Tag Archives: Clean Eating Diet

Is Clean Eating Expensive?

One reason (or excuse) that people use when deciding NOT to try a clean eating diet is the cost. Is clean eating expensive? Fact or fiction? It does not have to be.

Everyone has felt the budget pinch when it comes to the rise in grocery costs over the past few years. It could be difficult to find an extra $100 in the budget to spend on healthy food, if it were really necessary.

There are several things  you can do that will help overcome that excuse. Let’s take a look at them:

Eat Seasonal Foods

Learn when foods are harvested and buy produce that is “in season.” It is not only less expensive, but it gives you a nice variety of foods for your table though out the year, rather than eating the same dishes over and over.

Seasonal foods are less expensive as a rule, whether you buy them at your regular grocery store or the farmer’s market.

Seasonal produce picked at its prime is much better than cold storage produce that is picked early and shipped long distances. Freshly picked fruits and vegetables also taste better and provide more nutrients that your body needs.

Buy in Bulk

This does not work well when buying for one, but if you have a family, it is a smart choice. You can purchase staple foods like brown rice, quinoa, whole grain flour, and even dried beans and peas in bulk.

See what your local grocery stores have to offer. Also, check online prices – sometimes those are better.

Buying these items in bulk makes your weekly shopping trip easier because you have less to buy – and it saves you money.

Cook from Scratch

Over the past couple of decades our society has become so dependent on convenience foods that making dishes from scratch is almost a lost art.

It is not uncommon to spend hard-earned case on sodium-free, organic chicken broth rather than using bones from your chicken dinner to make your own broth. That is a two-for-one process, and you control what is in the broth. It is cheaper and healthier.

It is not difficult to start cooking from scratch. In fact, it is easy to cook your beans, make soups, stews, and salads from scratch.

I challenge you to make at least one new homemade dish every week.

Try your hand at baking bread or biscuits. Try making some homemade barbecue sauce. Not only will you save money, you also have full control over the ingredients. So-o-o-o much better!

Buy from Local Farmers

Fruits and Vegetables - Colors of the Rainbow
Image by Val’s Photos

Go online and find your local farmer’s markets; plus look for farm stores in the area. They are a great source of local produce, diary, and eggs. If you are lucky, you may even find meat. Since there are no shipping costs involved, you will be able to get fresh, high quality food at reasonable prices.

CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) boxes are another excellent source of local fruits and vegetables. You buy a share of a farmer’s produce for the year and end up with a box of assorted fruits and vegetables throughout each growing season.

Go to http://www.localharvest.org/csa/ to learn more and find farms in your area that participate.

Grow Your Own Produce

If you have space in your yard, considering planting a garden. Create you own produce department. Growing lettuce, tomatoes, and  cucumbers is very easy. Depending on your climate, you may want to try melons and strawberries. Or if you don’t have much of a yard, try planting in containers.

You can even grow you own produce when you live in an apartment. Plant an herb garden or grow sprouts.  You can grow spring greens in a pot or bowl in the kitchen window and enjoy a nice bowl of fresh salad every few days.

It is an easy, fun and delicious hobby. Give it a try! You may surprise yourself.

There are a couple of side benefits, as well. It gets you outside and it is a great way to teach your children about where food comes from and what it takes to grow healthy fruits and vegetables that are good for their bodies.

Closing Thought

So – to answer our question: Is clean eating expensive?

The answer: It does not have to be.

Do not let budget constraints prevent you from eating healthier foods.

It is not only doable on a limited budget; it will also save you money in the long run by preventing health care costs that can arise from poor eating habits.

Have fun – stay healthy – and save money by eating clean!

 

Get Started with Clean Eating

Image by nito
Image by nito

You can get started with clean eating in one of two ways:

  1. You can go cold turkey by eliminating junk food, refined sugar products, white flours products, fast foods, and processed foods from your diet – all at once.
  2. You can take a more gradual approach.

Both ways have advantages and disadvantages. Pick the one that is most suited for your personality and approach to life, and give it a try.

If you have the self-discipline and confidence to go cold turkey – go for it! If that doesn’t work for you, choose the more gradual approach.

