The idea of “clean eating” has seemingly taken many households by storm. Tosca Reno, a fitness guru and poster-woman for clean eating, made the diet famous with her series of books about the lifestyle.
Based on the premise that your meals should be filled with fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins, the clean eating lifestyle eliminates refined sugar, processed and fast food, and focuses on a significant intake of water; it also has a general rule that, when eating something that is packaged, the item should have 3 ingredients or less. In general, it seems like a common sense approach to eating. And, in fact, it is.
But is it family-friendly? In a world filled with processed snack foods, can you really get your kids (and even your husband) on-board? And most importantly, can busy moms make it work?
The answer is: it depends. As a mom of two, I can say that it can be challenging, but not impossible. Â The biggest hurdle I’ve encountered is that the food looks delicious. And I mean that. But it looks delicious to a grown-up eye. Colorful and filled with nutrition, it’s a major departure from the foods that kids see on television and lining the store shelves. It doesn’t come pre-packaged, it doesn’t come with cartoon characters touting its deliciousness, it takes prep time in the kitchen, and it’s not “kid-food.”
With my youngest, it’s been a cinch. But that’s because we’ve never given her another option. She’s always eaten whole, clean foods. On the other hand, my oldest (now twelve) takes one look at the food and says, “no thanks, I’ll make myself something else to eat.”
Another challenge is the time it takes to prepare the foods. To really make it work for your family, you need to be willing to devote some time to the kitchen. That might look like an hour on a Sunday evening chopping vegetables and, when possible, cooking ahead of time and reheating the dishes later in the week.
I also find that eating clean requires multiple trips to the grocery store each week. This doesn’t have to be the case, but we have difficulty keeping veggies absolutely fresh all week long. In the summer, Â I just hit the farmers market with the kids twice a week, but in the winter it’s a bit more challenging.
So, knowing those hurdles, what can you do to make it easier?
Start with your family’s favorite foods. For example, let’s look at chocolate chip cookies. Switch out the white flour for whole wheat, the chocolate chips for shaved dark chocolate, and instead of white sugar, use agave or honey. Yes, the cookies will look a little bit different than your standard recipe, but the lure of chocolate really can’t be beat. The next time you make pasta, use whole wheat pasta (or, if you’re not quite ready for that, mix whole wheat and regular pasta 50/50) and make your own sauce.
Making small changes in the beginning will greatly increase your chances of winning the family over. Trust me, I’ve learned this with my husband.
Ask the kids to help. Kids are far more likely to eat what they’ve helped to make. Take them to the grocery store and ask them to pick up the vegetables. Have them do simple tasks in the kitchen like shredding cheese, measuring the spices, etc.
Research the lifestyle. Once you start poking around, you’ll find that nearly everything can be make “clean.” Clean Eating magazine is one of my favorite places to find recipes. I bought a subscription and, honestly, await the delivery. Every issue is filled with new and delicious recipes, many are reader-tested. Not only that, the website is an excellent resource for recipes and even includes a two-week menu planner to help in making eating clean easier to do.
So what do you think? Worth it? Not? Do you already eat clean? I can tell you from personal experience that not only do I feel better, I no longer crave sweets. I sleep better at night and as a result, I have more energy through the day. And what mom doesn’t need more of that?
Photo Courtesy of Clean Eating Magazine/Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies