Monday, March 31, 2014

eating clean: you have to start somewhere

Yes, you read correctly yesterday, this little family is going to be eating clean from here on out. Honestly, we've been working on eliminating processed foods and eating healthier for months and months now, and I think we were doing okay, especially during main meals. My boys are far more adventurous with food than most toddlers, and they have always absolutely LOVED their fruits and veggies. But when it comes to snack time... well, they love goldfish, graham crackers, and pretzels as much as every other kid. And don't even get me started on the fruit snacks... they would  probably eat an entire box in one sitting, if I let them.

Have you ever actually looked at the ingredients that go into most of the most popular toddler snacks? Sometimes I've never even of the ingredients before and I'm not even sure how to pronounce them, and that's never a good sign. Trans fats, refined grains, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors and colors, waxes, MSG in all kinds of tricky disguises... the list just goes on and on. I used to kind of overlook those minor details and fill my cart with processed snacks because "I always cooked a healthy dinner." Well, while a healthy dinner is better than nothing, what about all those brain-cell killing, metabolism slowing, cholesterol rising ingredients in the foods that they munch on all day long?

I'm finally putting my foot down. Spring is here, a new month starts tomorrow... I figured it was as good a time as any to finally ditch all the gross processed foods and replace them with only clean food. So, what exactly is clean food? 

Clean food is essentially real food free of preservatives, white refined flour/sugar, trans fat, or saturated fat. It is not processed or chemically modified. Chances are, if it's pre-packaged, contains more than five ingredients or any ingredients you can't spell or pronounce, it's not clean. 

Yesterday, I planned out all my clean meals for the week. Then, armed with my shopping list, I went to the grocery store. You'd be AMAZED at the sheer amount of fake food at the big box stores. You're generally pretty safe in the produce section, but the rest of the aisles are just full of processed foods. Unfortunately, we don't have any large local natural grocers. We do have one small natural market, but it was closed yesterday. I managed to find everything on my list at our local Meijer store, though. It just took some serious hunting (and help from friendly sales associates). 

When it comes to clean eating, Michael Pollan is a revolutionary. He has written numerous books and makes a compelling argument for eating clean- and he even simplifies the process! He is full of all sorts of witty but true quotations such as:

  • "don't eat cereal that changes the color of the milk"
  • "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." 
  • "Whenever you see the words low fat, reduced fat, or fat free, think chemical crap fest." 

He also has a pretty easy to follow list of rules for grocery shopping: 

I mean, that's not too difficult, right? I managed to do it all by myself yesterday (cue clapping). I could probably even do it with two hungry, hyper toddlers in tow, too ;) I want to order a bunch of Michael Pollan's books to read. I mean, he's basically a genius... a honest, real, hilarious genius. To get the whole list, visit his website.

Some other resources I've found to be really helpful are:
100 Days of Real Food
The Gracious Pantry
Clean Eating Magazine
Clean Eating Chelsey
He and She Eat Clean

We're eating clean for April (and beyond!) Care to join me? 
Tomorrow I'll be posting lists of clean toddler breakfasts, lunches, and snacks.


  1. So what do you do for toddler snacks when you are out and about?

  2. I have a few of his books on my kindle, if you are interested!


“Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind.”
-Dr. Seuss