The important thing is to CHOOSE and stay with it. AND . . . regardless of your choice, DO NOT BEAT YOURSELF UP if you slip up here and there, particularly in the beginning.

The key to success is remembering that you are taking a significant step toward better eating habits that will improve your health and protect your magnificent body.

The first step is to answer two questions:

Why Are You Choosing a Clean Eating Diet?

In order to reach any goal, you must have a powerful personal reason for wanting to be successful. So, before you start, be sure you know why clean eating is important to you and your family. Write it down and keep it upper-most in your mind.

What Does Clean Eating Mean to You?

Be sure you understand the concept of clean eating and define what it means to you. If you are not clear on what you are trying to do – what you will and will not eat – it will be impossible to be successful.

To get you started, let’s look at the basics of a clean-eating diet:

  • No processed food, junk food, or fast food
  • Organic produce
  • Free-range chicken and Cage-free eggs
  • Grass-feed beef
  • Raw dairy, if you can find it

From there you must decide what foods you want to cut completely from your diet.

White flour and refined sugar products are fairly easy. But, you must decide if you want to include whole wheat flour or cut out wheat completely. What about other grains? What about dairy? Will you include it, or not?

What are you willing to give up – and what are the “must keeps” for you?

Next Steps

  • Go through all your cupboards, pantry and fridge and toss everything that is no longer on your approved food list. If you are going cold turkey, this is critical.
  • Cold turkey may cause you to experience some withdrawal. Do not be surprised it you do not feel well and fight a headache for two or thee days. Your body may need an adjustment period to adapt to the cleaner food and to go through a detoxification process from all the junk you have been eating up to this point. The worse your diet has been – the worse your withdrawal can be.
  • If tossing food in the trash goes against your grain, donate it to a food bank. Or – eat what you have and do not replace any of it. Do no allow processed or junk food to enter your house, or your stomach.
  • Next, cut out all white flour and refined sugar.
  • From there, gradually make more and more changes to your diet until you reach a level of clean eating that you can live with. It does not have to be all or nothing – any changes you make toward clean eating will be good for your health.

Drink Lots of Water

Drink lots of water – notice I said WATER. Sodas and energy drinks are absolutely NOT part of the diet. The only juice you should drink must be freshly-squeezed. Bottled/canned juices are essentially flavored sugar water and are filled with additives.

A cup or two (no more) of coffee each day is OK – if you are willing to stick with plain, organic coffee without sugar and sugary creamers. Herbal teas and lemon water are great alternatives to coffee.

The process you use to get you to a solid clean eating diet is not important. What is important is that you make the change. Regardless of the route you take, you will be amazed at how much better you feel on a clean, “close-to-nature” diet – in other words a diet filled with REAL FOOD.

You will also have more energy and a mental clarity that you may not have realized you were missing.

Good luck and ENJOY!

Clean Eating Away from Home

It is fairly easy to eat clean at home because you are in control of your food. If you keep the right ingredients in your fridge and pantry, you can prepare clean foods regularly and not be particularly tempted by takeout and fast food.

It is a little more complicated to sustain clean eating away from home.

Travelling for Business or Pleasure

When planning any kind of trip, do your homework before you leave home. Study the options you will have on the road and once you arrive at your destination. Check for grocery stores that are close to where you will be staying and call the hotel to see if you have access to a mini-fridge.

Be sure to pack emergency snacks in case you can’t find anything “clean” to eat. Dried fruit, seeds and nuts are excellent. You may also want to carry a small cooler or insulated pack for some raw veggies and other ready-to-eat foods. Having plenty of bottled water and herbal teas on hand also helps when you are traveling.

Accepting a Dinner Invitation

Depending on how well you know your hostess, you may or may not ant to tell her about your dietary preferences. It is often a good idea to have a substantial clean snack before you leave for the dinner. It is not a good idea to arrive hungry and be tempted by all of the delicious looking, “off-limit” foods that may be offered.

Make the best choices you can under the circumstances. In most cases there will be some good choices. After that, it becomes a personal decision whether to pass on most of the foods served or take a small serving of some foods you would not normally eat in order avoid offending the hostess.

The reality is . . . at the end of the day, a few bites of processed foods will not be the end of you (or your clean diet). Pay attention to any trigger foods that may be served and do not eat them. Plus, stay away from white flour and refined sugar products as much as possible.

