams for men. However, the vast majority of us only get to about half of that amount per day, mostly thanks to our highly processed diet of refined grains and our low intake of high-fiber food such as fruits and vegetables.

Check my next post on How to eat more whole grains to figure out how to increase your fiber intake the easy way.

So why eat whole grains?

The higher fiber content of whole grains is linked with lowering your general risk of mortality, but that’s not the only reason why eating whole grains is beneficial to our bodies. The bran and germ of grains also contain a whole range of phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals, as well as proteins, all playing a beneficial role. Let’s list a few of the main benefits here:

1. They slow down digestion,

…stabilizing your blood sugar and insulin levels. When ingested, refined grains break down immediately into glucose, much the same way as pure sugar. This sends your blood sugar rocketing, then plummeting, later on, causing sugar crash and cravings.
Whole grains are broken down more slowly, keeping you full for longer.

2. They have been found to help with weight management

…by not sending you reaching for the next sugar or starchy fix, three servings per day being associated with less abdominal fat.

3. Whole grains, therefore, help with preventing type 2 diabetes

…through healthy weight control and stabilization of your blood sugar levels. Those benefits kick in from only two servings per day (read my post on How to eat more whole grains to figure out what a serving is). This could be due to their high-fiber and high-magnesium content, both linked with better carbohydrate metabolism and insulin sensitivity.

4. Whole grains can help lower blood cholesterol,

Whole grain breads are best…oats being a real champion in this category. Their higher soluble fiber content helps with eliminating cholesterol, by binding the cholesterol and its precursors together in the digestive tract and eliminating it quickly. The antioxidants found in oats also play a role.

5. They can help decrease your blood pressure,

…in particular, whole grains with a high soluble fiber content, such as barley and oats. Their antioxidants help improve cardiovascular health and reduce inflammation.

6. Numerous studies on more than 20 types of cancer

…have found a link between eating three servings of whole grains per day and a reduced risk of cancer. This is in particular valid for gastrointestinal cancers and cancers of the oral cavity, such as pharynx, esophagus, and larynx.
Whole grains offer protective nutrients, such as fiber, antioxidants (vitamin E and selenium in particular) and phytochemicals which can help suppress the growth of cancer cells, block DNA damage and prevent the formation of carcinogens.

And if the benefits of whole grains start at just two servings per day, research has shown that the health improvements increase with each extra serving, to reach the 3-4 servings of whole grains recommended daily by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

The take-home message: load up on whole grains for optimal health

How to do this? There are a lot of easy ways to identify whole grains in your food and increase your intake. Read up on those in my next article on How to eat more whole grains.

Eating clean for beginners – 6 steps to wholesomeness

Clean eating for beginners

Eating a healthy diet should be a no-brainer, since it is linked with important health improvements, such as a lesser risk of premature death, heart disease, cancer, and chronic diseases, just to name a few.

A clean, healthy diet should be focussed on eating food as close as possible to their original state and reduce the intake of industrially processed food to a minimum.

Ultimately, eating clean means avoiding anything packaged.

Sounds extreme? In those days of supermarkets, long shelf life and convenience food, that’s how it looks.
Sounds impossible? Not really. This is a guide to start eating clean for beginners in 6 easy steps. Follow them, and you’ll be well on your way to new clean eating habits.

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”. Alan Lakein

As you’ll see, the best way to start eating clean is to prepare for it. This doesn’t need to take long, but this Eating Clean for Beginners post will equip you with the right tools to change your habits in the long run and make the most of your new diet.

Step 1 – Decide Why

Before you embark on your clean eating journey, ask yourself why you want to do this.

This is a vital step. Deciding on why you want change to happen will keep you motivated when your willpower is being challenged.

  • How to plan for clean eatingHave you got health problems that need you to change your lifestyle?
  • Did you sign up for a sports challenge and could do with adjusting your diet?
  • Have you decided to take charge of your health in the long run, to age gracefully?
  • Is someone close to you embarking on the same journey and you feel compelled to join them?
  • Do you want to teach your children how to eat healthier?
  • Do you want to lessen your environmental footprint?

Whatever the reason why you want to start eating clean, pinpoint it. Better still, write it down somewhere. So you can revert to it when you’re feeling in doubt.

Step 2 – Decide How

As I have covered in this post on Starting clean eating, there is more than one way one can kick-start their healthy eating journey. But not all of them will fit you and your lifestyle. Read about them, think about them, and decide on the best method to clean up your diet.

