Four simple steps to clean eating

green smoothie

Maybe you’ve read about Katy Perry or Gwyneth Paltrow being fans. Eating “clean” has gained popularity not only with celebrities, but also with mainstream America. And it’s rejuvenating and inspiring a new generation of healthy eaters.

Clean eating is a rather simple concept. Instead of focusing on ingesting more or less specific things, such as fewer calories or more protein, the focus is on being mindful of the food’s pathway between its origin and your plate. At its simplest, clean eating is about eating whole foods, or foods that are minimally processed, refined and handled, making them as close to their natural form as possible.

However, modern food production has become so sophisticated that simply eating whole foods can be challenging. Our food today is not our grandmother’s food supply! According to “Food Sleuth” Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RD, clean eating is thinking beyond the plate. It’s choosing food grown or produced without chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, synthetic pesticides and growth hormones.

Here are a few steps to get you started on a clean eating program:

  1. Choose foods that are whole and natural and seek to eliminate or minimize processed foods. Processed foods are anything in a box, bag, can or package. The majority of your food should be fresh.
  2. Read labels. Look for the trustworthy USDA Organic label. Only certified organic meat, poultry, dairy and eggs assures you the animals received no hormones, antibiotics or genetically modified feed produced with synthetic pesticides.
  3. Select seasonal and local foods that are fresh, unprocessed and nutrient-dense.
  4. Eat real food, and prepare your own food as often as possible. Preparing food should be fun and joyous!

What we eat literally provides the raw material to create energy at a cellular level, so our food is essential for energy. The food we eat and how well we digest, assimilate, absorb and eliminate waste is directly reflected in our health.

Get started on a clean eating routine with my Clean Green Turmeric Smoothie below. It combines local, seasonal ingredients that provide anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich, heart-healthy, anti-cancer benefits to you. It doesn’t get cleaner than this!

Clean Green Turmeric Smoothie

Makes 4 servings


  • 2 cups kale
  • 2 cups soymilk
  • 2 cups pineapple
  • 1 cup mango
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric

Directions: Place all ingredients in a Vitamix or Ninja blender until smooth. Enjoy!

Take the next step:

SusanRyskampSusan Ryskamp, MS, RDN, is a senior dietitian and cardiovascular nutritionist with the University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center. She is also a trained health coach in behavior change and a tobacco treatment specialist. She is currently working toward certification in Functional Medical Nutrition Therapy. Susan provides individualized, patient-centered nutrition care plans to help people reduce disease risk to restore and maintain optimal health.


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Samuel and Jean Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top-ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit our website at umcvc.org.