Going Out to Eat

Research the restaurant ahead of time. Or, better yet, if you have input regarding where you should go, pick a restaurant that you know has choices that will work for you.

The Internet makes this quite easy because most restaurants have their menus online. Check out several and find one that is as close to acceptable as possible. You may even want to give them a call to see what they can do to accommodate you. Some small tweaks in the way a dish is prepared may eliminate foods you are trying to avoid.

Letting the concierge know you have special dietary needs can help. It should go without saying that being nice to the person on the line – and to your server once you get to the restaurant can get amazing results.

Another good tip is to always carry a healthy snack with you – non-perishables like nuts and dried fruit along with a bottle of water will prepare you for whatever happens – and you will be able to keep your hunger under control until you get back home and have good clean foods at your disposable.

Eating clean is not always easy, but it is always worth it!

Necessary Staples for Clean Eating

The only way you to ensure that you eat healthier on a daily basis is to keep the right kinds of foods in your pantry, cupboards and fridge. You must make it easy to fix clean meals and snacks by keeping your kitchen well-stocked with necessary staples for clean eating.

When there is nothing available to prepare a good meal, it is far too easy to run to McDonalds, or order takeout, or even make a quick trip to the grocery stores for frozen dinners.

To help you avoid that problem, below is a list of staples you should always have on hand for quick and easy clean meals.

Dry Goods

Brown rice, quinoa, oatmeal, corn meal and grits in your pantry will help you prepare quick and easy, clean, nutritious breakfasts and side dishes.

You also want to have a good supply of potatoes, onions, fresh garlic and an assortment of spices to aid in preparation of tasty dishes.

For snacks . . . keep a supply of clean corn tortillas, tortilla chips and popcorn. (Just be sure to read the labels carefully to make sure the ingredients are clean. My term is “pure” meaning no additives.) And . . . always have plenty of raw, unsalted nuts and seeds.

Dried fruit is excellent for snacks and a nice addition to morning cereal along with seeds and nuts (or nut butter). It does not spoil as easily as fresh fruit, it is filled with nutrients and fiber and easy to pack for lunches and recreational activities.

Keep in mind, however that some vitamins are lost in the drying process and watch your portions – ½ C of dried fruit equals 1 C of fresh fruit – so don’t overindulge.

Learn to read labels and buy dried fruits with “no sugar added” – this can be difficult when looking for cranberries, bananas, and pineapple because sugar is often added to enhance the flavor and protect it from spoilage. Sulfur dioxide is another common ingredient that is used for preservation and to prevent discoloration – avoid this, as well.

If you’re including whole grain products in your diet, keep whole grain flour and pastas on hand in the pantry. When you have the correct baking ingredients available, it is much easier to bake up some quick breads; homemade bread and other baked goods.

Of course, for all you pasta lovers – keeping whole wheat pasta, sauce and some vegetables always make for a quick weeknight dinner.

Be careful with spinach pasta – preferably make you own. It does have flour in it; so, when you make it, you can control the ingredients.

Dairy and Eggs

Always keep plenty of “cage-free” eggs in the fridge. Boil a dozen or so and keep them handy for easy snacking. Eggs are so versatile they can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks.

If you plan to include dairy in your diet – which I definitely do – stock the fridge with butter, raw or whole milk, plain Greek yogurt and clean cottage cheese. I also keep a supply of pure hard cheeses for easy snacking

Vegetables and Fruit

Now – down to business – to the core of your diet – fruits and vegetables. As you know, vegetables do not have a long shelf life except for root veggies (carrots, beets, turnips, radishes, jicama, and potatoes).

As a backup, keep quick-frozen and canned vegetables to use whenever you run out of the fresh variety. Just be sure to buy pure vegetables with no salt, sugar or other additives.

Have a little fun and ignite your green thumb. Start growing your salad bowl. Lose leaf lettuce is fairly easy to grow, along with other vegetables. In fact, quite a number of foods can be produced either on your windowsill or on a well-lit kitchen surface. For more information check out the Organic Consumers Organization website. At a minimum, try an herb garden. 

