YOU can eat clean! Oh yeah, I’m talking to you!
I know clean eating can seem daunting, you may not know where to start and you probably feel overwhelmed. I get it because I’ve been there too.
Ten years ago, I was in my early twenties and I lived on little sleep, was addicted to fast food, and feeling pretty miserable.
I decided enough was enough and began making tiny changes. This journey started one ity-bity step at a time, and eventually those tiny steps added up, and here I am.
My version of eating clean or Filtered Eating as I like to call it, revolves around eliminating as many harmful chemicals and toxins as possible, while also focusing on nourishing whole foods.
I’ve been eating Filtered for many years now and I feel better than ever. I’ve lost weight, I sleep like a dream, and most importantly I feel vibrant (that’s important when you are raising a little one all on your own).
I’m not saying all this to brag, that’s not my style, I’m saying it to show you that you too can make the transition from toxic eater to clean eating star!
That’s what I do, I’m a professional hand-holder and help people take the steps toward a healthier less toxic life. And YOUR healthy life is waiting for you!
And while you can go all in, as in cold turkey on ALL the bad stuff, I like a slower approach like this baby step method.
So I created this list of 39 baby steps to take you from total beginner to clean eating star!
By stacking small steps you can make the changes more manageable and more likely to stick. The key is to master one thing and move on to the next. Building on your progress so you can maintain the momentum and motivation needed to see the process through.
So no matter where you are starting from, this list of 35 tips will walk you step-by-step toward eating clean, ditching the harmful toxins, and finally feeling vibrant.
I’ve broken the list into three sections, beginner, intermediate, and advanced, all you need to do is pick your starting point and choose one step.
Commit to making that one step a reality. Make a plan and execute that plan until it has been conquered. It may take days or weeks, no matter, do what works for you, but do it with conviction and commitment.
If you fall off the wagon, and for the record we ALL fall off the wagon, then just learn from it and keep going. No biggie, and definitely no pity parties, just a good learning experience.
I can’t emphasize enough how critical it is to focus on the wins and be kind to yourself on this journey. Punishing yourself won’t lead to success, but kindness for yourself can make all the difference.
So here are my 39 baby steps to help you to start eating clean today, because you totally deserve a healthy vibrant life!
Ready to get the toxins out of your life? Get the FREE course!
::Clean Eating Steps for Beginners::
Step #1: Ditch the soda
Swap ALL soda, bottled sugar juices, sports drinks, and otherwise bad beverages for fresh clean purified lemon water. This is one of the hardest addictions to break, so give yourself time, eliminate temptation, and consider using green tea or even organic coffee to replace the caffeine.
FYI, thanks to the sugar and caffeine withdrawal you’ll probably feel worse before you feel better, but hang in there, you got this!
Step #2: Quit fast food
If you still eat fast food, now is the time to quit. Fast food is terrible for your body and is bankrupt of nutrition. It’s also loaded with trans fats, hormones, pesticides, preservatives, artificial everything, and worse.
This one step alone will make a huge difference in your health. Be prepared with healthy snacks and prepacked meals, otherwise you are likely to slip needlessly.
Step #3: Toss the fake sugar
Fake sugar is soooooo bad for you. I mean really toxic. If you want to be healthy you need to cut out ALL the fake sugar pronto.
Avoid the “sugar free” and “calorie-free” packages as they almost always use sugar substitutes which are worse than regular sugar. You can read more about how toxic fake sugar is in this post.
Instead embrace small infrequent amounts of real sugar, think organic maple syrup, raw honey, and dates. Maple syrup has some minerals, raw honey will offers probiotics and antiseptic properties, and dates also offer some good nutrition in a sweet package.
If you are blood sugar sensitive and need to avoid true sugars try all natural stevia (not to be confused with Truvia). As with all herbs (stevia is an herb) keep an eye out for how you feel and react. Most people have no issue with true stevia but herbs can always have unique side effects for certain people.
Step #4: Drink more purified water
Most municipal water is loaded with contaminates like fluoride, chlorine, chloramines, lead, and worse. So a necessary and basic step is to start drinking purified water.
If you have the budget, a great option is an under the sink reverse osmosis system. Because fluoride is so hard to get out of water a high quality reverse osmosis system is the best way to get it and other contaminates out of your drinking water.
For a smaller budget or renters, you can buy a counter top system like the Berkey. The Berkey is an excellent water purifier and does not require electricity, it’s also portable. The main drawback is it does use counter top space and isn’t going to produce water as fast as an under the sink system.
If you have a big budget and the commitment then a whole house water filtration system will get the contaminates out of all your water, drinking, bath and shower. The biggest drawback is these puppies are expensive!
If the Berkey is over budget (it’s about $300 with the fluoride filters) then you’ll want to go to a store that uses multi-phase reverse osmosis system to purify water (and make sure it gets out fluoride). Most health food stores have these water systems.