This is particularly important if you are starting from a highly refined, industrial diet. Your body will need time to adjust to your new meals and cleanse itself inside out. Give it time, allow for it to be de-gunked gradually, one step at a time.

Also, if you decide to start with just a clean breakfast, for example, it will also allow you not to feel guilty about your evening meal being still highly processed. Instead, you will feel proud of your achievement so far and this will spur you on.

Step 3 – Give yourself SMART goals

SMART goals for successOh, you’ve heard about those before, the corporate world loves them. But there is some definite truth behind them, and reasons why they work so well. Let’s go through them, applied to your new clean eating resolutions. Try and make your goals:

Specific

Once you’ve picked a method to start eating clean, decide on which meal or food to change first. Or which shop you will do your shopping in from now on. Or which industrial food you’re going to replace by a cleaner one.

Measurable

This one is a bit more difficult here as we’re not dealing with numbers or hard facts. But you can still set yourself targets and check against them. It could be sport-related since a healthy diet will improve your endurance and your energy. Or if you buddy-up (see Step 4), you can decide on the next common “challenge” to tackle. Or decide on the weight you’re aiming to get to.

Achievable

Be realistic. Yes, some people have managed successfully to use the Great Purge method, radically changing their lifestyle. But I don’t know any who didn’t battle with it, and I’m pretty sure this “All or nothing” approach is the reason behind quite a few failures.

It takes time to make effective long-lasting changes. For a start, your body will detox, which can lead to a few uncomfortable days or weeks. The more gradual the changes, the shorter these will be.

You might also end up giving up on some of your favorite food. And they are so because their composition makes them so addictive. Think sugar-salt-fat, add a bit of MSG for the umami flavor, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a food you just won’t be able to stop eating.

Clean eating will help you get rid of those cravings. But if you remove these highly processed foodstuffs all at once, you’re setting yourself up for junk food withdrawal symptoms. And for failure, if those become too strong.

Relevant

If you decide to eat clean, focus on this. Eating clean and going vegan at the same might be just too much at once. Or eating clean and gluten-free.

The idea is to give your body (and the environment) a rest from added processes and additives. If you introduce too many changes at once, it might be more difficult to stick to your new habits. Give yourself a chance and make one change at a time.

Read my post about starting clean eating for ideas on how to introduce those changes.

Timebound

Be realistic about how quickly you will manage to implement those changes. Once you’ve decided how you will transition to clean eating, think about how long each change, big or small, will take. Based on your life, your family, your work, etc.

But once you’ve set those timeframes, try and stick with them. Write them down somewhere. You’re more likely to stick to resolutions if they’re written down in your agenda.

Step 4 – Buddy up

Cooking clubWe all know that it’s easier to stick with changes when you are part of a team. Why? Because the goals are set together, everybody works toward the same targets and this holds you accountable. It is particularly important when introducing major changes in your life.

There are bound to be times when you will feel tempted to fall off the wagon. And in those times, remembering that you are part of a team and that you’ll have to somehow “report” to them will make a difference.

Your clean eating team can be real and close to you, like family members or friends. This makes it easier to go shopping together, team up to trawl farmers’ markets and sample each other’s’ recipes.

But in this era of all things virtual, it can also be a Facebook group, an online challenge group or an app like MyFitnessPal (see below). The main point is to be inspired by others, to be reminded of your goals, and to have to “report” regularly, through weigh-in or another progress report.

It’s also important to get regular reminders and feedback from others going in the same direction, facing the same difficulties and asking the same questions.

Step 5 – Get the Right Tools

Starting to eat clean by yourself can be daunting, especially if this is a new concept for you. So here are a few free apps to help you along (please note that, being an Android user, the links are for the Google Play store, but all these free apps are also available on iTunes for Apple users):

MyFitnessPal

MyFitnessPal…is a great one to get started. It’s user-friendly and allows you to log in a meal in a couple of clicks. Plus, its food database, with over five million entries, is sure to contain just the one ingredient you’re eating or want to eat.

Although it’s more of a calorie-counter and diet-tracker, it’s easy, free, comprehensive and a great tool to check your nutrients. You can also easily link up with fellow buddies, exchange tips and follow each other’s progress.

Yummly

Yummly…allows you to get healthy recipes based on dietary and taste preferences, and even shop online for them with Instacart.

