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Amelia Freer's Eating Overhaul: 10 ways to clean up your diet

February 1st 2016 / Amelia Freer / 4 comments


Photography by Kirstin Sinclair

Want to feel healthier, lighter and leaner? Clean up your act with these 10 simple steps from expert nutritionist Amelia Freer, plus five days' worth of recipe ideas

No matter what your starting point is, there are many positive things that can be achieved by cleaning up your diet with just a few simple steps. I’m not talking about a soft and gentle approach - there just isn’t time for that - I’m talking about a thorough spring clean, and by this I mean eating clean.

Foods that have been processed to no longer resemble their original source, that are laden with sugar, chemicals, damaged fats and flavourings are just like junk mail – if you eat these foods consistently, over time you’ll get a system crash. So in the same way as we need to maintain our inboxes, delete the trash and put good virus protection in place, we need to do the same with our diets. Now is the time to remove the junk, ensure optimal digestion and flood the body with an abundance of health promoting nutrients.

Scientific studies have shown that people are only able to make three changes at a time, so if this list of rules feels overwhelming or impossible, then choose the three that are most relevant to you - no, not the easiest ones! - the ones that you know you really need to do.

1. Keep a food diary

It’s time to be truthful and conscious about how much and how often you are eating and a food diary has been shown time and time again to be an excellent tool for making dietary changes. You can only change your habits with awareness, and writing things down makes you fully mindful. If you don’t want to write you can take pictures on your phone, make notes on your phone or scribble it all down in a pad – whatever works for you.

MORE GLOSS: Eat, Nourish. Glow: Meet Amelia Freer, top Nutritional Therapist and Columnist

2. Preparation is key

Clean out your cupboards and fridge at home. If you have others who do not wish to partake in this clean eating plan then allocate a cupboard for their junk and tell yourself that it’s strictly off limits.

3. Stock up on real food

Real food is food in its most natural form, that’s as fresh as possible, seasonal and preferably organic. You shouldn’t be eating anything pre-prepared, certainly nothing with a health claim on the front, no low fat, fat-free or diet products and nothing with added sugar. Instead we are talking fresh fruit, vegetables, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds and a few wholegrains. If you don’t have access to clean foods then you are more likely to fall off the wagon so it’s essential to stock up on what you can eat each week.

4. Aim for the rainbow!

Choose a wide variety of coloured vegetables and fruits – don’t just stick to the same few that you know, get experimental.

5. Cut out wheat, dairy and sugar

If you want a flat stomach then they’ve got to go.

MORE GLOSS: Good Grains: 5 of the best wheat-free and gluten-free alternatives

6. Ditch sugar-laden liquids

Alcohol, fruit juices (yes, even fresh fruit juices), fizzy drinks or flavoured waters. From now on it’s still or sparkling water and herbal teas only.

7. Eat 3 meals a day ONLY

That means no snacking between meals, no second helpings and just one plate per meal – if you want to lose weight and tone up, it’s time to eat less.

8. No calorie counting or fad diet concepts

Let go of all the confusion – it’s time to eat real food in sensible portions and get moving.

9. Get some Zzzs

You need a minimum of eight hours’ sleep per night.

10. Get body brushing

Start at the feet and work upwards in sweeping motions – this helps to encourage our lymphatic system to clear out toxins.


Freer Food: Recipe Ideas

It’s time to wave goodbye to sugar filled breakfasts, lunchtime sandwiches, take away dinners and all the bits you might sneak in in between. Here are some suggestions to get you started:


  1. Raw granola – choose sugar, wheat and gluten- free (I recommend Raw healthy vibrant living fig and apricot granola) with unsweetened almond milk; I like to add fresh orange zest to this.
  2. Green protein smoothie – click here for the recipe
  3. Omelette made with 1 egg, onion, tomato, peppers and spinach. You may have an apple also.
  4. 1 slice of rye toast/gluten free toast or a seed cracker with avocado, tahini and cherry tomatoes – squeeze with a little lemon juice and a small pinch of sea salt and pepper.
  5. ½ cup of porridge oats made with almond milk or water, a heaped tablespoon of Chia seeds and ½ cup of berries.


  1. Lettuce wraps/boats – use lettuce as your outer layer, and load up your filling into the middle and enjoy.
  2. Poached chicken with rocket, cherry tomatoes, spring onion, cucumber and walnuts with lemon zest, lemon juice and olive oil.
  3. Chickpea salad - ½ cup cooked chickpeas with lambs lettuce, red pepper and orange segments.
  4. Smoked mackerel with watercress, mixed sprouts, beetroot, broccoli, sundried tomatoes and walnuts.
  5. Broccoli, avocado, spinach, red onion, apple and toasted hazelnut salad with lemon juice and olive oil


  1. 1 fillet of steamed wild salmon with garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chili and coriander (Waitrose do a great frozen herb pack of these ingredients for ease) with pan fried pak choi.
  2. Poached sea bass on a bed of cherry tomatoes with shallot, garlic, lemon and parsley served with steamed spinach.
  3. Flattened grilled chicken breast (use a rolling pin) with avocado & apple salad.
  4. Prawn and mango stir fry – use ginger, shallot, lemon juice and lots of coriander (see freernutrition.com for recipe).
  5. Broccoli and cannellini bean soup - use ½ head of broccoli florets and ½ cup of cooked beans, cook together with onion, celery, leek and garlic. Add chicken or vegetable stock and blend all together to make a thick and creamy, filling soup.

Amelia Freer is a nutritional therapist and author. Check out her Winter ebook in our marketplace and find her latest Cook. Nourish. Glow book here


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  • Rhoda Albarico
  • April 19th 2015

How i wish to make all your suggested recipe BUT i live here in the Philippines and mostly all of the food ingredients listed here i am not familiar with... And is non existent here... Trying very hard to think of any alternative.

  • Jenni R
  • May 23rd 2013

It is so refreshing to see advice like this instead of fad diets that will never last. It also encourages people to maintain a generally healthier diet even once they've reached their goal. The only part I don't agree with is only eating 3 meals a day and no snacks - the worst thing on a diet is to feel hungry, so a healthy snack such as a piece of fruit, some carrot sticks or a Nak'd fruit bar keep hunger at bay without piling on the pounds.

Lemon juice in water is great for many reasons - it speeds up the metabolism, removes toxins (expect to need the loo a lot!), etc etc. BUT don't brush your teeth for at least an hour afterwards - the acidic juices temporarily soften the tooth enamel and therefore brushing your teeth while the enamel is soft will destroy the tooth enamel. This also applies to orange juice and any other acidic juices.

  • Amelia Freer
  • May 3rd 2013

Yes Heather, it is true! Best way to start your day.. should have added this in... but only so many rules.. bur yes, go for it, and throughout the day... just make sure you rbrush your teeth or rinse your mouth out with water afterwards as the lemon juice doesn't do our teeth any favours!

  • Heather Barnes
  • April 22nd 2013

I keep being told/reading that juice of a lemon first thing in the morning with warm water is the best thing since sliced bread in terms of weight loss, getting body going etc. Is this true?

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