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Clean Eating: The Beginner’s Guide

Clean Eating - A Beginner's Guide - sweetcleanliving.com

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When I first started out with my clean living plan, I kept it a secret.

It was just that I was in the middle of a pretty serious life change, and I didn’t want everyone all up in my business while I was still in those shaky first few weeks.

And so it all went to plan, except for one, highly noticeable thing: the food I was (or wasn’t) eating.

Anyone who knew me from those days could tell you about my terrible eating habits. I was famed for the amount of pizza I could shovel down at 3am – every. Single. Night.

Or about the sheer amounts of chocolate I could eat – and then have some ice cream afterwards. Or that time when, I decided to use my crippling insomnia to study for my finals and survived for 3 days on coffee and Mars bars (I ended up collapsing on day 3.5, FYI).

What I’m trying to say is, my eating habits were infamous for being unhealthy and ridiculous. I was the girl who would eat anything, at any time of day, in any quantity.

Until all of a sudden – I wasn’t and didn’t want to be.

And boy, was it noticeable to everyone around me, in more ways than one.

What is Clean Eating?

I think it’s wrong to say that I discovered clean eating – the truth is, it discovered me.

I started ‘eating clean’ completely by accident, and out of pure laziness. When I started making those small life changes, I knew that the late night pizza and ice cream(s) had to go. But, I hadn’t really thought any further ahead that that. I didn’t know how to cook, and it wasn’t the time to start learning.

So I did what any insomniac sugar-craving girl would do – I went to the supermarket and bought as many fruits, veggies and raw foods as possible, put them in the pantry and forgot all about them. Until I got hungry, that is. And then I grabbed whatever was quickest and easiest to prepare – boiled eggs, served up alongside cucumber and carrots – and voila, I had (unknowingly) prepared my very first clean eating meal!

I didn’t even know there was a name for it until many months later, and it turned out that my ‘lazy, cooking-free but healthy’ food plan was actually a thing. And all this after I signed up to a delivered to your door healthy snack service

You might even say I was a pioneer of the clean eating movement. Which, by the way, really has become a thing – ‘Clean Eating’ simply means to eat food that is as unprocessed as possible, and as close to the way it was grown/created as possible. Which suited me down to the ground, back in those beginning days.

After I discovered ‘Clean Eating’ (as opposed to my lazy way of eating), I wanted to take it more seriously. So I began subscribing to all of the clean eating blogs I could find.

clean eating basics

Clean Eating Basics

My unwillingness to cook is nowadays a real clean eating diet. Those small things I was too lazy to do, are actually the quick, easy clean eating basics:

Eat as little processed food as possible – everything should be as raw and natural as possible before cooking (if you’re cooking). These are called ‘whole foods’. A good rule of thumb is that  if something has a list of more than 1 or 2 ingredients, it’s not a whole food.

Switch to brown carbs – a general rule is switching white carbs for brown carbs – so instead of white bread and white rice, switch to wholewheat for both.

Eat lots of vegetables. As I discovered, these count as raw foods. Put as many of them on your plate as possible, and
get eating them. If you know how to, you can also cook them – just go easy on the oil or butter you use to do it. Or switch them out completely to ghee.

Drink lots of water, and cut down on alcohol – as you know, I think water is the best thing ever. It keeps your body running smoothly. But you know what doesn’t? Alcohol doesn’t. Try to stick to drinking only a little bit every so often. In fact, it’s a great idea to buy yourself a water bottle which tells you how much you’re drinking. Check this selection out on Amazon

Prepare your own meals – bring your own lunch to work, and keep some raw foods in your pantry and fridge. The idea is, if you’re preparing/cooking it yourself, you know exactly what is and is not going into your meal.

Eat little and often – this one is a gamechanger. Instead of getting hungry while waiting for the next meal, then eating and feeling bloated after, break up your meals to five or six of them a day, and make them smaller so they’re easier and quicker to digest. I guarantee you will feel less hungry, fuller for longer and more energetic as a result.

Quick Tips: How to Start Eating Clean

Luckily, this is one of the easiest parts of the entire clean eating diet.

First and foremost, you need a clean eating grocery list. I’ve written a separate post with exactly what you need to get started, as well as a clean eating meal plan, but for now, let’s say that all you need are lots of vegetables and protein, such as eggs, fish and non-processed meat.

Once you have your ingredients, you’re pretty good to go.

One general idea that I stuck to, and which served me well, was to divide my plate into thirds:

The general plan here is – the more veggies, the better!

The Best Clean Eating Basics - SweetCleanLiving

Noticeable Things Which Happen When You Start Eating Clean

I haven’t yet mentioned the side effects of my clean eating journey – but they were truly remarkable. Here are just a few:

  • Clearer, brighter skin (which I received a LOT of compliments on),
  • Losing those few extra pounds (less sugar + more veggies = less pounds),
  • More energy and feeling good,
  • Sleeping better

To name but a few.

If there was one thing, and one thing only which I could recommend doing to change your life, it would be to prepare yourself a clean eating diet. For the how to do this and what to buy, check out ‘The Clean Eating Challenge: The Meal Plan’.

Or, check out these books (which I personally swear by, and which even taught me to cook – a bit)

Did clean eating change your life? Let me know in the comments!


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Also published on Medium.

28 Comments

  1. Bex Bex

    This post was fantastic! Great information, thank you for sharing. Not enough people are going into enough detail on clean eating and living– keep up the good work!

  2. Wow. I need to start clean eating. I’ll start by switching to brown carbs and ofc cooking more of my own food. Thanks for the tips!

  3. Wow! What a great written post 👌🎉 also the way you change your lifestyle and eating habits – congratulations lovely! Thanks for sharing your journey with us❤

  4. Great post thanks for sharing!

  5. I have such a struggle with buying process snacks.. especially it feels like all the occasions like christmas, birthday, valentine’s day and easter, it’s so hard to stay away 🙁

    • You’re 100% right – the trick is to develop a clean eating habit…and then trust me, the first time you try to eat something not-‘clean’, you’ll feel different about it, and be put off 😛 Good luck!

  6. Great post with a lot of really great information! I think a lot of people get really intimidated when they hear the words clean eating, but you touched on a lot of really good points that help ease any anxieties that come around when faced with a new diet, or new venture in general. Awesome job, and thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks Margaret – I really hope people can take away from this that it’s so easy – if even I can do it, they can too! x

  7. This is a great piece. I like the saying “If it’s white, don’t bite” (unless it’s cauliflower haha). I try to eat as clean as possible but I try to be relatively flexible about it.

    • Lol I really like that! And yes, being flexible is key – but trust me, after a while, when you see how great it makes you feel, you’ll want to join the hardcores! x

  8. Great post,very usefull info. Thanks.

  9. Rabz E Rabz E

    Great information Fliss.
    Thanks for sharing.

  10. I’ve been drinking more water lately so that’s a step into the right direction. Great post 😀

  11. Nice post mate. thanks for sharing.

  12. A great post, I’m nearly there. Just need to switch up the rice.

    • You can do it! One thing to know though – brown rice is cooked differently to white rice – just a heads up!

  13. I’m doing the same thing and I don’t have to tell you how good I’m feeling. It’s a decision that will change your life for the better

    • Hi! Thanks for commenting – I completely agree. You even see the changes in places you’d never think – like productivity. 😀

  14. Great post Fliss.
    And btw lovely pics 🙂

  15. I liked your way of writing.

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