The main problem here is that the containers you use to collect the water are likely to be plastic. In my opinion it’s still worth it to get clean water, even if you MUST use plastic, but do be extra careful not to expose the plastic to sunlight or extreme heat as this will increase any chemical release into the water.
Step #5: Start reading labels
At some point on this clean eating journey you need to start scrutinizing those labels.
Look at the ingredients. If it sounds artificial it probably is. If you can’t pronounce it, it’s probably not ideal. If it has a ton of ingredients that’s a red flag.
And check for quantities of salt and sugar, even on organic packages, they can be shockingly high.
While you may not be ready to go 100% all natural, Non-GMO, organic yet, it’s still a great idea to at least know what you ARE eating. So get reading.
Step #6: Cut back on sugar
Full disclosure, this is my Achilles heel. I LOVE sweets. The struggle is real folks!
That said sugar messes with your blood sugar, ages your skin and body, and can wreak havoc throughout your system. So it’s time to cut back on regular sugars, including the healthier ones.
Avoiding sweetened products in favor of adding your own sweetener and cut back on the frequency of sweet treats.
Including a bit more protein and healthy fats can help decrease cravings as well.
If you NEED something sweet (and I know the call of sugar all too well) try some dates (Google date caramel—sooo good), dried fruit, or dark chocolate instead of a full blown sugar binge.
Step #7: Mind the salt
You probably know too much salt is no good, so start checking the sodium on labels. Some salt is fine and necessary, but too much can cause swelling, puffiness, and blood pressure problems.
The general recommendation is to keep your salt under a teaspoon which is 2,325 milligrams (mg).
The type matters too. I only use pink Himalayan salt but Real salt, and Celtic salt are good options too. Just stay away from highly processed table salt and iodized salt (FYI I use a kelp or algae supplement for my iodine).
Step #8: Get your oils straight
There is a lot of confusion out there about cooking oils. And the often “healthy” oils are anything but.
While fats do have a big part of a healthy diet traditional vegetable oils have no place in a clean eating plan.
One part of the problem is most of these oils are extracted with harsh chemicals like hexane. They are also often “deodorized” with more chemicals.
Even if you get expeller pressed oils these vegetable oils tend to go rancid quickly, and the problem is you’ll never be able to tell. The odor and color remain the same despite the fact that rancidity has set in. And rancid oils cause inflammation in the body…something we are trying to avoid.
Finally heating oils to an extremely high temperature can change the composition of the oil and create harmful byproducts like aldehyde and formaldehyde.
You need to know the most common oils are THE worst. Skip corn oil, canola oil, cottonseed oil (common in packaged foods), vegetable oil, and soybean oil, as these are all highly processed and GMO crops.
So what are the best options?
I recommend using heat stable fats and oils like the following:
- Organic virgin coconut oil – smoke point roughly 450 degrees
- Red palm oil (sustainably sourced) – smoke point roughly 450 degrees
- Avocado oil – smoke point roughly 510 degrees
- Animal fats like high quality butter and lard from pastured animals are also good options, I use this high quality brand for lard and Kerrygold for butter.
As for salad preparations (where no heat is used) good options are high quality olive oil and nut oils like walnut and hazelnut. And always make sure your oils are fresh and stored away from heat.
Also note, this is not an exhaustive list, there are other good oils, so do your own research on a case-by-case basis.
Finally, keep in mind you should be getting more omega 3 oils than 6’s and 9’s, so make sure you are eating healthy sources of those fats like ground chia seeds, fresh refrigerated flaxseed oil, nuts, and highly purified triglyceride form fish oil (I buy Nordic Naturals) .
Step #9: Swap your snacks
I think most of our worst foods tend to eaten in the form of snacks, so if you swap those unhealthy snacks for whole foods or at least minimally processed organic foods they you are making a big improvement.
My favorite packaged snacks are organic popcorn (NOT the microwave kind), organic hummus and gluten free (organic) crackers, organic grass fed beef jerky, nuts and seeds, organic blue corn chips and homemade salsa, and roasted veggies dipped in Primal Kitchen Chipotle Mayonnaise (soooooo good).
Step #10: Pick some produce
If you aren’t used to eating many fruits and veggies now is the time to start. Get to your local farmer’s market or spend some time in the produce section and start exploring.
Not sure where to start? Play with salad combos, serve your chicken or steak on a bed of spinach (I love when the greens get all wilty and saucy from the entrée), add some greens to a fruit smoothie, or roast some veggies and dip them in hummus.
An excellent goal is to add some kind of non-starchy plant food (not potatoes or grains) to every meal.
Step #11: Have a salad–everyday
This is a great goal, eating a daily salad gives you plenty of fiber, lots of nutrition, and fills you up.
