So you’ve read some books, maybe browsed a few magazines and googled a few topics and you’re ready to make a lifestyle change. But now WHAT?! How do you start? Where do you begin? Hopefully this will help you out!

The Dive Right In Approach

Grab a trash bag because your first step involves some cleaning!  It’s time to toss out all the unclean food that is in the house.  This is also your first step in reading labels.  Look through all your food items carefully.  Read the labels and check out the ingredients.  Clean items stay, the rest gets tossed.  (If you are looking for a slower approach check it out here)

Now that you have a clean slate  it’s time to fill your house with some clean and healthy food.  If you’re not a planner then start small and try to come up with at least a weeks worth of dinners - breakfast, lunches and snacks are the easiest but dinner usually requires some prepping.  If you are a planner then you are going to like this!  Browse through some magazines or check out some blogs and take note of the recipes that look interesting to you.  Make a list of the ingredients needed for your nightly dinners (click here, here and here for some easy dinner recipes) - this is the start of your grocery list.  Now let’s add some of the other items you will need.

Barbara's Brand Cereal

Breakfast - Start with the basics - cereal (or oatmeal - see recipe here) with fruit and skim milk.  You can find a variety of clean cereals at your local health food store.  As you ease into the lifestyle you can start to branch out with your meals.

Salad with cheese

Lunch - If you’re a veggie lover then stock up on your favorites!  Grab some clean cheese (read the label - the ingredients should list things like milk, salt, enzymes, rennet) and pick up some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balasmic Vinegar for a dressing.  Toss everything together and you have a complete protein and carb meal!  If you’re not big on salads then pick up some clean tortilla shells, some chicken (you’ll either want to grill or bake it) and either hummus or some low fat Greek style yogurt (this is to make yogurt cheese with and is a great sauce to use on wraps - you can find the recipe here).  Toss together with some lettuce, tomato and onion and lunch is complete!

Apples with natural peanut butter

Snacks - Again, stick to the basics at first and then branch out.  Grab some of your favorite nuts and seeds - almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower and pumpkin seeds.  Measure out a single serving of each and toss them in some snack bags for easy grab and go servings.  Pair your nuts and seeds with some carrots, broccoli, cauliflower or celery - yogurt cheese makes a great dip for the veggies (see recipe here).  Apples, bananas and grapes are easy fruits to have for snacks - pair them with some cheese or natural peanut butter for a complete protein/carb snack.

Whole and Ground Flaxseed

Extras - Flaxseed is a powerful seed that packs an enormous punch of healthy nutrition to any diet.  You can buy flaxseed whole or ground.  If you buy it whole you will need to grind it up before you use it.  Flaxseed can only be absorbed into your system in the ground form.

Chia seeds

Chia seeds are similar to flaxseeds but they don’t need to be ground up to be used by the body.  They also have no taste where as flaxseed has a somewhat nutty flavor.  Chia seeds are loaded with nutrients!  I always have a flax/chia mix that I keep on hand to add to my meals.

And don’t forget the WATER!  When you’re starting out, drinking lots of water will really help to flush your system and keep you hydrated.  And no - diet soda does NOT count for a beverage option.  You can have tea and coffee - just make sure to use a natural sweetener like brown rice syrup.

You’ll find that over time you end up with a basic supply of some simple pantry items.  Below is a list of some of the most common ones.  Some of these you won’t need right away but others you will want to have on hand from the beginning - the items that are marked with an * are ones you want soonest.

Basic Pantry List - here is a list of items that I like to have stocked in my pantry.

  • *Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • *Sea Salt
  • *Ground Flaxseed and Chia Seeds
  • Spices like garlic and onion powder, basil, oregano, parsley, paprika, chili powder
  • *Vegetable and Chicken stock - low sodium varieties are best
  • *Brown Rice Syrup
  • Clean mustard
  • Clean Ketchup (see recipe here)
  • *Low Sodium Soy Sauce or Tamari
  • Canned Salmon
  • *Whole grains - brown rice and quinoa are personal favorites
  • Old Fashioned Oats or Steel Cut Oats
  • *Natural Peanut butter
  • Unsweetened all natural applesauce (see recipe here)
  • *Whole Wheat Flour or Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
  • *Vinegars like apple cider and balsamic
  • Canned Pizza Sauce and/or tomato paste
  • *Cereals
  • Clean Crackers - Brown rice crackers are yummy
  • *Nuts and Seeds
  • Canned beans

The Basics:

Now that you’ve stocked up on good, clean healthy food it’s time to figure out how it all works together to help you.  Your goal should be 5-6 small meals daily.  Each of your meals should be 200-300 calories and need to contain BOTH a carb and protein.  Carbs are things like fruit, veggies, breads and grains.  Proteins are cheeses, nuts, meats, legumes and beans. For some examples of different meal combinations see here and here.

Clean eating truly is a lifestyle and it takes time to get used to this new way of life.  The more you eat clean, the easier it becomes.  This is why for the first week or so I recommend writing down your daily meals so that you can easily pull out your meal items at the appropriate times.  Take a few minutes the night before and jot down what you will be having for breakfast, lunch and your snacks.  If you are away from the house during these times you will want to pack your lunch so that you have all your meals and snacks with you. (to this day I still put a written menu in my husband’s lunch bag!)


If you currently have an exercise program that you follow then you are already a step ahead!  Keep up the good work!

If you haven’t yet added in an exercise routine, now is a great time to start.  For most people walking is a great way to start incorporating exercise into your daily routine.  Invest in a good pair of walking shoes and head outside (or inside if you have access to a treadmill).  Start with walking half a mile and gradually increase your pace and distance as you gain muscle and energy.  Once you’ve gotten a steady exercise routine worked into your daily lifestyle you can branch out by adding weights, cardio classes and sports activities!

Cheat Meal:

Some people will do a cheat meal once a week or once a month.  This is completely up to you.  For me personally if I’m craving something that isn’t clean I try to find a way to make a clean version.


Remember that eating clean isn’t a diet - don’t worry if you miss a meal, eat a candy bar or slip up.  Put the past behind you and start again - RIGHT AWAY, no need to wait for tomorrow.  As you become more comfortable reading labels and making meals you’ll notice how quick meal preparation becomes. You do have to put some time and enegry into getting started, but soon you’ll be so accustomed to your new lifestyle that you’ll wonder how you lived any other way!

As ALWAYS check with your doctor before starting any exercise or nutrition program!

Are there any tips or tricks that you learned along that way that helped you when starting out?  Please share them with us and help out others that are just starting on this awesome adventure and lifestyle!

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  1. Kelly says:

    Thank you so much for this valuable information! My husband and I started this last week and already feel healthier! This website is a godsend! I can’t wait to try all the recipes on here.

    Thanks again!!

    • Sarah says:

      Hi Kelly,

      I’m so glad to hear that you are feeling healthier already. My husband and I both said that after just a few days of eating clean that we felt lighter and healthier. It was probably in our minds but it was great to feel that way and it only got better from there.

      Keep in touch and let us know if you have any questions or concerns about clean eating. We’re always here to help anyway we can!



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