You can select what’s currently in your fridge/pantry and get ideas of meals to do with it, based on your cooking skills, your personal taste preferences, and your dietary requirements.

DietsSuckdietssuck

…is a simple app that encourages you to introduce little healthy changes every day. It’s fun and easy, and it sends you reminders to drink more water or eat fruit throughout the day. You can also use it to give you easy meal plans.

The Thrive Market

The Thrive MarketThis app allows you to order healthy foods online at wholesale price. What’s not to love? If your local supermarket isn’t particularly well stocked up in healthy food, this could be your next best option.

Fooducate

Fooducate…helps you decipher labels and tells you how good or bad a specific food is. It reads a barcode to access the info for that particular product, so it’s great for any packaged item you still need to buy. Or if you’re just starting and ponder how “clean” your standard shopping basket really is.

Dirty Dozen appThe Dirty Dozen app

…lets you know exactly which fresh produce you should buy organic, and which ones are pretty much devoid of pesticides, even if grown traditionally. Not sure what I’m talking about? Read this post to find out more about the Dirty Dozen and the Clean 15.

The RealPlans app

RealPlans app…takes the hassle out of meal planning. You can even upload your own recipes, remove the ones that you don’t like, select specific diet preferences. It gives you the shopping you need, and with Instacart built-in, even gets your ingredients delivered to your door!

RealPlans is a monthly subscription, but if you buy the Healthy Meal Planning Bundle, you get 1 month free. Long enough to try this app and see if it works for you, methinks.

Step 6 – Learn about clean eating food, shopping, cooking etc.

Educate yourself.

The prospect of switching from a highly processed diet to a cleaner one can be daunting. But if you take baby steps and understand the logic behind it all, it actually makes a lot of sense.

So stick around. Read up a lot about the ins and out of clean eating. SimplyGoClean is here to help you with just that.

Follow your Why.

This is an important step (see Step 1 above). You might want to lose weight, improve your general health, teach your kids how to eat cleaner food, save money on food or lower your environmental footprint. These are all valid goals.

Depending on your target, you might not approach clean eating in the same way. Lowering your footprint might involve eating more local and organic food and reducing packaging to its bare minimum as a priority. Whereas teaching your children to eat healthier will have you focus on finding tasty and easy recipes to satisfy their taste buds.

Figure out How.

Figure out what will work for you in your current situation. Then research this. Chances are, somebody else will have been in the same situation and will have found the answer. This is how Simply Go Clean was created, to pass on all the answers I came across. So keep on sharing, using the Comments section below.

If meal planning is an issue, this meal planning tool might just be the solution.

Savor it.

Clean eating is not about eating plain food day in day out. It’s about discovering new ways to cook and taste whole natural ingredients.

There are loads of delicious clean recipes out there, should you want to stick to your old favorites, or try out new flavors and textures. Follow me on Pinterest, I try my best to select clean recipes for you.

Treat yourself.

You’ve thought about your SMART goals (see Step 3), and you’ve worked hard toward reaching them, whatever these might be. When you get there, be proud of it. Shout it out on your clean eating network (real or virtual). Take a minute to reflect on how hard or easy it was getting this far. On what you had to change. And how you changed it. This will help you plan your next move and reach your next target.

Got another tip? Share it here.

Create your teamEverybody’s clean eating journey is different because we’re all different. Feel free to share your journey or give us more tips on eating clean for beginners in the Comments below. They’re bound to be useful to someone else out there.

And if you liked this post, please share it on Facebook or Pinterest to inspire others.

Clean eating for beginners

How to start clean eating

How to start clean eating

Eating clean is simply eating more natural, healthy, wholesome food, and less processed, nutrient-depleting, industrial food. Put like that, it sounds easy, doesn’t it? But how to start clean eating, for the majority of us out there, can be daunting. Processed food (anything with a packaging, really) is the norm, it’s what we grew up on and it’s the only food that’s (seemingly) available in the shops.

So do you start eating clean? Do you go T-total, or try a more gradual approach? It will depend on you and your circumstances, and I believe there are ways to go clean to suit everybody. I have listed few tried and tested methods below, from the most radical to more moderate approaches.

Option 1 – The Great Purge

This is the most radical approach to quickly purge your kitchen, pantry, fridge, and freezer and start from scratch. Not really suited to families though.

