Have you ever wondered how to really eat healthy? Learn how with this clean eating for beginners Guide.
It seems everyone has an opinion on a healthy diet, but I am going to tell you what a truly healthy diet is. I know you may be wondering if I really know what I am talking about. After all, I don’t have a degree of any kind. I am not certified in anything. But, I feel that I do have some answers that could help others feel better and be more fit..
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I have a few qualifications-I used to be really sick, and that made me very motivated to help myself feel better. I have spent a good number of years studying because I really needed this information. It wasn’t simply a pastime and I didn’t learn from “general” health advice in popular publications. I learned from those who were in the trenches like me-those who were battling chronic illnesses in themselves or in their family members.
I learned a lot about diet and autism, diet and chronic fatigue, diet and pcos, diet and dental problems etc. I began to see patterns in those who were truly getting better. Many of them ate the same way. They didn’t eat exactly the same things, but there were principles that were true for everyone. That is why I wrote this clean eating for beginners post. I wanted to help others benefit from what I learned about the principles of healthy eating.
I also want to bring hope to those who feel hopeless about their health. I know I loved it when I found someone who had overcome something as huge as autism-because they were given little to no hope by their doctors. I want to bring that same hope to others.
I found that eating special healing diets could reverse all kinds of conditions including:
Their stories gave me hope that I could overcome my chronic fatigue, pcos, and other health issues.
I also read books by doctors who were actually reversing “incurable” conditions and diseases.Eventually, I started having some successes and breakthroughs in my own chronic health problems. Some of the successes were not from my diet but from other therapies. But, I truly believe diet laid the foundation so that I was strong enough to tackle other problems.
What I learned about diet was this: There are some basics that are true for most everyone. If you are not battling any serious diseases, I believe the clean eating basics I list below are the basis for good health. (If you are battling something serious, you will still need to follow a lot of these principles with some tweaks for your situation).
Clean Eating Foods = Quality Foods
Before I had health problems I thought health and weight loss were connected to how much you ate or how many carbs or fat you ate. I had it partway right-the proportion of carbs, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals in a person’s diet is really important. (See the Principles of a healthy clean eating meal in the next section.) But, what I got wrong was the thought that only the proportion and amount of food mattered. I didn’t realize that the quality of the food was very, very important.
I noticed as I studied diets that were actually healing people that each food was very carefully chosen. I learned that there was a huge difference in the healing ability of a food based on how “clean” that food was. It really matters how food is grown and processed. In other words, one kind of beef could cause health problems while another kind of beef could be very healing. I learned things like what kind of chicken to buy, what vegetables and fruits were important to buy organic, and what brands of bread were truly healthy.
I definitely believe that quality food is the foundation for health.
clean Eating Basics-Principles of a Healthy Meal
Eat healthy fats at every meal.
This point is slightly controversial. Some clean eating advocates believe that you should eat only a little bit of fat. Obviously, I don’t think you should go overboard, but fat is vital to good health-it helps to keep carbohydrates from spiking your blood sugar, it is necessary to keep your hormones in good working order, it helps your adrenals so that you can manage stress better. Fats are good for your digestion and are easy to digest for most people. Sometimes, someone has a weak liver or gallstones or impaired digestion, and must temporarily eat less fat. But, that doesn’t mean that the fats aren’t needed-only that the liver or digestion needs some help first.
I went through a chronic illness, and decided that one of the things I needed to change was my fat intake. I began eating more fats in general and specifically I began eating a lot more coconut oil (which is a saturated fat). When I had my blood taken sometime later, all my numbers were better! My cholesterol and triglycerides were a lot better.
Eat Healthy Proteins
Protein is also vital for good health. Protein helps to keep the blood sugar in a healthy range. The amino acids in protein are necessary for many bodily functions. When I was working on mercury detox, It was imperative that I had enough protein. Most of the time when people hear the word detox, they think of vegetables or fruits. But, protein is vital when detoxing. Again, sometimes someone will need a vegetable only diet for a while to fight a specific condition. But, for most everyone, protein will need to be a part of their diet. And I don’t mean protein from plant sources.
Protein from plant sources will not help your bones, teeth or immunity. (You can check out the benefits of the fat soluble vitamin A that is in animal products in this article.)
Protein from plant sources is often hard to digest in the amounts that are needed to get enough protein. Often blood sugar and digestion issues becomes a problem with a vegetarian diet, because there are more carbs in a vegetarian diet. (Plant protein often contains carbs.)
Eat Lots of Vegetables
From my last paragraph, you might think that I don’t believe much in eating plants. I do think plants are vital to good health-just that they aren’t adequate in and of themselves. Vegetables should be eaten in large amounts along with adequate protein and fat.
Whenever I choose to share a meal on the blog, I make sure that there are the right amounts of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. Then I fill in the rest of the meal with non starchy vegetables. Vegetables reduce the risk of many diseases, and are full of vitamins and minerals that keep your skin glowing and your energy levels high. Vegetables have helped me personally in my healing journey-I share how vegetables helped me here.
Starches are an important part of most people’s diets.
