lessons in eating clean... pt 1

Yesterday I spent almost two hours listening to a presentation about ways to eat clean on a budget. The presenter was another mom. A normal mom. Someone who used to eat like the average American and life changes forced her to learn a better way. I mentioned the presentation on Facebook and had a few people ask me to share what I learned so I thought I'd type up some of the info so others can also benefit. Plus it helps drill things into my head a little bit more. :) She shared so much great information that I am having a hard time organizing it all. So I'm going to share it with you in pieces: a list of tips and small changes you can make to help add up to a new, healthier lifestyle, a sample grocery list for families on a budget, and how to read (decipher) a nutrition label.

First, let's start with this encouraging tidbit: It takes 5 days to stop cravings, 10 tries or more to go from "yucky to yummy" and about 30 days to form a habit.

Below is her list of tips and small changes you can make to help add up to a healthier lifestyle. This is all completely from her, and as soon as I know "her" name and source information, I will share that with you!

  1. Learn to read labels.
  2. Learn the basics of nutrition.
  3. Life is a series of choices: bad, good, best.
  4. Learn to buy only what is on sale.
  5. Use coupons and price match. Shop several stores for your needs.
  6. Don't eat out, save that money and use it to buy better quality food. Set an eat out limit of once a month. (Fact: 1/3 of our nation's income is spent on eating out!)
  7. Shop the perimeter of the store first.
  8. Cook more. You are the heart of your home. You cannot get good, quality, nutritious meals unless someone is cooking them from your kitchen.
  9. Invest in good, healthy cookbooks.
  10. Buy whole hams, turkeys and roasts and use them for sandwich meat. It's cheaper and tons healthier.
  11. Look for foods high in fiber and protein. (Fact: Protein helps children have better focus!)
  12. Pack your kids school lunches. Cafeteria food is high in fat and sugar. Pack at least 2-3 fruits and veggies. Make your own baggies with raw veggies and PB dip. Use leftovers for next day lunches.
  13. Invest in a picnic basket for on-the-road lunches and snacks during sports season. This will save you money so you don't have to eat out and your kids have healthier snack options.
  14. Swap high sugar cereal for oatmeal, whole wheat toast & jam, and a fruit smoothie for breakfast.
  15. Buy organic when you can and go to your local farmer's market.
  16. Buy Greek yogurt and add your own fruit. Greek yogurt has twice the protein.
  17. Use eggs & egg whites for dinner. Eggs are inexpensive and high in protein.
  18. Make the switch from white to whole grain or wheat. Invest in a good bread machine and make breads, pizza doughs and jams from home. It's easy and much better for you and it will save money in the long run.
  19. STOP BUYING JUICE! It has NO nutritional value and is liquid sugar. Teach your kids to choose water. For special occasions select juice that has vegetables or an organic juice like "Honest Kids."
  20. Be creative with cooking and use things like whole wheat wraps for sandwiches. (Ex: Wrap, PB, sliced bananas, sprinkle almonds & drizzle with honey. Roll and serve.)
  21. Cook with applesauce and agave nectar instead of oil.
  22. Bake cookies, muffins and breads for snacks. It is always better when made from good, quality ingredients from your kitchen.
  23. Use purees in your cooking. Kids won't know that they are in there and they boost the nutritional value of the meal.
  24. Avoid HFCS (high fructose corn syrup) when you can.
  25. Have at least 2 fruit bowls on your kitchen counter for quick, to-go snacks anytime.
  26. Allow treats on occasion!
  27. Love yourself enough to not allow yourself to eat food that is bad for you (sugar!!).
  28. Stay away from fat-free products. When the fat is taken out, more sugar is put in to make up for flavor.
  29. Always look at the ingredient list. The first ingredient listed is what the product has the most of. If it says sugar, put it back on the shelf!
  30. Stay under 9g of sugar per serving. 6 is better, 4 is gold!
  31. By large quantities of fresh fruits like berries, peaches and grapes in season and freeze them. This will save you money.

So encouraging! I'll share the rest of the information in the next few days. I am excited that I learned how to read a nutritional label - FINALLY. I feel like I am armed with the information necessary to make better choices and I can't wait to share it with you, too!

the produce aisle
For more info, read part 2 here.

Liz Cook

Liz Cook is a wedding, birth, and motherhood photographer based in Central Virginia. Her intuition and creative perspective allow her to connect both professionally and personally with her subjects, and thus, her portfolio is saturated with authentic emotion. Whether she's sharing her story with fellow entrepreneurs or enjoying quality time with her husband and two daughters, Liz is both present and passionate about capturing and celebrating life. Her work has been featured by O "Oprah" Magazine, The Huffington Post, The Glitter Guide, Essence Magazine, domino, Rue Magazine, among others.