20 Cooking and Nutrition Tips to Help You Eat Clean

We asked our bloggers, columnists, experts and even our staff to contribute their favorite culinary and nutrition tips to help you eat clean. Find inspiration for every day to keep you on track!
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1. Eat Real Food

Our resident dietitians, Erin Macdonald and Tiffani Bachus, answer your burning nutrition questions in their monthly column: Ask the Dietitians. Their "28-Day Real-Food Rebootcourse launches this January 2019. Join our Clean Eating Academy mailing list for more info here!

See also What is Clean Eating?

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2. Plan for Success

It's 5:00 p.m. and you have no idea what's for dinner. Never fear! Because you have a collection of quick and easy "5-ingredient meals," you can quickly run into the grocery store on your way home or rest assured that you already have the necessary ingredients for emergency meals stocked in your fridge and pantry.

See also One-Skillet Suppers.

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3. Try “Veggie” Noodles

Ali Mafucci of Inspiralized.com recommends substituting spiralized veggies into your favorite pasta or noodle dish once a week. By the end of the week, you'll have reduced the amount of processed foods you've eaten, while increasing your veggie intake. It's a win-win.

See also Oodles of Veggie Noodles: 10 Grain-Free Recipes.

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4. Drink More Water Every Day

We recommend that you drink at least 2 liters of water every day for optimal health. One of the best ways to increase your H2O intake is to flavor your water with fruit.

See also Reconsider Tap Water: The Healthiest Water Options. 

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5. Eat More Sustainably-Raised Fish

Nutritionist Kate Geagan recommends adding more omega-3-rich fish to your diet, like little-known barramundi. Also known as Asian Seabass, barramundi has roughly half the calories of salmon, is packed with protein (25 grams for 5 oz. portion) and is loaded with brain-boosting, anti-inflammatory omega-3s (about 600-800 mg per serving).

See alsoThe Healthiest Fish & Seafood.

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6. Improve Your Mood and Stress Levels with Meditation

Take time to breathe deep. Daily meditation has been proven to increase mood-stabilizing serotonin in the brain and can also boost feel-good chemicals like dopamine and endorphins. Managing stress can help keep emotional eating in check.

See also 6 Stress Relievers to Ward Off Weight Gain.

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7. Always Read Labels

Our resident dietitians, Erin Macdonald and Tiffani Bachus, cover your burning nutrition questions in their monthly column: Ask the Dietitians. Their course "28-Day Real-Food Reboot" launches January 2019 – so you can actually keep your resolution! Join our Clean Eating Academy mailing list for more info here!

See also What is Clean Eating?

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8. Discover a New Cooking Hack

Farmer, Recipe Developer and busy mom of two, Mary Brower, loves good food but doesn't always have the time to prepare it. Caramelizing onions usually takes copious amounts of butter and about an hour to prepare. This hack will get you to dinner in a fraction of the time. Simply, add a pinch of baking soda to the pan when sautéing onions. You'll go from raw to delightfully browned in 15 minutes. Just be sure to use a non-reactive pan, such as stainless steel.

See more of Mary's Cook Like a Farmer columns.

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9. Plan Ahead

Ali Mafucci of Inspiralized.com recommends packing at least two "emergency clean foods" into your briefcase, bag or backpack. It's easy to fall off track when you're not prepared. If your blood sugar drops, you might reach for candy or chips. Instead, pack a bag or almonds or roasted sweet potatoes—and, of course, a bottle of water.

See also 12 Ways to Liven Up lunch.

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10. Eat More Probiotics

Probiotics are hot right now, but nutritionist Kate Geagan believes that they live up to the hype. Fermented foods featuring probiotics are packed with a bevy of real nutrition benefits. These foods can be easier to digest; they are filled with beneficial bacteria that are good for your gut (where 70% of your immune system resides), and they can also be a source of B vitamins and healthy enzymes. In addition to yogurt, experiment with a dollop of kimchi or sauerkraut on a veggie burger, try using apple cider vinegar in salad dressings or drinks or enjoy homemade or high quality store-bought kombucha.

See also3 Nutritious Meals Featuring Fermented Veggies.

