Though the term “clean eating” has been around for more than 30 years, it’s finding new fans thanks to trending magazine articles opens in a new tab, Instagram hashtags opens in a new tab, and lots and lots of new high-profile practitioners opens in a new tab. But what does it really mean to “eat clean,” and how do you make it easy enough to incorporate into your daily routine?
You’ll find lots of strategies, plus a meal plan with recipes in The Whole Foods™ Diet: The Lifesaving Plan for Health and Longevity, a new book written by our CEO John Mackey. Be on the lookout opens in a new tab for store signings near you or you can always buy it online opens in a new tab, but in the meantime we’ve broken out some of the basics for you.
What is Clean Eating?
Clean eating isn’t a diet, and it’s not about deprivation or limitation. In its simplest form, clean eating is a lifestyle that emphasizes selecting “whole foods” or “real foods” over highly processed foods. Here are some characteristics of “whole foods” that make them easily recognizable when you’re grocery shopping:
They are close to the original state in which they are grown or raised
They spoil faster than processed foods
They’re things your great-grandparents would have recognized as food
They don’t usually have ingredient lists or, if they do, the list should be short
They’re often sold without packaging
They’re typically found around the perimeter of the grocery store
3 Easy Tips for Clean Eating
Simpler is better. When it’s not possible to eat foods in their completely unprocessed form, select foods as close to their true form as possible. For instance, choose peanut butter with no added oils, sweeteners or salt as opposed to brands packed with sugar, salt and added fat.
Start easy. When you’re starting out, try adding fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes opens in a new tab to what you’re already eating rather than cleaning out your pantry. Do you typically have oatmeal for breakfast? Great, now add a topping of blueberries, strawberries, bananas or apples. Sprinkle bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, zucchini or spinach over your favorite pizza. And if you’re having a burger, add a crisp salad on the side packed with veggies and spiked with beans or a whole grain for heartiness.
Plan ahead. Having a meal plan for the week makes creating a clean-eating shopping list simple. The Whole Foods™ Diet has easy-to-follow weekly menus opens in a new tab that cover breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks, or take a look at some sample meal plans here opens in a new tab.
A Few of Our Favorite Clean-Eating Recipes
Want to get started today? Check out these delicious, good-for-you dishes that you can make in a snap.