“Clean (ish)” book outlines simple steps for big changes

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Tackling change can be overwhelming. Bestselling author Gin Stephens set out to make the task easier with her newest book “CLEAN (ISH): Eat (Mostly) Clean, Live (Mainly) Clean, and Unlock Your Body’s Natural Ability to Self-Clean.”

Left to right: A blue book with a white outline of a house and inside the house is a fork and spoon.  The cover reads Clean-ish.  On the right is a blonde-haired woman wearing a blue puff jacket

The idea is that perfection is a fantasy, yet it can be a major obstacle in achieving our goals, or even working towards them. Stephens approaches the subject of lowering the toxic load in our lives by making incremental changes in the pursuit of progress, not perfection.

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She addresses every corner of our daily lives, from food to fasting, household cleaners to personal care products. Yet her solutions are simple and obtainable without the overwhelming stress. With the book as a guide, anyone can gradually work towards a healthier lifestyle.

Setting a goal to eat clean comes with unforeseen challenges, such as being able to find the foods that are actually free of ingredients you hope to avoid. In addition, genetically modified foods, or bioengineered, aren’t properly labeled, allowing them to fly under the radar. There is good news on this front, with the USDA’s mandate for accurate labeling on these foods that went into effect on January 1, 2022. However, the legislation is not clear cut. “CLEAN (ISH)” makes the process of identifying clean foods easier so consumers can limit exposure to GMOs and chemical additives.

Sustainability is all about being able to maintain the process. “CLEAN (ISH)” aims to provide small changes rather than sweeping ones, cutting through the noise to provide knowledge and information about how to make lasting, sustainable change in your life.

At my request, a copy of the book was provided for my review. It’s an empowering read, but perhaps my favorite line comes in the first pages and reads, “Change does not happen from the reading, it happens from the doing.”

The author makes the point that in order to enact real change, it’s important to take time to reflect on information and implement changes over time. This is not intended to be an overnight answer for a healthier lifestyle. It’s a guidebook for a long-term plan.

The layout of the book is easy to digest with a table of contents in the front for easy reference. It’s equally approachable for another reason too – Stephens is very straightforward about how difficult her own journey has been. She discusses being a product of the food culture in the 1970s and how that translated into an unhealthy lifestyle for her kids. It resulted in making her feel like a parenting failure.

She manages to shortcut the journey many of us are on by basically showing that if she can do it, anyone can. In truth, you’re probably further along in your journey than you think.

The book covers a variety of topics you may not have even considered, like the potential benefits of fasting. This is something I already do, so it resonated with me, but for those who are new to the concept, there’s plenty of information to get you started.

While she provides background information to understand why changes are necessary, her focus is on achievable action anyone can take to clean up their lifestyle. It’s a flexible, modular plan that allows individuals to do what works for them, when it works for them. There’s no shaming or pushing guilt, just opportunity and optimism.

Food is perhaps the primary transport system for toxins into our body, so a good portion of the book addresses where the problems lie in sourcing food and making wholesome recipes, while understanding how to implement changes that will stick in the long term.

Actionable smart swaps for the home include some basics like converting from plastic storage containers to glass ones, or replacing Teflon-coated pans with cast-iron or stainless steel. She addresses plastic bags, cooking utensils and cutting boards. In the bathroom, she provides alternatives for vinyl shower curtains and liners, plastic-backed bath mats and a host of personal care items.

The book also outlines options for laundry detergents and fabric softener along with ways to clean up cleaning products throughout the home. Along with replacing toxins with natural ingredients for each type of surface in the home, it addresses the issues of plastic jugs and other packaging waste.

While there may not be anything shocking about these tips, having them all sorted and conveniently ready for reference results in a quick “how-to” guide for living a cleaner lifestyle for yourself and the environment.

Throughout the book, there are checklists, questionnaires and “take action” prompts, as well as tips for getting the family on board. There is also a guide for choosing your own clean (ish) timeline, so you can create a plan that works and will continue to work in the future. Although the book outlines a lot of potential changes, the format encourages the reader to identify his or her own priorities that define successful change rather than throwing a pass-or-fail-type rigidity to the topic. In short, it’s a plan for success on your own terms.

Images via Gin Stephens and St. Martin’s Griffin

Editor’s Note: This product review is not sponsored by Gin Stephens. All opinions on the products and company are the author’s own.

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