Clean Eating: The Beginner’s Guide

what is clean eating

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.

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!

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’.

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