Try different salad greens (spinach, mustard, kale, beet greens…) and play with toppings (cucumbers, tomatoes, jicama, beets, shredded brussel sprouts, apples, pears, nuts, seeds, avocado…) for a variety of nutrients.
Just remember to be smart about your salad dressing choices. I love the Primal Kitchen line of dressings–honey mustard is my current fav!
Step #12: Have a fresh smoothie every day
Another fantastic nutrition packed goal.
I buy my organic frozen fruit in bulk at Costco and enjoy a breakfast smoothie every day. My favorite combo? Try a big handful of spinach with two kiwis and some frozen mango….sooooooo good!
Pineapple and mango is also delicious combo and a great source of enzymes. Spring and summer are a great time for building a smoothie habit. If you are ambitious check out my post on, 25 Nutrient Dense Smoothie Mix-ins.
Step #13: Skip the cans
The majority of cans are lined with BPA, an endocrine disrupting chemical. Plus canned food tastes terrible and is generally devoid of most nutrients (thanks to the high heat processing). And of course highly processed foods tend to come in cans.
So I highly recommend moving away from all canned foods in favor of fresh foods, frozen foods, or foods in glass jars.
In my kitchen the only canned products I ever buy are full fat coconut milk in non-BPA lined containers…and when I find them in glass containers I’m making the switch.
Step 14: Skip the plastic, non-stick, and microwaves
Since the point is to reduce toxins, we need to address the food containers, pans, and cooking methods that seriously screw up our food.
First toss all the plastic food containers and replace them with glass. Why? Because plastic releases harmful endocrine disrupting chemicals, and hot food in these containers accelerates the release of toxins.
And don’t be fooled by “BPA free”, the toxic BPA is often just replaced with the almost equally toxic BPS. I wrote a whole post about this, you can read it here, The Danger’s of Plastic Food Containers.
The next step is to swap all those non-stick and Teflon pans with safer cookware options, like stainless steel, cast iron, and ceramic.
The reason is that non-stick and Teflon cookware contain highly toxic chemicals that are released both into the air and your food. I also wrote a post about this which you can read here, Toxic Cookware: Choose safe Cookware for Your Kitchen.
Finally microwaves not only blast your food with electromagnetic radiation (which I’m not convinced is safe) but also alters the cellular structure of the food being consumed.
Microwaving food is not simply a matter of heating, but rather a violent ripping apart of molecules. Eating microwaved food has been shown to change white cell activity in humans. There are many other effects on humans detailed in this post by Dr. Mercola.
The other problem with microwaving food is that the plastic or “microwavable” containers like popcorn bags have numerous chemicals that are release when microwaved. In fact popcorn uses the same family of chemicals as the non-stick containers mentioned earlier. You can read more about how awful microwavable popcorn is in this post by Food Babe.
Personally I agree that more research need to be done but in the meantime I don’t use a microwave ever and refuse to eat microwaved food. Read more about the dangers of microwaves in this post by Dr. Group.
Step #15: Start drinking hot tea
I drink tea ALL the time, all day, every day.
Teas can boost digestion, help you lose weight, clear up your skin, reduce inflammation and so much more.
I do recommend you buy from reputable company (I only buy from Numi, Rishi, Traditional Medicinals, or in bulk from Frontier) as there are a lot of shady operations growing in contaminated soils and using plastic fiber tea bags which, not surprisingly, release chemicals into your tea. I also stick to organic teas which these companies offer in abundance.
A good goal is to start and end your day with a cup of high quality tea.
Step #16: Start drinking organic French pressed coffee
Here’s the deal. Coffee is a notoriously pesticide laden crop. And decaf often uses chemicals to strip the caffeine from coffee. Plus, the plastic that most coffee makers are made of can release harmful chemicals into your brew.
I know, I know, I’m just full of good news.
But here’s no need to ditch your beloved coffee. Just start buying organic beans, make sure your decaf is decaffeinated using a water method, and use a glass vessel, like a French press, to brew your cup.
As for mycotoxins (a fungus common to coffee and many other foods), I personally don’t buy expensive “mycotoxin free” brands, but I do stick to high altitude dark roasted varieties (both these things reduce the amount of mycotoxins)…and of course always organic.
Step #17: Get used to cooking at home—from scratch
You knew this was coming. The core of the Filtered Living clean eating plan evolves around high quality home cooked food.
There is simply no substitute for cooking your own meals using high quality ingredients. I’m also saying this as a former restaurant owner, you don’t even want to know how much toxic exposure there is (fluoridated water, plastic containers, canned ingredients, canola and soy oil EVERYWHERE).
So get on Pinterest, buy some cookbooks, and start cooking!
Busy? Cook in batches. On a budget? Read my post, 12 Simple Ways to Eat Healthy on a Budget.
