Beginner’s Guide to Clean Eating for Your Busy Family
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Chances are you’ve heard about clean eating but might not have realized how much better you might find it than the popular diets. There are good reasons why clean eating is important for your busy family. After all, you are the one preparing their food.
I’d like to think of clean eating as being a lifestyle for eating healthy, nutritious food that your whole family will love.
Although you might need to eat Whole 30, Keto, Weight Watchers or some other diet, this is a way of eating that you might want to consider.
Our families are getting too much sugar and salt, hidden in a heavy dose of carbs. You aren’t going to eat perfectly clean every single moment but for the most part, I hope these suggestions will be the solution for your family.
The thoughts and solutions I am sharing are tried and true because I prepared food this way for a family of nine!
Yes, that’s SEVEN kids!
The Beginners Guide to Clean Eating
My journey to clean eating all began years before the internet was even available.
When my oldest son was only two, he was very active and well-meaning people in my life began to make suggestions. Even the doctor made a note of a possible diagnosis that would come in handy when he reached school-age. You know, a diagnosis that would keep a boy from moving too much.
This signaled an alarm that went off in my brain. There was no way that my son would be placed on medication!
As limited as my researching capabilities were at the time, in retrospect, it amazes me that I came up with the solution that still holds true today. Remember, the internet as yet was totally unknown.
Between the wise advice of a friend, and a book by Dr. Mendolson, I decided that clean eating was the direction I would go. Of course, it wasn’t called ‘clean eating’ back in the day any more than my rice and oat flour cookies I made were called ‘non-gluten.
I knew I was on to something and it was the start of my journey to clean eating.
Even after all these years, this book is still relevant and worth the read!
As my family grew, I continued my journey to clean eating. It isn’t anything complicated and it isn’t one of the weight loss diets that are so prevalent these days.
Because it is easy, it worked for me as a busy mom. I hope you will find it works for your busy family too!
There have been ebbs and flows on my journey. It hasn’t been perfect.
When I’ve gotten off track (which is often enough) it is easy to get back on track.
Mostly, it has made sense because it wouldn’t have made sense for my growing kids to be on a Keto or low carb diet!
What Exactly is Clean Eating?
What clean eating is NOT, is a diet!
If you want a diet, you might like Whole 30, Keto, Weight Watchers, or one of the many others.
Like I said, those diets are probably not going to work for your family. I totally understand how you might want to lose weight but although a ‘diet’ is a good thing for you, a ‘diet’ will likely not work with young kids.
It is best to find what works for you and your busy family. My prayer is that the information I share with you will help you find a solution and answers that work.
When you are a beginner or getting back on track, the best thing to do is take it slow and not be hard on yourself.
There is so much to learn and so many adjustments to make. Your brain and body have to make adjustments too!
But what exactly is eating clean?
There was a time when women went to a small corner grocery store and purchased basic ingredients for cooking. They either raised their own cows, pigs and chickens.
My grandma used to have chickens and pigs. There was no such thing as a huge grocery store like Walmart where boxed, canned and frozen food could be bought ready for easy preparation.
You had to cook from scratch which meant adding each ingredient yourself to the bowl or pot minus all the preservatives with names you can’t pronounce.
So, clean eating is preparing and serving food that is whole for the maximum possible health of your family.
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How to Eat Clean for Beginners
Clean eating is learning to cook without excess sugars, salts, and fats. It is finding alternatives that are healthy and not packaged in a way that is detrimental to your family’s well-being. A good way to begin is by following the guidelines below:
- Cook your own food!
- Read the nutrition label!
- Eat whole food!
- Avoid processed foods!
- Eat well-balanced meals!
- Avoid sugars and salts!
- Don’t drink calories!
If you think I’ve followed this perfectly through the years, you are wrong. It’s a grace-based journey with ups and downs.
Besides, if you stringently keep to any form of eating, even clean eating, you’ll end up binging and eating all the cookies!
Dessert is always a good thing once or twice a week!
How to get started with Clean Eating
Clean eating is a lifestyle and not a diet. Remember if you have growing kids (or grandkids) they are going to need a balanced diet rich in nutrients and even carbs.
- This is NOT a get skinny fast thing!
- Way to approach eating and what you put into your body!
- Removing the wrong kinds of sugars, carbs, and fats!
- This is how to make better food choices!
- Choosing not to eat junk food!
What I found with my son (and eventually our other kids) is that there’s too much sugar in a child’s diet (not to mention adults). I began to limit sugar and experiment with natural alternatives.
Most children start off their day with a bowl of cereal that is loaded with sugar. Even the toast topped with jelly or the donut continues to add sugar into the bloodstream of your child.
All you have to do is walk through the grocery store or open up your cupboard to see almost every aisle with items either loaded or laced with sugar. If not sugar the item is likely to be loaded with salt.
To begin your journey to clean eating, start by eliminating prepared breakfast items such as:
- Boxed cereals!
