When you tell your members or clients that they should engage in "clean eating," what do you think comes to mind for them? For many, it might be starvation, deprivation and boring, tasteless food. But clean eating is actually quite a simple concept, full of flavor, life-force energy and healing powers, straight from Mother Earth.

Clean eating is not about obsessing over calories or dieting. It is more about being mindful of the food's pathway between its origin and your plate. It is about eating foods as close to their natural source and form as possible with a focus on real, whole foods that are minimally processed or completely unprocessed and unrefined. Because the production of our food supply has become quite controversial these days, the idea of eating a diet full of "real" food may seem difficult to tackle, but it does not have to be.

Often when I work with clients, I hear things such as, "I can't afford to eat organic," "I don't have time to prepare homemade meals every day," "I don't want to eat salad for every meal." I understand their confusion, given that so much information that is given online about clean eating provides misleading and often misunderstood theories, opinions and "facts."

I have outlined some practical tips to circumvent these common excuses against clean eating. These tips will save your clients time and money in the long run.

Excuse No. 1: I can't afford to eat organic. Although the idea of buying organic can seem daunting (not all markets carry a variety of organic products) and ultimately costly, let's put things into perspective. On average, that head of organic romaine lettuce that you paid less than $4 for can be used to make one to two large salads, enough to feed a family of four. That $4 meal from your favorite fast-food chain feeds one person, provides just one meal for the day and lacks essential nutrients to combat hunger, provide energy and diminish cravings. That fast-food meal also contains more toxins, chemicals and other unknown substances than the organic food. Health is an investment, and we are all worth it.

My advice: Use the dirty dozen and clean 15 lists as references when shopping. Although these lists refer to pesticide exposure specifically (which is different from GMOs), it serves as a great baseline when shopping on a budget.

The dirty dozen is a list of produce items that tend to have the highest levels of pesticide residue (even after being washed and peeled). These are the ones that you definitely want to buy organic, whenever possible:

  1. Apples
  2. Strawberries
  3. Grapes
  4. Celery
  5. Peaches
  6. Spinach
  7. Sweet Bell Peppers
  8. Nectarines
  9. Cucumbers
  10. Potatoes
  11. Cherry Tomatoes
  12. Hot Peppers

The clean 15 are the items with the least amount of pesticide contamination found, so these are not as high of a priority when buying organic:

  1. Sweet Corn
  2. Onions
  3. Pineapple
  4. Avocado
  5. Cabbage
  6. Sweet Peas (frozen)
  7. Papaya
  8. Mangos
  9. Asparagus
  10. Eggplant
  11. Kiwi
  12. Grapefruit
  13. Cantaloupe
  14. Sweet Potato
  15. Mushrooms

Excuse No. 2: I don't have time to prepare homemade meals every day.

I get it. We are all busy, which is why preparing your food beforehand is key for successfully eating healthy on a tight schedule. Doing so leaves plenty of time to do the things you want to do, such as spending time with family and friends, exercising and getting some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

My advice: Cook once, eat twice (or more).

Prepare your food one to two days each week. (Sundays and Wednesdays work best for most of my clients.) Chop your vegetables, cook a large batch of gluten-free grains (such as quinoa or brown rice), cook a pot of soup or chili in the crock pot, put your smoothie fixings into individual ziplock baggies (to store and pull out daily and blend), bake or grill some organic free-range chicken and boil some eggs. Use these throughout the week in different dishes, such as stir-fry, vegetable scrambles, salads, snacks, etc. It takes the guesswork—and preparation work—out of meal planning, while saving a lot of time. A bonus tip: package meals beforehand in storage containers so you can grab and go in a pinch.

Excuse No. 3: "Clean eating? I don't want to eat salad for every meal."

Clean eating is not about deprivation or starvation; it is about eating real, whole food, as close to its original source as possible.

My advice: Get creative and load your plate accordingly. A good rule of thumb is to fill half of your plate with non-starchy vegetables (think dark leafy greens and incorporate a rainbow of flavor), a quarter of your plate with protein from grass-fed beef, wild caught fish or free-range chicken and a quarter with whole grains, such as brown rice or quinoa. Season your dishes with a myriad of fresh spices, such as tumeric, ginger, thyme, oregano, basil, chili peppers, cinnamon, garlic and onions. Do not be afraid to experiment and get the whole family involved.

Clean eating does not have to be complicated. As the brilliant author and health activist, Michael Pollen, said, "Eat real food. Not too much. Mostly plants." I couldn't have said it better myself.

BIO

Sheree Trask is a board-certified holistic health coach, and the founder of Lemons & Laughter - Positively Appealing Holistic Healing. She received her training from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, where she was trained in more than 100 dietary theories and studied a variety of practical lifestyle coaching methods. Trask helps her valued clients create a completely personalized roadmap to health that suits each unique body, lifestyle, preferences and goals. She offers one-on-one personal coaching, group programs and corporate wellness, as well as personalized programs based on her clients' needs. She can be reached at (858) 531-2785 or at sheree.trask@gmail.com.