First and foremost, that’s awesome you want to take control of your health by being aware and in control of what you eat. When I started out on my clean eating journey in 2015, I was so overwhelmed with all the conflicting advice; it really can be difficult knowing what actually is healthy.
I started going through my cupboards/pantry/fridge/freezer to see what was easily identifiable as unhealthy. Rather than putting it all in the bin – I hate being wasteful and throwing money away – I slowly used all those items up. So whether that was having a biscuit once a week as a treat, or having that processed meat in the freezer for dinner with lots of fresh vegetables on the side; it took me months to get rid of everything, but I felt better using it all up and not wasting food.
These are the 5 things I did to educate myself on a new way of grocery shopping and healthy eating – feel free to adapt them to whatever works for you.
- In the supermarket, stick to the outer edges as that’s typically where the nutrient dense foods are. Typically I avoid the inner aisles, because they contain what I like to call ‘food-like-products’, which are often processed foods with little or no nutritional value.
- Purchase as much food in its natural state. When I am buying food, I try to buy as many items as possible that don’t need an ingredient list, because they are one item, for example, all fresh fruit and vegetables, most nuts and seeds (but check they haven’t been roasted in oil or contain a flavouring or salt), etc. – these items typically don’t have an ingredient list other than the item itself. If they do contain flavourings or seasonings, I don’t buy them, and will find a version that is natural.
- Get comfortable reading the labels on items. Most of the foods I buy are from point 2, where they are as natural as possible, but when I do buy packaged/processed foods, I look at the label of different brands. What I am looking to exclude is: ingredients that I don’t know what they are, ingredients that sound like they have been made in a science lab, and products with more than 5 ingredients. These are the principles I go with for all packaged/processed foods – which rules out a lot!
- Experiment with new ingredients and recipes. I found this an eye-opening experience trying new foods and recipes. Each week I would either buy a new item from the supermarket, or try a new recipe. It was challenging in the beginning when I wasn’t confident in the kitchen, but I found that it doesn’t need to be a super complicated recipe or exotic foods – keeping things simple really helped build up my confidence. On Instagram and my blog, I regularly share simple and quick recipes (mostly sweet treats); you could always start there and pick one or two to try.
- Prepare foods that you can make in double or triple batches so you can freeze some. I find having meals or snacks already available in the freezer to grab on a busy weekday night really helps.
Moving towards a healthier lifestyle can be challenging at times, but remember it’s all about doing the best you can for each meal, you don’t need to be perfect all the time. I hope me sharing my experience has helped give you inspiration with your healthy eating – remember, everyone’s journey is different, so do what is right for you and your family.
Running, Nutrition & Mindset Coaching