Step #18: Start experimenting with juicing
I’m not talking about bottled juices full of dead sugar water (yes even the organic ones), I’m talking about fresh made juices.
These freshly extracted juices are full of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes. The lack of fiber makes them easily absorbable into your system.
And yes juicing can be time consuming, but even a fresh juice every few days will give you a great boost of nutrition.
My favorite beginner friendly juice? Try carrot and apple or carrot and pear. Add a few leaves of greens for a more adventurous treat. Yumm!
Step #19: Make one meal a day totally clean and nourishing
When you are ready to take the next step try to commit to at least one fully clean and organic meal per day. I recommend breakfast since it can easily be done with some good planning.
Need ideas? Drink a fresh smoothie for breakfast. How about whipping up a batch of egg “muffins” by using some organic eggs and veggies dropped into muffin tins (Avoid the non-stick pans) and simply reheat in the toaster oven. Try some organic overnight oats with carrageenan-free almond milk, pecans, cherries, and shredded coconut (soooo delish!).
::Intermediate – Ready for the next level?::
Step #20: Skip GMOs and start looking for the non-GMO label
The next big impact step is to start avoiding GMO foods and buying non-GMO certified foods (look for the butterfly).
Soy, canola, and corn are among the biggest GMO crops so anything with these ingredients is likely a GMO food.
Look for non-GMO certifications on any foods with these ingredients. For the record I avoid canola oil regardless of whether it’s organic or not.
You also have to look for sneaky ingredients that are likely sourced from GMOs like soy lecithin, caramel color, cottonseed oil, and more (click here for a full list of sneaky GMO ingredients).
The easiest way to avoid GMO ingredients is to buy certified organic or non-GMO certified.
Step #21: Buy organic (and if available pastured) chicken
Mass produced conventional chicken is notorious for harboring and breeding antibiotic resistant bacteria and many pathogens. On top of that the chickens are kept in abhorrent conditions.
Luckily organic chicken is widely available and not too costly as long as you choose the right cuts. For example legs are about $4 per package of 5 whereas a two pack of breasts can run $10 or more. Thighs are somewhere in the middle, and whole chickens are the most cost effective and I’ve even seen two packs of whole chickens at Costco. Extend the savings by using the cleaned bones to make a gut healing bone broth.
Since chicken is the most widely available organic meat and the best priced I recommend families start here when switching from conventional to organic/pastured meats.
Step #22: Start getting pastured eggs (or at least organic)
Pastured eggs are eggs from chickens that have been raised on pasture (usually the average square footage for each bird is on the box), birds are allowed to freely roam outdoors, get plenty of sunshine, and eat their preferred food– bugs.
These pastured chicken eggs are more nutritious and you can feel good knowing the chickens are living a humane life.
I personally don’t eat a ton of eggs but when I do I buy pastured. These types of eggs will cost the most but I believe they are worth it.
However if your family eats a lot of eggs this can get expensive, in my area these eggs run about $7 per dozen. So, as an alternative I suggest you at least buy organic eggs, however these birds are likely grain fed and are probably still factory farmed in conditions only modestly better mass typical commercial operations.
Ultimately, and as with all these suggestions, do what makes the most sense for your family.
Step #23: Switch to organic dairy and consider raw milk
I’m not a big fan of drinking milk. I never drink it and have never given it to my child, the main reason is that I don’t see the logic in giving my human child sustenance designed for a calf. Especially when there are plenty of other sources for fat, protein, and calcium.
That aside, conventional dairy cows are often sickly, given numerous antibiotics to keep them from infections in the filthy conditions, and cows milk tends to have a lot of hormones (natural hormones from the cows who are either pregnant or would have been suckling calves). All things I don’t want.
The other issue with milk is that the pasteurization changes the proteins into a much harder to digest form as well and kills all the beneficial probiotics in the dairy. This makes milk a very common allergen and inflammatory.
That said, raw milk does not have this altered protein and retains the beneficial bacteria needed to digest it making it less likely to cause problems (though it remains a common allergen). If you drink milk I highly recommend high quality raw milk from a reputable operation (if you can get it).
As for cheese, the aging process in cheese eliminates most of the lactose, and certain cheeses, like gouda, are an excellent source of vitamin K2.
K2 is hard to get and is needed for strong bones and essential for those taking vitamin D and calcium (though I don’t recommend calcium supplements).
So if you do choose dairy, I highly recommend making it at least organic and look into whether raw milk is a good choice for your family. Click here to read more about raw milk.
Step #24: Start picking up 100% grass-fed meat
Grass-fed meat is usually the last frontier of swaps. Whereas organic chicken is common and fairly inexpensive, grass-fed beef is hard to find and when you do find it it can be really expensive.
