Clean Eating: A Beginner’s Guide

Clean Eating: A Beginner’s Guide

Wouldn’t it be great if you could lose inches and go down 1-2 pants sizes in a month just by changing your eating habits? What about breathing more easily and getting a good night’s sleep EVERY night?

I write a lot about things that have changed my life, but this one is definitely on the top of the list. You can’t afford to pass this one up.

In November 2016, my soon-to-be-nutritionist friend told me about a clean eating program called Whole30. It’s a way to reset your body, and it requires the removal of dairy, sugar, legumes, grains, and alcohol. Sounds impossible, I know.

Well, for reasons I am still unsure of, I decided to do it. The very next day, I started my Whole30, which ended up turning into a Whole50!

For weeks, I ate fruits and vegetables, lean meats, and at least 4 million sweet potatoes. For the first time in my life, I didn’t have milk in the fridge! I gave away bags of cheese (I was basically obsessed with that stuff), and I spent hours scouring Pinterest for recipe ideas. No eating out, weekly meal prep, and never allowing myself to get hungry- all of these became my life for a month.

Did I mention that I decided to do this during Thanksgiving and Christmas??? When I decide to do something, I go all in! (Either that or I didn’t think it through very carefully…)

I won’t pretend it was easy. Giving up sugar is HARD. Learning how to cook differently take commitment. Enduring judgmental glances and smart-alec comments isn’t pleasant. But it was 100% worth it. In fact, it changed my life.

Since doing Whole30 (50), I have transitioned to Paleo, which is a mindset and a lifestyle, not a diet. Let me tell you, people have some pretty loud reactions when you do something like this, especially here in the South where we live on fried chicken and biscuits.

Some of the most common things I hear are, “What DO you eat?”, “So you’re a vegetarian?”, and “I wish I could eat like that, but I could never do it!”


What do you eat?


Clean, whole, delicious food that my body craves. Meats, vegetables, fruit- these are the foundation. Add in some healthy fats like avocados, nuts, seeds, and coconut oil, and you’ve got a beautifully balanced food lifestyle.

Cutting out all the processed and unhealthy foods has allowed me to taste the food rather than the mounds of cheese and ketchup I thought were necessary. Do I ever feel like there aren’t enough foods to choose from? Never.

Are you a vegetarian?


A paleo lifestyle includes all kinds of meats, as long as they aren’t processed or full of sugar. (Read a label or two; everything has sugar in it.)

Ground chicken has been one of my favorite discoveries. I know a lot of people swear by ground turkey, but chicken is my go-to choice. It has so much more flavor and isn’t as dry as turkey.


Clean eating is too hard; I could never do it!

This one just makes me realize the mindset of the American culture. We are so accustomed to our cookies, pizza, doughnuts, and fast food that we are convinced we will die if we cut those things out. I mean, come on, the largest doughnut chain offers free doughnuts for good grades… We have turned unhealthy foods into a reward! Sugar is bad for you. It just is; there is no getting around it.

This comment (which I hear a lot) also makes me want to create a pill for willpower. I want you to listen to me right now. You CAN do anything you put your mind to. Find your determination and do it.


Trust me, the results are worth it.

Speaking of results, this is my favorite part. Proof that this really does work and is 100% worth the effort.

When I set out to make these changes, I didn’t have a goal in mind. All I knew was that eating this way made people feel good, and who doesn’t want to feel good??? I did not expect the results I got.

Almost immediately, I lost inches. My clothes fit better, and by the one-month mark, I had gone down a size. And listen, I wasn’t running 6 miles a day! It was the dead of winter, and since I am outdoors exerciser, there wasn’t a whole lot of sweating going on here.

The inflammation I didn’t even know I had went away. My face lost puffiness, and my stomach flattened out. My skin became clear and bright. I was happier, stress was easier to deal with, and I had SO MUCH ENERGY! I slept like a baby every night, and my dreams became vivid again.

It also regulated my hormones, which pretty much run your entire body.


What’s the takeaway here?

Everything you put into your body either helps it or harms it; there is no neutral. My body was finally being fueled by the things it needed, and it was very happy!

This lifestyle change also did wonders for my mindset. Completing a task this daunting boosted my confidence and reminded me that I can do anything I set my mind to. I have become mindful about food, and mindfulness has been found to be a key element in happiness.

At this point, I don’t crave anything unhealthy! The other day at work, there was a table with the cutest little pink cupcakes and gooey chocolate chip cookies on it. I had to walk by that table about a million times during the day, but I wasn’t tempted at all. My body has pushed away those cravings, and now the thought of eating anything with that much sugar in it makes me feel sick! It’s all a matter of retraining.

Related Post: How to Break Free from Emotional Eating




  • Radical Transformation Project

    I was just thinking how I want to start eating a healthier diet. I’ve been so busy this year that I put my health on the back burner because I was “too busy” to exercise or cook healthy food. This was a dumb idea and I’ve already noticed a rapid decline in my mental and physical health. Thanks for the inspiration to get back on track. I’m going to go do some meal planning/grocery shopping. <3

    • I’m so glad you’ve been inspired! We can always make time for the things that improve our lives. Let me know how it goes!!!

  • Great post! I’ve started eating much healthier and I’ve noticed that my cravings have changed significantly. I had to make a run to the store the other day because I was craving celery. Celery! I never would have thought I’d ever crave that.

  • Ariel Cotton Green

    I too noticed a big difference when I made better choices about what I put in my mouth. Great post.

  • Bless this post. I’m on a food/fitness journey right now myself. I’m not ready to commit to something like a Whole30, but I definitely appreciate the insight of this.

    • I think any little changes you make will add up, and who knows? Eventually you might be ready to make bigger changes! I’m rooting for you, Crystal!! <3

  • I really need to start this… sooner than later. Thanks for linking up with Turn it Up Tuesday.

  • Jessica Roche

    Gosh the benefits sound so great–but it’s true–i love sugar so much, it really is hard to imagine quitting. Do you eat it once in a while at holidays or just never ever?

    • I have tried it both ways, and for me, it has to be all or nothing. Just a little bit brings back my body’s “need” for it. But honestly, and I am not just saying this, once your body gets off of it for long enough, you really won’t want it. I can smell fresh chocolate chip cookies and not want them even a little bit!!! You can do it!!!