Starches are healthy for most people, yet they also have the most potential to wreck someone’s health. If someone is battling obesity, diabetes, cancer, or an autoimmune disease, starches may need to be reduced or even eliminated for a while. There is a place for no starch diets. But, most people just need a starch upgrade.
The “American” starches have some serious issues. Many are genetically modified, refined, bleached, and spike the blood sugar too high. Eating these starches really can cause some serious diseases. The meals I recommend are low in starches compared to the typical American diet, but have adequate amounts of the right kinds of starches.
Starches can cause tooth decay, weak bones, weakened immunity, and weight gain. The starches that I recommend do not cause these problems. They are starches like vegetables or fruits. Or they are soaked or sprouted so that they do not contain the antinutrients which cause the tooth decay, weak bones, or weakened immunity. These types of starches are easy to digest. I also recommend jasmine rice for the reasons I outline in this post.
It is possible to not eat enough starch and cause hormonal chaos. Some people (especially women) can have lowered body temperature, weight gain, fatigue, and other issues from too little starch. Starches do have a place in most healthy people’s diet. But keep reading, because you may need a diet that only includes very specific starches like the healing diets I will talk about in a minute.
Eat Meals and Snacks that are in the Right Proportions
A healthy meal has enough protein and fat to:
- help keep the blood sugar balanced
- keep you detoxing properly
- keep your hormones working properly
- to keep your immunity high
- to keep the hormones working properly
- to give you energy
- to help your body detox
- to give you vitamins and minerals
- to keep your skin glowing
- to keep your immunity high
- to fight off diseases
Special Diets for Specific Health Issues
These diets are all clean eating diets, but they go a step farther for those facing chronic health problems. You may want to consider one of these diets if you are facing a digestive disease like Chron’s or an autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.
The SCD and Paleo Diets
If you have digestive issues like Chron’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, IBS, Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth, you may benefit from the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD diet), or the Paleo diet. Both are grain free-meaning all the starches must come from vegetables, fruits, nuts, or honey. (Certain starchy beans are also allowed on the SCD diet.)
Rice, corn, wheat, bread, crackers, noodles and all other grain products must be excluded. I know this sounds tough, and it can be, but the results can be worth it for those who have been suffering with a digestive disease. Plus, there are many grain free alternatives now like these grain free crackers.
The SCD and Paleo diet are very healthy and much of the recipes and meals I recommend on this blog fit the criteria for these diets. But, I also include meals with bread and rice for those who do not have health issues like the ones mentioned above.
The Paleo Autoimmune Protocol
If you have an autoimmune disease (and there are many around nowadays-including Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or Celiac’s Disease) then you may benefit from doing the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. It is similar to the Paleo diet, but it is an elimination diet, so there are even fewer foods that are allowed at the beginning of the diet. But, then each food is trialed to see if it causes your particular symptom(s).
Some of the recipes I recommend on this blog are compliant with the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol. I will label it that way on the blog (unless I forget!).
How to Start Clean Eating
You may be wondering how to start clean eating. Here are the basic principles to follow:
Choose clean eating foods
These are simple foods that are not processed and are from healthy sources. They are grown with good practices (like this chicken, or this beef). They are made from natural ingredients and don’t have too much added sugar.
Many of these foods are in the produce section, the meat section, or the frozen section. The frozen section has frozen vegetables, frozen fruits, and even healthy bread.
As a side note, It is nice if the foods are organic, but that is not a must do. If you are curious about whether you need to buy organic, check out my article on the pros and cons of organic food.
Some clean eating foods are in the aisles, but you have to read labels to see if the ingredients are simple ingredients you recognize. It is also a good idea to have a very low sugar content. The natural foods in the regular aisles are things like oatmeal, honey, dried beans, seeds, and rice.
Simple Clean Eating Tips
Here are some clean eating guidelines to keep in mind. I wrote these down for those of you who like to see what you are shooting for. I know I am like this! If I see something like this, it reminds me to do some of the steps each day.
I am not perfect, but if I see a reminder like this at the beginning of the day, it helps me. Then, I try to remember to eat more vegetables etc. Every time I do one of these steps, I feel good because I know I am helping my body. And if I mess up and don’t eat the best, there is always tomorrow!
- Choose foods that are in their natural state.
- Shop the produce section, meat section, frozen section and dairy section.
- Increase the amounts of grass fed and organic meat in your diet.
- Increase the organic vegetables and fruit in your diet
- Eat Sprouted Breads
- Eat Healthy Fats and Proteins at Every Meal
- Eat More Vegetables
- Choose Healthy Starches including oatmeal, jasmine rice, potatoes and Starch Vegetables
Here is a printable version that you can hang on your refrigerator. Click here for the printable.
These principles have helped me immensely in helping me to regain my health, and just helping me to all around feel better! I hope these clean eating for beginners tips help you feel healthier too!
Other Posts for Clean Eating Beginners:
Disclaimer: This post is not medical advice. I am not a doctor or medical professional. I share only from my own experiences and research. Consult your own practitioner before making changes in your diet or supplements.