Baby Steps To Clean Living: clean eating

What better way to kick off the new year than cleaning up our diet, home and lifestyle?

No, I’m not talking about getting down and scrubbing the floors, I’m talking about cleaning up our daily lives; taking steps to reduce the amount of toxins in our daily routine.

When I asked you all for feedback on my Facebook page last month, I realized that when I say “detox” many people automatically think of a restrictive detox diet or cleanse…which some people love and others fear.

de-tox-i-fy (verb)

  • to remove toxic substances or qualities from.

Detoxifying is simply the act of removing toxins from our daily life, whether it be through food, rituals, habits, home or beauty products.

clean eating

My hope with this series is that through my own experience and research I can provide a few baby steps to help you live a cleaner, healthier life in 2015.

When you consider the incredible amount of environmental toxins we encounter each day it can be overwhelming (and actually quite frightening). As is my usual style here on The Balanced Life, we’ll be taking small steps and making easy swaps to reduce our toxin load and rejuvenate our bodies in the new year.

This isn’t about being scared and overwhelmed, it’s about being informed and being proactive, all while maintaining a healthy, balanced mindset.


A little disclaimer…if you’re already super eco-friendly, 100% natural and all organic all-the-time, this series may not be in-depth enough for you. There are plenty of other experts like Food Babe, Mama Natural, Living Pretty Naturally and Wellness Mama who are taking this concept to the next level.

This series is for those of us who don’t really know where to start and just want a few directives to jumpstart a healthier, toxin-free life.

We’ll cover the following topics in the weeks to come:

  1. Clean Eating
  2. Natural Skincare & Make-Up
  3. Non Toxic Baby Products
  4. Natural Cleaning Products
  5. Building A Toxin-Free Kitchen

Today, we’ll kick things off with clean eating.

“Food Rule #19: If it came from a plant, eat it; if it was made in a plant, don’t.”

– Micael Pollan

What is clean eating?

Clean eating is definitely a buzz word these days, but one that I stand behind 100%. Clean eating is actually quite simple. It means eating food in it’s most natural state or as close to it as possible.

It’s about eating REAL food, not processed food with a list of ingredients you don’t recognize.

“For a product to carry a health claim on its package, it must first have a package, so right off the bat it’s more likely to be processed rather than a whole food.”  – Michael Pollan

It’s quite simple really. And if there’s one food rule I follow, this is it. Eating real food will do incredible things for your health AND your waistline.


Simple swaps to eat more clean food and less processed food:

Instead of a granola bar (33+ processed/GMO ingredients) have a Larabar (about 3 ingredients per bar).

Instead of store-bought coffee creamer use a little cream + cinnamon + vanilla.

Instead of a frozen breakfast sandwich fry an egg in grass-fed butter and eat it on sprouted wheat toast (Ezekiel is my go-to brand).

Instead of a candy bar (13+ processed ingredients) , have a piece of pure dark chocolate.

Instead of store-bought, flavored water pour a glass of sparkling water and add fresh berries, lemon or lime. (more detox water recipes here)

CLICK HERE to access the recipes I’ve shared here on TBL – all of which are clean and healthy. And if you’ve ever considered joining The Pilates Body Program, know that this kind of whole, natural, cleaning eating is the basis of the meal plan (the next round will launch in March 2015).

Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen:

Since this is about baby steps, I want to remind you that you don’t have to take an all-or-nothing approach to clean eating – especially when it comes to buying organic. If you don’t have the budget to eat all organic foods try following the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen.

dirty dozen clean fifteen

The Dirty Dozen are the foods with the highest toxin/pesticide count, while the Clean Fifteen have the lowest.  This serves as a helpful guide when trying to decide when to buy organic and when to buy conventional.

Research has shown that those who eat 5 servings of conventional produce per day ingest an average of 10 pesticides a day.


On a personal note, I make a real effort to buy almost all organic foods these days. Now that I know what I know I see it as one of the most important things I can do for me and my family’s health. Because of this, I spend a lot of money on food but have chosen to spend that money now rather than saving it for future medical bills that could have been avoided. I choose to splurge less in other areas (like clothing or fancy beauty products) because this is very important to me.

photo 1

Final thoughts on eating clean…

When possible, eat real food; food that is perishable and food that is fresh.

“Eat food that will eventually rot.” -Michael Pollan

Recommended Reading:

Food Rules by Michael Pollan (this is what I live by)

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Michael Pollan

Clean Eats by Alejandro Junger

Clean Eating Freezer Meals by Tiffany McCauley

Eating Clean in a Dirty World by Jennafer Ashley

Of course, we could spend hours on this topic, but hopefully this post provides a good place to start as we kick off a new year.

Question: what is ONE baby step you’ll be taking to clean up your diet this year?




PS – did you get the FREE 2015 Vision Guide? I sent it out to subscribers yesterday. You can get yours by clicking here.

PPS – next up in the ‘Baby Steps To Clean Living’ series: natural skincare and make-up. See you back here on Wednesday!

disclaimer: This post was not sponsored. All thoughts are my own. Affiliate links are used which costs the same to you but a small percentage goes to support The Balanced Life. 

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  1. Colleen blackall 6 years ago

    I am going to try to stick to the list for produce this year. do you buy all organic meat? I think that is where much of the cost lies especially when feeding athletic teenagers. Not sure what to do in this area.

  2. Jen L. 6 years ago

    Great post, Robin! Thank you. For my small step, I’ll be swapping out some beauty products, I started using S&W Basics for moisturizer and I’m going to gradually purchase a few more products like cleanser and lotion.

  3. Rachel 6 years ago

    The small step I will be taking is growing more of my own food, focusing on the dirty dozen. I live in an agricultural community and an organization was started to teach the community where their food comes from and how to grow it without pesticides or herbicides, I will also be supporting them more this year.

  4. Emily 6 years ago

    What a great series!

    Due to budget restrictions, I have to pick and choose what I eat organic. My biggest struggle is figuring out when organic is important and when it’s not as key. The dirty dozen list is helpful…but I have a hard time figuring out the rest!

    I guess the step I want to take this year is to cut back on my sugar intake. Especially the mindless splurges…peppermint M&Ms were 50% off at Target today. Not much control 😉

  5. whitney 6 years ago

    I am going to start meal planning with fresh foods. My health is in need of clean eating and it is time to start!

  6. Sarah 6 years ago

    Check out this website-

    This website analyzes ingredients and cross-check them for toxicity on the EWG’s cosmetics database, which gives the products a score of 1 to 10 and offers detailed information about the safety of each ingredient. Products worth buying are effective and don’t damage your long-term health.

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