How To Eat Clean For Beginners: Rules, Guidelines and Ideas

Clean eating is becoming increasingly popular these days with more and more people joining the healthy lifestyle team! As a beginner, clean eating can be overwhelming and stressful. Here is a clean eating guide, specifically for beginners, that will answer all your questions and give you some ideas!

clean eating for beginners, image of woman eating a healthy salad

What Is Clean Eating?

Eating clean is essentially eliminating processed foods, artificial flavours and sugars, foods with lots of salt and high in saturated fat, refined foods, and other foods that don’t provide you with nutritional value.

It is a lifestyle choice where you choose to know where your food comes from and how it is prepared.

Clean eating revolves around consuming good quality, healthy, nutrient-rich, whole foods.

Common Clean Eating Whole Foods Examples Include:

  • whole grains
  • legumes
  • meat and poultry
  • fish
  • fruit & vegetables
  • nuts & seeds
  • healthy fats (ex. olive oil)
  • dairy
  • eggs

These are foods that require minimal to no processing before consuming and they offer a plethora of benefits to your overall health!

What Are The Benefits Of Clean Eating?

  • Improved Heart Health
  • Improved Memory And Brain Health
  • Increased And Improved Mood And Energy Levels
  • Improved Gut Health
  • Reduced Diabetes Risk
  • Reduced Risk For Certain Cancer Types
  • Weight Loss And Healthy Weight Management

Clean Eating Rules And Guidelines For Beginners

  1. Always read the nutrition and ingredient label.
  2. Avoid processed foods, added sugars, and salt.
  3. Focus on consuming whole foods such as lean meats, fish, eggs, dairy, healthy fats, legumes, whole grains, fruit & vegetables.
  4. Avoid sugary drinks and limit alcoholic beverages. Try flavoured sparkling water instead!
  5. Eat well-balanced meals by incorporating grains, proteins, and healthy fats. They are essential for proper body functioning as well as mood-stabilizing!
  6. Drink lots of water. If you find water bland add some fruit for flavor, lemon drops, or try drinking tea.
  7. Buy and cook your own food. Short on time? Meal prep is an excellent solution to that. Eating out tonight? Make healthy decisions and keep things that might hurt your progress on the side, so you can control your intake.

RELATED: The Beginner’s Guide To Weight Loss – Useful Tips And Tricks

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How To Start Eating Clean As A Beginner

One of the most common reasons why people fail to stick to a clean eating lifestyle is because they try to do too much, too fast.

Think of your willpower as a health bar.

We all have a certain amount of willpower, some more and some less.

If you try to do everything in one week, for example, remove all sugary drinks from your diet, throw out all your favorite salty snacks, eat salads everyday, etc, chances are you will overwhelm yourself.

Instead, trying a gradual approach over the course of 30 days is the most sustainable way to form new habits that will stick around forever.

Examples and Ideas for Gradual Clean Eating:

Do you enjoy a cup of coffee with sugar and sweetened creamer every morning?

Instead of taking the sugar and cream out of your coffee immediately, reduce the amount of each ingredient gradually. Eventually, you won’t even want any sugar in your coffee!

Do you love sugary sodas and consume them often?

Start by reducing the number of times you consume sugary sodas. Replace each soda with a glass of flavoured sparkling water then switch to water.

Do you rely on or crave drive-through, fast food meals throughout your week?

Once again, reduce the number of times you visit fast-food drive-throughs. Instead, prepare your food at home. As busy as life can get, there are some very easy recipes you can prepare at home for lunch at work or snacks on the go. make this your priority and choose your well-being over rushed, processed meals!

Easy Healthy Substitute Ideas

Regular Potato Chips —-> Homemade Regular or Sweet Potato Chips

Sodas —-> Flavoured Sparkling Water

Milk Chocolate Bars —-> Dark Chocolate

Chocolate Caramel Bars —-> Medjool Dates Covered With Dark Chocolate

Chocolate Cake —-> Angel Cake

Ice-Cream —-> Fat-Free Frozen Yogurt

Ice-Cream Bars —-> Frozen Fruit Bars

Table Sugar and/or Sugar Artificial Sweeteners —-> Pure Maple Syrup or Pure Honey

White Bread —-> Whole Grain Bread

Sour Cream —-> 0%-2% Greek Yogurt

And the list goes on!

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I eat healthy and not count calories?

There is no one-size-fits-all. Some people find counting calories very restrictive, stressful as well as overwhelming. Others like to know how much they consume, especially when focused on a caloric-deficit. I would recommend using a kitchen scale as a beginner, so you can learn what portion sizes for certain foods look like, thus avoiding overeating.

What should I do when I have cravings?

As a beginner, you will notice a spike in your cravings as you slowly transition away from sugary and fatty foods. Eating processed foods is like a bad habit. You will need to work on discipline and moderation in order to be able to enjoy the occasional donut, without it affecting your clean eating goals.

To satisfy your craving, try re-creating it! Look at the examples above.

How many fruits and vegetables should you eat a day?

Generally, it is advised to consume at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day. However, everyone has unique dietary needs as well as restrictions. Try experimenting with the portions and see what works best for you!

How do I eat healthy on a budget?

Eating healthy does not have to be expensive. Focus on fruit, vegetables, potatoes, grains and legumes. Many grocery stores have weekly sales on lean meats and fish. Canned goods, such as skipjack tuna in water, are also great affordable choices. Always have a grocery list on hand and stick to it. Preparation is a major part of clean eating!

Final Thoughts

Eating clean should be a lifestyle, not a diet.

It is not meant to be restrictive or overwhelming.

Simply choose to nurture your body with foods that you trust and recognize.

Whole grains, lean meats and fish, eggs, dairy, legumes, fruit & vegetables and healthy fats are foods that contain essential nutrients, fiber, antioxidants, etc, that can have a major impact on your overall health, as well as your weight loss goals.

Take small steps, remembering that pushing too far too fast will make your willpower bar run out quickly!

If you enjoyed this blog post, check these ones out:

Thank you very much for reading!

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  1. We as Nutritionists and Dietitians have been promoting healthy or clean eating through plant-based lifestyle. While this is the foundation for a healthy wholesome living, there are many factors that prevent many people, especially low income families, from consistently practice clean eating. So like your section how to eat clean on a budget. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love this! I find eating healthy difficult as I have bad eating habits but reading this shows me there is light at the end of the tunnel. Thank you so much!

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