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Clean Eating: What is it, and How Do I Eat Clean with Kids?

Clean Eating: What is it, and How Do I Eat Clean with Kids?

You would do anything for your kids, wouldn’t you?  Of course you would.  I’ve found that motherhood has led me some places that I never thought I would go, all in the hunt for the best for my kids.

For example…

Two years ago I had no idea what clean eating meant. I thought that maybe it meant washing your fruits and vegetables.  In fact, I was clueless about most of the things my family was eating, other than considering the cost of the foods and occasionally the calorie counts.

Then my son reacted pretty violently to some things in his diet, and developed some new food allergies, and suddenly I was researching everything that went into his mouth.

what is clean eating?

Here’s what I’ve learned about clean eating.

Clean eating is a diet that focuses on natural, mostly unprocessed foods. The goal of clean eating isn’t weight loss, and it isn’t a weight loss system.   I found a clean weight loss system that is working for me, but that isn’t exactly what I’m talking about in this post (though you can definitely drop me a comment if you’re interested in my weight loss plan).   In this case, I’m talking about a way of eating. The focus with a clean diet is on fruits, vegetables, meats, and grains in their most natural, unprocessed form.

Instead of eating pizza, pasta, bread and fried chicken, a clean diet consists of meals like steamed broccoli and grilled chicken, omelets, homemade chili or steak, baked potato and a side salad. In essence, it’s going back to how we used to eat before there was a fast food restaurant at every corner and grocery stores packed with processed foods and meals ready to heat and serve.  It’s eating food as close to how it is grown as possible.

The idea behind clean eating is to get back to consuming fresh, mainly unprocessed foods that contain their full nutritional value. As an added bonus they aren’t stuffed full of preservatives, additives and flavor enhancers. The main reason for choosing to stick to a clean diet is to eat healthier.

How “clean” you make your diet is up to you. Some proponents of this way of eating insist that you should only consume completely unprocessed foods. Others are comfortable enjoying things like butter, cheese, cured meats and cultivated vegetables like sauerkraut. However, even making a few simple swaps like cutting out fast food burgers and creating freezer meals will help.

In our family, we are mostly grain free, and we eat very little sugar.  We focus on fruits, veggies, meats, and eggs.  Breakfest is things like eggs, oatmeal, and fruit.  Lunch is often salads, lettuce wraps, raw veggies with hummus, and leftovers.  Dinners usually consist of a meat and 2 veggies (like pork chops, a sweet potato, and steamed broccoli).  We used to eat a LOT of bread and pasta, and that has been a big change for us.  I’ll talk a bit more about our family’s meals in my next post.

It’s hard to find healthy snacks that fit your clean diet while you’re out and about. Keep some fresh and dried fruit along with some seeds and nuts handy for emergency snacking. When it comes to drinks, water and herbal teas are your best friend. Black coffee is another good choice. Just be careful about adding sweeteners and creamers (I still occasionally use creamer.  I just choose a natural, less processed one).

It may take you a little while to get used to the “real” taste of food after eating foods that are laden with sugar, salt and flavor enhancers. Once your taste buds adjust, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how delicious real food is.  Your kids will adjust too, though I can’t say mine have stopped asking for Pop-Tarts just yet.  

In my next post, I’m diving into some details about my families diet, and how we’ve interpreted clean eating in a way that works for us.  I’ll also be sharing substitutes we’ve found for our favorite foods.  For more about clean living in general, check out this post.

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