- Granola bars!
- Frozen waffles & pancakes!
- Donuts & Danishes!
- White flour bread!
Now, you can’t just eliminate these foods from the breakfast menu because your family will get hungry. People have to eat!
You are going to have to feed your brood. May I suggest that you can feed them cheaper when you cook breakfast?
I cooked breakfast for my family for years totally from scratch. On weekdays we had eggs (from our chickens). Now you can get similar organic brown eggs from Walmart.
There are all sorts of ways to cook an egg. On weekends I made pancakes, waffles or one of my other wonderful recipes.
Cooking with whole foods is more work but healthy and so much tastier.
Tips for Transitioning to Clean Eating
During a crisis, it’s so important to take care of YOU!
That’s not being selfish it’s just reality!
Are you filled with anxiety and need to reset to respond with CALM filled with anxiety and need to reset to respond with CALM to all that you are hearing and seeing?
I often see tips that encourage you to clean out your pantry and fridge and throw all the offending food out!
I suppose there is wisdom and finality in removing the offending food, but to my way of thinking, it is so wasteful and definitely is not grace-filled.
Gradually transitioning into clean eating allows your family to adjust to the changes without sending them into a panic!
As you start cooking delicious meals, their tastebuds will adjust and their sugar cravings will decrease.
- Cook eggs on weekdays!
- Serve fruit & yogurt bowls on rushed weekdays!
- Cook pancakes or French toast on Saturdays!
- Have cereal on Sundays to allow them to adjust!
There is a learning curve to being IN the kitchen preparing breakfast for your family. Everything isn’t perfect and you might need to adjust to what meets your family’s schedule.
To make mornings go smoothly, you can find recipes that can be cooked ahead and grabbed on the go.
As you get breakfast down, you can start collecting healthy supper ideas.
Just remember to give yourself grace and the time to learn the new skills involved in eating clean.
Common FAQs About Clean Eating
You can look forward to more on clean eating along with Whole30, Keto, and Weight Watchers explained. I hope to be sharing some of the recipes I cooked for my children as well as ones I have added recently.
Question 1: Is clean eating a diet?
- Many women are under the misconception that clean eating is a diet and they couldn’t be more misinformed. Let’s first explain what a diet is. A diet is more restrictive and depending on the diet may cause the individual to abstain from carbs (bread, potatoes, etc) in the case of Keto, or allow bread and grains in the case of vegans. Clean eating is mindful of where the food comes from and intentional about choosing food that is whole (think apple, egg, chicken, etc.)
Question 2: Does clean eating include meat?
- Many people who eat clean choose to be vegan and there are many others who include meat (like me). It is a good idea to have one night a week that doesn’t include meat or to eat wild-caught seafood once a week.
Question 3: Is this more expensive?
- When you compare clean eating to allowing your family members to graze the fridge and cupboards for whatever sugar and salt-laden snacks they can find, it is cheaper in the sense that you won’t need all those extra non-food items. When you plan a menu and shop according to your plan using a grocery list, it is cheaper because you will be less likely to impulse shop!
Question 4: Is this more time-consuming?
- Well yes! Anytime you actually cook using whole foods and real ingredients it takes time. It is faster and easier for your family to find whatever they can or to throw a frozen meal into the microwave. You won’t be buying cereal as often (if ever) and neither will you be buying frozen meals! Look at it this way, you will be spending about an hour each evening lovingly cooking something that will taste ten times better!
Question 5: How would you start?
- The best way to start is by first, eliminating snacks and frequent desserts. Bake cookies or another dessert from scratch on the weekend and your family will have something to look forward to. I prefer to add the sugar myself rather than buy something that uses all the fake sweeteners. After you have your family’s snacking under control, then start changing what you eat at supper. That will give you the time to start educating yourself and coming up with some exciting new recipes. Just keep it simple because clean eating doesn’t mean you have to complicate things!
Question 6: Ideas for getting my family on board!
- The first rule that I have had through the years is not making my family eat something they really don’t like. I once made avocado sandwiches for my family and found out that my husband strongly disliked them. He had eaten way too many growing up in the Philippines. Each family is different and what your family loves, mine might not care for. If you already know what your family loves because you are buying it in a frozen meal, you could learn to make it yourself. We used to only go out for pizza until I learned how to make the dough from scratch.
The Last Thing You Need to Know About Clean Eating
The health of my family has always been important. It wasn’t called clean eating when my kids were little but that’s what it was.
The main goal in life is to live for God’s glory and it’s hard to do that when you aren’t feeling well because of how you ate.
When your kids are hopped up with sugar, they are more inclined to colds and flu, let alone having behavioral issues.
Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, Colossians 3:23
In the last couple of months, I have been using an Instant Pot to cook delicious meals and loving it. Unfortunately, when I was raising my kids, there was only a slow cooker.
The Instant Pot is TOTALLY AMAZING with 8 ways to cook a meal in one stainless steel pot!