Ways to Eat Clean as a Family

by Sesame Lane Admin on 17/03/2017 12:14:54 PM
So a friend of a friend on Facebook shared an article about the dangers of sugar in your food and what it can do to your children. You panic, share it and resolve to get rid of all the sugar in your house. Only, it doesn’t last, as you hunt out every morsel of sugar you can find after a really long day at work.
But what even is clean eating? Should you really be trying so hard with it? And how will it work for your family?
We think 'Clean eating' is just words, a fad, an unrealistic expectation.  While it’s important to eat well as a family, it doesn’t have to mean food bans and endless bags of kale!



What is Clean Eating?

The phenomena of clean eating has become increasingly popular. No longer is it saved for the fitness elite of Instagram but we are now encouraged to go sugar, gluten, dairy and even meat free in the effort to eat ‘clean’.
But what does it mean?
In it's most basic form, eating clean means eating simple. When you cook a meal it should be full of simple ingredients. Ingredients that are one thing and one thing only. For example:
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Fresh herbs
  • Meat
  • Other animal products
Nothing processed. In order to eat clean you just need to eat stuff that comes from Mother Nature, whether that is a plant or an animal.
Secondary to that you’re encouraged to care where your food comes from. As how your meat, or vegetables were looked after makes a difference to their quality overall. But we will talk more about this.
It needn’t be more complicated than that. Eating clean means knowing what ingredients are going into your food and where they came from. But how do you bring this into everyday life?

5 Ways to Eat Clean

#1 Shop Smart

Eating clean doesn’t have to cost the Earth. And there of plenty of websites and blogs out there dedicated to eating clean on a budget. Check out this site for meal ideas at less than $3 per serving.
Recipe ideas are great tools to help you get started on a clean eating journey. You can pick recipes together with your kids and then go shopping together. Your kids will love helping pick out the brightly coloured fruits and vegetables and your bank balance will thank you.
Also, knowing what you are shopping for means you can avoid the aisles full of temptation.

#2 Know Your Food

It won’t take too much time to do a little research on the benefits of eating organic fruits and vegetables, or grass-fed meat. But not many of us have pockets deep enough to pay the extra price, so we'll stick with fresh is best, orgnaic or not!
Cutting out processed foods, eating an array of fruits and vegetables every day, and buying better quality meat where you can are simple steps to knowing your food. But, if you are buying pre-packaged foods for certain meals always check the ingredients list. The smaller the list, the better.


#3 Plan Ahead

Meal plans and meal prep are going to be the ultimate key to healthy eating as a family. Getting inspiration from recipes, creating weekly meal plans and prepping them together in batches will save you both time and money.
Easy tricks to mastering meal planning? Check out this article. Your new best friends will be:
  • Muffin tins
  • Tupperware
  • The blender
Meal prep can be easy, and fun. And once you get into the habit you’ll wonder what you ever did without it!

#4 Cook Together

Cooking and eating together as a family will keep you all on target. But the benefits of having this family activity are much more than helping your inner health and waistline. Having your kids cook with you gives them the opportunity to learn ‘soft skills’ like social, communication and collaboration skills.
Plus, they get the chance to practice:
  • Measuring ingredients
  • Following the instructions of a recipe
  • Preparation of food (chopping/slicing etc)
  • The basics of cooking
  • Tidying up
You don’t have to do it every night, but if you’re planning on prepping your meals, this can be a weekly family ‘date’ to focus on quality time together and make sure you keep on track.

#5 Reduce Fat, Sugar and Salt

Getting rid of them completely doesn’t make sense. But reducing your intake of certain fats, salt and sugar will most definitely help your goal of eating well. These ingredients are a major part of the processed food chain.
And it’s bad.
Now, there are different levels of processed foods. To some extent most food are mechanically processed. Apples are picked from trees, cheese and cream are churned from milk, which is fine. But the bad processing is chemical processing.
Chemically processed foods are made from refined and artificial substance/ingredients. These foods are higher in:
  • Sugar, particularly high fructose corn syrup
  • Artificial ingredients (some you will never have heard of, let alone be able to pronounce) like flavorings, colorants, preservatives, and texturants
  • Refined carbohydrates
  • Trans fats and vegetable oils
Not only are they high in the above, potentially dangerous extras, but processed foods are low in:
  • Fiber
  • Nutrients
  • Satiety!
Basically processed foods are made competitively by companies who want you to...well...buy their foods! The more processed foods you eat, the higher your appetite (and waistline). Our brains get a huge dopamine (the happy hormone) hit when we eat sweet, salty and fatty foods. Processed foods are high in all of these making us feel less satisfied, and we eat more.


Focus on Keeping it Real

...when it comes to food that is. The more chemicals on the ingredients list of a meal, the more damage it will do to your body long term. But if you focus on eating real food, simple food, easy food you are setting yourself up for real success with ‘clean’ eating.
Where you can, stick to:
  • Pastured, grass fed meats
  • Eggs and poultry
  • Fresh vegetables and fruit (if they’re not organic, make sure they get a good wash!)
  • Wild caught seafood
  • Virgin, or extra virgin olive/coconut oils
  • Properly prepared nuts and grains
Having processed foods in your diet as a treat is totally fine, there’s no need to go crazy strict, but they should be just that...a treat. Your focus should be on real food. The long term health of you and your family will depend on it.