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11. Listen to Your Body

Our resident dietitians, Erin Macdonald and Tiffani Bachus, cover your burning nutrition questions in their monthly column: Ask the Dietitians. Their "28-Day Real-Food Reboot"course launches January 2019. Join our Clean Eating Academy mailing list for more info here!

See also 10 Reasons to Eat Clean.

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12. Try Juicing

Juices pack a vitamin and nutrient punch, but store-bought versions are often filled with sugar and preservatives. Try making your own at home or indulge in a fresh pressed juice from a juice bar a few times a week.

See also Mood-Boosting Juice.

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13. Ban the Box. Eat Fresh.

Chef Heather Christo, author of Pure Delicious: 200 Delectable Allergen-Free Recipes, recommends you challenge yourself to only eat from the outside aisles at the grocery store where the whole foods--meat, fish and vegetables--are located.

See alsoThe Benefits of Limiting Processed Foods.

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14. Keep Junk Food Out of Your House

It may sound obvious, but if you bring highly-processed junk into your home, you're likely to eat it. Alexis Kornblum of LexisCleanKitchen.com suggests that you get rid of the temptation and don't put your clean diet in danger.

See alsoWhy Bingeing on Fatty Foods Hurts Your Health.

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15. Eat Mindfully

Studies have shown that you eat less when you pay attention to what put in your mouth. Our resident dietitians, Erin Macdonald and Tiffani Bachus, answer your burning nutrition questions in their monthly column: Ask the Dietitians. Join Tiffani and Erin for their "28-Day Real-Food Reboot"course now! Join our Clean Eating Academy mailing list for more info here!

See also 5 Secrets to Win at Weight Loss.

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16. Consider Going Meatless Once or Twice a Week

Jorge Cruise, bestselling author and celebrity fitness trainer, recommends eating a vegan breakfast every morning in his new book Tiny and Full. Eating a plant-based diet a few times a week has a positive impact on both your waistline and the environment.

See alsoThe Benefits of Going Meatless.

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17. Visualize Clean Eating Success

Ali Mafucci of Inspiralized.com has a tip for making your clean eating dreams a reality. She suggests that you look back on the previous day and identify something you could have done better for your health--was it one more rep of squats, drinking more water or cutting out that afternoon cookie? Take a moment each night to reflect on that day and wake up the next morning with resolve to make a simple change. By the end of the week, you'll be a healthier version of yourself.

See alsoFlat-Belly Foods.

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18. Eliminate all Soda. Even Diet Soda.

Diet soda may be calorie-free but it still feeds your sugar dragon. Drink water instead! Join Chef Nathan Lyon this spring for his new course: Mastering Sustainable Seafood, Poultry & Meat. Find out more information here. 

See alsoDoes Sparkling Water Count as Daily Water Intake?

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19. Cook Your Grains Ahead of Time

Preparation equals success. Take an hour on Sunday to cook your grains for the week and keep them stored in the fridge to cut down on dinner prep.

See alsoCook Sunday for the Whole Week in 6 Easy Steps.

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20. Avoid Excess Sugar. Make Your Own Sauces, Dressings and Condiments.

Chef and Clean Eating Contributor Candice Kumai believes that cooking more at home helps you control what you consume. So, this year, try making your own dressings, sauces and condiments. It's not nearly as hard as you think!

See also 5 Simple Salad Dressings.

Join Our New Year Real-Food Reboot!

Join us for an inspiring 28-Day Real-Food Reboot led by two registered dietitian nutritionists and long-time Clean Eating contributors Erin Macdonald, RDN, and Tiffani Bachus, RDN, BCS.

In this invigorating 4-week, clean-eating boot camp, we’ll meal plan and cook together, learn everything there is to know about building a diet that works best for your personal needs, we’ll take on weekly lifestyle challenges, share experiences, updates and successes and most importantly, we’ll keep each other accountable and committed until the end. This reset challenge was designed to completely transform your relationship with food and affect lifelong change through forming healthier habits that will better serve you and those around you.

For more info, and to sign up now, go to cleaneating.com/realfoodreboot