No gluten, dairy, soy, or caffeine; low sugar/carbs, as organic + plant-based as possible—on a budget, with low prep time.
There are many reasons for becoming a clean eater, the best ones being around simply wanting to feel better about how you eat so you may live a life that’s as thriving as possible.
But, for me (and perhaps most), it was a lifestyle change made out of health necessity.
I did an elimination diet, which is when you cut out various allergens to see how it affects your bod — while I also started eating to eat cleaner, enacting a plant-based diet.
It turned out that nixing gluten, dairy, soy, and caffeine, while also severely restricting sugar/carbs helps me feel better.
Like a lot better.
I, unfortunately, turned out to have several health complications; but, nonetheless, improvements post-diet-switch were so stunning that it seemed like I’d found my cure.
After a lifetime of feeling like I had to think around a corner, or through sticky cotton candy, my foggy mind became clearer. The stomach discomfort that sometimes got so bad it felt like I was being clawed from the inside just disappeared.
My energy, though still unimpressive due to those other issues, vastly improved. Additionally, over time, my skin cleared up, my dry scalp issues faded; and I stopped being preoccupied with food and eating, finally being able to maintain a healthy weight, which had been an issue for decades.
Give it six months, just six lil’ teeny tiny months, and I swear you won’t want to go back.
But HOW do you actually do it?
I’ve always been a veggie-lover, and I highly value conscious living, but it was still a tricky adjustment the first couple of weeks. The taste aspect was a bit of a bother; but for me, there was also a learning curve in regard to how to manage the change.
I remember trying to figure out a new coffee routine — decaf was apparent, but there were several options for nut milk, and I’d always done sugar in my java, but all the sweeteners had sugar or scary ingredients I cannot pronounce, which breaks the first rule of clean eating.
It felt like every aspect of my eating and drinking had to change, and it was overwhelming.
Fortunately, through years of trial-and-error, I’ve gotten it all sorted out (within my constraints, anyways); and can now say with full honesty that I love eating this way.
10 Tips to Make the Switch
- Look organic/clean first. The price difference can sting, so read a shit-ton of information on pesticides and additives —then head straight for organic when you get to the store. Just pretend like that other stuff isn’t even there.
- Chop and separate. Put on a playlist or podcast and chop your vegetables for both cooking and salads, storing separately; enabling quick prep when it’s time to eat.
- Start with a craving, healthy it up. For example, if you’re craving greasy Chinese food, try your hand at cooking up some veggie-heavy fried rice (more veg than rice) with coconut aminos. Also, keep your eyes out for seasonal veggies that meals can be centered around.
- Cook once, eat several times. If you’re on a budget, be it financial, energy, or time; leftovers are your friend, so make big batches. My favorite cook-once is yellow curry (Mae Ploy!) with shit-tons of veggies and jasmine rice. Zucchini spirals make the best pasta, but gluten-free noodles have also gotten tastier in recent years; just be sure to follow the directions precisely, and taste-test for texture before straining.
- One nutty decaf, and spice ‘er up. Oatmilk (creamiest)+ splash of almond (tastiest) + decaf with infused cinnamon = dreamy. Just mix Ceylon cinnamon into the grounds, using no more than ~1TB in a standard-sized pot, as it’ll overflow if the mixture gets too fine.
- —with two handfuls of nuts. Organic mixed nuts make an easy, fast, filling and nut-ritious (heh heh) breakfast; of course, you might need more than that, just eat ‘till full. For the most nourishment, aim for a sugar-free unsalted mix that includes Brazil nuts, which are high in selenium. (When my budget grows, I’d like to enjoy them with raspberries and sugar-free coconut yogurt, if I can find some …)
- Cacao is the shit. For me, letting go of sugar was the hardest part, but my tastebuds adjusted surprisingly fast, rendering old favorites overwhelming; and cacao has kept those cravings satiated since. My go-to is cacao baking chips blended with coconut oil, shredded coconut and whatever else looks yummy/is around, like fruit or nuts — sprinkling on a little sea salt and/or cinnamon adds a luxurious-feeling touch.
- If you’re gonna splurge/cheat…Adding veggies to takeout extends the nom while making it more nutritious. Gluten-free bread isn’t the real stuff, obviously quite carby, but a very tasty treat when in dire need of a sandwich. Low-sugar-vegan-ice-cream is a thing, it’s not cheap but it’s delish. Just so you know.
- Watch your condiments. They can be an afterthought when making so many changes, but are often full of sugar and additives that add up fassst.
- Handpop your corn. The microwavable kind is full of all kinds of toxic nastiness; but plop some coconut oil into a stovetop popcorn maker, add organic kernels, twist the turny-thingy for a few minutes, sprinkle on a little sea salt—and you’ve got yourself one healthful-yet-delightful snack for some tasty movie fun.
Changing one’s lifestyle can be overwhelming, and food choices can be especially difficult; but as you find new favorites, feel better in your body, look better in your clothes, and get that skin a glowin’ — your new foodscape will become more and more satisfying.
And if you’re already on this mission, please share any favorites and/or tips that you’ve got!