How to Eat (Mostly) Clean, Live (Mainly) Clean, and Unlock Your Body's Natural Ability to Self-Clean

Gin Stephens, author of Clean(ish), joined Quick and Dirty Tips to chat about how to focus on real foods and create a healthier home environment free of obvious toxins, without fixating on perfection.

Gin Stephens
3-minute read

Your book published at the time of year people tend to make promises to themselves to better their eating habits and nutrition. What advice do you have for those whose New Year Resolutions revolve around eating and nutrition? Do you recommend any specific goals that are healthy to aim for?

Most resolutions fail.  Instead of sweeping resolutions, I am a big believer in making changes in a way that is sustainable.  When we try to do too much all at once, we usually abandon what we are doing because it’s just too difficult to maintain.  That’s one reason why I wrote Clean(ish) to be a longer term process.  Readers will first learn why they will want to make changes, and then they will decide which changes they want to implement, and also their own timetable. 

Think of it as a New Year’s Resolution that will stick…because it is step-by-step sustainable change!

What does it mean for a body to "self-clean"? This makes me think of one of those self-driving vacuums that just rolls around by itself all day long!

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Imagine you were having a constant party at your house, 24/7.  Your self-driving vacuum couldn’t do its important work.  Your house would get dirtier and dirtier.  But the good news is—Our bodies are amazing self-cleaning machines!  From our liver to our lymphatic system to everything in between, if we fuel our bodies well, choose nutrient-dense foods, have periods of digestive rest, and live a lifestyle where we intentionally put in fewer toxins, we can get out of our bodies’ way and allow them to do the work they are literally designed to do.  It’s when we overload our bodies with excess toxins, choose the Standard American Diet (also known as SAD, for good reason), and eat around the clock that our bodies get overwhelmed. 

What are some very simple swaps a person could implement in their lives to live and eat healthier?

Real food for the win!  Rather than choosing ultra processed foods, we can swap out healthier versions.  Love to eat burgers and fries?  The worst option would be fast food burgers and fries.  Just today I saw a photo of an 11 year old burger and fries that someone’s teenager used in an science project years ago.  It looked like a slightly dehydrated version of its earlier self, but it didn’t mold or degrade in any way.  Yuck!  On the other hand, you could make a homemade version using grass fed/grass finished ground beef, organic cheese, high quality burger toppings, and organic potatoes that you slice up, toss in olive oil, and bake in the oven for homemade oven fries. 

In between those two choices is a continuum of options, some closer to the ultra processed side and others closer to the homemade side.  When we are clean(ish) we focus on being closer to the real food side of the continuum when we can. 

The same is true for your household cleaners and personal care products.  You can choose products with fewer funky ingredients, and in Clean(ish), I teach you how to do that with confidence.

If you were to summarize what you hope readers take from your book and integrate into their lives, what would it be?

I want readers to know that perfection is not required.  That’s why we have the -ish, after all.  Living a clean(ish) lifestyle is a process, and every day we make choices that ensure we still enjoy our lives fully.  Also, there is no need to live in fear. Once we understand the issues, we can be confident that every change we make really does make a difference overall. 

Was there anything you wrote about in Clean(ish) that you weren't expecting to uncover or recommend? Basically, how has your health journey developed throughout the years?

I thought I was living a pretty clean(ish) lifestyle already, but I realized that I had been the victim of “greenwashing” over the years.  Greenwashing is when labels make us think a product is clean or green, when actually they are using deceptive or meaningless wording.  Foods and products I thought were clean choices actually turned out to be less-optimal than I realized.  After writing Clean(ish), I am better equipped personally to know I am making better choices, and I am excited to pass these tips on to the reader.