Market stall full of fruits and vegetablesSome folks out there go for a radical, uncompromising approach: they throw away all their foodstuff that isn’t considered clean and start with a clean slate. The idea is to purge your pantry and your fridge of all food that would detract you from eating clean, so you are not tempted to eat something processed or refined from there on.

The pros – it allows you to start from scratch and stick with your new clean diet quickly, simply by removing the temptation at home. This might work well for people that need to radically and suddenly change their diet, for serious health reasons, for example.

The cons – while the temptation might not be at home unless you know exactly what to eat and how to eat it, you will likely fall back on old habits the next time you shop or go out. So a fair amount of research must go in hand with the purge.

You might also get the dreaded detox flu as your body has to get rid of vast amounts of toxins in a short period of time.

The risk is also to end up removing a lot of junk food, but without knowing what clean food to add back into your diet, and not eating enough. Eating clean is not a restricting, short-term diet, it’s a lifestyle. Deprivation and calorie-counting do not belong in a clean eating diet.

It takes a good few weeks (some say 3, but evidence shows that even 21 days is not enough for massive changes like this) to set up habits, and unless you have a major reason to do this, this method is more likely to fail as you battle through your new way of eating.

Good for – the Adventurers, the Radicals and the Highly Motivated

Option 2 – The Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner approach

“Clean” one meal at a time, breakfast, then lunch, then dinner is a gentler approach. This is the one I personally followed, without realizing it.

Breakfast
How I did it

I started with the breakfast, which was giving me a lot of grief. Being French, I grew up on “tartines”, French bread smothered with butter and jam, or sugar-laden breakfast cereals, with a cup of hot chocolate as a child, then coffee or chicory as an adult.

And at 10 am, I would crash. I would get brain-fog and cranky at school. In my teens, the sugar crash would actually cause me to feel faint if I didn’t eat anything by 12. I actually passed out a couple time during my student years, because I had forgotten or hadn’t had the time to eat anything by lunch. Did I learn from my mistakes? Nope, I just carried on glucose tablets in my bag all the time!

Eggs on toast with saladI later alleviated the problem somewhat by switching to good old porridge oats in the morning, but I would still need a snack at 10. I only switched to a protein-based breakfast after the birth of my second daughter, when I was diagnosed with gluten intolerance and had to forgo oats. The relief was immediate and immense. I could just have 2 eggs and a tomato and carry on with the same level of energy until 12. I stopped feeling faint, I didn’t need to permanently carry glucose tablets or snacks with me. and I lost the sugar-induced brain fog. My hunger signs became, well, normal “empty stomach” hunger signs, rather than crankiness and faintness.

Apologies for the long personal digression, but this was truly my turning point. And given that most people’s breakfast is sugar-laden, I’m guessing it might be the same for a lot of people out there.

Why start with changing your breakfast?

Breakfast is also an easy meal to turn clean first, because it usually happens at home, is quickly prepared and is by far a personal affair. So, you don’t have to find recipes to please a whole family. It’s just you, your taste buds and your appetite.

But being the first meal of the day, if you find the clean breakfast that works for you, it will make a huge difference in how comfortable and productive your mornings are. Basically, that’s half of your day sorted. There and then.

Lunch

…will naturally be next, again because it mainly involves you. It typically requires a little more prep at home, if you’re bringing your own lunch, or being savvier with your choice of bought-out lunch. But you only have to cater for yourself, and you, therefore, have a lot more options.

If you haven’t done so naturally by then, snacks should probably be your next target, to make sure you don’t ruin your clean day by snacking on the wrong kind of food after work or when in need of a pick-me-up.

Dinner

…will probably be the most challenging meal to swap to clean food. Not through lack of delicious options, but simply because it usually involves other people, their taste buds, and their culinary expectations. Serving a whole plateful of healthy, natural greens to your kids every evening is not likely to earn you any brownie points.

Chicken kebabs with vegetablesBut by then, you are likely to have a good idea of what foods are allowed in a clean eating kitchen and how to prep them. My honest advice here is to involve the rest of your household. There are plenty of recipes that allow you to replace the family favorites with cleaner versions. Your children are also more likely to try your new meals if they have chosen the recipe and some of the ingredients. Or, even better, if they have helped prepare it.

