Overwhelmed with Clean Eating? Start Here!
Not long ago I was spending countless hours reading books, researching on the internet, and filtering through a mountain of overwhelming information.
I was finally able to put all of the pieces together and wrap my brain around the concept that what you eat does matter.
I can't think of a better time than the start of a new year to set some goals on eating well and nourishing your body.
I've taken some of the guesswork out of "Where do I begin?!" and I've created a list of my 10 recommendations to start eating clean. Check it out!
1) Start reading labels
My criteria for food is: 5 or less ingredients, all ingredient names must be pronounceable and I have to be able to find it in my kitchen. You will be blown away at the ingredients listed in much of the food you can buy at the grocery store.
2) Kick the sugar habit
Our giant food system has found a way to put it into almost everything - and we're so addicted. Scientists are beginning to see the role sugar plays in feeding cancer cells, diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
Swap it out for natural sweeteners in moderation. The only sweeteners we use are raw honey, pure maple syrup and occasionally cane sugar.
3) Eat Fat
We've been taught that vegetable and canola oil are heart healthy and butter will clog your arteries and cause heart disease. And friends, we've been so misled. These oils are highly toxic trans-fats which increase your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and obesity.
Healthy fats are absolutely necessary for skin health, hormone regulation, the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and growing brains. My recommendations for healthy fats include: raw grass-fed butter, coconut oil, high quality olive oil and pastured lard.
4) A Healthy Gut is Key
Gut health is one of the hottest topics in the "natural" world today. Research is showing that 70-80% of your immune system is found in your gut. They've also found the link of gut health and mental health.
Eating something fermented every day is a great way to populate your gut with helpful, immune boosting bacteria. The staples in our household are fermented sauerkraut and raw milk kefir, yogurt & Gut Shots. If you don't think fermented foods are do-able, a high quality probiotic would be another great option.
5) "Just say no to GMO"
Confession: I wanted to write "Hell no to GMO" because I feel that strongly about it but I'm trying to keep it clean. To put it simply....the chemical created for GMOs - Round-up - is a "probable carcinogen to humans." This warning was issued by the World Health Organization - not a crazy mama bear like me. As a mother, I can't know this information and the put it into my children's bodies.
The Non-GMO verified project does a great job labeling products that are GMO-free. Look for this picture of your products.
6) Switch to Sprouted or Soaked Whole Grains or Sourdough
As a society we eat too many grains/carbs. Period. I'm guilty, too.
Our bodies are not designed to handle this. Part of the problem is the grains are not prepared properly. If the grains are soaked or sprouted they are much easier for your body to digest. Soaking/sprouting also decreases phytic acid. Phytic acid blocks your body's ability to absorb certain vitamins and minerals. What magic!
We eat bread from Silverhills Bakery (I buy it at the food co-op in St. Peter but you can also find it it many Target stores). Ezekiel bread is also another reputable source but I find I like the texture of Silverhills bread a little better.
My goal for 2022 is to start making sourdough bread - wish me luck!!
7) Avoid factory farmed meat like the plague
I would like this etched on my gravestone, please.
These poor animals are fed hormones and antibiotics for almost their entire lives. The hormones are used to fatten the animal quickly. The antibiotics are necessary because without them the animals get sick due to the crowded, unsanitary living conditions.
As a nurse, I’ve seen how antibiotics have saved lives. Antibiotic resistance aka “superbugs” have emerged largely as a result of animals constantly being fed low doses of antibiotics. The FDA is now claiming that antibiotic resistance could be the world's most pressing health care concern. Scary stuff.
8) Bone Broth
Every week I make a batch of fresh bone broth and freeze what we don't use. It makes a wonderful base to soup and homemade sauces! It costs you only pennies to make and is considered a "super food" by many due to it's high mineral content.
9) Dairy products
My love for raw milk is no secret. Everyone's comfort level is different. My recommendation is find yourself some raw, grass-fed milk and dairy products from cows that are treated like royalty. The milk will blow your mind. If you are quite ready for that step please consider drinking organic whole milk (not ultra-pasteurized!!)
10) Dirty dozen
I know buying organic is not in everyone’s budget. If you can’t afford organic for all of your produce at least buy organic from the dirty dozen because these foods have the highest amount of chemicals.
A study published in the Journal of Environmental Research showed that eating an organic diet for just 1 week can reduce pesticide levels in adults by up to 90%!
Two final thoughts.
First, you must take baby steps.
I recommend working at 1 of these tips/month and try to continue carrying it into the next month. I've been at this for 8 years and finally feel like it's habit now.
Second, follow the 80/20 rule. Try to do 80% good and allow yourself a little slack once and awhile. Nobody is perfect and will never be.
I strongly encourage you to continue to dig deeper into this topic. There is so much good information out there for you! These are some of the places I started and still use them today.
Recipes and Inspiration
I also made a checklist for you to hang on your fridge as a way to track your progress and stay on track throughout the year!
Cheers to 2022!!