Written by contributor Donielle Baker of Naturally Knocked Up.

When most people start thinking about healthier eating and cleaning up their diet, they easily get overwhelmed. And how can you not with all of the information out there? All of a sudden everything in your kitchen looks toxic and you have no idea where to start. Or the idea of buying expensive organic and grass-fed products seem out of reach. These simple changes will get you headed in the right direction.

Simple Ways to Clean Up Your Diet

1. Make Your Own Seasonings

All to often those convenient little seasoning packets you find in the supermarket have added fillers, sugars, and flavor enhancers. Making your own at home can help you avoid unnecessary and unwanted ingredients while also saving you money and allowing you to personalize the seasonings to your own taste. I have found most seasoning recipes are easily found online and most can be made with spices and herbs you already have at home.

Making it even easier, you can mix your seasonings in bulk which saves you time in the kitchen. The three I always have ready to go are:

2. Make Homemade Broth

Not only is homemade broth a much tastier option than store-bought, it’s also provides many more nutrients while also lacking in any added flavor enhancers. You can easily make broth out of leftover chicken or beef bones, meaning it will only cost you pennies when you factor in the few vegetables you’ll also use.

3. Skip the Cereal

More often than not, cereal is one of the worst ways to start your day. It’s full of sugar and refined flours, no matter what brand you buy, and even if it’s gluten free or organic. Eggs, oatmeal, homemade granola and yogurt, or baked oatmeal are better choices in the long run and provide your body the fuel it needs.

4. Use Healthy Fats

Ditch the margarine and vegetable oils for real butter (preferably organic if you can afford it) extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, and even lard. These unprocessed fats are easily used by the body, help your foods taste better, and promote better cooking.

5. Ditch the Cans

In order to reduce your exposure to chemicals like BPA (in the can lining) and increase nutrient quality always buy fresh or frozen vegetables instead of canned. When making tomato sauces, many times it’s cheaper (and much tastier) to buy whole tomatoes and make your own at home. And buying dry beans and cooking them yourself is much cheaper than buying canned. You can also try making your own cream-of soup to substitute in your favorite recipes.

6. Avoid the Dirty Dozen

Most families I know can not afford, or find, all organic produce all year round. The Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list is a big help, informing you of the most chemical-laden produce so that you can either search out organic options or buy the cleaner conventional items.

Photo by bcmom

7. Shop the Perimeter

If you haven’t noticed yet, the outside aisles of the supermarket are where the fresh foods are! The inside aisles and end-caps are most often processed and packaged foods. So start your shopping by walking the perimeter and going down only the aisles you need to for certain pantry staples.

8. Check the Labels

When you do buy boxed, bagged, or canned foods, turn them around and check out the labels first. If you find words you can’t read on the ingredient list, put it back. If you also find ingredients like MSG, corn syrup, or a type of artificial sweetener, it should also stay out of your cart.

9. Eat Something Raw Everyday

Much of our foods now-a-days are preserved for long term storage and we forget to include raw foods in our daily meals. When cooked, we start to lose beneficial enzymes and many times it even lowers the vitamin and mineral content of the food as well. So choose to eat fresh fruits and vegetables each day; preferably at each meal.

10. Lower Your Sugar Intake

One of the absolute best ways to clean up your diet is to cut out all refined sugars from your diet! Sugar contributes to a variety of health problems including; infertility, lowered immune function, weight gain, insulin resistance, and adrenal fatigue. (If you’re dealing with sugar cravings and can’t get a handle on your sugar consumption, try something like “The Sugar Detox Challenge”.) Even if you only use natural sweeteners, you need to aware of your intake and not over do it.

In no time at all, you’ll have made big changes in your health just by making these simple changes. And the best part is, most of these will save you money!

What simple changes have you made to your diet?