About a year ago, we started on a Clean Eating Journey I like to call it. It wasn’t my idea, but my husband’s. Its been a long journey with personal up and downs about it all but overall a good one. A healthier one.
What is Clean Eating?
There are several different definitions out there, but I define it as eating foods with real ingredients. Real foods vs processed foods with words we can not understand. It is replacing the foods in our pantry and refrigerator with foods that have better ingredients. Ingredients, that when reading the labels on the back of the box, bag etc, you know exactly what it means. It also includes switching to organic foods for all of our produce.
How it all started for us.
My husband started following someone in Instagram. The guy was talking about reading the labels on the products you were buying in the grocery stores. How there are so many things in foods that weren’t really food at all. So many labels are misleading and make you think it’s healthy. He talked about how our body doesn’t really process them well and causes inflammation and other multitude of issues. The guy goes into grocery stores and picks up everyday items and read the labels. He mentioned these words that we had no idea what they meant. Things like Ferrous Sulfate, Maltodextrin and Natural Flavors to name a few. He talked about how all these oils (Canola, Sunflower, Vegetable Oils) all caused inflammation. (Y’all, canola oil is in everything!) These were things we were eating. In turn, he’d then show you a “cleaner” option and go over those ingredients.
I will be honest, the Clean Eating idea sounded great, but changing everything we ate, this did not interest me. It sounded like a lot of work.
My husband started going through our own pantry and reading the labels of things we were buying. From chips and snacks to canned goods, and broths, to salad dressings. You name it he was reading the label. At first, I found it very annoying. Picking a part of everything we were consuming. I found it frustrating because I did the grocery shopping. So in a way I felt like he was telling me I was buying bad things.
I had a very good routine of meal planning and doing a Shipt order every week for our groceries because I hated going to the grocery. He was disrupting it all by wanting to switch grocery stores AND change everything we were eating.
At first, I struggled with letting go of the control of getting the groceries but when I realized it was taking something off my plate, I let it go. And he took the reins.
It was a process. Through a lot trial and error, we slowly took out all of the items we previously picked up in the grocery store for more clean, healthier options with ingredients you can understand. I struggled sometimes with all of it because who doest love a bag of Cheetos am I right? We have hated somethings and come to love some really great brands that are great substitutes.
The question I get the most – What about the kids, you make them eat that stuff too? Yep at home we do! What we bring into our home are the snacks and foods they have to eat. But y’all, they are actually great tasting snacks! And meals, they don’t even know the difference. When we go other places, snack time at school or to friends and families homes etc, they can eat whatever they’d like. These are just the food and snacks in our home now. But honestly, we have found great replacements for Cheetos puffs, fruit roll ups, graham crackers, Cheez its, you name it. (Listed below) They taste good and are just better for you. And the kids love them.
Another question – Isn’t it more expensive? Sometimes yes and sometimes no. We have been really good about buying stuff on sale. We will buy a little more of it while on sale to stock up and not have to pay full price. I have found somethings I used to buy to actually be more expensive! I went to buy Frito scopes for a dip for a party and they were twice as expensive as the chips we now buy at home.
Where we shop:
We shop at Whole Foods, Fresh Market, Trader Joes (for produce, egg and lunch meat) and we do online orders with Thrive Market. I hear a lot of this stuff is a Costco, but we just haven’t ventured there (I know, everyone says we need to)
I have to give my husband the credit here. He did the leg work on this and now he is the one who shops for the groceries. I was against the journey because I felt like it created more work for me on my already full plate.
So if you are interested in starting some clean swaps without having to do the research, here are some of our favorites:
Simple Mills. They make a lot great things. From cookies, to breakfast bars (the Chocolate Almond Bars are my kids favorite) graham crackers, to all kinds of crackers and pita chips. Baking items like brownies, cookies and banana muffins are all delicious.
Siete. This brand is great for their chips. Lots of great flavors. All made with Avocado oil which is much better for you. We buy their taco seasoning mix now instead other brands. Their almond flower tortillas are great for Taco Tuesday.
Lessor Evil. Our favorite are the Paleo Cheese puffs (our Cheeto swap out) they have great popcorn, power protein puffs and sun poppers are all snacks we buy with this brand.
Primal Kitchen. We have switched to their mayo with avocado oil. The Caeser dressing is my absolute favorite. Anyone I make a Caesar salad for loves it. They have a wide variety of salad dressings. The nondairy Alfredo is a staple in our home now.
True Made Foods. Their veggie ketchup my kids love and their honey mustard.
Raos. Their tomato sauce and marinara is very clean.
If this is a journey you are interested, start small. Start swapping some of the things in your pantry for the items above. (Look for sales!) Switch to organic produce grass fed meats and organic pasture raised eggs (cheapest at Trader Joes!)
This is not a perfect journey in our home. We go out to eat and enjoy plenty of “non clean” foods when not at home. But in our home, we try to be as clean eating as possible.
Curious who we follow on Instagram for clean swaps in our home? Bobby Parrish @flavcity and Jen Smiley @wakeupandreadthelabels (She’s local to the New Orleans area!)