How to Begin Clean Eating

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Thank you to Tessemae’s for sponsoring this post. I participated as a member of the Mom It Forward Blogger Network. As always, all opinions are my own. 

About three months ago a friend introduced me to the concept of clean eating. Since I grew up in the age of processed foods, I wasn’t sure how to begin clean eating and introduce it to my family. With a little research and advice from friends who are practicing clean eating, I’ve found some easy ways to transition my family to clean[er] eating. 

overhead view of colorful salad on wood table with vegetables scattered around

I’m a mom. I’m not a physician, nutritionist or expert. I’m sharing my opinion and experience. You should always check with your medical professional for medical advice. 

There are many different definitions of clean eating and ways to implement it. The explanation of clean eating that makes the most sense to me is that you should be able to pronounce every ingredient on a label and you want your food as close to nature (processed as little) as possible. You can read more about clean eating from the USDA

My family is just beginning to introduce clean eating into our diet. We are not eating an entirely clean eating die, but our diet is definitely much clean[er]. We are approaching this transition as a learning experience and an opportunity to try new foods. Our goal is to continue to make more clean eating changes to our diet over time. This is an on-going learning and experimenting process for us.

I’m happy to share that the changes we’ve made have all been positive and easy to incorporate. My family has been interested and involved in learning about the clean eating changes we’ve made. All five members of my family have been supportive of the changes we’ve made. 

How to Begin Clean Eating

Start Reading Labels – You can still buy packaged foods. You don’t have to grow and process your own food. But you do need to take an active role in reading each and every label for products you purchase. Your goal is to purchase products that contain ingredients you can pronounce and identify. No more mono-saturated-whatever or ditrexer-what-is-this-stuff in your purchased food products. Once you start reading the labels, you’ll become deeply aware of what you’re consuming. With a little reading and research you will quickly discover brands that produce clean eating products. 

glass of water lemon slice and lemon on limes on table

Watch What You Drink – Start reading the labels of the products you drink. There are obvious drinks that are nothing but chemicals, but even fruit juices often contain unpronounceable ingredients. I’ve been focused on drinking much more water each day. My family has been drinking fruit and herb infused water and found it refreshing and an enjoyable substitute for other drinks. 

Use Spices in Place of Condiments – Once you start reading the labels on condiments, you’ll be looking for substitutes. Spices are an easy substitute. They are not processed and contain antioxidants which are beneficial. 

Swap Out Margarine for Butter – This was the first clean eating change we made in our diet. I grew up eating margarine. My clean eating friend challenged me to read the label on the margarine tub in my fridge. I was surprised and it made me wonder why we were eating it instead of butter. It was an easy swap and butter tastes so much better that you don’t need to use as much. You still need to read the butter labels, because not all butters fall into the clean eating category. 

Look for Clean Eating Bread, Tortillas and Other Breads – This one takes a bit more research at first. Check in the organic section of your grocery store and you should find clean eating options for the bread products you eat. I found clean eating bread in the freezer of the organic section of my store. The clean eating bread has a taste similar to wheat bread. Full-disclosure – two of the five family members in my family like the clean eating bread. Read the labels and try different bread options until you find one that you like. 

overhead view of colorful salad in white bowl with fork and vegetables on wood table

Swap out for Organic and non-GMO Produce –  Think of this as reading the label on your fruit, vegetables and produce. When you purchase organic and non-GMO produce, you know that no chemicals have been added or other changes have been made to the food you’re eating. 

Shop Your Local Farmer’s Market – You’ll find many organic and non-GMO produce choices are available at your local farmer’s market. You will also appreciate how much more fresh and flavorful the produce is.  

Grow Your Own Produce – When you grow your own fruit, vegetables and herbs, you know exactly what has been added and not added to the soil and the produce.  And you can’t find produce any more fresh than when you pick it hours before you eat it. 

blue bowl of cherries on wood table

Fresh Fruit Instead of Canned Fruit or Dessert– Another easy change for our family has to keep a large bowl of fresh in-season fruit on our kitchen counter. Fresh fruit has no preservatives or additives. It’s delicious, clean eating and so enjoyable. Clean eating is a matter of changing habits and this is an easy one to change.

four bottles of dressing on wood table with lemons, tomatoes and carrots

Check Your Salad Dressing – The second suggestion my clean eating friend had for me (after ditching the margarine) was to check the labels of the salad dressings in my fridge. Again, it was eye-opening. I began making my clean eating Lemon-Olive Oil Dressing instead of purchasing salad dressing. We eat lots of fresh salads and began looking for more varieties of clean eating salad dressings. I discovered Tessemae’s USDA certified organic, Whole30 approved dressings, which contain no added sugars, thickeners or additives. 

overhead view of colorful salad in white bowl with fork on wood table

Tessemae’s is a natural food company started by the Vetter brothers, Greg, Brian and Matt. They launched the Tessemae’s brand at their local Whole Foods Market in Annapolis, MD in 2009.  They began with a simple recipe that their mother made when they were growing up.  Tessemae’s now makes 25 different marinades and condiments, all of which are USDA organic, gluten free, non-GMO, vegan and Whole30 approved. And they contain no added sugar or xantham gum. You can find Tessemae’s products at Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Wegmans, Safeway and Target. You can also purchase them directly at 

My family has been excited about our clean[er] eating experiments and changes. We will be adding more clean eating foods to our diet. We may never be a 100% clean eating family, but we are making significant changes in our diet already. What are your favorite tip for how to begin clean eating do you have for me to try?

crumbly granola bars on plate and blue checkered table cloth
plate with chicken with lemon slices, carrots and potatoes
white square bowl with salad and bottle of dressing on white wood table

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  1. I try my best to eat clean but it’s a process that gets thwarted by all of the junk the kids (and that includes my husband) eat. I’m a huge fan of Tessemae’s products. Our local Whole Foods carries them and that is the only pre-made salad dressing I use.

  2. Yes! Once you read the labels, there’s no going back. Have you read the label for ranch dressing? Eww! But you can make your own with milk, sour cream, lemon juice, and spices. It’s so good, my husband says he’ll never eat storebought dressing again.

    We also make our own peanut butter and it’s delicious. Just warm them up and put them in the food processor with a little olive oil and cinnamon if you want. The name brands have too much sugar, and the natural brands separate and are hard to remix right

    Have you made your own cleaners and laundry detergent yet? Making your own products is a slippery slope!

    1. I’m finding it is a slippery slope, too, Julie. I started by swapping out cleaners for homemade versions. Now I’m learning about clean eating. I’ll have to look into making our own peanut butter because we a lot of it in our family. I’m excited about this new journey and interested in your ranch dressing recipe, too.

  3. Thanks for the great tips! Butter IS better than margarine, isn’t it? 🙂

    I haven’t tried Tessemae dressing before, but I am going to check it out now. I am always looking for healthy salad dressings to keep at work!

  4. We started eating a more clean diet a few months ago. I feel so much better. I have not heard of this dressing before. I will have to look for it. I am glad I can find it in Wegmans

  5. Great tips! I love that your post shows that anyone can start eating clean at any time, and one doesn’t have to know everything about clean diet to start today! I am a healthy lifestyle coach, so I always encourage people to start small and learn as they go 🙂

  6. I need to try Tessemae’s dressings! I have not heard of this brand, but it sounds like a delicious and healthy addition to my salads.

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