Now that you know you want to start eating cleaner for you and your family… what can you do?
Clean eating doesn’t mean eating healthy for a day so you can gorge on McD’s and potato chips the next. Your goal should also not be to eat healthy for a week or month and then go back to junk and fast foods, or why even bother? This is a lifestyle choice. The truth is after a few days or a week you should see a difference in your body, your energy level, your skin (will be clearer), you will sleep better and wake up more refreshed.
- The first step is education. Reading labels, plan your meals in advance and be aware. The concept of ‘Clean Eating’ our family has adopted is simple, eat foods that you can pronounce. All of this may be overwhelming. My biggest shock was how much sugar is added to foods. It’s EVERYWHERE. Foods like flour, milk, pasta, sauces and even things you think are healthy for you like yogurt (especially the kids yogurt drinks, which mine LOVED) are all full of sugar. ‘Sugar-free’ products are full of chemical sugar replacers so they aren’t really any better.
- Get the family involved. Once a week we sit down & I put a bunch of recipe magazines (with photos) on the table and every person gets to pick one meal (most of the books are for clean eating easy recipes that can be made in under 20 minutes). And we create a schedule together. I find my kids are less likely to complain about having to eat something when they pick it themselves. Trust me, not every recipe worked out & more than a few nights we had eggs for supper, but we did it as a family & everyone seemed to not mind.
- Be committed to making changes. For our family we found it works best if we are all on board 100%. This meant my husband getting on board and my daughter learning she cannot have sugar and junk every day (she has the real sweet tooth of the family).
- Be strict. At first my kids didn’t understand why we needed more veggies and less processed foods. I reminded them about the benefits, pointed out when they were tired after a day of eating McDonalds, and we did taste tests of processed versus real food. After awhile my kids no longer wanted processed foods all the time. Let’s be realistic, kale chips will never win in our house, they want ‘REAL’ chips! And yes I did send my daughter to bed a few nights when after 2 hours she was still only pushing the food around on her plate (don’t worry she had had a big snack after school). But we stood strong and explained this is helping the whole family get healthy so we can live a better life and before I knew it when we went to a restaurant my kids asked the waiter what is organic on the menu!
- Have back up snacks & meals. My kids come home from school and NEED FOOD. I usually have an apple with peanut butter and coconut shavings, clementines, or something for them to eat. If you have it ready they will eat it. We take one day a week (Sunday) and cut up all our veggies and fruit and get all our snacks ready for the week.
- I know it said five, but this one is too important to leave out… DRINK WATER! There can not be enough said about the benefit of water and how little most people drink. Dietitians of Canada suggest 3L (12 cups) a day for men and 2.2L (9 cups) a day for women. Get out the old water bottle and carry it with you everywhere.
Have fun! We tried try different things…some work and some don’t but we all take part and keep trying.