For a while I stuck to only two types of grassfed beef, the frozen burger patties from Trader Joe’s and their New Zealand steaks. And the steaks were only once a month—AND my little one I split it.
Then I found Butcher Box, and the clouds parted and sun shone golden light upon me.
Okay that was dramatic but seriously, Butcher Box has changed everything!
Butcher Box sends me a box of fresh and still frozen DELICIOUS 100% grass-fed beef right to my door and all for a very competitive price.
They Butcher Box packing was spectacular, they used multiple boxes, cold retaining bags, dry-ice, basically the whole nine. My meat arrived frozen and a wave of cold air hit my face when I opened the interior box.
And the best part…it is hands down the most delicious meat I’ve ever tasted. No seriously, for realsies!
Just ask my five-year-old, who rarely ever asked for steak, but now that she has tried Butcher Box she has literally asked every single day if we can have steak.
Basically, if you are ready to eat meat that is more nutritious, avoids the hazards of conventional meat, and is from humanely raised animals…all at a competitive price then give Butcher Box a try.
Step #25: Buy organic as much as possible
If you’ve conquered sugar, salt, reading labels, cooking at home, and started experimenting with healthier meals then you are ready to take your clean Filtered eating to the next level.
The best way to eliminate the most potentially harmful toxins from your foods is to start buying certified organic food.
By buying organic produce, meat, eggs, and dairy you are eliminating a number of potential toxins, from most pesticides to GMO’s. And while organic isn’t perfect, it is better than the alternative.
Ideally you would buy organic as much as possible, from meat to spices to eggs to produce. Personally I buy about 90-95% organic (for this purpose I consider 100% grassfed meat to be “organic”) with the rest being scrutinized for sketchy ingredients and GMOs.
I’ll be the first to say it does take a lot of planning and budgeting to make this work for my modest budget, I buy in bulk and buy most of my pantry staples online to reduce cost. I also plan meals ahead of time so I’m not buying things just to have them sit or go bad. Additionally I make sacrifices in other areas so that I can buy healthier foods.
My advice is take a long look at what you do buy, and make adjustments where you can. I suspect you’ll find a way to make it work for you.
Most people think nothing of buying a $5 coffee or $60 pair of shoes, paying $10 to wash the car or drop $100 at Sephora, but scoff at a $6 pack of organic eggs or a $5 pack of organic chicken legs.
Be honest with yourself, spend on what you truly value, buy as much organic as you can afford and enjoy the benefits of a less toxic diet.
Step #26: Start adding some probiotic rich foods to your daily routine
A great next step is to start incorporating some probiotic rich foods into your diet.
There are so many benefits to the right kinds of probiotics, from gut health and bacterial balance, to detoxification, to mental health benefits.
When buying probiotic rich foods look for low sugar foods with live active cultures.
Options include plain yogurt, raw sauerkraut, raw pickles, kimchi (not my cup of tea, but hey it’s an option), kefir (coconut milk and dairy), raw apple cider vinegar, raw honey (yes raw honey also has probiotics), and pickled veggies. You can also make your own fairly inexpensively.
Step #27: Start adding gelatin, collagen, and/or bone broth to your diet
I’m obviously not a vegetarian ( but I do respect the vegetarian philosophy). The thing is I spent four years as a vegetarian and I had a lot of gut issues that resulted from it, likely from the abundance of grains I ate combined with the lack of collagen (and other vital nutrients) from meat.
At first I thought the bone broth movement was all hype, and then I started to see and feel the difference. Keep in mind I was already eating an organic mostly whole foods based plan before introducing collagen.
Within a week of adding collagen to my daily schedule my stomach flattened out, my skin looked plumper, and my joints felt less achy (I’ve had joint issues on and off my whole life—and my lack of collagen all my life might be part of the equation—along with an unknown gluten sensitivity).
I personally take collagen peptides daily in my tea or coffee. If you aren’t philosophically opposed to animal products I suggest you add them to your routine and feel the benefits.
Step #28: Stop eating 4 hours (at least) before bed
In case you haven’t been on the blog much, I’m all about getting toxins out of my life and body. One of the best ways to boost your body’s natural detoxification abilities is to stop eating about 3-4 hours before bed.
I happen to have the metabolism of a snail trekking uphill through molasses so I try to give it more time but three hours is the minimum.
The reason is that your liver does the bulk of its work at night. If you go to bed on a full stomach then your liver can’t do its job fully, plus you are more likely to gain weight. Believe me as an official night owl I’ve learned this lesson the hard way…and in all honestly still have to make an effort to cut off food four hours before bed. #ImperfectHealthCoach
But if you can make this a habit you’ll feel soooooo much better and give your body a boost.
Step #29: Try going gluten/grain free for 14 days
The gluten rabbit hole runs deep my friends.
