21 Habits of a Hardcore Clean Eater

Going hardcore isn't as hard as you think!

5 Ways To Cut Back on Sugar

Be proud of you! If you’re here, that means you’re taking the first important steps toward losing weight or taking charge of your health. To make the transition a little smoother, we’re sharing a list of the 21 habits of a hardcore clean eater. We asked the creators of Skinny Ms. to tell us what habits have kept them on the clean eating track for 6 plus years. 

Clean eating isn’t a fad diet. It’s a conscious lifestyle choice in which you nourish the body with non- or minimally-processed foods that are full of fiber, nutrients, and antioxidants. When you start to incorporate these clean eating habits, over time you’ll notice a change in how you look and how you feel. Those troublesome spots on your body will jiggle and wiggle less, and you’ll feel more energized.

The foundation of clean eating is choosing to nourish the body with foods that are as close to their natural state as possible. For instance, rather than dive into a flavored yogurt loaded with preservatives and added artificial sugar, you might choose protein- and probiotic-rich plain Greek yogurt topped with fresh berries and a touch of honey.

Incorporating clean eating tips into your lifestyle gives your body the nutrients it needs to build lean muscle, support the immune system, and generate energy. Here’s how hardcore clean eaters make it happen, with some tips to create clean eating habits successfully:

1. Small steps. Sweeping changes to eating habits make it easier to give into the temptation to go back to your old ways. Start by incorporating one or two clean eating habits per week so you can adjust successfully.

 Rather than toss all unclean foods from your pantry and fridge, start by either donating foods to a local shelter or using them up gradually and replacing them with only clean eating options.

2. Plan meals. Creating a weekly or monthly meal plan prevents from resorting to eating processed or takeout food at the end of a busy day. Visit our Meal Planning Resources.

Plan meals and snacks a month in advance. It’s not as daunting as it sounds.

3. Read nutrition labels. Read 100% of labels before placing a food item in your grocery cart. Determine if it contains added sugars, sodium, preservations, artificial coloring, or other chemicals. Learn more in Quick Tips for Deciphering Food Labels.

Tip: Labeling reading quickly becomes a habit and one that takes  2-5 seconds to scan.

4. Eat more vegetables. From asparagus to zucchini, one of the top clean eating habits is to incorporate more veggies into your daily routine. Check out 6 Creative Ways to Add More Veggies to Your Diet.

Tip: Rinse and chop vegetables for the week. After grocery shopping head straight for the kitchen and prepare your weekly veggies by rinsing and storing them in ziplock bags. Use the veggies for smoothies, juicing, munching, and roasting. Replace cut up veggies for sugary snacks.

5. Drink water rather than soda or diet drinks. Kick start this healthy habit with the Skinny Ms. 30-Day No Soda Challenge.

Tip: Start every morning by drinking an 8-ounce glass of room temperature water. Continue drinking water throughout the day. Our clean eaters drink about 64 ounces of water on a daily basis.

6. Reduce alcohol intake. Alcoholic drinks are full of empty calories that do little more than add to the waistline.

Tip: Save a glass of wine for a special occasion or limit intake to one glass per week.

7. Add less salt to foods. Instead, season with herbs and spices, like these 10 Spices for Weight Loss.

Tip: The true taste of food is hidden when we overly salt. Rather than cut out all salt, use it in moderation. Most hardcore clean eaters still use salt, but about 75% less than they perviously did before becoming clean eaters.

8. Ditch refined bread products, like white bread. Choose whole grain breads or prepare your own.

Tip: Replace sandwich bread with lettuce for making wraps. Scrambled eggs, feta cheese, and spinach are delicious rolled into a green lettuce leaf.

9. Reduce meat intake. Fewer meat-based meals will help reduce the overall amount of saturated fat in your diet.

Tip: When you do eat meat opt for grass fed beef, hormone free meat, free range chicken and eggs, and meats with 7 % fat or less.

10. Choose lean meat. When you do serve meat, consider using leaner cuts of meat. Try these 15 Yummy Entrees Made with Lean Ground Turkey.

Tip: Use finely diced veggies to add moisture to lean meats. Our favorite meat burger is made with diced veggies and lean ground turkey. One of the juiciest burgers ever is our
Turkey Veggie Burger.

11. Eat more fish. Cold water fish in particular are full of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. Fish is an important protein source. Put Pan-Seared Salmon with Roasted Vegetables on your menu this week.

Tip: Opt for fish that has less mercury and other contaminates. Choose fish that aren’t imported. There are few regulations regarding imported fish, and that includes shrimp. Do the research and choose your fish wisely. 

12. Watch juice intake. Another strategy to add to your clean eating habits list is to be careful of how much juice you drink. Too many brands contain added sugar or artificial colors, so read labels before buying or try 15 Fab Juice Combinations.

13. Stock the right foods. One of the best ways to set yourself up for clean eating success is to surround yourself with the healthiest, tastiest ingredients. Bookmark the Ultimate Clean-Eating Grocery List for your next grocery run.

14. Learn to store food properly. It’s super-scary how long some processed foods keep–makes you wonder what kind of chemical preservatives those manufacturers are using! Learn how to make natural foods last longer to stretch your grocery budget.

15. Prepare food ahead of time. “Omigosh, there’s nothing to eat” is often a precursor to breaking out a processed dinner or ordering unhealthy takeout. Check out 30 Recipes that Freeze Fabulously.

16. Dust off that slow cooker. Cooking clean-eating meals in the crockpot takes the hassle out of healthy meal prep. Indulge in these Slow Cooker Recipes.

17. Treat yourself to dessert. Folks with good clean eating habits don’t ditch desserts entirely; they just treat themselves to proper portions of non-processed desserts. Enjoy any of our healthier Dessert Recipes.

18. Choose fats that are good for you. Not all fat is bad–fats from foods like nuts, avocado, and olive oil are heart healthy. Serve up Grilled Chicken and Avocado Tacos with Cilantro Crema.

19. Pare down portions. It’s easy to consume too many calories, even when it comes to clean eating foods. One of the top clean eating tips is to learn 6 Easy Ways to Reduce Portion Sizes.

20. Avoid refined sugar. Refined sugar has been linked to conditions like obesity, inflammation, and type 2 diabetes. Get started with the 30-Day No-Sugar Added Challenge.

21. Exercise regularly. Hardcore clean eaters know that nourishing the body with the right foods is just one part of living a better lifestyle. Don’t have an exercise plan yet? Find a workout that’s right for you in our Fitness Resources.


Jumpstart lifestyle changes with these clean eating 52 Tasty Recipes for Weight Loss!

Want to find more delicious, convenient clean-eating recipes and lifestyle tips? Check out our Pinterest boards Weight Watchers Meals and Foods and Inspire Motivation.


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Amy Wagner

Amy is a writer specializing in health & wellness, business, and entrepreneurship. She's a long-time martial arts teacher who has earned a 4th degree black belt in tae kwon do. When Amy's not writing or kicking, she's wrangling sons, reading fiction, or crushing on BBC actors.

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