I’m clean eating. I washed it first.

I do not think it means, what you think it means. – Inigo Montoya

What is “clean eating”? I have been asked by a few people to elaborate on the topic. Honestly, I’ve found clean eating rules to vary from person to person, depending on their fitness goals.

Some super strict individuals cut out all processed foods, such as condiments, milk, cheeses, pastas, and nut butters. Generally, if the item cannot be found in its original state; then you do not eat it. You can cook, roast, etc., and blend it with other items. However, the food items must not undergo any chemical or artificial process. Think of cow’s milk…while it is naturally occurring, it undergoes a pasteurization process where it is enriched with vitamins and nutrients. The person makes their own tomato, enchilada, etc. sauces from these whole, clean foods and spices. Replace sugar with honey. To me, this is extremely restrictive eating; which could lead to an eating disorder such as orthorexia. (Many restrictive diets, which are becoming fad diets, think gluten free, paleo, vegan can lead to orthorexia if taken to the extreme.)

Most people follow an 80/20 rule for clean eating and aren’t as restrictive on the “processed” part. It is mainly checking the labels. Fill your meals with lean meats, fresh fruits and veggies, and whole grains. So, you may drink cow’s milk and eat nut butters; you try to find the least processed varieties. {I buy a roasted honey peanut butter from Whole Foods. It is peanuts that have been roasted, coated in honey, and I grind it into a container at the store.} Swap refined white sugar for honey (some use agave nectar). I love sweet tea, so I obviously use sugar. That is where the “20” comes in. The 20 allows for exceptions.

As a weekly menu planning mom, I am able to choose meals that are full of whole, clean food items. I choose numerous veggies as side items to lean meats. I try to stick with quick meals too. A fish with 2 sides: Living on the coast, I get plenty of fish to choose from…I do not eat tilapia (they are heavily farmed and aren’t that nutritious). I broil, grill, or bake in a foil packet the fish. *Side note: many popular seasonings have preservatives, which are no-no’s in a clean eating diet…I recommend FlavorGod seasonings. Just google, order, and let your life be changed.* Side items: Broccoli…just rinse, chop, season, and choose cooking method. Sweet potatoes…rinse and bake. (If I am broiling my fish, I will use the crock pot to bake my potatoes. I wrap in foil and, depending on the size, crock pot on high for 2-3 hours. Easy, clean meal!

I am not that strict of a clean eater. There are some things that I do not have time to make on my own, like pasta sauces, enchilada sauces, etc. I buy those jarred and minimally processed as possible. I just check the label. I use KerryGold Irish Grass Fed Butter or OMGhee. I buy whole wheat pastas over pastas made with enriched, white flour, same with loaf bread. Some clean eaters make these items, but my time will not allow that. I try to find frozen veggies or fruits over canned or jarred. When you buy canned or jarred food, it may have tons of salt or preservatives. Just watch out for that. You also should aim to eat 6-8 small meals. (I will define my eating habits and meal examples in a separate post later.)

So, that is my clean eating definition. It isn’t 100% true to some people’s clean eating style, but you have to find what works for you, your fitness goals, and your family. That is why I opt for organic, grass-fed, locally sourced foods over the defined “clean” foods in my diet. I always say I tend to eat 60% “clean” because not all organic foods are considered clean. (Organic soda, chips, cookies, etc.) I make sure my meals consist of lean meats, fruits and veggies in the most whole, minimally processed form without preservatives or additives, and whole grains.

But sometimes you just need some Velveeta cheese in your life!

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