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Eat Clean – Habit

If you want to read my motivation behind creating this habit, read this story.

Complete the One-Time Activities first to create a Replacement Food List to use for future reference when completing the Weekly tasks.  Complete the Weekly tasks listed down below, before food shopping each week.


One-Time Activities

  • Create your Current Food Inventory
    • Write out what you ate in the last week using the categories below as a starting point. 
      • Food shopping list
      • Snacks you buy regularly 
      • Regular take-out or restaurant meals


20-Year Old Matt’s Current Food Inventory
Chicken Breast
Diet Coke
Granola Bars


  • Create your Processed Food List
    • Mark foods on the Current Food Inventory that are processed with a ‘P’.
      • Use Food Rules to help.  A food is likely processed if:
        • Your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize it as food
        • It has ingredients a 3rd grader couldn’t pronounce
        • It has the words “lite”, “low fat”, “non fat”
        • It has more than 5 ingredients
    • Create your Processed Food List with just the items from your Current Food Inventory marked with a ‘P’.
20-Year Old Matt’s Processed Food List
Diet Coke
Granola Bars




  • Create a Replacement Food List
    • Brainstorm healthy alternatives for the foods in your Processed Food List using the table below as a starting point.
Processed Food (P)
Replacement Food (R)
  • Soda
  • Juice
  • Sparkling Water
  • Unsweetened Iced Tea *
  • Coffee
  • Chips
  • Pretzels
  • Other Salted Snacks
  • Salted Nuts
  • Organic Cured Meat and Cheese
  • Soup or Stew
  • Cakes
  • Muffins
  • Donuts
  • Cookies
  • Crackers
  • White Bread
  • Fruit
  • Peanut Butter 
  • Whole Grain or Wheat Bread **
  • Candy
  • Granola Bars
  • Jerky
  • Protein Bar with only Whole Foods
  • Ice Cream
  • High-Sugar Yogurt
  • Low-Sugar Yogurt ***


* Use unsweetened Iced Tea without artificial sweeteners (Sucrose, Aspartame, etc).  If you struggle with reducing your consumption of sugary drinks, email me for a preview of a future post on how to do this more easily.

** Find bread with ~5-10 ingredients.  A short list is water, flour, yeast, salt.  You may have more ingredients if there are multiple grains in your bread like wheat, barley, millet, etc.  Avoid ingredients a 3rd grader couldn’t pronounce.

*** Use 15g of sugar per 8 oz of yogurt or less as your target when buying low-sugar yogurt.

  1. Reflect on last week’s replacement.  
    • Skip this step your first week and after any week that you didn’t replace a processed food and instead start with step 2.
    • Assess the food you replaced last week using these categories as shown in the table below.
      • Satisfied – If you’re satisfied that you can continue eating the replacement food regularly in place of the processed food from last week, cross that processed food off your list.
      • Unsure – If you’re not sure this replacement food will work, give yourself another week to try it and don’t replace another food this week.  Skip to step 4.
      • Unsatisfied – If you don’t believe last week’s replacement will work, pick a different food to replace it and focus on just that change this week.  Skip to step 4.
  2. Pull out your Processed Food List and pick one food to replace.
  3. Pull out your Replacement List and pick out your replacement for that food.
  4. Keep a cheat sheet or a table like below to track your progress.  
    • This example shows me in Week 5 before reflecting on whether switching Rx Bars for Granola Bars will work.  
    • Each week I wasn’t satisfied with my replacement (Weeks 2 and 4), I picked another food to replace the Processed Food and didn’t replace a new Processed Food.
Week #
Processed Food
Salted Peanuts
Diet Coke
Diet Coke
Honest Tea
Granola Bars
Beef Jerky
Granola Bars
Rx Bar
  • Reminders
    • You’re not replacing a food permanently. You’re decreasing the frequency. You can still eat your favorite foods, but make it a special occasion once a month instead of every day. 
    • Don’t feel bad when you indulge in your favorite foods. Savor the moment. 
    • Be nice to yourself when you’re struggling with replacing a food. Ask for help.  
  • Links
    • If you want to learn how to make changing habits easier, read this guide from James Clear.
    • If you want to learn how to change your environment to help you make good choices, read this post from James Clear.  


The food you eat can be either the safest and most powerful form of medicine or the slowest form of poison.  – Ann Wigmore