How long should it take you to change every single meal? As long as you need. Everybody is different. This is not a short-term fad diet, but a new way of eating. Set yourself realistic targets and stick to them. Remember the 80/20 rule. It might be that clean eating works for you during the working week, but that you need to relax it a bit at the weekend. Or all the time, apart from lunches with clients. My kids know that they’re allowed a “naughty” in their lunchboxes on Fridays.

Good for – the Inadvertent Clean Eaters, the Morning Slumpers

Option 3 – One food category at a time

Or how to swap one food category for a cleaner version at a time, starting with the worst offenders.

This is another stepped approach that can work well to change from a drastically processed diet. It consists of identifying the industrial food that needs to be removed from your diet. Then the clean food that needs to make its way into your diet. Then decide to make one change per week or per month.

Fresh clean water is bestFor example, the first change could be gradually cutting out sugary drinks and drinking more water. The second one, replacing refined starches with whole grain ones. The third one, adding an extra portion of vegetables per meal. Then replacing biscuits, cakes and sugary treats with fruits or clean snacks. Switching to cleaner protein sources. Cutting down/out shop-bought prepared meals and takeaways. Etc.

The key here is to seriously take stock of what you are currently eating, and making a plan to stick to, with realistic timeframes for you and your family.

Good for – the Organised, the Reluctant Families

Option 4 – The Meal by Meal approach

Change one meal at a time: take each of your meals and try and go cleaner every time. In small baby steps.

This is a very gradual option: you consider each meal and replace it with its cleaner equivalent.

Breakfast bowl with granola and fruitsFor example, replacing your breakfast cereals with organic granola, or your morning toasts and jam by rye bread and plain peanut butter.

For lunch, you can just switch to wholegrain bread for your sandwiches, and choose chicken over salami. Or pick a quinoa salad, rather than your usual pasta salad. You could replace your usual chips with vegetable chips or plain corn or potato chips.

And instead of cheese macaroni at dinner time, try whole wheat pasta Bolognese for a healthier option. Soft drinks can be replaced by 100% fruit juices, then diluted juices, then water.

The idea is to constantly try and go cleaner and more natural. Until you reach a point where the vast majority of your food is untampered with and free of added sugar or additives. Hint – to get to that stage, you will have to buy whole products and prepare them from scratch.

The good thing about this technique is that the changes will be very gradual. You keep your favorite meals, just tweaking the recipe a bit. Sor it’s great if the rest of the family is initially not so keen on changing their eating habits. But it will take you much longer to arrive at a stage where you only feed your body whole natural ingredients.

Good for – the Hesitants, the Reluctant Families

Option 5 – The Cleaner Shopping option

Basically, you replace the content of fridge and pantry with cleaner ingredients as you go along.

This probably goes along the previous method. Every time you run out of something in the pantry or in the fridge, replace it with a cleaner version. Again, the changes are gradual and will allow you to eat the same food, to a certain extent, just cleaner.

On the plus side, there’s no wastage, as you get a chance to finish what you have at home before buying new cleaner groceries.

Grocery basketThis approach will still get you to look at cleaner options out there and checking out ingredients list, which is a good start.

But the risk is to only clean up your diet so far, as shop-bought options can only be that clean. Ultimately, you want to get rid of all processing, and this involves buying raw, unadulterated ingredients and cooking from scratch.

To avoid this, this approach is best combined with Option 6 below.

Good for – the No-Wasters, the Careful Shoppers

Option 6 – Change your Favorite Shop

Swap you main shopping haunt for another one offering more natural, whole products.

Make a point of buying food in shops or places that offer cleaner products. You’ll automatically end up discovering new ways of eating and trying more wholesome food.

Cleaner supermarkets

Whole Foods Market seems an obvious choice. Trader’s Joe comes up time and time again in clean eating food blogs. But there are other supermarkets out there that are just better stocked with fruits and vegetables, offer lesser processed foodstuff and more geared towards natural and organic products. Look out for them and try them.

Don’t forget to shop online too. Thrive Market allows you to buy clean, organic products at a fraction of their retail price.

Farmers’ markets

Fresh marketIf you are lucky to live near a farmer’s market, this could become your favorite place to stock up on fresh local food. We belong to those lucky ones. Since we have to cook everything from scratch, it makes sense for us to source the best and cheapest fresh products out there.

Farm-to-door boxes

Farm-to-door services are also a great solution to make you get fresh organic fruits and vegetables delivered regularly. Some cover an extensive area in the US, but I would favor local ones, simply to reduce the transport and storage.

