20 Principles of a Clean Eating Approach to Diet

The daily challenge? A balance of clean eating and from scratch cooking alongside a realistic view of getting meals on the table quickly. You can feed your family healthy meals with ease with a little bit of planning.

20 principles of a real food diet

Having a basic understanding of traditional ways of cooking and eating makes getting meals on the table so much easier. These basic principles will help guide your grocery shopping, meal planning and daily food choices.

These principles are based on the research of Weston A. Price and his revelation about traditional diets around the world fostering true health. These choices focus on a diverse inclusion of primarily vegetables, sides of quality grass-fed, pastured, or wild meats and seafood as well as grains/legumes in moderation when prepared for optimal absorption.

Here is a list of 20 core principles I find helpful when deciding how to nourish my body and feed my family.

If you have not yet read the post: What is Real Food you may find it helpful as a first step to transitioning your diet.

1. Vegetables Should Be Included In Every Meal

A plant-rich diet can transform your health most effectively. Ideally more than half of your plate (if not 75%) should be filled with veggies. Eating a rainbow of colors offers the most abundance of nutrients, phytochemicals, and antioxidants. To support healthy blood sugar levels and insulin response, non-starchy fiber-rich vegetables such as leafy greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, peppers, etc should play the star role. Limit potatoes, sweet potatoes and squash to 1/2 cup daily due to their high starch content.

2. Choose Clean Meat, Poultry, and Eggs

Ideally pastured, grass fed, wandered around in the field, felt the sunshine and lived a happy life.

3. Enjoy Wild Sustainably Caught Fish and Seafood

Quality definitely matters here.

4. Eat Lots of Healthy Fats

The ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids is key to optimal health and avoiding inflammatory diseases. Fats such as coconut oil, olive oil, or quality butter should be included in most meals.

5. Combine Quality Fat with Vegetable to Maximize Benefit

Our bodies require fat for optimum absorption of nutrients. The soil most plants are grown in is already deficient in valuable vitamins and minerals our bodies need. Providing maximum efficiency of nutrient uptake can be facilitated with good fats.

6. Choose Quality First

“Pay more, eat less” per Michael Pollan’s food rules. Always look for the best quality you are able to afford. If there is a food you eat often, choose the best possible quality for that particular choice.

7. Eat Organic When you Can

Availability and cost sometimes is a factor, but understanding the detrimental affects of the chemical sprayed on fruits, vegetables, and grains is eye opening. Organic produce often has a higher vitamin and mineral content as well. Knowing the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen can be a great guide when choosing what to buy organically grown.

8. Raw Dairy in Moderation

If you are able to source quality raw dairy, this is a great option.

9. Limit Gluten or Go Gluten-Free

This is going to be determined specific to your body’s response to gluten. The cleaner your diet, the easier it can be to discover which foods we tolerate best. If you tolerate gluten, no worries here!

10. Limit Grains With a Few Exceptions

Einkorn, Spelt, and Rye are great options, especially for making sourdough bread. Look for heirloom grains to limit the affects of processing and chemical exposure.

11. Avoid Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners

And use natural sweeteners sparingly.

12. Eat Fruit in Moderation

Fruit, although very healthy, does contain sugar and therefore have a negative affect on our blood glucose levels. When possible, choose organic berries first and low glycemic level options.

13. Avoid Vegetable Oils High in Omega-6 Fatty Acids

These oils are highly processed, often using chemicals. They also contain unsaturated fats, which, when heated tend to oxidize causing inflammation. examples include: soybean, sunflower, sesame, canola, peanut, and corn oils.

14. Enjoy Legumes And Nuts When Prepared for easy digestion

Soak or sprout seeds, legumes, and nuts to deactivate enzyme inhibitors, neutralize phytic acid, neutralize tannins and lectins, pre-digest starches and sugars, and begin breakdown of cellulose.

15. be okay with the 80:20 rule

Real life is a thing. We all deserve a treat every once in awhile and are allowed to break the rules. Special occasion foods provide great pleasure and we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of them. But remember to let special occasions be just that.

16. Eat fermented foods and foods high in beneficial bacteria

These foods contain probiotics to help improve the function of the digestive and immune systems. They are also a good source of vitamin B12, an essential energy nutrient only produced/available from animals and bacteria. Ideally include these foods daily if not with every meal. Examples: sauerkraut, kimchi, fermented beets/carrots.

17. Quality Salt is necessary

Sea Salt is an excellent choice with many health benefits including trace minerals and balancing of electrolytes. But the key here is also avoiding highly processed salt with added iodine.

18. Bone broth is a staple superfood

All traditional cultures used bones, usually as gelatin-rich bone broth, for easy-to-assimilate minerals, nutrients for healthy cartilage, amino acids, and gelatin.


The fewer ingredients the better. A can of tomatoes with the ingredients tomatoes and salt is a great choice! Chicken broth with 8 ingredients, some of which you’ve never heard of, isn’t very “real”. A quick self-check: could you have that ingredient in your kitchen?

20. Flavor food with herbs and spices

Make homemade meals taste incredible with lots of immune/digestion supporting, nutrient dense herbs and quality spices.

Next Step: Now let’s take this information and put it to action! 10 Actionable Steps to Switch to a Real Food Lifestyle will give you concrete next steps to move forward stress free. And your kids will love it!

These 20 principles of a real food diet provide the framework I can return to when in doubt or when I get distracted and need to analyze what I’m purchasing.

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