What Does Eating Clean – Mean?

I hear all the time that we need to eat clean. Eat Healthy. 

But what does it mean?

At its core, it’s simply about eating real, unaltered food. It’s about eating – whole foods. Think apples, oranges, celery, zucchini, herbs & spices and any other real food item you can find at the store or in your garden. That’s it. That is truly all there is to it. If you can find it growing on a farm, chances are it’s clean.

You can, of course, take it further and make a “diet” out of it, or make it a very restrictive and expensive way to eat. But it really doesn’t need to be that way. Truly, it doesn’t. Nothing could be simpler than having an apple.

Eating Clean - what does it mean?

How to avoid overwhelm while eating clean?

When you first get started with eating clean, the idea can quickly become a bit overwhelming. If you are used to packaged and processed foods, the transition can be a tough one for some people. But it’s by no means impossible! If done correctly, it can be relatively painless! And no, it doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to get started either. You can ease your way into it which is definitely easier on you as well as your wallet.

So here are a few easy steps to help you learn how to start eating clean.


Dr Arun’s Top 10 Strategies

How to start eating clean.


Enjoy 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day.

If eating 5-6 meals a day is your goal (and I am a huge believer and practitioner of eating small and often), plan 3 regular-sized meals, and then split them in half and spread them out every few hours until you get used to the idea of frequent, smaller meals. You want to increase the number of meals without increasing your caloric intake.


Keep ingredients simple.

Use herbs and spices to get flavouring. This is not the time to try out that vegetable you’ve never seen or heard of before. Stick to basics and keep your meals very basic. Think broccoli, tofu and brown rice. Once you get the hang of it, you can branch out.


Try 1-2 new recipes per week.

Pick a few recipes from your favourite resource or ask your dietitian what you’d like to try for the week. Trying one or two new recipes per week will help you start to get the hang of the cooking without it getting totally overwhelming.


Plan ahead with leftovers.

Plan leftovers!! It makes lunchtime (and sometimes even dinner) so much easier if you already have some food ready to go.


Prepare clean snacks.

Make a list of clean snacks that you enjoy. These could be fruits, nuts, veggie sticks or sugar-free yoghurt.


Switch 1 ingredient from your kitchen weekly.

Each week, when you do your grocery shopping, switch out at least one ingredient in your kitchen or pantry as they run out. So for example, when the white rice runs out, buy brown rice. When the white pasta runs out, replace it with 100% whole grain pasta.


Start slow with exercise and work your way up.

If exercise is relatively new to your daily routine, start slow. It’s easy to get overly excited and go hog wild your first few days. But you won’t keep it up if you do that. Start with something easy, and work your way up.


Buy a slow cooker.

If you don’t already have one, purchase a small slow cooker in which you can slow cook your food in. Slow cookers are healthy as they rely on low heat to prepare food, which reduces the chances of nutrient destruction, unlike other cooking styles.


Create a Clean Eating Emergency Kit.

Create a Clean Eating Emergency Kit for your car and/or office. For me it mostly includes:
Dried fruits (no sugar added)


Expect and plan for mistakes.

Most importantly, expect and plan for mistakes. Making mistakes is more a frame of mind than anything else. If you know you will make them, expect them and plan for them, they won’t completely derail your best efforts. If you find you’ve purchased or eaten something that isn’t clean, do better at the NEXT MEAL. Not tomorrow, not next week. The next meal. That, in and of itself, will determine a large part of your success with clean eating. It’s persistence and perseverance that will help you reach your goals, and handling mistakes is a huge part of that. You won’t be perfect from the get-go, and you’ll even make mistakes after doing this for years. I know I do. So be kind to yourself and do what you need to do to make the next meal clean. It really is that simple.

Helping You Discover, Empower & Prosper

Dr Arun Dhir  |  GI Surgeon, Health Reformist & Passionate Educator.

Dr Arun Dhir

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About Dr Arun:

Besides having a busy private practice at Melbourne Gastro Surgery – Centre for Weight Loss, Dr Arun is an active member of the ANZ Association of Gastro-Oesophageal surgeons (ANZGOSA), ANZ Society of Metabolic and Obesity Surgery (OSSANZ) and Australian College of Nutrition and Environmental Medicine (ACNEM).

Dr Arun is also a senior lecturer (University of Melbourne) and yoga and meditation teacher, with a strong interest in the mind-body-gut connection. He regularly writes and speaks about gut health, gut microbiome, obesity, gastrointestinal surgery and healing. Arun’s published works include Happy Gut Healthy Weight (Balboa Press 2018), Creating a New You – Health Journal (Metagenics 2019), and Your Mess Has a Message (2021).