Now, you may be wondering- “Where do I start with my clean eating diet?” Well, since I don’t know you and vice versa, let’s take baby steps- assuming you are just getting going with all this natural stuff.
As I mentioned in the first article on this topic, how “clean” you make your diet is your choice. Some proponents of clean eating insist you should only eat completely unprocessed foods. Others allow for more flexibility. I say, “Your life, your goals, your choice.” So let’s take a look at some choices.
Substitutions are a good start.
For example, in place of processed foods you can substitute whole, organic if available, foods. In place of white rice and white flour, select whole grain varieties.
At present, I buy freshly baked breads that are heavy and dense from Whole Foods. I have them “thick cut” then freeze them to keep a stock on hand.
They may last a little longer now because I am transitioning away from carbs a bit. However, I used them as a breakfast with green tea or freshly steeped coffee at a very busy job for two years and never got hungry until after 1:00 p.m or later. (I’ll do a post on coffee at some point from the natural point of view for you coffee lovers out there.)
You may want to begin with store bought whole wheat if Whole Foods or an equivalent natural foods store isn’t convenient for you. You can also make your own quite easily. (I should cover that too.)
With rice, buy brown. Easy to do these days because every supermarket carries it now. Takes a bit longer than rice but the extra minerals, bran and complex carbs are worth it. That is, if you permit yourself carbs- even complex ones. Some diets reject carbs which I will cover in future posts.
Some of you may be on the Paleo diet, Grain Brain, or the MMT diets which emphasizes, proteins and no or very few carbs. Carbs become anathema to Paleo’s. OK, then pay attention to the quality of your proteins. Select organic meats over factory farmed animal meats.
Factory farmed animals are very poor quality fed really poor diets, crammed in cages or overcrowded pens and more. Do a little research and you may never want to consume conventionally raised animals again.
I trust Whole Foods for their proteins but there are other sources available. Heck, even in my local supermarket in the meat sections there are selections of organic beef, chicken, pork, lamb, natural or organic sausages and more.
Easy. Choose organic. And Eat the Yolks as Liz Wolfe puts in her paleo-diet book with the same title. Again, sources for organic eggs are voluminous these days. Local supermarkets all over the nation include organic egg choices now. If you think there isn’t a difference. Purchase good quality organic and make the comparison yourself. The shells are harder to break because they are thicker which tells you that those chickens were getting a diet higher in variety with calcium, silica and minerals.
Also, take note of the yolk. In organic eggs it will be a much deeper orange and stand up. The yolks also don’t break as easily. In the factory farmed chicken eggs, the yolks will be a pale yellow, lay flat and break easily. Additionally, the yolks of organically produced eggs will have a richer flavor as well.
All of this points to differences which arise from raising chickens naturally. They also point to the nutritional and taste differences in foods grown or cultivated organically. Your eyes and senses are not fooling you. There is a difference between organic and conventional despite the research claims otherwise.
I covered some of the reasons why these studies may not show any difference between organically grown and conventionally grown in my post on natural nutrition.
You may want to read that for some background. At any rate, your senses are not deceiving you. Organic really is better if you can be assured that it is properly grown organic food.
What you are aiming at it is to fill up your plate with plenty of fresh raw or cooked vegetables which are grown at the best quality you can find or afford.
Substitute fresh for processed as often as possible. If you need to cook in advance because of a busy lifestyle, boil up brown rice, bake a potato (organic is better) and round it all up with a little freshly cut fruit for dessert. Find a couple of go-to meals you like that are healthy to start out with. Build your weekly meals around those dishes.
For example, I will prepare a natural chili using organic or natural ground chicken, turkey, lamb, beef or canned organic beans with sea salt, natural seasonings and some organic onions and green pepper cut in. I cook it up in the slow cooker. It makes enough for five point size containers. I freeze them.
When I want a meal with a primary dish. I’ll take it out of the freezer and put it in the refrigerator. By evening it is unfrozen enough to heat on the stove.
If you are paleo, cut up a fresh avocado and ladle your chili over that. If not, prepare some whole wheat macaroni and ladle it over the cooked macaroni. I put a little shaved Parmesan cheese over the chili while still hot and viola- a quick meal, even after a day of work, with high quality ingredients and no preservatives.
You can do the same with chicken and other meats and also set up some slow cooked meals in the morning or cooked ahead and frozen till needed. The point is with a little effort and imagination and some substitution towards best quality you can create a clean eating program that will work for you.
By the way, one of the side effects of eating better quality, more nutrient dense foods is that you will find yourself eating less. (Proper natural supplements will also help with this.) An unacknowledged reason for this is that one of the reasons we overeat is because we are attempting to fill nutritional gaps.
When you improve quality and increase variety with a natural clean eating diet, a lot of those nutritional gaps get filled. When you fill those gaps, you will find your appetite moderating over time without any heavy handed discipline on your part. Might even lose some weight to boot without “dieting”. Not a bad bonus huh?
Let’s take a look at some suggestions regarding snacks now with a caveat that you need to pay attention to when shopping. Read on.
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