By Jonathan Wright, Linda Larsen

One of the best things about the eating clean plan is that you’re in control. In other words, you get to choose how much of the eating clean plan you implement. You can go all out and make 100 percent of your diet clean. Or you can choose to eat an occasional fast-food meal or include some processed foods in your diet. The choice is yours!

The table shows the six degrees of clean eating. Take a look at what each degree entails, and think about which one best fits your life.

Six Degrees of Clean Eating
Degree What You Eat When Following This Degree
20% At the beginning of your eating clean adventure — or if you’re trying to wean kids (or a reluctant spouse) off of a junk food diet — start by changing one meal in a five-day week into a clean meal.
40% Add another clean meal a week to your plan to continue the eating clean journey. You can also start at this level.
50% If you want to live an eating clean lifestyle, 50% is really the minimum degree to shoot for. At this level, you get some of the benefits of the eating clean diet plan but can still eat a few fast-food meals and the occasional junk food. Just try to make the nonclean 50% of your diet a bit healthier! Make homemade potato chips instead of eating processed, flavored chips; use multigrain pasta in place of white; and enjoy just one brownie rather than five.
60% Now you’re getting more serious! At this level, most of your foods are clean and unprocessed, but you still eat processed foods two or three days a week. You have to do more cooking, but you’re also saving money because you’re eating out less and buying fewer processed (and expensive) foods.
80% Many people stop at this level of clean eating. The vast majority of your meals are clean, using whole, unprocessed foods, but you can still include some bottled pasta sauce and bakery bread in your diet.
100% Not many people can follow a true clean eating plan all the time, but if you can, bravo! If you’ve been diagnosed with a serious illness, this level may be the best option for you. Or if you’re sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, the pure eating clean plan may help you feel better.

Of course, you can set your target somewhere in between these six degrees. Heck, your plan may vary between 100 percent clean and 60 percent clean within the same day! If you’re serious about living the eating clean lifestyle, though, aim for making whole foods the basis for at least 50 percent of your diet. Don’t worry about backsliding or falling off the eating clean wagon; just focus on the big picture and enjoy your food and your life.