What food are you craving? Is it a food that nourishes you and supports your health? Or one that lowers your energy and makes you feel off?
Everyday we answer these questions with the foods we choose to eat. These choices can quite literally move us towards greater health or away from it.
That’s why we’ve put together our Clean Food Substitution Guide. We encourage you to print the pdf and put it on your fridge or keep it with your shopping list. Use it to help steer your choices towards clean, whole foods.
Before we get to it, here are a few ways to make the most of the Guide.
Upgrade Your Food
A major principle of living a clean lifestyle is upgrading the quality of the food you eat.
In the book Clean Gut, we give some suggestions about how to do this. For example, we recommend buying more organic or pesticide-free food and searching out higher quality animal products like grass-fed beef and pastured-raised eggs.
You can start upgrading your food this week by committing to make at least one substitution from our guide below.
Build Your Clean Habits
Living healthily and clean can sometimes feel like a big burdensome project. But living clean is actually made up of a bunch of little habits we develop and practice over time.
At first, a new habit takes a lot of energy. We need to learn about the habit, decide that it’s important to us, make a promise to do it, and then take action.
Once we’ve done the habit a few times, we start to build momentum. The more we practice, the less energy we need to keep the momentum going, until eventually we don’t even think about it. The habit has become a part of our life.
(That’s why Dr. Junger structured the Clean Program to last for 21 days, the amount of time required to develop a new habit.)
We want you to build the habit of substitution, especially for the most common toxic triggers listed below.
Clean Food Substitution Guide
Here is our Clean Food Substitution Guide. When you are craving the food on the left, look to the right hand column and find a clean alternative. Substitutions aren’t always needed, but we’ve found that these foods frequently cause people health challenges.
Overtime, we think you’ll notice a change in your energy, mental clarity, sleep, and digestion if you focus more on the right hand column.
#1 Bread: The comforting density of bread can be satisfied with starchy options like quinoa, rice, potatoes, and occasional gluten-free breads.
#2 Pasta: When you feel the craving for pasta, switch to one made from rice or quinoa. If you’re up for trying something new, zucchini, spaghetti or butternut squash can be made into delicious noodles.
Recipe: Butternut squash noodles
#3 Milk: Substitute coconut, almond, or rice milk for dairy milk. Each of these options can be purchased at most grocery stores. For people who have sensitivities to carrageenan and other gums, you can make your own coconut or almond milk.
Recipe: Homemade Almond Milk
#4 Cheese: Nut cheese made from cashews or macadamia nuts is a delicious alternative to dairy cheese. However, eating too much of it can create a heavy feeling in the body. Nutritional yeast is another option that adds the flavor of cheddar cheese, as well as additional nutrients like B-vitamins. We don’t recommend relying on fake or vegan cheese alternatives. These foods are highly processed and contain gums and poor-quality vegetable oils.
By testing how your body reacts to different foods, you may find that you feel better by reducing the amount of dairy,without having to avoid it completely. You may still be able to tolerate small amounts of cheese as salad or meal toppings.
Nut Cheese Topping: Eat Parma
#5 Cereal: There are lots of great gluten-free cereal options. Simple recipes can be made at home, or you can find a variety in the gluten-free section of the supermarket. We prefer the less processed rice porridges, warm buckwheat, quinoa, or corn grits. Remember, practically all corn we eat is GMO, so look for organic varieties.
#6 Alcohol: Reducing or removing alcohol for a period of time is a good test to learn about how it effects your life. Do you use it to deal with the stress of social situations? Is wine a habit to help you relax? Seltzer and juice as well as kombucha make a fun alternative to alcohol because of their carbonation. Coconut water is another great option. If you’re looking for something a bit stronger, try an immune-boosting ginger shot.
Recipe: Ginger Shot
#7 Coffee: A few newsletters back we wrote about coffee being one of the Big Three. Removing coffee for a period of time is useful to reduce dependency. For the coffee flavor, try Dandy Blend or Teeccino. For a light kick, go with hot chocolate or green tea.
#8 Sweet Treats: Switch out the junk food, cookies, and cakes for clean options. Go with fruit, gluten-free baked goods, dairy-free ice cream, or chocolate.
#9 Sweetener: In place of artificial sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup, use the sweetness that comes from whole foods like dates, molasses, maple syrup, or coconut sugar. If you’re looking for sugar-free options, go with stevia, lakanto, or small amounts of xylitol.
We know that transforming our diet doesn’t happen overnight. Often people are so overwhelmed by the idea of long-term change, that they use it as an excuse to keep them from making smaller changes right now.
If you feel this resistance in yourself, remember: Switching to a clean, whole foods diet is the best long-term health plan and short-term fix to improve your digestion, sleep, energy, and mental clarity.
The upside is just too huge to miss out on.