Good for – the Undecisives, the Marketing Junkies

Whichever the option you decide to go for…

…education is key

Unless you know who the Bad Guys are and who the Good Guys are out there, there’s a high risk you will just end up piling up on junk food labeled “natural” or “healthy”, because their packaging (and their clever Marketing Managers) says so.

You can educate yourself about clean eating before starting, or as you go along, there isn’t any right or wrong method here. But read, read, read. Know what constitutes processing. How it affects the food and your environment. Know what your motivation for eating clean is. Learn how to read labels. Become addicted to shopping lists. Master your way around the different aisles of your supermarket.

Oh, and keep reading Simply Go Clean.

I have tried to cover various methods to embark on a clean eating journey, but please feel free to tell us how you have started and how it worked for you in the comments below.

And if you believe these tidbits could be useful to others, don’t forget to share! Oh, and follow me on Pinterest for more tips and hacks!

How to start clean eating
How to start clean eating
How to start clean eating

Clean Eating Food List – What’s on your Grocery List?

Clean eating food list - what's on your grocery list

Eating clean means eating real food, as close to their natural form as possible, either unprocessed or with minimal processing. So what does that leave you with? Let’s go through a typical clean eating food list, to help you get started with your next shopping trip.

The list below is by all means not exhaustive but should be getting you well on your way. If you’re unsure about what kind of food are clean, and why, you check my grocery tips here. The foodstuffs are classed per category, like starches, proteins, drinks, etc. and explain what to look out for.

Need a shortcut? Scroll down for your free downloadable/printable Clean Eating Grocery List to stick on your fridge or take shopping!

Vegetables

Vegetable skewersAim for seasonal fruits and vegetables, preferably organic (especially the ones included in the Dirty Dozen list, like spinach). If you aim for the recommended intake of 5-a-day, this is 400g per person per day. 10-a-day would be 800g per person per day. So count how many meals you need vegetables for, and buy as many servings, allowing for a bit of shrinkage during cooking.

Smart tip – You don’t have to buy different vegetables for each meal (although a bit of variety is nice). Actually, vegetables are so versatile that it’s quite easy to cook them differently without meals getting boring. Think of carrots, for example, which can be eaten:

  • in soups, with other vegetables
  • as a salad, simply grated with chopped walnuts and mayonnaise
  • as a mash, by itself or teamed up with swede, with a dollop of butter
  • stewed or braised
  • baked in home-made carrot cake or other carrot muffins
  • juiced or blended to make delicious vegetable juices or smoothies
  • … just to mention a few recipes.

Another smart tip – buy in bulk, when in season. This saves on processing, as the out-of-season produce doesn’t need to be imported and stored. And it’s usually much cheaper. More tips on how to make the most of your fruits and vegetables here.

Ideally, your basic vegetable grocery list should include a mix of fresh produce that keeps well (like carrots, onions, potatoes, and squash), some vegetables that can be eaten raw, like salad stuff, and seasonal vegetable. So it could look like this:

  • Leafy greens, like kale, cabbage, spinach, preferably organic
  • Lettuces
  • Carrots
  • Onions
  • Peppers
  • Potatoes and/or sweet potatoes
  • Squashes and/or pumpkin
  • Avocado, when in season
  • Tomatoes (plum, beef, grape, any kind)
  • Any other seasonal vegetables
  • Garlic
  • Fresh herbs – cilantro, parsley, basil, oregano etc.

Whole grains and pulses

Clean grains, such as brown rice and quinoaThese will probably find their way into most of your cooked meals. So choose the ones that suit your household best: do you need quick-cooking grains? Grains and pulses that can be used in salads for easy lunches? Beans that can be cooked in bulk at the weekend for use in various recipes?

  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Black beans
  • Cannellini beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Lentils
  • Chickpeas

Proteins

Salmon dishCount how many portions you need before going shopping. As these can be expensive, especially if looking for grass-fed or organic, bulk-buying is a great option here. I’m of the view that less is more here. I tend to only allow for 100g of meat or fish per person. I will balance this out by buying good quality meat, organic or grass-fed, and full-fat so the flavors get imparted to the vegetables served with it. It saves money on our weekly shop and we’re doing our bit to reduce water consumption, as the water footprint of protein food is the highest.