The material in both books lays out a clear conclusion that the family of proteins in wheat (and other grains) are responsible for creating autoimmune responses in people which leads to a host of dysfunction (from achy joints to autoimmune disorders and even heart disease).
Personally I was horrified at the idea of giving up my beloved (albeit organic) breads and cereals, treats and crackers. Surely I was the exception.
So I tested the theory, I went grain free for two weeks. I was feeling pretty confident that when I reintroduced grains I’d be fine.
While I didn’t feel substantially different off gluten, except for a lack of the afternoon sleepies which always followed carby lunch, boy did I feel it when I went back on.
About 30 minutes after a small bowl of organic pasta I felt baaaaad. I had a headache and an overwhelming need to take a nap. At this point I realized, oh that’s why I ALWAYS need afternoon naps despite full nights of sleep.
But worse than the sleepiness, I felt a familiar ache in my knees. It was an ache that had plagued me since childhood. An ache that was infrequent but severe, leaving me unable to walk within 30 minutes of an attack. Literally so much pain that I’d crawl on my hands and knees for a bottle of Ibuprofen.
Now the pain had mostly abated since I had changed my diet to being primarily organic (I now think artificial everything left me more susceptible and the nutrients from a healthy diet calmed much of the inflammation) but I still had occasional attacks (and looking back the attacks were the worst when I was a vegetarian eating a lot of grains to replace my meat consumption).
I had seen almost a dozen specialist, I had MRIs, CAT scans, been poked and prodded, checked for arthritis, and given a number of meds (all of which I declined to take). I had just accepted that I had this weird problem that no one could figure out. And in that moment I realized all those years it was the gluten, I had non-celiac gluten sensitivity. My diet of breakfast cereals, bread based lunches, and pasta dinners had been the culprit all along.
I would never have known this if I hadn’t done the elimination diet. And this is why I recommend anyone serious about their health take just two weeks to see if they react when reintroducing gluten.
Step #30: Try going sugar free for 21 days
Going sugar-free was probably the worst part of my clean eating/Filtered Living journey. I’m a self-admitted sugar junkie.
I love the stuff so much I regularly dream I’m elbows deep at a buffet table full of colorful powder dusted sweets. True story.
In fact I still struggle with sugar. While it’s true that I have swapped organic maple syrup and raw honey for the white stuff, I’ll still burn through a bottle of syrup in a week if I’m not careful. A good month is when a bottle lasts me the entire month.
I’m always consciously choosing to NOT eat sugar, I know it’s bad for my body, my skin, my cells, I KNOW. But that’s my brain. My belly doesn’t give two f*cks about what I intellectually understand. See how it got all serious there, the struggle is real people!
So every so often I do a sugar detox, basically I eat no sugar and usually very few carbs for 21 days. It helps me reset my system and also balances out my microbiome (I usually pair it with a solid microbiome diet and candida cleanse).
At the end of the sugar detox my cravings are fewer and less intense and I’ve typically lost some weight.
This is why I recommend everyone get by without sugar for at least 21 days.
Now I won’t lie and say I enjoyed it. I didn’t. I enjoyed having my mercury laced fillings removed more than I enjoyed 21 days without my beloved maple syrup. But I do it because I know it’s best for my body.
So if you are struggling with sugar addiction or have a sugar/carb sensitivity (like high blood sugar or diabetes) then I suggest you give a sugar detox a shot.
Step #31: Try a plant primary paleo diet for 30 days
I’m often asked what type of diet I recommend for those ready to change their eating habits (without baby steps).
Now while I don’t think there is one best diet for everyone, I do like the paleo diet for newbs simply because it eliminates so many of the problematic foods.
In one fell swoop you end up going gluten free, grain free, dairy free, and mostly sugar free. Plus there are a bajillion resources out there for the paleo diet.
However since my jam is all about eliminating toxins I’d make my recommendation a plant primary mostly organic whole foods based paleo plan.
In other words eat a paleo diet that is more plants than meat and make it mostly organic and unprocessed.
I had a client who recovered her health after almost dying from C-diff and her eating plan became the paleo plan. It was restrictive enough that it helped her see her food in a totally different way, but familiar enough that she made the transition without too much fuss.
While I’m not paleo–I do eat soaked legumes and organic potatoes and a few non-gluten grains–I see the merit in the paleo lifestyle.
If you want a full ready-made diet that can take you from average toxic eater to clean eating pro give a whole foods based paleo plan a try. I personally like the plan from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.
::Advanced Clean Eating Steps::
Step #32: Go full time Filtered (clean) eating
If you’ve conquered labels, cut the sugar, and dabbled in whole food based eating pans you may be ready the full time switch to Filtered (clean) eating.
That means buying food that is both nutritious and low in toxins (organic, non-gmo, can-free, etc.).
It’s a big step, but if you’ve made the commitment and done your planning it’s totally doable.
