It’s a new year, and like everyone else, getting healthy is on the brain. One of the easiest ways to begin and continue to improve your health is to eat cleaner. It doesn’t need to be a complete overhaul or 180 of your current diet; small changes will go a long way when it comes to your health. 

Eat Whole Foods:  One of the main things missing from the diets of people who eat a lot of refined and processed foods is the natural and useful amounts of fiber that appear in whole foods. The physical work that fiber performs will help to contribute to your body’s natural ability to absorb nutrients. New studies support evidence that fiber also plays a significant role in your ability to fight inflammation as well. This is important because an abundance of inflammation aggravates many illnesses. And bonus, fiber is deducted from carbs to total your net carb intake for the day. Whole foods are those with one ingredient like fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and legumes. 

Eat Less Meat: In the clean eating lifestyle, you should strive to eat a lot less meat. The protein that people get from animals is relatively high per ounce, but many types of plants can provide forms of protein that are easier for the body to break down and use for fuel. Try it just one day per week and see how you feel, maybe a meatless Monday for dinner once per week. Don’t worry about your protein, did you know, there is protein in vegetables?

Start with your list and grocery shopping: It is wise to start with a list and stick to it to avoid unplanned snacks and impulse buys. My best tip is to try online grocery shopping. Most grocers offer this service, and it can help you avoid the temptations. 

If you do shop in the store, start in the produce section. Since a good portion of your list is probably fruits and vegetables, this should be the first place you go. Get as much as you can here first, including things like the healthier salad dressings, hummus, and cheese that is often found in this section. If you are picking up nuts and seeds, you might find them in the produce section as well, especially if you are looking for the raw, organic varieties. 

Once you finish in the produce section, it is time to shop the perimeter. This means most of your food is around the outer edges of the grocery store. You should only need to go to the middle aisles for certain ingredients like grains and oils. The majority of middle aisles have packaged and processed foods that you are trying to avoid while clean eating, so it is best to avoid the temptation. The perimeter of the store is where you will find your produce, dairy, eggs, meat, and seafood.

Don’t Get Overwhelmed: It can be very overwhelming to transition to clean eating 100% of the time. The great news is, you don’t have to. It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. The more steps you can take to introduce healthier, whole foods and clean eating into your life, the better. If food is too large of a step, start with your drinks. Grab water instead of juice, pop or coffee for just one week and see how you feel. Step by step clean eating is do-able. 

Emily Countryman is a board-certified health coach and owner of Ideal Wellness located at 2639 172nd St. NE Suite 104 in Smokey Point/Marysville. She can be reached online at or


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