I love food. I love cooking food, reading about food, and as a doctor, I love researching about how what we eat drives our health. As a child I grew up on the Standard AmericanDiet. We enjoyed a surplus of sugar, bad fats (remember margarine?) and highly processed carbohydrates. My mom loved us and fed us well, but we did not know what we do today about food and health.

Once I entered the world of medicine, it was like coming out of the fog. I learned about our anatomy (the structure of our body), our physiology (how our body is supposed to work) and the pathology (what happens to our body when things go wrong). In my integrative medicine training, I learned how the food we eat fuels these body systems. What we put in our mouths drives how healthy or unhealthy our bodies are. Food is the ultimate medicine.

This is when my true shift happened. I began to eat clean, healthy foods. The better my diet became, the stronger my body felt. I was used to giving patients prescriptions for their problems. Now I had a tool that was so much better – clean eating.

I love to share my knowledge of food as medicine with my patients. One of the persistent problems I experience is the massive amount of information available to both medical professionals and the public. If you simply want to eat healthy and clean, knowing where to start can be overwhelming. There are so many articles, blogs, books, social media posts, expert recommendations and more. It can make the best of us throw in the towel. It is mind boggling.

The good news is, you don't have to be a doctor or a dietician to figure it all out! When you comb through all the data, there are persistent themes, tried and true methods.

If you are like so many of us trying to eat healthy in a simple way, look no further. In this three-part series, I’ll share the themes and strategies I teach my patients and clients when they embark on their clean eating journeys. For most, this is all you need.

Next: What to eat and drink

In the second part of this three-part series on clean eating, we’ll learn why you should eat vegetables, colorful foods, super foods and fat, and why you should drink water.