Image by akodisinghe
Image by akodisinghe

Apples and oranges have the most stable shelf-life when it comes to fruit. My go-to for a fruit supply is to keep a variety of frozen berries in the freezer, which can be thrown into the blender for a quick smoothie snack (or breakfast). Bananas can be frozen, as well, but should be used fairly quickly.

I often buy fresh berries in bulk and freeze them myself. Just be sure to use them within a couple of months so they do not go bad. Flash frozen fruits from the grocery store have a longer shelf life as long as you keep them frozen.

Meat and Fish

Finally – let’s look at a few ideas for meat and fish.

My preference is keep a good selection of grass-fed ground beef, ground turkey and a few bags of free-range chicken in my freezer. That gives me versatile options when I’m out of fresh meat or can’t find good options at the grocery store meat counter.

You should also keep canned tuna or canned Alaskan salmon on hand as a back up to be used occasionally when hard-pressed for time and ingredients. Both are excellent for salads and sandwiches. They can be added to pasta sauces of even as a pizza topping.

The canned Alaskan salmon is much better for you than the fresh “farmed” salmon. As for tuna, I don’t recommend that you eat it all the time, but it is a good ingredient to have on hand when you need it.

Clean Eating Diet – What Is it?

A Clean Diet Is a Healthier Diet

A clean eating diet focuses on foods primarily in their natural state – or as close to nature as possible and rarely, if ever, includes processed foods.

Fruits and Vegetables
Image by by Erdosain

It is not one of the latest and greatest weight loss programs – in fact, it is not about weight loss at all (although that can be a nice side benefit). It is a way of eating – a way of life.

A clean eating diet is comprised of fresh fruits, vegetables, meats, and gains in their most natural, unprocessed form.

Instead of eating white flour, refined sugar, and fatty foods like pizza, white pasta and breads, candy, chips, doughnuts, and fried chicken, switch to clean diet meals filled with heaping mounds of steamed fresh vegetables,  grilled chicken, fish or free-range meat, omelets from “cage-free” eggs, homemade chili, baked potatoes (white or sweet), crisp side salads and fresh fruit.

Essentially, it is making a choice to eat the way we did before fast food establishments were built on every corner and grocery store shelves were packed with convenience foods such as “quick and easy” ready-to-serve dinners made up of heavily processed ingredients.

Clean eating is a diet of “close-to-nature” foods that still contain their full nutritional value. In addition to being fresh and nutritious, they are not loaded with preservatives, additives, and flavor enhancers.

Levels of “Clean”

There are degrees of “clean.” The level you choose is up to you. Any step in the direction of clean is a positive step.

Some advocates of clean eating insist that the only way to go is complete avoidance of all processed foods. Others are more lenient and continue to enjoy butter, cheese, cured meats and cultured vegetables like sauerkraut.

How far you take it is up to you. Cleaning up your diet even a little is a wise choice. For example: Choosing to eliminate all fast foods – or refined sugar products – or making it a habit to prepare fresh dinner meals for your family five nights a week – are all good steps in the right direction.

Prepare plenty of raw or cooked fresh vegetables. Prepare brown rice, quinoa, or bake potatoes and grill your favorite fish or chicken pieces. Finish the meal with a little fruit and cheese for dessert. It is fairly easy to find three or four go-to dishes your family enjoys and build your weekly meals around those dishes.

“Clean” Snacks

It is nearly impossible to find healthy snacks that fit your clean diet when you are out and about; so, be sure to have fresh or dried fruit (w/o preservatives), seeds, or nuts handy for emergency snacking.

Filtered Drinking WaterBe sure to keep your body well-hydrated. Water is by far the best choice – so keep plenty of bottles available at home (and in the car). Herbal teas are next in line of preference, and finally if you must, drink black coffee – but limit it to no more than two cups a day and be careful with the sweeteners and creamers. If you must use them, try Stevia and real cream.

It May Take Some Time to Change

If you have been eating a regular diet of processed and fast foods loaded with sugar, fats, additives, and flavor enhancers, getting used to the taste of real natural foods may take some time.

Once your taste buds adjust, you will be pleasantly surprised by how delicious real natural foods are. The best part is that you will be on the road to better health and your body will thank you for the change to clean eating. It will not have to work so hard to keep you feeling your best.