A number of years ago a new client asked me if I practiced “clean eating,” and I was bit puzzled by what she actually meant by this question. It wasn’t much later that “clean eating” became a buzz word for people who were looking to “clean up” their diets. For many people, however, exactly how to go about “eating clean” still remains something of a mystery.
To us, clean eating refers to getting back to the basics and enjoying an overall healthier eating lifestyle that focuses on wholesome, minimally processed foods, including lots of produce, beans, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy, as well as some nuts, seeds and plant sources of oil. Boxed and packaged foods fall by the wayside in favor of easily prepared fresh foods. Inevitably, foods high in saturated fat such as butter and processed meats, desserts like cookies and doughnuts, salty snack foods and microwave pizzas get left behind at the store.
It’s important to keep in mind that a clean-eating lifestyle doesn’t need to happen overnight. In fact, when we work to move a client toward clean eating, we have them take just a handful of steps at a time so they don’t feel overwhelmed. With this approach, the small changes have time to become a habit (something the client will actually stick with) before we move on to introducing other new changes.
Tips for Adopting a Clean-eating Lifestyle
- Replace sugar-sweetened yogurts with yogurt that you sweeten with fresh fruit.
- Choose fresh, sliced poultry breast, fish, beans or tofu instead of processed meats and deli slices in sandwiches.
- Buy natural, unsweetened peanut butter instead of processed, sugar-added varieties.
- Ditch salty snack foods like pretzels and chips in exchange for healthier fare like air-popped popcorn with garlic powder. Or try dipping celery in hummus or peanut butter to help satisfy your salt tooth.
- Swap sugary desserts like candy bars, cookies and cakes for baked or grilled fruit, berries sprinkled with powdered sugar, or dates rolled in cocoa powder.
- Instead of using prepared creamy dressings and sauces like alfredo sauce, ranch dressing and mayo, opt for a little olive oil, lemon, spices and flavored vinegars.
Our clients often ask for a few meal suggestions to help them get started creating their own minimally processed menu plans. Here are a few recipes that are quick, easy, healthy…and clean!
Ditch: Packaged breakfast bars, pastries and bagels with cream cheese
Enjoy: Blueberry almond parfait (perfect as a refreshing breakfast or energy-boosting snack)
Blueberry Almond Parfait
- 6 ounces fat-free plain Greek yogurt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 packet stevia sweetener
- 1 cup blueberries
- 2 tablespoons low-sugar strawberry preserves
- 1 tablespoon slivered almonds
- Combine yogurt, vanilla and stevia.
- Using a tall glass, place about ¼ cup of the yogurt mixture in the bottom of the glass and then alternate with blueberries. At the top of the glass, finish it off with more blueberries and add strawberry preserves and nuts to the top of the parfait.
Nutrition facts: 222 calories, 1 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 11 mg cholesterol, 53 mg sodium, 30 g carbohydrates, 4 grams fiber, 15 g sugar, 17 g protein
Ditch: Takeout Mexican food or a frozen chicken entrée
Enjoy: Chicken taco lettuce wraps (this recipes serves two so it’s a perfect dinner date option)
Chicken Taco Lettuce Wraps
- 1 tablespooon + 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 8 ounces raw chicken breast, chopped
- 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
- ½ cup bean sprouts
- ½ cup chopped red and/or green bell peppers
- 8 large Boston lettuce leaves
- 1 large tomato, chopped
- 2 teaspoons chopped cilantro (optional)
- 1 lime, cut in half
- Salt and fresh pepper to taste
- Heat oil in a medium-large pan.
- Add chicken, garlic, bean sprouts and peppers. Stir until chicken is cooked thoroughly and is no longer pink on the inside.
- Place four leaves on each plate and evenly divide chicken and vegetables amongst them.
- Distribute the tomato and cilantro evenly and sprinkle on top of each chicken mixture. Squeeze lime juice over each and season with salt and pepper.
Per serving: 218 calories, 10 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 109 mg cholesterol, 6 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 21 g protein
How do you practice clean eating?