To make this work I recommend planning your meals for the week, cooking in batches, using mason jars to store fast lunches (like soups and salads), and avoid temptation but simply not buying off-limits food.
Use all the tips in this post and checkout the resources below for more. With a little planning and a solid commitment you CAN do this!
Step #33: Do an elimination diet to sniff out food sensitivities
Eventually on this journey you’ll need to figure out what foods you are sensitive to. Food sensitivities are not the same as allergies and may go unnoticed for a while.
There may not be obvious signs, but if you cut out the food for several weeks and then slowly reintroduce one food at a time, you’ll likely notice reactions to the foods.
These reactions are often subtle like excessive tiredness, gassiness, headaches, or joint pain. For me I get joint pain and super sleepy when I have gluten.
Foods that commonly trigger sensitivities are gluten, grains, dairy, eggs, corn, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant…) and for a few, high histamine foods are problematic.
The key to a good elimination diet is to truly eliminate the food for at least a few weeks so can get a clear response if you do have a reaction at reintroduction.
A well rounded elimination diet will help you identify which foods trigger an inflammatory response in your body so you can eliminate them for good.
Step #34: Do a gut healing protocol
So why do you need a gut healing protocol?
If it turns out you have food sensitivities, or have ever been on antibiotics, take regular prescription medications, use antacids, or had digestive issues, then you probably need an intensive gut healing protocol.
In a nutshell our stomachs get microscopic “holes” in it from a number of culprits including pharmaceuticals and from eating foods that cause inflammation. This condition is known as leaky gut or gut permeability.
Having leaky gut can wreak absolute havoc on your system, linked to everything from headaches to arthritis to autoimmune diseases.
If you’ve done an elimination diet and know what foods to avoid the next step is to incorporate a variety of foods and supplements all designed to heal your gut.
A typical gut healing protocol will include bone broth, collagen, probiotic, and targeted supplements. You can read about gut healing here.
Step #35: Do a raw vegan food cleanse
First let me say I’m not a raw foodist or a vegan, I eat cooked plant food and I eat high quality meat (grass-fed, organic, humanely raised, etc.). I believe that meat has a place in a healthy eating plan. Although as a former vegetarian I do understand the ethical side of the equation.
That said, I do eat a plant dominant diet (meaning I eat more plant food than animal foods) and although I love my grass-fed steaks and organic chicken, I do like to do a full raw vegan detox at least once a year.
The main reasons to do a raw food detox are that very few other plans give you the intense nutrition while simultaneously cutting out problem foods.
In terms of the cleansing part, raw plant food has an abundance of both nutrition and enzymes. This concentrated nutrition and abundance of fiber makes detoxification a breeze.
In fact raw vegan diets are often recommended for those who have cancer, diabetes, or just a lot of weight to loose.
For me these cleanses usually go for between 21 to 30 days…or until I crack and eat some steak. I recommend doing at least 21 days to get the full benefit. This will help you detox, reset sugar and carb cravings, and enjoy the boost of concentrated nutrition.
I usually pair my raw food eating with extra detox protocols for a full spectrum detox. Spring and summer are great times to take on a raw food detox, just make sure you stick to organic high quality produce.
I should also note, a raw food plan can be as simple or as complicated as you like. Raw vegan meals can be fresh juices, smoothies, and salads, or you can make elaborate “cakes”, meals, and raw food versions of old favorites. I like to keep it simple.
If you need a reset and a boost of nutrition give a raw vegan detox a try.
Step #36: Try a water (and tea) fast
I know the idea of water fasts are scary, but if done with the proper planning and preparation, a water/tea fast can provide intense bodily healing and substantial weight loss for healthy populations.
A short (less than a week) water/tea fast can often be the prefect reset for breaking high-carb and sugar additions and balancing blood sugar. It can also help push past stubborn weight loss plateaus.
Now I’m the first to say water fasting is not for everyone, and NOT necessary for a clean living Filtered lifestyle, but for the well prepared it can be an excellent reset and help kickstart stubborn weight loss.
For me water fasting is the ultimate reset. And surprisingly I’m not starving as most people think. The body goes into ketosis and once ketosis is in full swing you’ll truly feel much better, this is because your body is very good at running off of ketones. This is the same principle behind ketogenic diets as well. I also take a food based multi-vitamin and drink lots of herbal teas during my fasts.
The length of a fast varies by person, fat deposits, nutritional status, and whether they are being monitored by a physician. People who are healthy (adequate nutritional stores) and have more fat stores usually do better on fasts.
I should also note that you should never be pressured into a fast or be pushed to fast longer that what feels right for you. Anyone planning a fasts should get medically cleared first, and fasts longer than a week should be medically supervised at a facility that specializes in medical fasts.
