Sunday, August 29, 2010

How to Get Started with Clean Eating {Part Two}

Before I begin, just wanted to remind you all that my giveaway ends on Tuesday, so you still have time to enter if you’d like! 


There were a few points I wasn’t able to fit into my previous post that I’ll be finishing up here. Again, this is my humble advice – remember, I’m learning as I go, too! :)  For part one, click here. 

4.  When shopping, try to keep Michael Pollan’s simple statements (all from In Defense of Food) in mind:

“Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.” (148)

“Avoid food products that make health claims.” (154)

“Avoid food products containing ingredients that are a) unfamiliar, b) unpronounceable, c) more than five in number, or that include d)high-fructose corn syrup.” (150)

“Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle.” (157)

Obviously there are some caveats to these rules – for instance, brown rice, whole wheat flour, and all-natural peanut butter are definitely found in the middle aisles.  And just because you don’t recognize the name of something doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad (i.e., sodium bicarbonate is plain old baking soda).  Overall though, these are great tips to think about.  Most processed foods today are chock-full of artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives.  My great-grandmothers weren’t raised on Red #40 and probably never had BHT added to their food packaging.  Think simple, basic, whole when shopping.

5.  Try to develop a repertoire of clean foods so you have some go-to recipes up your sleeve.  

Since we’ve temporarily moved in with my parents, my mom has laughed at how many times in a week I can eat spinach salad.  And it’s true – if there’s no leftovers for lunch, I usually resort to this.  I can have it 4 or 5 times a week (either for lunch or as a dinner side) and not ever get sick of it.  Fresh organic spinach, homemade vinaigrette, creamy feta, crunchy veggies, tuna or turkey breast on top if we have it – what’s not to love?  :)

My point is, try to develop a few clean recipes that you can fall back on.  Maybe start with just one or two nights a week where you’ll eat as clean as possible – grilled chicken and fresh veggies, or a homemade whole-wheat pizza made with fresh, whole ingredients (and sauce without HFCS!).  Over time, you’ll add more and more recipes to your list and they’ll become old hat.  You may never want to go back to cream of chicken casseroles again. :)

6.  Try to be open-minded about the cost of healthy foods. 

Remember that with each healthy food choice you make, you’re extending the life and health of yourself and those you love.  Diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity are more than just diseases – they’re expensive to treat!  Think long-term when you’re debating about the cheaper food at the store (this is definitely something I still have to tell myself when I shop).

7.  Be willing to invest in cooking.
I’m willing to bet that most of you (like me!) are sometimes just exhausted at the end of the day.  Getting fast-food or eating processed frozen food is so much easier to think about. Most convenience foods will come back to bite you, though!  Try to take the 20-30 extra minutes to prepare healthy food – everyone has nights they fall for easy food, but try to make those the exception rather than the norm.  Some people take the time on Sunday or Monday nights to chop up all their veggies and meat in preparation for the week ahead.  I tend to do my prep each night before dinner.  Find something that works for you – you’ll probably be surprised at how much time you will find when the result is delicious, healthy food. :)

8.  Try to read and learn as much as possible.  Knowledge is power! :) 

I know many of you are probably busier than you want to be and don’t have a lot of time to read.  I’m actually one of those nerdy people who would never put a book down from my hands if I didn’t have to because I enjoy reading so much.  :) I have learned SO much in the past several months – I thought I was a decently healthy eater before, but I seriously knew nothing! :) Below are some of the books and websites that have really helped me in learning how to eat better (as a bonus, they keep my mommy brain learning and growing! :):

By Michael Pollan (my only complaint is how heavily he believes in and refers to evolution):

- Food Rules (great starter book if you’re short on time)
In Defense of Food (history of American food policy; great practical tips on how to eat better – you can read my reviews here)
- The Omnivore’s Dilemma (traces food all the way up the food chain; it is extremely long and to be honest I gave up on page 320 of 415 – no offense Michael. :)  The first two sections were extremely helpful, though!)

By Nina Planck
- Real Food: What to Eat and Why 
   Gives more great history into how we as Americans got ourselves into this mess; great insight into healthy eating (a great section on healthy fats)

By Barbara Kingsolver

- Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life 
  One family’s journey to eat only local, self-grown food for the year.  I’m currently reading this and it’s one of my favorites so far.  Unfortunately, also relies heavily on evolution and talks about animal and plant s*x in some immature ways – maybe not for younger kids to read alone.)

- Food, Inc.  (book and movie – a comprehensive look at our food supply and gives insight into organic farming and foods)

Helpful websites:
Kelly the Kitchen Kop
Keeper of the Home
New Nostalgia
Passionate Homemaking
The Nourishing Gourmet

Whew, I think that’s it!  lol As always, feel free to add ideas or suggestions in the comments!  Remember, I am NOT an expert and I’m still working on applying all of these principles in my own life. It’s a process! :)


  1. Great selections of books. I have read many of them as well as especially find Animal, Vegtable, Miracle inspiring. Whenever I need to get back on the buy fres, buy local bandwagon that is my go-to book. In terms of recipes I really like Tosco Reno's Eat Clean and Essential Easting by Janie Quinn.

  2. Another great post, Jess! Funny story, I had just ordered The Omnivore's Dilemma from our library and it came in today. When I picked it up and started thumbing through it I realized I had accidentally gotten the "Young Readers Edition". Ha! But now that I see how you mentioned that the "normal" one is so long, I just might like this edition!:)

  3. I am so trying!!! But you're right; it's little steps. I can't make all of the changes at once or I'd be seriously overwhelmed!

  4. Hi Jessica -
    Thanks for sharing these great tips. I really enjoyed reading them (and part one, too!). I've been wanting to read Michael Pollen's books for a while now but still haven't gotten around to it! Thanks for stopping by my blog - I really appreciate it!


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