  • Eggs, organic or pasture-raised preferably
  • Meat, organic, free-range whenever possible
  • Fish, if wild, aim for the Marine Stewardship Council label (MSC) label or another sustainable label,  if farmed, aim for organic, responsibly farmed, certified sustainable or other similar labels.
  • Tempeh
  • Cheese, organic
  • Plain, full-fat cottage cheese or yogurt

Nuts and seeds

Bowl of mixed nutsAll nuts and seeds, preferably raw (you can always roast them and flavor them at home).

  • Almonds
  • Pecan nuts
  • Cashews
  • Walnuts
  • Hazelnuts
  • Brazil nuts
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Chia seeds
  • Flaxseed

Oils and butter

I have left almond butter here, although it can fairly easily be made at home, as it’s possible to find some plain ones in the shops, with nothing added.

  • Butter, plain
  • Coconut oil
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Flaxseed oil
  • Sesame oil
  • Unrefined safflower oil
  • Unrefined walnut oil
  • Unrefined Canola or rapeseed oil
  • Almond butter
  • Tahini
  • Peanut butter, no sugar added (a bit of salt is OK)

Condiments and spices

  • Spices jars on a shelfSalt, preferably a raw, unadulterated source, like raw sea salt or Himalayan salt
  • Black pepper
  • Herbs and spices, non-irradiated
  • Turmeric
  • Cinnamon
  • Cayenne pepper or another non-irradiated chili
  • Maple syrup
  • Raw honey
  • Stevia
  • Dijon mustard
  • Olives
  • Apple cider vinegar, unfiltered
Fruits are high in sugar, so you should try and stick to one or two servings per day.
  • Lemons
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Any other fruits, in season
  • Pure fruit juices, without preservatives
 Beverages
  • Water
  • Coconut water, no added sugar
  • Tea, herbal teas
  • Coffee
  • Raw milk, or organic, full-fat milk
  • Almond, brown rice, soy or hemp milk, unsweetened and GMO-free (for the soy milk)
  • Coconut milk or cream, the canned variety, as long as it’s BPA-free and doesn’t contain preservatives, emulsifiers, and other additives

Processed food

Healthy wholegrain breadSome processed foodstuffs will inevitably find their way into your trolley, so just read the ingredients list carefully and avoid anything that contains added sugar or additives. How to spot additives? They are basically the kind of ingredients that you would not have at home and would not cook with.

Each store will have different “clean” products, so once you’ve identified the cleanest bread in your go-to store, take a picture of the label or write the name down for future reference.

  • Bread – this is an example of the ingredients from a clean bread: Sprouted Organic Whole Wheat Berries, Filtered Water, Organic Wheat Gluten, Organic Oat Fiber, Organic Dates, Organic Raisins, Yeast, Organic Cultured Wheat Flour, Organic Vinegar, Sea Salt, Organic Barley Malt, Organic Sunflower Oil.
    This one is also all organic, which is a big bonus.
  • Crackers and chips – try and find plain nacho chips or other plain snacks, preferably organic. Their ingredients list should look something like this: Corn, Vegetable Oil (Corn, Sunflower and/or Canola), Salt.
  • Steel-cut oats or plain rolled oats
  • Wholewheat pasta
  • Canned food – these are processed by definition and should be kept to a minimum (I will confess to buying chopped tomatoes, for their sheer time-saving benefits). Also, make sure that they are BPA-free and don’t contain any added sugar and additives. After opening, they need to be decanted in a suitable container for storage.
  • Ketchup and other sauces. Clean versions are exceedingly hard to find, and I tend to just make my own.
  • Flours. Although processed items, you will need them for your clean baking. Aim for wholewheat flour, brown rice flour, or grain-free flours like almond flour or coconut flour. Gluten-free flours, however, are usually made with highly refined flours and are therefore not that clean.

That’s still a long clean eating food list…

If you were worried about not having anything left to eat when embarking on a clean diet, this should ease your mind a bit.

And to make your life even easier, I’ve created a nifty Clean Eating Grocery List, free for you to download!

To get it, simply fill in the form below and access your printable Clean Food Shopping list in PDF format.

In the meantime, feel free to add in the comments below which clean foodstuffs are essentials in your pantry and your fridge, and where you actually shop for them!

If you’re unsure about how to identify those clean foodstuffs in the supermarket, this post on clean shopping will send you in the right direction.

Or share more tips in the Comments below with your fellow clean eaters (sharing is caring)…

And don’t forget to follow me on Pinterest for more Clean Eating Hacks!