10/06/2013 11:36 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2013

How Embracing Clean Eating Changed More Than My Family's Waistline

My brother-in-law and his wife own and run an organic farm a few towns away from us. Every summer and early fall we participate in a weekly "community share" and the beautiful produce is plentiful, delicious and fresh. I've used the word "clean" to describe the taste as well as the process from field to table when explaining the difference between what we buy in the grocery story and the farm to my twins. I've explained how the life cycle of the produce from the farm to our table is a pure process: we know exactly where -- and how -- the beans, tomatoes, melons and onions grow. We know how the crops are picked (sometimes we do it ourselves!), and we often know the specific location for each crop (especially the pick-your-own tomatoes and raspberries), all this because we are very fortunate that the farmers are the twins' aunt and uncle.

I'm consistently surprised by the taste, smell and feel of the fruit and produce. I'm also overjoyed about the way my family experiences the food -- we barely get home before we rip into the bags plus we have to force ourselves not to devour an entire week's worth of fresh produce on the first night.

From June to early October, the effects of this weekly cornucopia can be seen and felt throughout our family in real ways from increased energy to more satisfaction at our meals. We eat every single item in our share and have fun trying to figure out how to prepare celery root or mustard greens. After a month, we look healthier, we don't crave junk food, our breath is better, our digestion improves, our skin glows. I know the kale and spinach and squash and bok choy and heirloom tomatoes and carrots and beets are gold because they are not processed or artificially colored or sweetened.

The last two summers, I saw such a huge difference in our twins when they ate from their beloved uncle's farm that I vowed to change our diet.

Predictably, when our summer share ended so did my courage to make a change. The thought of drastically changing the diet and eating habits (not to mention pantry) for four family members (me, my husband and our twins) was unnerving. My daughter has my sweet tooth, my son loves fast food and we all eat junk food, carbs, sugar, dessert and pizza. I was afraid of the amount of work overhauling our food habits would involve and I was convinced that embracing the "clean eating" movement would be impossible (not to mention would exacerbate my life-long aversion, bordering on phobia, of grocery shopping).

Thankfully this September was different, and instead of mourning the "last farm share" and the return of our old food habits, with the help and inspiration of friends and relatives, I began my "clean eating" campaign for my family and we haven't looked back.

For the last two weeks, I've embraced the challenge with my family and I am happy to report we've been successfully making the change to "clean eating" and we just signed up for the winter farm share, too, so I'll get amazing "gifts" of fresh produce all year long now.

Each week, my list of the benefits of clean eating for our family keeps growing and growing. To date it includes: improved health for me (and the whole family); weight management (for Mom and Dad); inspiring my husband; helping my daughter become a leader in her school's healthy-eating initiative; a focused and calm son; an organized refrigerator and pantry; a weekly meal plan; a deeper joy of eating and cooking; and the added bonus of looking forward to grocery shopping for the first time in my life (true!).

If this blog post about "clean eating" inspires or intrigues you, consider my:

"Top Five Reasons Your Family Should Embrace Clean Eating"

1. It's easy!

2. It saves you money (you will use everything you buy when you eat this way).

3. You will look and feel healthier (and if you are concerned about weight this change will help you maintain a healthy one).

4. Real, unprocessed food tastes GREAT (and so much better than processed fake food).

5. Your children will be asking for (and craving!) fruits and vegetables (my two want raw red and orange pepper slices more than candy now).

Take it from this Italian gal -- the same one who loves pasta, bread, polenta, carbs, chocolate, dessert and pizza -- when you embrace a healthy and clean eating lifestyle food, diet, exercise), you and your entire family will actually feel fuller -- that is, full of life, love, health and joy.

Buon appetito!

For more by Laura Rossi Totten, click here.

For more on diet and nutrition, click here.