What is Clean Eating For Beginners

This resource, What is Clean Eating for Beginners, will explain this healthier lifestyle and teach you how to eat clean. It’s not as hard as you might think! These free articles from The Gracious Pantry will give you a good foundation for getting started down a healthy and inspiring path. Laugh, learn and enjoy the journey!

A bucket of fresh cranberries sits on a table with greenery in the background
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Why Healthy Eating Is Important

In our current world, our bodies have to deal with so many unnatural things during the day. Toxic things like gases, smoke, chemicals, cleaners, fake scents and more. It’s no wonder we get so sick at an earlier age these days. Our bodies are 100% natural, but we constantly throw unnatural things at them all day, all week, all year… year after year. It adds up. So the more you can do to side step some of that, the better. And what could be more important then the stuff that actually goes in your body?

Our bodies derive vitamins, minerals and all sorts of nutrients from the foods we eat. But if the foods we eat are mostly devoid of those things, our bodies simply won’t do well over the long haul. So the better you eat, the healthier you’ll be. It’s simply common sense.

Do You Have To Eat Organic To Eat Clean?

Organic foods are great, to a point. It’s important to note that they are free of certain chemicals, not free of all chemicals. So unless you are growing all your own produce without any pesticides or chemicals at all, you will get some of that, even in organic foods.

The short answer to the above question is, no. You don’t have to eat all organic food to eat clean. But yes, it does help with the measure of quality.

There are those who are very strict about clean eating that would wag their finger at me for saying this. But it is my philosophy that we do the best we can with what we have access to. If the only fruits and veggies you have access to or can afford are non-organic, you are still doing way better than those surviving solely on boxed/packaged/processed foods. So find that middle ground that works for your like, and stick to it.

For example, I do not bother with purchasing all organic foods. But there are those foods that I never purchase if they are not organic. Typically, the dirty dozen (a list which is published and updated annually) are the foods I make it a point to purchase organic version of. And if something has a very thick skin (like a grapefruit or banana), I don’t bother with organics because I’ll be discarding the majority of anything that was sprayed on that food anyway. So, do what works best for your life!

Can You Lose Weight With Clean Eating?

Yes! Absolutely! But you can also gain weight with clean eating. Now before you check out on me, hear me out. As with most eating plans there are guidelines to follow. And as with most foods, clean foods can be your ally or your enemy. Howso?

At the end of the day, if you eat too much food, you’re going to gain weight. Just because it’s real food, doesn’t mean you can’t overeat. So if you want to lose weight, healthy portion control is important as well.

Clean eating is really about making sure your body get the maximum benefits from the foods you eat. It’s about the quality of your food. The better quality your food is, the better health you will have. And yes, I know that there are many people out there that don’t have access to what others call “good quality food”. Food deserts are a thing. And while that’s a whole other topic I can’t get into here, it’s worth noting that in the end, it really comes down to choosing something real over something manufactured or highly processed.

Pumpkin Pasta Recipe ingredients gathered on a white countertop.

What Is Clean Eating For Beginners – The Basics

What Does Eating Clean Mean?

At it’s core, eating clean means you eat real, unprocessed foods. Does that mean you can’t eat anything in a jar or package? No! If you want to be that strict, you certainly can. But you don’t have to in order to be a clean eating.

How To Start Eating Clean

How Do I Start To Eat Clean?

Starting a new way of eating can seem overwhelming at first. So it helps to define exactly what clean eating should mean for your life. Here are links to articles that will help you figure out what clean eating is, how to get started, and how to keep your sanity in the process.

Clean Eating Grocery Lists

5 Clean Eating Smoothies To Prep With Frozen Ingredients In Less Than 10 Minutes

Clean Eating Foods

What Does Clean Eating Consist Of?

Again, it’s about eating real food. You’ll want to read all food labels for a while, or better still, purchase foods that don’t have or require a label, such as fresh produce.

Is Cheese Clean Eating?

Yes and no, and it depends.

As mentioned above, it comes down to quality. Would a processed, plastic-wrapped slice of Kraft American Cheese be considered clean? Absolutely not. It’s highly processed stuff. You can’t even pronounce or recognize most of the ingredient list. So what do you do instead?

Purchase block cheeses without added coloring (looking at you, orange cheddar!) You can grate or slice them yourself. This, in moderation, is perfectly fine on a clean eating diet. Cheeses that are pre-grated have added fillers to keep them from sticking together. Pre-sliced cheese is often overly processed (unless it’s the stuff they cut from a block in the deli section of your grocery store).

When it comes to cheese, consider how processed it is. That will tell you whether it will fit into a clean eating diet plan or not. So for example, the powdered cheese in a box of mac and cheese is definitely highly processed. Whereas, a block of cheese simply underwent the process required to become cheese. See the difference?

Are Eggs Included In Clean-Eating?

Absolutely! Real, whole eggs in a carton are always clean. They came from nature as they are. They are unaltered (except for washing). However, cartons of egg whites or yolks typically have ingredients added to keep them shelf-stable. That is typically something you want to avoid. Powdered eggs, while they may be appropriate for certain survival situations, are definitely highly processed. Avoid them if you can, or make your own at home.

Clean Eating Onion Dip Recipe

Foods To Avoid

While clean eating is about avoiding packaged foods, we live in a world where packaged things are sometimes all we can get. If that is your situation, here are a few items to do your best to avoid.

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Store-bought salad dressings – Psst… they are super quick and easy to make at home for cheap!
  • Trans fats
  • Preservatives
  • Added sugar
  • High sodium foods
  • Fruit juice – They are basically pure sugar, especially when sugar is added! If you must buy juice, buy 100% juice with nothing else added, and water it down a bit for drinking. And whenever possible, choose whole fruit instead. It has all the fiber so your body will process the sugars at a much slower pace.


We all love to snack. But what you snack on can make or break your eating plan.

  • Choose vegetable sticks and hummus instead of chips
  • Choose whole-grain pretzels or crackers over highly processed crackers.
  • Try adding fruit and a dab of honey to plain yogurt instead of buying the sugar-filled varieties. (you’ll save plastic waste this way, too!)
  • Try fruit in place of sweets, such as cookies or ice cream.

Flavoring Your Food

  1. When cooking, try not to use processed stocks and bouillons. Instead, rely on herbs and spices and some healthier pink Himalayan salt.
  2. Experiment with the flavoring in different oils, such as olive oil or coconut oil. Olive oil is great for healthy salad dressings, and coconut oil makes surprisingly good chicken!
  3. Use fresh garlic and onions or garlic powder and onion powder liberally.

Stocking Up

The onions, garlic and sweet potatoes with herbs and oil, sitting on a baking sheet.

Cooking Tips

Get Motivated

Eating Healthy On A Budget


Clean Eating Kids