I say this because apparently there is a movement in certain “wellness” circles to push extended fasts that lack medical supervision and often have dire consequences (these are often part of an expensive “retreat”). Remember, no one should ever push anything on you and extended fasts should always be done under medical supervision.
There are a lot of variables so do your research. If you want to read more about the benefits of water fasting I highly recommend reading, The Complete Guide to Fasting by Dr. Jason Fung. It’s a treasure trove of information from the leader on medical fasts. You can read more about fasting here as well as watch an interview with Dr. Fung.
Idea #37: Get tested for food sensitivities
If you don’t want to bother with an elimination diet or you want to know with certainty what your body reacts to then you’ll need to get a functional test that checks for a variety of antibodies.
These tests are typically done by functional physician using labs like the Cyrex Array 3 which tests more thoroughly than your standard celiac lab test. There are other tests that check for a variety of common sensitives.
If you have cleaned up your diet but still have unexplained exhaustion, aches, fogginess, or an autoimmune disorder then I highly recommend get a full spectrum of food sensitivity testing.
This is the ultimate in understanding EXACTLY what you are sensitive to so that you can take charge of your health.
Step #38: Get tested for gene mutations
Understanding your unique genetic mutations can help you better understand your body’s unique needs.
We live in a time where you have the option to understand exactly what your genes say about you. And while I understand that genetic testing isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, I do think everyone should at least consider it. The reason is that consequences of NOT knowing can have very real impacts.
For example if you have the common MTHFR mutation you don’t metabolize and convert certain nutrients, this can result is serious deficiencies. But if you know you have the mutation you can intellectually compensate for your genetics.
I also highly recommend you work with your physician to interpret the raw data for you, although the data packet itself will give you plenty to research.
Knowing your genetic quirks can help you gain an advantage on the path to total good health and wellness.
Step #39: Listen to everything your body has shared with you and respond with kindness
I know, it just got all warm and fuzzy and woo-woo.
But here’s the thing, all of these steps and exercises will lead you closer to what your body needs and wants.
Your body responds to what you eat and how you live with unique signals. These signals can be loud or subtle but they are all speaking to you.
They can take the form of an ache after some gluten, or a dive in energy after too many carbs. The signals can be a racing heart after excessive caffeine, or a bad case of stomach pain after dairy.
Regardless of the method they are all messages that you NEED to hear and respond to.
HOW you respond is critical, do you listen to your beautiful body, and give it what it needs, or do you react with stubborn blindness, refusing to adapt to the signals it sends.
Ultimately this journey is about YOU, and your relationship with food.
Are you a slave to food that will harm your precious body? Or do you choose to lavish love and kindness in the form of nourishment and healing sustenance on your beautiful body. The choice is yours, but I highly recommend the path of kindness.
Take the first steps toward toxin-reduced living with the FREE course!
This list started as a way to help anyone at any level start on the path toward a healthy nutrient dense toxin reduced clean (Filtered) eating, but it evolved into so much more, 7500+ words more!
This list truly incorporates almost everything I’ve learned about food and nutrition in easy to digest bits that I call steps.
I highly recommend taking the process is slow manageable bites, commit to one thing, like having a fresh smoothie every day for breakfast, and when that has been conquered move on to the next step. And keep moving forward.
This slow manageable system makes success much more likely, it makes the process less overwhelming, and it gives you a quick win before tackling the next thing.
Whether you are a beginner, at intermediate level, or even advanced, there’s a step for you to jump in and get started.
These steps will take you from a typical western diet full of toxic food to someone who eats nutrient dense healing food perfectly suited for their unique system (eating a Filtered diet).
Remember there is no one size fits all diet, while toxins are good for no one, people thrive on slightly different versions of whole foods based plans.
My favorite part of this process is that when done right it can connect you to your body in a way nothing else can, you will learn to listen and respond to your body’s calls, needs, and aches.
You will become connected to yourself in a deep way and through that connection you can achieve your best self.
If you are ready to take the journey the check out these posts all designed to help move you forward on this journey!
- The Beginner’s Guide to Clean Eating
- How to Avoid Eating Toxins
- The Dangers of Pesticides: 35 Ways Pesticides Are Destroying Your Health
- Do You Have The Mindset to Get Healthy and Really Change Your Life?
- How to Deal With Overwhelm When Trying to Live Healthy
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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: None of the health topics presented on Filtered Family have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They should not replace personal judgment nor medical treatment, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always talk to your naturopathic physician or M.D. before including alternative or complimentary modalities. Reading this website denotes your understanding and agreement to our full disclaimer.
*AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: Links may be affiliate links, click for full disclosure. This means I earn a small commission of any products purchased through the links. This helps in the cost of operating this blog. That said all prices are exactly the same whether bought through my link or not. Also please know ALL my recommendations are sincere and ones that I would recommend (and have recommended) regardless. I love these products and I hope you do too!